bechdel test – ever heard of it? thought not. it’s a benchmark for films that was created nearly 30 years ago. for a film to pass the bechdel test, it must meet 3 criteria: the film must have at least 2 female characters, who talk to each other about anything at all except men.
sounds simple, right? then you might be surprised to find out how many films fail this test, these to name but a few:
– Monsters University
– the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy
– Lara Croft
– all but one of the Harry Potter films
– the original Star Wars trilogy
in 2013, only 36% of films passed this test. to be clear, passing doesn’t mean the film is good or bad. failing the test doesn’t mean the film is evil or anti-woman, or that passing makes it some sort of strongly feminist movie. it’s more to get people thinking about gender and how it’s presented in film.
a lot of these films fail as the many do have strong female characters but these women never actually speak to each other. it makes me wonder what is the point of them being there.
i grew up with 3 younger brothers and 2 very strong female role models in my mum and nana. in school, i caused trouble when i started a petition to allow the girls to wear trousers. i was the only girl on the boys cricket team. i was bought up to question and challenge and explore everything around me. that includes the times when i was treated differently because i was a girl.
as a young woman today, i’m constantly bombarded with women being portrayed as objects in the media – women having no opinions, no voice, no role except to cook and look pretty. i’m not suggesting that the bechdel test is the be all and end all. there are plenty of hugely sexist films that pass the test with flying colours. i think it’s more about awareness of the portrayal of women in films. if i have a daughter, i want to bring her up as i was – to stand up for herself and others, especially women, and to not be afraid to challenge the status quo. because for the world to continue to treat women as inferior to men, isn’t right. it just isn’t.