After watching the X-Men movies with the hubs, I commented that I was conflicted about how I felt about them. I had always pictured the female characters to be strong, independent women who owned their powers! After finishing the movies, I realized they were all mostly either 1) afraid of their powers, 2) constantly seeking attention or approval from the male in their life, 3) or mostly for show. He laughed, and said, you should watch this.
The Bechdel Test: a test measuring female presence in fictional media where in order to pass, the media must meet the following criteria:
- It includes at least two [named] women,
- who have at least one conversation,
- about something other than a man or men.
Of course, limiting yourself to things that pass the test would be cutting out a lot of worthy entertainment. So my reason for mentioning the Bechdel Test is not in the hopes of advocating for a boycott of any medium which fails the test, but more-so to bring about an awareness that, for whatever reason, the majority of fiction created today seems to think that women aren’t worth portraying except in relation to men.
According to TV Tropes, the test is often misunderstood, because the Bechdel Test is not meant to give a scorecard of a work’s overall level of feminism:
The requirements are just what they say they are — it doesn’t make any difference if, for instance, the male characters the women talk about are their fathers, sons, brothers, platonic friends, mortal enemies, patients they’re trying to save or murderers they’re trying to catch, rather than romantic partners. Conversely, if a work seems to pass, it doesn’t matter if male characters are present when the female characters talk, nor does it matter if the women only talk about stereotypically girly topics like shoe shopping — or even relationships, as long as it’s not relationships with men.
Passing the Bechdel Test does not mean that the work of fiction necessarily contains overt feminist themes, or that there’s no chance for misogyny. It’s merely a measure of the type of interactions women are having in fiction, designed by someone who thought that women in fiction ought to express their real feelings about all aspects of their lives. That ultimately, women ought to be characters, not cliches.
So why am I bringing this up today?
The last book you read, does it pass the Bechdel Test? I know my last book didn’t. Can you think of any book you’ve read lately that passes? Cause again, I can’t.
- When a heroine gets in a fight with her parents, what’s it over? A boy.
- When a heroine calls her best friend to talk, what do they spend hours gushing about? A boy.
- When a heroine is a tough-as-nails chick, who doesn’t take crap from anybody, who’s her best friend? A boy.
What does it mean that we’re constantly portraying women in relationship to the men in their lives? That a woman isn’t interesting enough or that her conversations aren’t worth listening to, unless it’s with a man, about a man or because of a man?