Do you remember the last film that you saw? Does it follow this rule?
- Are there two female characters?
- Do they talk to each other?
- Do they talk to each other about something other than a man?
This test was created by a women named Alison Bechdel, and examines female roles in films, books and TV programmes by asking those three questions. It seems simply enough, but you’d be surprise at how many actually pass. In 2014 only 55% of released films passed when the test was applied. Many believe that the test is a great starting point for a conversation about the representation of women in film and that it should be used during the creation of them to represent a feminist viewpoint. However, others believe the test to be diminishing. But it was created for banter and not for analysing feminism in films. But it’s important to remember that even if a film does pass the test, that doesn’t automatically “great” or “feminist”. Equally, those that fail are not necessarily the opposite. It just means that the film lacks a strong female depiction, just like Gravity which had a strong female lead but still failed to pass the test.
The Bechdel Test doesn’t check for quality, or how women are treated; It just highlights whether women are visible in the film. Even though the Bechdel Test is a good indicator of equal gender representation, it doesn’t mean that the movie should receive top marks from feminists overall.
This leads to the conclusion that the Bechdel Test is not a feminist test but a gender test. A test that should be there to hold the Hollywood filmmakers to a standard that wouldn’t necessitate plots that were overly empowering women.
Is that really too much to ask for?