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!

Culturally Conflicted Teenager

Those Who Wander Lost is a blog-site dedicated to the Class of 2013 but with enough room for guest contributors to share their pearls of wisdom, advice, rants, worries, and stories about college life and beyond. Posted here with permission by the author, the lovely Anne — one of my high-school cohorts, a major part of my barkada, and definitely a wordsmith in her own right. She’s also a pretty boss photographer, if you’d like to check out some of her work, including her 365/Day photo project! (Mahal kita kiddo) 

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I’m reading a speech by Pres. Theodore Roosevelt persuading the American audience that the U.S. should annex the Philippines and he states:

“The highest form of success which comes, not to the man who desires mere easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph.”

Throughout the speech, he essentially points out that Filipinos are incapable of forming their own government because they live a life of “ignoble ease” as opposed to the American lifestyle, the “right lifestyle” is to live a “strenuous life,” where there are greater moral prizes. There was, of course, the 1898 Treaty of Paris and the United States’ overwhelming desire to rise in military power to compete against Great Britain, France and Spain; therefore, by annexing the Philippines they can exploit its resources as well as China’s.

Back to topic. As I was reading this, I asked myself, “Is the Filipino Ideal to choose the path that leads to an easier peace?” I don’t think it is. I don’t think it is a principle for any culture. Otherwise, it would derail one’s morality, but so many people are surrounded by the idea of, “Success which comes…to…easy peace.”
I’m Filipino American and I began my college career as a Nursing student. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. A plethora of Filipino and Filipino American students are taking the “path of ignoble ease.” However, there is nothing ignoble in this choice. When you’re from a community oriented society, you have to live up to the strong instilled principles of one’s duty to family and I can’t help shake how pervasive the principle is.

It is true that there is a shortage of nurses in the United States and because of this, the nursing field is in high demand. I didn’t need to worry about the finding a job after college as much as others. If the starting salary of a new nurse is approx. $20/hr then I could have paid off student debt in about seven years. Despite how enticing it is to know that I can be free from the pain of running around the job market, I feel like I didn’t have the freedom to experience the pain.

Simply put, the reason why I took up Nursing is because of family. My immediate family is closely tied to my extended family in the Philippines and it is my duty as the privileged born American (because there is the idea that every American is rich) to give back to the mother country.  Plus, having visited the Philippines several times doesn’t make the decision to say, “No,” any easier. Overtime, I found the term “family” to be a paradoxical. For any of you who haven’t watched spoken work artist, Sarah Kay, perform “B,” a line that struck me was:
“When you step out of a phone booth and try to fly and the very people you want to save are the people who are standing on your cape.”

I want to fly so I can understand the world by myself and eventually self-actualize myself, but I feel like family tries to hide the pain from me. In a community oriented mindset, you help your family/ community and it fulfills yourself. I guess for me, this is where I have internal conflicts because I always want to better myself by pulling off a Thoreau and runaway to Walden Pond.

By the end of my sophomore year, I dropped out of Nursing and switched to Public Health. It wasn’t easy and the process to switch heavily involved calming down my parents, informing them of my plans, crying at myself thinking if I’m switching because I really want to or because I didn’t want to be another Filipino stereotype. Switching was the first time I truly felt autonomous and saw myself as my own person, but when I look at my parents and, even worse, look at those aunts and uncles who ask “What’s your major?” and they reply an underwhelming, “Oh,” after I say “Public Health,” I wish I stayed on the “path of ease.” I’m not taking this non-prestigious major because I’m unaware of my roots. I’m never going to forget my roots.

Despite the judging glances, I’m willing to struggle through this. If my family is truly my family, they’ll help me out through this and I’ll continue to work hard so I can help them out. It might be this childish mindset thinking that I can do this and struggle through this, but I know I’m mature enough as well to handle it.

— A. S.

(Admin note: Girl, I know the feeling. Pre-med was never for me, but it was what my parents wanted so badly until I had to tell them: Hey guys, it’s okay, I got this. You do what you need to do — go ahead and fly, your parents will be proud.)

Use of an Unpaid Internship — it’s all in Your Hands

The unpaid internship - why bother, you may ask -- I personally say if it's a good fit for you and you can afford to do it: do it

The unpaid internship – why bother, you may ask — I personally say if it’s a good fit for you and you can afford to do it: do it

So awhile back we debated about the merits of a paid versus unpaid internship and came to the conclusion that it all depends on what you can afford to do, and what exactly you are getting out of it.

Now the world is tough and the job market seems to hinge on how much “experience” you’ve clocked up via internships, and I am sad to say that in my line of interests–which ranged from museum studies and now to publishing–paid internships are real slim pickings. It also doesn’t help that I decided to “switch” so late in the game, I’m now a graduate with very little publishing/editing experience save for my portfolio of pop-culture blogging I’ve amassed over at MoarPowah.com. And I’ll be honest, I left one tiny job market to rush into another job market that is highly competitive and while I do long for a paid internship and eventually a job at some point in my career…

I am still happy with what I’ve got.

My current internship is an unpaid but heavily mentored program; I’m kind of thinking of it now as a free class. I’m working with women who have been in publishing for a long time and switched to digital publishing when the going looked good to try to invest in a website, and it worked out for them. With that in mind I have some industry savvy mentors teaching me the ropes of how to write, how to pitch, and how to get in touch with free-lancers, PR, and basically get over my own shyness and fear of public speaking to put myself out there and judge products for our publication.

Yes it’s unpaid, but at this point? I see it like a free class; and while I would love to slap down on my resume that it was a paid position, I also am grateful for the advice and help that my coworkers are giving me. I’m literally making network connections for this particular publication and learning how to foster relationships between the editors and their sources so … I find that it’s a good thing.

Plus, these women are tech savvy and I am learning a few tricks when it comes to managing social media and how to get the existence of our publication out there to the masses. It’s a lot of work, but I love it, and am grateful to have the experience for it.

Will I be satisfied with another unpaid internship after this one? Probably not, I need to make money to fund my own wanderings in life, yanno.

But, I think, for someone who kind of floundered about in their undergrad career, who didn’t actually build this all-important network connections or get all that “experience” needed to get a job immediately after college… I think this is a good start.

And I look forward to every day of my internship, every new opportunity that I can soak in and spin to my advantage when it comes to finding another position after this one. It’s two months away but I’m already looking at where else I can apply for fall, even an entry level job in the industry if I can (While also teasing out the idea of dropping everything altogether and running off to animation–yet another tiny industry haha)

But — again, the long and the short of it is: I’ve taken a position that many people would view unfavorably and it’s become one of my passions. I will do my best for this publication and I wish for it to succeed — even after I’ve gone.

And well, if that’s what I’ve made up of this unpaid internship, then I hope that’s the right idea; if anything at least I’ll take away something great from it that should (hopefully) help me along in life.

The Internship: Should I settle for an unpaid internship?

Ah the experience paradox; many students think they can avoid this by interning but is it worth it to "sell" your services for free?

Ah the experience paradox; many students think they can avoid this by interning but is it worth it to “sell” your services for free?

Ah the internship, the new pseudo-apprenticeship system that everyone seems to subscribe to nowadays.  An internship is a temporary position that is supposed to offer on-the-job training in a particular field, a chance to not only learn about a particular future career path, but to also perhaps start to network and secure better, brighter jobs for the future. But horror stories of intern abuse abound, of an intern actually taking up the duties of an entry level job with no paid benefits, or of an internship spent being somebody’s go-for without learning anything except perhaps the Boss’s preferred cup of coffee.

Unfortunately, students will stand for unpaid internships due to that experience paradox — you know, the whole idea that you have no job because you have no experience, yet in order to get experience you must have some form of job. So an internship seems to be the best route when the job market isn’t quite the same, but should someone–especially an undergraduate college student–really sell themselves short and go for an unpaid position?

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But I’m a Nice Guy

Tired of Nice Guy-ism? You know what I mean, that kind of guy who uses friendship as an overture towards a romantic/sexual relationship and whines when it doesn’t work out.
Yeah if you’re tired of that kind of rhetoric, here’s a neat-o animation by Scott Benson that in less than 40 seconds pokes holes into every Nice Guy argument out there.

EDIT: It seems that Scott Benson switched the video to private, which I respect, but the message that he wanted to convey remains the same underneath the cut!

JK It’s back! :)

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Bettersupes: Little Girls are Better at Designing Superheroes Than You

Today’s just been a day for geekery — but hey sometimes you need that! Thanks to Felicia Day over on Twitter I just got word of a new Tumblr project that, alongside blogs such as the Hawkeye Initiative, are much needed for the comic community. bettersupes is a project manned by one Alex Law, who is slowly but surely, demonstrating how creative female costumes don’t require impractical tit-windows or other costume choices that are just incredibly silly and completely unnecessary. One would think that children would not have the eye for creativity that professional comic artists reportedly possess, but Law is here to prove you wrong: 

Kids are more impressionable than you, but kids can also be less restricted by cultural gender norms than you. Kids are more creative than you, and they’re better at making superheroes than you.

Don’t believe me? Take a gander at some of Alex Law’s art and its inspirational starting point:

bettersupes1 bettersupes2

And now compare these lovely ladies to their more usual counterparts:

huntresscompare powergirlcomapre

While we can have a nice debate about comic aesthetics (I can hear it already: omg stop freaking out over objectified women men are objectified too jeeez) another day, I feel that it’s poignant to note how sometimes simplicity is best. You can still have a pretty feminine, attractive super hero without the tit window, and even full leotards can be pretty attractive! (Again we’ll save a debate about comic aesthetics for another day haha)

But definitely keep an eye out on bettersupes, and if you happen to like Alex Law’s work — there’s also a nifty art-tumblr blog you can follow too!