Women in Film: The Bechdel Test.

Do you guys know about the Bechdel Test? I was a Women in Film minor at school, and I still didn't know about it until very recently. I'm sort of embarrassed to say my husband told me about it.

Basically, The Bechdel Test is a simple way of evaluating how developed the female characters are in a movie. It was created by Alison Bechdel in her comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For back in 1985. To pass the test, the movie must:
  1. have at least two women in it...
  2. who talk to each other...
  3. about something besides a man.
Simple, right? Feminist Frequency has a two minute video that walks you through the rules and illustrates just how many movies DON'T fulfill the basic criteria:


(Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLF6sAAMb4s)

It's kind of bananas how many movies don't pass this super simple test! Especially because this test isn't even for content - it's not like the movies have to be particularly feminist or have a certain political leaning. It's literally just about the number of women in a movie who get to talk about anything other than dudes.

It very quietly and simply proves that the film industry continues to make movies aimed at one half of the population. Why? Why does Hollywood still think that movies featuring and aimed at women won't bring in the big bucks?

Walt Hickey wrote about this for the online magazine Five Thirty Eight last year. His article - The Dollar and Cents Case Against Hollywood's Exclusion of Women - makes the case that films featuring women often have lower budgets and have a better return on investment overall. The article is awesome, and I highly recommend reading the whole thing. He approaches it all very systematically and comes up with nice, clear charts like this one that showcase how much Hollywood isn't losing but is actually earning when they include women:

hickey-bechdel-3

Some more articles and links that may interest you pertaining to the Bechdel Test:

So what can we do to change things? To make the Bechdel Test obsolete? As audience members, we can support movies that showcase women as three dimensional human beings, with faults, complexities, interests, and a variety of attitudes. Those dollars will show Hollywood that we want to see more movies with complex female characters!

As filmmakers, we must raise our hands and consciously object when there is a lack of women in the projects we are working on. We must support both male and female filmmakers who choose to represent women more often and more clearly in their works.

We can do it! Like MJ says, we can make that change!