The Bechdel Test: Does The Fiction You Read Or Watch Pass?

A great post about gender inequality in fiction. For the writers out there, do your books pass the Bechdel Test?

Carrie Rubin

True or false: My teenage sons love when I point out gender inequality or lack of diversity in movies to them, especially when I pause the DVD to do so.

False. They don’t love that. They roll their eyes and say, “Ugh, Mom, we get it.”

annoyed-teenager-from-microsoft-clip-art

But as long as they’re in my home, I will make use of these teachable moments. As a mother of two white males, it’s my job to make sure they recognize what they might otherwise fail to see.

But I’m not here to get all preachy. I’ll save that for my sons. Instead I wanted to tell you about the Bechdel Test. Maybe you already know about it. After all, I’m a laggard. But I didn’t know the term until my social media bud, Audrey Kalman, mentioned it to me in a tweet. (Thanks, Audrey!)

The Test

The Bechdel test is an indicator of gender…

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5 thoughts on “The Bechdel Test: Does The Fiction You Read Or Watch Pass?

  1. That was an interesting link Dylan. Probably raises more questions than it answers. I remember you said about Stephanie and changing her to female, and she made for one v powerful character.

    But, depending on your novel, ie if it’s non-fantasy/dystopian etc, to what extent should it reflect real life?

    I’d love to see sexism less apparent in fiction, let alone in real life, but that would presuppose that all authors have a deep grounded knowledge of it. And they don’t. It’s more than whether or not there are a couple of strong female characters who talk about more than clothes and men.

    Anyway I’ll stop before I make a blog post of my comment. But falling in with artificial formulaic constructs isn’t necessarily the right way to go.

    • I agree completely that it barely scratches the surface on the misrepresentation of women in fiction, and I understand your feelings about authors thinking they just have to tick these boxes and they’ve met their ‘quota’ – I feel the same way whenever I come across any form of tokenism, no matter how well intended – but at the same time if it gets authors to think a little more about gender equality, it can only be a good thing.

  2. Mine do so much that it’s *almost* a problem the other way around 😉 I once had a script booked in for a workshop that for some reason only male actors could attend, so I suggested I replaced the one I’d planned to workshop with one which had more roles for men… then realised I’d never written any such script.

    • Given how many scripts are written purely from a male point of view, I don’t see this as an issue :-). In truth, there are clearly cases where the Bechdel test doesn’t make sense, but for the mojority of scripts or books, it does raise the question of whether a large section of the population is being under-represented.

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