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”, an unnamed female character says that she only watches a movie if it satisfies the following requirements:
- It has to have at least two women in it,
- who talk to each other,
- about something besides a man.
Bechdel credited the idea for the test to a friend and karate training partner, Liz Wallace. 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.
Originally meant as ”a little lesbian joke in an alternative feminist newspaper”, according to Bechdel, 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”. By 2013, an Internet newspaper described it as ”almost a household phrase, common shorthand to capture whether a film is woman-friendly”, and the failure of major Hollywood productions such as Pacific Rim (2013) to pass it was addressed in depth in the media. 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.”
- 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 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dykes_to_Watch_Out_For_(Bechdel_test_origin).jpg#mediaviewer/File:Dykes_to_Watch_Out_For_(Bechdel_test_origin).jpg
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