Sweden Uses New Rating System To Screen For Sexist Films

Sweden Uses New Rating System To Screen For Sexist Films

The Bechdel Test assesses gender bias by measuring the presence of strong female roles.

Ryan Gerhardt
  • 11 november 2013

The Shawshank Redemption. Good Will Hunting. 12 Angry Men. of these three critically acclaimed films, not one of them would receive an ‘A’ rating based on a review system being implemented in several Swedish cinemas. The rating system in question? The Bechdel Test of course.

The Bechdel Test, named after the author/artist Alison Bechdel, was first introduced in 1985 to assess films according to the following guidelines: are there at least two female characters with names, and do those characters have a conversation about something other than a man. Essentially, are there strong female presences in the film.

Bolstered by praise from the Swedish Film Institute, the new rating system has been implemented in four cinemas in Sweden, with only films meeting the specified criteria receiving an ‘A’. Additionally, Viasat Film has said it will begin using the system in film reviews and will show only ‘A’ films on their television station on November 17th (including The Hunger Games and The Iron Lady). While the initiative calls attention to apparent gender bias in the industry, does it say anything about the quality of the film? Ellen Tejle, a participating theater director, commented in an Associated Press interview:

The entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, all Star Wars movies, The Social NetworkPulp Fiction, and all but one of the Harry Potter movies fail this test.

(Additional favorites that would fail can be found here).




Despite the Bechdel Test’s intentions, a film can still achieve an ‘A’ even if female characters are stereotyped and the movie itself isn’t empowering. (Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters and Evil Dead, for example, both pass). While gender skew may be expected of older films, the bias seemingly still pervades today as a study at San Diego State University’s Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film found only “11 percent of protagonists in the top 100 films of 2011 were female.”

An ‘A’ rating clearly isn’t an assessment of quality or success, but it does provide a chance to take a deeper look at the industry. And in Sweden, a country that professes gender equality, adoption of the rating system isn’t wholly unexpected.

The Bechdel Test

Sources: The Verge, Entertainment Weekly, Associated Press (The Guardian)

Images: Lionsgate (via, The Washington Post


DIY Kit Lets You Build Your Own Wooden Bike, Boat Or Caravan

Design & Architecture
Culture Today

Messaging Add-On Helps You Correct Your Friends’ Bad Grammar

An iMessage sticker pack will help you copyedit text messages

Automotive Today

Mercedes-Benz Introduces A New Electric Mobility Brand

The separate entity aims to simplify the identification of Mercedes EV products to customers


Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Automotive

See All
Mobile Today

Tinder’s New Feature Makes Swiping A Group Effort

The dating app wants to democratize its gestural interaction by buying in to the social polling trend pervasive among millennials

Related Expert

Dan Barasch

Nonprofit Organization Management

Syndicated Today

Autonomous Garbage Drone Prevents Trash From Reaching Deep Ocean

The solar-powered WasteShark collects refuse closer to the source: the harbor

Automotive Today

Aston Martin Reveals Its Own Luxury Powerboat

The sleek AM37 echoes styling elements from the British brand's sports cars

Advertising Today

An Escort Website Fights Violence Against Sex Workers

The advocacy campaign from McCann aims uncover the human toll of the exploitative industry


Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry

PSFK Op-Ed Yesterday

Digital Design Expert: Mobile First Is Dead, Think Mobile Native

Brian Cooper, chief creative officer of OLIVER Group UK, explains how some brands are still playing catch-up to new technology

PSFK Labs Yesterday

The 10 Steps To Discover, Hire, Develop Your Next Leader

PSFK's Future of Work report outlines key steps in the employee development path to empower next-gen leaders

Culture Today

LIFE Magazine Relaunches In Pure VR

The general interest periodical, which ceased publication in 2000, has turned into a portal for virtual reality content

Mobile Today

Reorder This Detox Drink With A Simple Text Message

Dirty Lemon is streamlining its communication by letting customers place orders, ask product questions and request help exclusively through chat

Op-Ed Today

The Future Of The American Workforce Requires Unbundling College Education

President of JetBlue Technology Ventures: developing corporate education programs for non-traditional students

Retail Today

Gilt’s Pop-Up House Is The Kind Of Store You’ll Want To Live In

The New York City townhouse plays host to the latest in retail inspiration, curation, and lifestyle activation (and some libations, too)


Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders

Mobile Today

Registering To Vote Is Now Just A Text Away

A new bot aims to mobilize underrepresented groups this election season through SMS and Facebook Messenger

Africa Today

Virtual Reality Game Gives Lessons About Emergency Birth Care

LIFE is a serious tool that takes advantage of new technology to help save lives

Luxury Today

Shoe Repair Has Moved Onto Your Phone

Cobbler Concierge is an on-demand service to get your footwear fixed online

No search results found.