Do you know what the Bechdel Test is? I only heard of it recently, which makes me sad as a feminist.
The Bechdel test, named for the cartoonist Alison Bechdel who came up with it in a comic called Dykes to Watch Out For, consists of three rules. If a movie didn’t follow these three rules, the character in question wouldn’t go see it.
- The movie must have at least two female characters.
- They have to talk to each other,
- About something other than a man.
I thought this was silly, until I made a chart of all the movies I like that don’t pass that test. I’d like to share that with you. If you don’t see a movie on here, please keep in mind that I am being honest and I won’t add a movie on here if I haven’t seen it. I also have not listed all the movies I’ve ever seen, I would be here all day. This is a list of the movies I’ve watched over the past 12 months, that are fairly well known.
Movies that Pass
The Hunger Games
Mockingjay Pt 1
Frozen (Disney got a win)
Star Wars, Episode 7
Descendants (I have two pre teen daughters, don’t judge me.)
Mona Lisa’s Smile
Paranormal Activities 1-5
Movies that don’t pass
Iron Man 1,2,3
Star Wars, 1-6
All Three Batman movies from the recent trilogy
All the Indiana Jones movies
All the James Bond movies
All the Men in Black movies
Jakob The Liar
All 7 Freddy Kruger movies
Star Trek, 2009
Star Trek, Into Darkness
Yes, Stan Lee can be blamed for a lot of list two. We all know he was a sexist asshat, despite being a brilliant writer. He’s still an asshat.
What kills me is this; why doesn’t every movie pass this test? Is it really that hard to have two women in a book talk about something other than boys? I had to add some movies that were specifically known to be ‘feminist friendly’ to fluff that first list out.
Why? Why is it really so hard to ‘include’ women, when we are fifty percent of the population? Why do more than fifty percent of movies fail this test?
Now, I like all of the movies on the bottom list, don’t get me wrong. But, ladies and gentlemen, hear me loud and clear;
I’m not the only person who’s said it, and I pray I won’t be the last. To have just one woman shown as a real person instead of background eye candy, it sends the message that this is the exception. Sure, Black Widow is badass, but we sure got Pepper Potts reminding us how women really do live to take care of men.
And don’t tell me those kinds of movies don’t sell. We’ve got Katniss, who is freaking awesome, her sister who’s just as awesome, and Joanna, and President Coin. The cast is pretty balanced with awesome women and men. Seems like those movies are doing just fine in the box office.
As writers we don’t always consider ourselves part of the ‘entertainment industry’. We should, because a lot of those movies up there were books first. Even the ones that weren’t were screen written.
And so, as one member of the entertainment industry to another, let me ask you, would your book pass the Bechdel Test?