Women in Movies: The Bechdel Test


The Bechdel test—named for the cartoonist Alison Bechdel who wrote a long-running comic strip called Dykes To Watch Out For and the critically acclaimed graphic novel Fun Home—is a test to assess whether women have a meaningful presence in a movie. It consists of three questions.

1. Are there two or more women in it that have names?

2. Do they talk to each other?

3. Do they talk to each other about something other than a man?

Once you start thinking about it, you'll be surprised by how many films don't pass this test. In fact, there are entire genres (action-adventure, for example) that seem to fail the Bechdel test, by and large. This page has a year-by-year list of movies, along with their Bechdel status.

This raises some interesting questions. Are all these movies that fail the Bechdel test balanced out by romantic comedies or dramas that do pass the test? Does this represent a male bias in movie-making or just a response to the demands and expectations of moviegoers? Do most women want movies that pass the Bechdel test? Is this a Hollywood phenomenon, or a phenomenon in film—or storytelling, even—writ large?

Via Boing Boing