Does your favorite film pass the Bechdel Test?

A term that has been swirling around the movie business for a while that you may not have been aware of, and is a tool used by many to measure gender bias in films, is The Bechdel Test. What the hell is that, you might be asking? It’s not like an SAT test that strikes the fear of God into high school juniors and unsuccessfully tells young men and women whether or not they are intelligent or a dunce. Nor is it a rigorous cinematography checklist that identifies editing miscues and shot selections in a movie that produces a quantifiable score. The Bechdel Test is quite simple and it is a shame that more movies do not pass it. There are 3 simple occurrences that need to happen in order for a movie to pass this test.

1. The movie must have at least 2 named women in it, that

2. talk to each other

3. and the conversation is not about a man. That seems pretty simple, right? It’s actually kind of amazing how many movies do not pass this test and shows that the film industry has a history of slighting the importance of women in film.

The test comes from a 1985 comic, Dykes to Watch Out For, written by Alison Bechdel. The specific strip was called ‘The Rule’, where one of the characters explains that she doesn’t watch a movie unless it passes the 3 rules listed above.

Bechdel has said that she meant the strip to be a small “lesbian joke”, but eventually the joke turned into a staple of how feminist judge TV, film, books, and other media. Bechdel also credits her karate partner, Liz Wallace, which she says she got the idea from Virginia Woolf’s essay, A Room Of One’s Own. Regardless of where the test came from and who thought it up, something that started out as a humorous quip in a feminist publication, has turned into a well-researched and fundamental means to determining whether or not a movie is woman-friendly.

I’m no expert on feminism nor do I pretend to be. I can see how some movies wouldn’t pass The Bechdel Test due to there only being one main character in the movie (Cast Away, Buried, Taxi Driver). But for any other movie that has more than 1 character in it and has 2 female roles, there is no reason for that film not to pass this seemingly simple test, right? It just seems like common sense that women talk about things other than men. In fact, women’s conversations aren’t that much different from men’s conversations. Sure, there might not be as many references to farts or drunken nights at the bar (if there are put a ring on her finger because she’s a keeper), but their main focus isn’t on men all the time. Our concerns and interests are the same: Sports, movies, restaurants, animals, how Kim Kardashian’s ass pales in comparison to the size Kanye’s ego; both men and women talk about these things.

If scriptwriters, producers, and directors aren’t able to see that their movies are sometimes portraying women in a stereotypical way, them maybe the almighty dollar will help clear their vision. Movies that passed The Bechdel Test earned a total $4.2 billion compared to the movies that didn’t pass with $2.6 billion ( That’s a difference that any idiot can see. More women in films=more money in their greedy little pockets. Not to belittle The Bechdel Test and the importance of it for gender equality in the media, but I have come up with my own test that will determine whether or not a movie is worth watching for a 35 year old male who’s main interests in life are cats and beer. Here are the rules:

1. At some point alcohol must be drunk by at least 2 people at the same time.

2. There must be some sort of fight scene (does not have to be elaborately

choreographed martial arts or boxing).

3. At some point, one of the lead male characters must let out a scream

displaying either their masculinity, fear, or pain.

4. There must be use of a weapon at any time (could be normal object used as a weapon).

This is a solid set of rules that will weed out any crappy movies that simply don’t deliver the goods for those who have a higher standard of movies. Some movies that pass this test are: Big Trouble In Little China, Over The Top, Tango And Cash, Predator, Bottle Rocket, Scrooged, and basically anything made in the 80’s. This test is to be called The ASK Test; derived from the actors who have a majority of their film career passing this revolutionary and highly scientific test (Arnold, Stallone, Kurt (Russell)). One could probably even argue that this test is the masculine and more bro-ish version of The Bechdel Test. If there are men out there who need guidance on whether they should watch the new Vin Diesel movie or if they would be better off sitting on the toilet playing Clash of Clans for an hour and a half, then I hope this rule can help them make that difficult decision.

Which ever test you decide or feel you need to use to determine which movies are worth watching, please remember that if a movie does not pass your test, doesn’t mean that it isn’t a good movie or that there isn’t a positive message and story to be learned from it. I believe The Bechdel Test isn’t meant to keep people from watching movies that didn’t pass it. It is simply a message to the studio execs that they should stop portraying people in stereotypical ways and that the public is starting to notice the biasness in their films.

“Son of a bitch must pay!”

- Jack Burton; Big Trouble In Little China