The Bechdel test

What is now known as the Bechdel test was introduced in Alison Bechdel‘s comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For. In a 1985 strip titled ”The Rule”,[9][10] an unnamed female character says that she only watches a movie if it satisfies the following requirements:[4]

  1. It has to have at least two women in it,
  2. who talk to each other,
  3. about something besides a man.[10][11]

Bechdel credited the idea for the test to a friend and karate training partner, Liz Wallace.[11][12] She later wrote that she was pretty certain that Wallace was inspired by Virginia Woolf’s essay A Room of One’s Own, reproduced in part above.[13]

Originally meant as ”a little lesbian joke in an alternative feminist newspaper”, according to Bechdel,[14] the test moved into mainstream criticism in the 2010s and has been described as ”the standard by which feminist critics judge television, movies, books, and other media”.[15] By 2013, an Internet newspaper described it as ”almost a household phrase, common shorthand to capture whether a film is woman-friendly”,[16] and the failure of major Hollywood productions such as Pacific Rim (2013) to pass it was addressed in depth in the media.[17] According to Neda Ulaby, the test still resonates because ”it articulates something often missing in popular culture: not the number of women we see on screen, but the depth of their stories, and the range of their concerns.”[11]

In 2013, four Swedish cinemas and the Scandinavian cable television channel Viasat Film incorporated the Bechdel test into some of their ratings, a move supported by the Swedish Film Institute.[18]

Several variants of the test have been proposed—for example, that the two women must be named characters,[19] or that there must be at least a total of 60 seconds of conversation.[20][1]



  • Why do you think the Bechdel test has become so commonly discussed and widely recognised?
  • Why is Sweden mentioned and why do you think the Swedish film institute supports such a rating?
  • Does failing the test automatically mean the film is sexist?
  • Can a film pass the test and still be sexist?
  • Is gender bias a common problem in fiction do you think?


Summarize your discussion and post as a comment. Work in pairs. Write both names in the comment.


”Dykes to Watch Out For (Bechdel test origin)” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia –

[1] Directly quoted from Retreived 2015-02-10.

Advanced assignment

Read this text and summarize content and your reactions.

17 reaktioner till “The Bechdel test”

  1. 1.and 2. the community this days are very hard on having even genders in the most thinks.
    4.yes is a problem but not a big one .


  2. Victor Duganoff och Joshua Loikas
    The test is kind of unique and has never been done before that may be the reason it has become so popular.
    They might like the idea and wanted to support it.
    It doesn’t have to be that way, they can talk about anything and it won’t be sexist.
    yes it can.
    Not really.


  3. We think that the Bechdel test has become so popular, because for a long time in fiction there has been a lot of male protagonists and antagonists so maybe it’s time for a change and make things more equal.

    Like we said before ”times change” and I think that most people realize that things should be equal, so we think that’s why the Swedish film institute supports these things.

    Failing the test does not make it sexist, if it’s a movie about a only guys highschool, why would there be women in the movie? There could be but if there’s not, it’s not sexist.

    Yes, a film can still be sexist if it fails the test, Viktor believes that as long as no sentences in the movie are uttered among the lines of ”Women are worth less than men”, the movie isn’t sexist only because women aren’t present or just play a lesser role in it. It’s just over-sensitive people and feminists who care and overreact.

    Yes, gender bias is/was a huge part of fiction for a while, but it also was in real life we just changed quicker on that front. (Viktor thinks it’s a problem, because everyone is a goddamn feminist nowadays, even the men are feminists goddammit!)


  4. 1. People have been discussing for quite some time how women have had a lower place in society. So when this came up, of course they jumped at the chance to prove what they believe.
    2. Sweden wants to look pretty infront of big bad Russia.
    3. No. It depends. You have to look deeper into the story. Also most movies have a prior source, such as a comic. So how the movie is depends on how the comic, as an example, is.
    4. A film can very well still be sexist. Two women can discuss something that the feminists find sexist. Like how to make a sandwich.
    5. It’s not exactly a problem, but it exists and it’s really common.


  5. Discussion:

    Why do you think the Bechdel test has become so commonly discussed and widely recognised?
    because the women have more privileges in more countries.

    Why is Sweden mentioned and why do you think the Swedish film institute supports such a rating?
    The Swedish women has had a lot more rights and have been a part of the community for a longer time than in other countries.

    Does failing the test automatically mean the film is sexist?
    No, you could still make a movie about women that talk about men because the women want to do it. They doesn’t downgrade the women.

    Can a film pass the test and still be sexist?
    Yes, a movie could have women in it that talks about other stuff than men but can still be downgraded.

    Is gender bias a common problem in fiction do you think?
    It depends on what time the fiction is from.


  6. Q: Why do you think the Bechdel test has become so commonly discussed and widely recognized?

    A: Because there are many woman who think there is a lot of sexism in movies and this test shows them which movies that are sexist.

    Q:Why is Sweden mentioned and why do you think the Swedish film institute supports such a rating?

    A:Because Sweden is open to a lot of way of thinking and want to set a good example.

    Q:Does failing the test automatically mean the film is sexist?

    A:No, there can be a obstacle in the movie that dosen’t allow the women to meet but that doesn’t mean that it’s sexist.

    Q:Can a film pass the test and still be sexist?

    A:Yes, they can meet and talk to each other about something other than a man but if the woman are stereotype it can still be sexist.

    A:Is gender bias a common problem in fiction do you think?

    Q:No, we don’t think that it’s a problem because we don’t care about that.

    Christopher and Simon


  7. 1. Because it is unique and remarkable.

    2. Swedish cinemas and Viasat Film incorporated the Bechdel test in to some of their ratings. Because they want to support equality.

    3. If the film fails the test it doesn´t mean that film is sexist because they can talk about anything.

    4. Yes it can be still sexist.

    5. We don´t think that it is a common problem in fiction.


  8. Why do you think the Bechdel test has become so commonly discussed and widely recognised?
    We think the Bechdel test is so commonly used because of the popularity of her comic ”Dykes to watch out for”.

    Why is Sweden mentioned and why do you think the Swedish film institute supports such a rating?
    Sweden has been women friendly for a long tie, for example allowing women to vote when other countries didn’t. Sweden is mentioned because the company (Viasat) is a big company and if they are using this rating other companies may adapt it and use it in other countries.

    Does failing the test automatically mean the film is sexist?
    If you fail the bechdel test it does not mean the film is sexist, for example if the movie only contains non gender people like ”Teletubbies”, but for for most movies who fail the test it does mean it’s sexist, in some degree atleast.

    Can a film pass the test and still be sexist?
    Yes, two women may be talking but they could still be weak, stereotypical women who needs to saved by a man.

    Is gender bias a common problem in fiction do you think?
    Of course gender bais is a problem in fiction if half of all movies fail the Bechdel test and it’s more enjoyable for everyone to watch if everyone is not stereotypes.


  9. 1. the community this days are very hard on having even genders in the most thinks.
    2. Sweden is a vary balens country between genders. the film can stil not have the stereotypes of a woman in it. the cast can till be about the girls but it don’t have to pass the the beached.

    4.yes.becuse the gender bias can still be big is a problem but not a big one .


  10. We think it is because it represents and ties in very closely to gender equality, which have been a big deal lately. This is a way and a guideline for people supporting gender equality and care about this to have a general idea of what to look for in a movie.

    Sweden is mentioned because the Swedish television and movie streaming company ”Viasat Film” and four other cinemas started testing and rating movies according to the guidlines of this test. We think that the Swedish film industry supports the decision becasue it supports gender equality and as a marketing campaign to gain popularity and trust among thier customers.

    No, we don´t think so. Just becasue the film doesn´t contain womens thoughts and thier feelings doesn´t mean it supports sexism. The action movies often accused of sexism is generaly advertised towards men, because the audience is almost only men. It doesn´t make sense to include things that doesn´t apeal to men in movies that are targeted to men.

    Yes. The scenario with ”two women talking about something else than men” is quite a vauge concept to jugde a movie in it´s entirety on. I can have the film start out with two women sitting in a café discussing the weather and it can later contain women abuse where the man is seen as clearly dominant, and then it would be classified as not sexist.

    It is a problem to an extent but it isn´t something we should really get stuck on and ban old movies and books. We could start thinking a little bit more about including women, but we´ll go back to an earlier argument, is a (action/sci-fi)movie targeted at a audience almost only men supposed to really have to follow guidlines like these. We don´t think so but in comon ficiton like in adventure stories(in lack of a better genre) to include women as at least bi-characters that have som story around them aswell.


  11. Eskander, Jesper and Gustav.

    1.Becouse the women gets attention to instead of the guys characters.
    2.Sweden support the Bechdels test and accepts feminism.
    3.Depends the grades of the movie and which rules that didn’t be in the movie.
    4. yes it can still be sexist because they can make the women ugly and stupid.
    5. Yea we think so for example in James Bond all the girl´s got nice bodys and are thirsty 😉


  12. The Bechdel test is so commonly recognized because in the 1980’s the movies were mostly about men and this was an attempt to change that. A reason for this would be that gender equality wasn’t achieved until very recently. Women still don’t get as much money as men even if they have the same jobs.
    The Swedish film institute probably think it’s a problem with the current cinema.
    Failing the test does not automatically have to be sexist if it fails the test. The main character could be a woman and does not have to especially talk to other women during the movie.
    A film can pass the test and still be sexist. An example of this would be Resident Evil because the women are overly sexified.
    Gender bias is a common problem in fiction because most protagonists are men and they are based on strength, which is not the stereotype of a woman.

    Mathias Nordman, Robert Gosa


  13. Engelska uppgift: Made by Azlan Noh Butt and Johan Challita

    1.We think that the test is commonly discussed because almost every movie that film is about a man and not women and even if a woman is in the film she don’t have a big roll, so the Bechdel test want to that women’s should have more screen time so the man shouldn’t have all the screen time

    2.Sweden was mention because they were the first one to start with the Bechdel test on their television channel viasat film, so they don’t get so high rating because they are sexist and don’t care about the women

    3.We think that it depends on the movie because if a movie was about to gays and a women didn’t have a part in it doesn’t mean it sexist beacause the movie is about gays not women’s so it can’t be sexist

    4.Of course it can because the movie can give the women’s a little screen time so they can pass the test and don’t care about it in the rest of the movie

    5.We think that gender bias is common problem in fiction


  14. 1. We discussed why the Bechdel test has become so wildly discussed lately and why it has gotten lots of attention. We came to different conclusions, but we also agreed on lots of things. We think the Bechdel test has gotten recognized lately because of the huge influence the feminist idealists have right now in society and the increasing number of people trying fighting for women rights. We also believe that the cause of this is history, for example women have through times always had their rights degraded compared to men, that’s wrong according to us. Adam also thinks that Bechdel test also gets lots of attention because women always wants to find something that degrades them, I can kinda agree on this but would say majority of women are not like this.

    2. So we think that Sweden is one of the countries that got mentioned because people here usually have the same opinions about rights. How men and women should be treated in society. Based on facts they also got mentioned in the article because they were one of the countries that used the rating in their cinemas/movie websites. We think that movie companies used the test as a way of marketing. Because the Bechdel test has gotten lots of attention lately it would be a PR bonus if the movies they show support it. Another reason for using the rating could be because the cinemas don’t want to be judged, they followed the trend.

    3. No, it depends on what movie it and it’s purpose. For example, in maybe a horror or historical movie they can’t really push the boundaries of the movie that much, and maybe the story of the movie doesn’t support the Bechdel test. Lack of resources is also a problem here, are good actors available?

    4. Yes it can, it all depends on the story and moral of the movie. for example the bond movies could have multiple women, but the way they present and picture the women in the story could still be bad. Movies can always present women in the way they are ”supposed” to be according to society, big breast and butt.

    5. In lots of movies gender bias is a problem its really easy for the moviemakers to do it on video, where they don’t have to face the difficulties of doing it in real life. We believe the cause of this is no strict rules of what movies can be produced and shown and which ones can not.


  15. Advanced assignment

    1. Unequal pay

    Unequal pay like the article says a huge problem, and really unfair and unwanted. Why is it even a part of society i think corporation probably should work on getting that equal since it makes no sense. It’s mostly negative but it can also be positive, maybe an employer in an IT corporation will think ”oh it’s a female ill hire her so i have to pay less” it’s a terrible thought but it can be used as an advantage.

    2. Interview questions

    Ok, this is just plain stupid begin asked different questions if you’re a male or a female that makes me feel kinda scared, at first when I read it I thought it kinda makes sense since women have to be gone a lot if they get pregnant and it is a business after all but now that I think more about it I realize that guys also takes time off when they become dads. This just doesn’t make sense to me anymore.

    3. Diminished responsibilities

    This one I don’t really get if I’m gonna be honest why would someone be mad for getting paid for NOT doing work, if you’re like the ”oh god this is so heavy i need some help” and a woman comes and offers help why would you decline since she is a woman thats just stupid.


  16. 1. Becuase the girls want know Why there is more men than women for example in action movies. They think it’s injustice. So they Would probably make a debate of it.
    2. There is more men than girls in the swedish movies, thats Why they Are mentioned. The other reacted.
    3. If the girl has overpowers, the movie hasent failed.
    4. Yes ofcourse.
    5. Sometimes when a Person look funny or strange in a movie.

    Linus och Lovis


  17. Gender bias is a common thing to talk about. We Are treating eachother different everyday without thinking about It. It Doesnt mather If you are a boy or a girl. You Can climb the ladder as High as you want. Nomather what size you are, or how strong you are. We should threat the other as we want to be treated.



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