What Is The Bechdel Test?

The Bechdel test was popularized by the comic Dykes to Watch Out For by Alison Bechdel. Movies are tested by the following criteria:

1. It has more than two women in it.

2. They talk to each other

3. They talk to each other about something other than a man.

Now, this isn’t necessarily a test of a movie’s quality many movies that I’ve really enjoyed don’t pass. I watched this video about it, and was absolutely astonished by the number of movies that don’t pass the test. If you’re interested in seeing more moves that pass and fail the test or want to add one yourself, you can check out The Bechdel Test Movie List.

I think this is an interesting observation about how women and relationships are described in the media. In cinema, women are often portrayed as looking for “the one” and that this search is the most important thing shaping their lives. I think this creates a limited picture of relationships and how they function. Finding the mythical “one” is portrayed as solving everyone’s problems and seems to gloss over the fact that the people involved in the relationship are just people. They can’t solve all of each others problems and shouldn’t be expected to do so.

Conversations in movies are also something that we should consider critically. I know that many conversations I have in real life are about men and relationships. It certainly isn’t all I talk about, but it does seem like an easy topic of conversation. It is expected common ground between people who may not know each other well. I think it is important to consider how much of a role the media has in shaping perceptions about what it is okay to talk about with others.

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  • Arpita

    Ms. Bechdel’s first name is Alison, not Anne.

  • Kiersten

    You are correct. I’m not sure exactly why I put the wrong name in, but I shall fix it.

  • Liz

    That was very interesting. I just spend several minutes reading through the movies.