The Bechdel Test Reveals Sexism in TV, Movies

By: JD Wednesday, October 27th, 2010 10:42 am GMT -5 343 views 2 Comments

You would think that in 2010 popular TV and movies are not sexist. In many ways that’s true. There are strong female protagonists and female actors are very respected. Then you hear about something like the Bechdel Test and you start to wonder.

Named after Alison Bechdel, a lesbian cartoonist from the 80s, the Bechdel test asks three questions about a movie or TV show:

  1. Are there two or more female characters with names?
  2. Do they talk to each other?
  3. Do they talk about something other than a man?

You can watch this video for some more detail:

When I first heard about this I thought it was crazy, most movies or TV shows have to meet those requirements, right? If you think about it, it’s rarer than you’d expect.

Now there’s some argument as to whether or not failing the Bechdel test constitutes sexism. I would wager that it does since it portrays women as less fully realized or independent. The problem with this compounds when you look at how common it is. This is just another example of our culture promoting gender inequality. There’s something to be said that young girls watching movies subconsciously see female characters not being fully realized or if they are, only talking about a man.

What do you guys think? Have you heard of this? Think about the shows and movies you watch, do they pass the test?

Photo credit: zach manchester

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2 Comments »

  • Fbowa said:

    Wow, this is actually really interesting. So many examples! After I watched this I thought of the last movie I’ve seen which was “Red.” Nope. Doesn’t even remotely pass the test.

    • JD (author) said:

      It’s amazing once you start looking at examples and you realize how common it is. It’s pretty subversive since its presence has become accepted. If you look at the inverse, it’d be totally odd.

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