Why 2014 Was A Bad Year For Women In Film

A new report finds that only 55.4% of 2014 Hollywood films passed the feminist Bechdel Test

Feminism may be more fashionable than it has been for decades, but that doesn’t mean sexism is going anywhere. A new report from The Silk has found that only 55.4% of Hollywood films passed the feminist Bechdel Test in 2014, compared to a yearly average of 60-65%. Yep: by these criteria, the march towards equality is actually going backwards.

The Bechdel Test is a simple way of measuring a film to see how accurately and equally it represents women. In order to pass the test, a movie must a) include at least two named female characters, b) show the female characters talking to each other, and c) show them talking to each other about something other than men. Given the number of conversations we have with our female colleagues, friends and relatives each day about topics such as work, the horrors of commuting, that sore throat we’ve been trying to shake off since February, the podcast we discovered over the weekend and the marathon we’re training for, you wouldn’t think this would be such a difficult challenge.

The team at The Silk surveyed 175 films released in 2014, and found that 25% of them failed to include two named women having a conversation at all, regardless of topic – including Chef, Foxcatcher, Fury, Inherent Vice and children’s films like Muppets Most Wanted and How To Train Your Dragon 2. In 44% of the films surveyed, women discuss only men – which is a depressing 12.5% increase on 2013. This includes the Cameron Diaz vehicle The Other Woman, which is especially grim news when you note that the film lasted for almost two hours and featured a predominantly female lead cast.

A report last year found that movies that pass the Bechdel Test tend to be lower budget, yet they make more money, dollar for dollar. It seems film-makers won’t listen to women – so perhaps they should let the profits speak for themselves.

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