Why I don’t agree with the Bechdel Test

If you don’t know what the Bechdel Test is, it was this “test” for movies and tv shows in which there must be two women in the movie/show, and they must have a conversation about anything besides men. If any movie/show does not follow these rules, they automatically fail.

At first I thought it was a great idea. Women would be more included, and not seen as just accessories to a movie. Later I started to realize it’s flaws.

This is actually just a short comic posted in 1985.

Dykes_to_Watch_Out_For_(Bechdel_test_origin).jpg

Here’s a list of why I don’t agree…

  1. Tons of movies or shows with strong female leads are excluded from this test because one, there is only one main female character, or two, they have a love interest, but that isn’t the main point of the movie/show. Why is it so wrong to have a love story involved? Love is often a big part of somebody’s life, and to exclude it is dishonest, and frankly, unusual.
  2. It could be homophobic. The two women can’t talk about a MAN. This lady in the comic is kind of assuming that all women are straight, and attracted to males. Not okay with me.
  3. It’s not feminist at all. A lot of feminists follow this test, but as a feminist, I don’t agree with this test. It only has to do with gender, not feminism. The two women could pass the Bechdel test even if they were talking about being a prostitute, or a stripper. That doesn’t sound very feminist to me.
  4. I choose to not look at gender. When I meet people, I tend to get to know them as people, and not stereotype or assume things because of their gender. Assuming that a movie is bad just because they are all men is very sexist, if you think about it.
  5. Lastly, this “test” is just a few lines from a comic strip. I’m surprised that it’s even being taken that seriously. Many of my favorite shows are all male characters, or all female characters, and I won’t give it up just because some comic from the 80’s told me to.

In conclusion, I don’t believe that this comic should be taken too seriously. It’s kind of sexist, homophobic, and stereotypical. Instead, people should look at a movie for the people in general, and if the characters are good role models or not. Not if they are women or men.

Please leave your thoughts down below. If you agree with this test, maybe you could explain why. If you disagree, let me know your thoughts on that as well. I would love to hear feminist perspectives.

Thanks for reading.

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Maritza's Thoughts

I have always enjoyed the art of writing and language. That is why I decided to start this blog. I write about my thoughts, veganism, and mindfulness. I hope you enjoy my blog.

9 thoughts on “Why I don’t agree with the Bechdel Test”

  1. I look for good plot lines and good acting when I watch a tv show/movie. I would be more offended by terrible acting than by a scene where women discuss a man. The Test means well, but I’d say it’s a suggestion, not a rule.

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  2. The Bechdel test is a heuristic. It’s a simple, quick way to categorize movies, but it’s not necessarily accurate in any individual case. As such, I think the Bechdel test is less useful for judging individual movies and more useful for judging a group of movies (e.g. horror movies, or all new movies from 2015). One movie failing the Bechdel test doesn’t necessarily mean anything, but if 75% of movies in some category fail? That indicates some issues.

    I don’t think there’s necessarily anything wrong with watching a movie which is sexist, or whatever, as long as you can acknowledge its failings. I like to watch Dr. Who, for instance, and as the show started in the 60’s, some of the older episodes are incredibly, blatantly sexist. Like, the female characters exist primarily to get injured or captured so that the dashingly heroic male leads can rescue them. A secondary purpose of female characters is to scream when they see some terribly hilarious bad special effects monster, so that you know it is scary, or something. The show wasn’t necessarily any better or worse than any other show at the time, though. Dr. Who was (and is) a product of its time, and it shows.

    On point #2, I don’t agree that the Bechdel test is homophobic. That the two female characters must talk about something other than a man isn’t an assumption that all women are straight, it’s a way to exclude the movies in which female roles are only important for how they relate to the men in the movie. Like the Dr. Who women who primarily exist to get captured so the men can rescue them.

    I do think the Bechdel test can be useful as a heuristic, but it shouldn’t be taken too seriously or literally.

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    1. As a feminist, I believe that this has nothing to do with feminism, despite feminists telling me otherwise. That is the main reason why I don’t agree with it. It’s not accurate, and it excludes a lot of well-made movies with powerful messages.

      Personally, for me, I cannot watch anything that is remotely sexist, and that is mainly because I get distracted by the sexism, and sexist jokes just really annoy me. I understand that Doctor Who was made a while ago, so I know what you mean. It’s highly likely that it would be sexist anyways, because of the times. I just wouldn’t be able to watch it and actually enjoy it. And really? The woman screaming? Hmm…

      I was told that the women can’t talk about men romantically by various feminist articles, so if that is the case, then yes, it is in fact homophobic. Plus, it’s obvious that’s what they really meant. Women in sexist movies are usually just made arm candy for the male.

      The Bechdel test really annoys me, and I will watch a movie based on the acting and characters, not their gender.

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  3. I had never heard of this test before now, and I can agree with you that it is definitely not a good way to judge a movie, but I don’t think that it’s homophobic. There just isn’t enough evidence in this short comic strip to back that up.

    You have a great writing style though! I look forward to reading more of your work!

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    1. Thank you! It’s just that women in movies tend to surround men. Women are used as decoration in action movies, sex objects, etc. In a sexist movie targeted towards males, when two women talk about a man, it’s usually romantic. I agree that there isn’t enough evidence, but I’m talking about it in certain situations. I hope you stick around. 🙂

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  4. Yeah this whole concept a.k.a. “test” is a little far fetched. I get what they were going for but it just doesn’t really work. There could be a movie where it’s all women and one man and one woman happens to mention to another that the male cashier in the grocery store was wearing a cool shirt and the movie would fail. I realize that’s a horrible example but for all intents and purposes, it’s true. I think a lot of people attach themselves to certain ideas out of a need to feel like a part of something bigger. Most of us do it in some way but this is one way that’s just not correct. I am a feminist. I am not a fan of sexism or sexist movies and I do agree that the female character shouldn’t just be used to arm candy or a “helpless dame” who needs rescuing but this just goes one step too far.

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