Thoughts on the Bechdel Test

Thoughts on the Bechdel Test

So I recently got to write a post on The Bechdel test for the pop-culture/entertainment blog, MoarPowah.com. While I am sadly not able to repost it in its entirety onto Those Who Wander, here’s a snippet for all you English buffs to think about — and remember, it’s always great and all to love media, even problematic media, but you can savor it all the better if you think a little critically about what you’re actually watching =)

Alison Bechdel’s famous test for determining whether a movie has enough female representation

The Bechdel test was introduced by American cartoonist, Alison Bechdel, first as the punchline to her comic strip, Dykes to Watch Out For. One of the earliest on-going representations of lesbians in popular culture that featured equal shares of witty humor and biting commentary. In one strip, one of Bechdel’s characters remarks that she has a simple, three-rule criteria for movies that she will watch:

  1. It has to have at least two women in it
  2. They have to talk to each other
  3. About something other than a man

This simple test has become a trendy way to examine media and for feminist critics. But it’s not really all that new, persay; Virginia Woolf pointedly remarks upon this issue of feminine portrayal in her own ramblings, specifically, A Room of One’s Own.

As noted by Woolf when thinking about the roles of fictional women: All these relationships between women, I thought, rapidly recalling the splendid gallery of fictitious women, are too simple. So much has been left out, unattempted. And I tried to remember any case in the course of my reading where two women are represented as friends. There is an attempt at it in DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS. They are confidantes, of course, in Racine and the Greek tragedies. They are now and then mothers and daughters. But almost without exception they are shown in their relation to men. It was strange to think that all the great women of fiction were, until Jane Austen’s day, not only seen by the other sex, but seen only in relation to the other sex.

^^ This, my friends, is still a Thing. I ramble about it more in my post at MoarPowah, as well as offer a few examples of shows that “pass” the test, and how successful they are at representing women. Because the Bechdel test isn’t the be all and end all for determining if media is female-positive, but it does provide a pretty good basis for arguments about the role of women in media.

So if discussion on the Bechdel Test is totally your Thing, check out the full post here!

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