2014/10/17

The Bechdel Test

H guys and girls!

Some of you might already know this but I'm quite the feminist. I bet a lot of you just started liking me a whole lot less. Just to be clear: I'm not a man-hating, extremist, I-never-wash-my-hair angry woman, mad with hysteria. I'm just very aware of the fact that there is still a long way to go if we wan't to achieve gender equality. By that I don't mean that men and women should be exactly the same, because they aren't, but that they should have the same rights and opportunities. Many people think this has already been achieved, but once you start reading up on the subject, you'll quickly realise this isn't the fact. I also think we should change the name of Feminism because it sounds like it is only about fighting for women's rights, when really, this is a problem for men too. Would you be comfortable if your son was to play with barbies or if he starts wearing skirts? My point exactly. Boys aren't free either.

What I wanted to share with you today is a really interesting test called The Bechdel Test. It's a test that you can apply on any movie you watch. Here is the test:

1. Are there at least two female characters in it who have their own names?
2. Do these two female characters have a dialog together?
3. Is this dialog about something else than men or romance? 

Sounds easy enough. NOT! Almost all of my favourite movies fail this test! It is indeed often so that male characters have their friends. For instance, in one of my favourites, The Princess Bride, Westley has Inigo Montoya and Fezzik. The prince has the count. But who does Buttercup talk to, except for the birds and her sweet darling Westley? I was reading A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf a couple weeks back, and there is a part where she talks about this (the (in)famous Chloe liked Olivia). She explains how it is often threatening to a lot of men when two women have an intimate conversation about something intellectual. I thought this was very interesting when linking it to The Bechdel Test. 

A clear example of a huge fail here is Twilight, obviously, where Bella just cannot exist without Edward, and where literally almost every sentence she says is about him. An example of a movie that did pass the test is The Hunger Games. So, go katniss!

Just so we're clear: I don't think that movies that fail this test are per se female unfriendly and you should throw them in the bin. I still love The Princess Bride! But it's interesting to think about, and to keep in mind when you watch another movie. =)

✎ Jade

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