Her Story Arc Scale of Inclusivity

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The Her Story Arc Scale of Inclusivity is our way of quantifying how well a piece of media performs with regard to positive, intersectional inclusion and representation of women and girls. Knowing how inclusive a movie is helps us support the creators by advertising that inclusivity, which leads to increased consumption of that piece of media. The end goal is to help create equilibrium of representation in media and entertainment by showing that including women, and all our facets, in those mediums is not a risk, and is appealing to the masses. We have selected five criteria and given them points based on the level of difficulty required to meet the qualification. The lower the point amount, the easier we feel it is to meet the requirement. The maximum score possible is 15/15 points. Here is how it gets broken down:

Not offensive to women = 1 pt
Features a woman as the main protagonist and/or supporting character = 2 pts
Passes the Bechdel test = 3 pts 
Artistic and/or Entertaining = 4 pts
Above and Beyond General Media = 5 pts

As you can see, each of these categories is subjective. When we use this scale to review a movie/book/comic/video game/etc. the authors will give their own rationale for the points they choose to give and not give. No woman can represent all women, so if you disagree with how we’ve ranked something please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments.

Let’s go a little deeper into each of these qualifications. 

Not offensive to women. This is a category that could get very complicated, very quickly, if we tried to list everything that could be offensive to women. Instead, we use this category as a way of showing our own personal reaction to whatever we are reviewing. All contributors to this site are women and can speak from a woman’s perspective. However, no woman can speak for all women so we do our best to explain our choice one way or the other. We encourage all readers to share their opinions in the comments of every post if they want to express agreement or disagreement with our rankings.

Features a woman as the main protagonist and/or supporting character. This category is very straight forward, and needs no explanation.

Passes the Bechdel testThe medium features two women, with names, that speak to one another about something other than another male character.

Artistic and/or Entertaining. The purpose of art is to entertain and move us, whether it is performed, molded, or interactive like a video game. It is not all that difficult to accomplish the first three point categories, but to do so while creating something that will stand the test of time and wow audiences is worth much more. We do not simply want to promote the creators that decide to include a token woman or that use the Bechdel test as a minimum requirement. We want to promote those that both include women and tell a story that will want to be retold over and over again.

Above and Beyond General Media.  As we move forward as a society some things that we’ve fought for (such as women voting) have become normalized, and then other things crop up that we never thought of before (such as non-gendered bathrooms). We wanted to create a category that can help measure a piece of media’s revolutionary ideas relative to the time period it was released into. This category is open to interpretation because what is revolutionary will continue to change. 

Here are two examples of how the scale can be used:

Lord of the Rings = 7/15 points

It is not offensive to women (1 pt), has Galadriel, Arwen, and Eowyn as supporting characters (2 pts) and is entertaining (4 pts). However, LOTR does not pass the Bechdel test and does not go above and beyond general media in its treatment of its female characters. It could be argued that Eowyn’s role in the prophecy  to slay the Witch-king of Angmar (“I am no man!”) defies traditional expectations, but I do not think that is enough to award 5 points.

Borderlands Video Game series = 15/15 points

It is not offensive toward women (1 pt), features multiple female playable characters (2 pts), passes the Bechdel test (3 pts) , is entertaining (4 pts), and goes beyond general media is multiple ways, including having one of the female playable characters be a lesbian. The game does a fantastic job creating multifaceted and complex female side characters and villains in addition to the playable female characters (5 pts).

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Sample graphic of points awarded

If you feel we aren’t covering the media that you like to enjoy, please let us know or become a volunteer contributor by sending us your ideas and a writing sample to editor@herstoryarc.com. We are always looking for new voices, opinions, and eyes through which to view the world.

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