Addicted to heroines

Many of you will have noticed that Tuesday is an important day this week. No, it’s not just the pancakes – though obviously that’s a significant culinary moment for many. It’s International Women’s Day.

I thought I’d celebrate it by highlighting the Bechdel Movie Test. Alison Bechdel is a wonderful artist who produced the ‘Dykes to Watch Out For’ comic strip all through the 80s and 90s, and wrote the truly marvellous ‘Fun Home’ graphic novel. Read these if you possible can.

She also promulgated (though did not actually invent) the Bechdel Movie Test. (It has ended up being named after her by accident.) It exists to test the visibility or otherwise of women in mainstream cinema. It involves asking three questions:

1. Is there more than one female character in this movie who actually has a name?

2. Are these female characters ever depicted having a conversation with each other?

3. If they are seen talking, do they talk about anything other than men?

It’s astonishing and horrifying to discover the roll-call of movies which do not pass on these three simple test questions. They include many thrillers and blokes’ pix, but also family and young people’s films such as Shrek and the Pirates of the Caribbean series. Watch the video on this page of her website to find out more – and then next time you go to the movies, keep on the lookout for any films that pass the Bechdel Movie Test.

Yo sistahs!

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Published in: on March 5, 2011 at 16:53  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I’ve sent this to A LOT OF PEOPLE… As a little prezzie from you and me. I’ve especially sent it to people I know who write/direct/programme or otherwise create. A little consciousness-raising… I tell you what, the thing that really stuns me is how many films with feisty, capable female heroines still manage to qualify.

  2. From some paper or other recently. A man asked “what about International Men’s Days?” The answer was: you already have the other 364.

  3. This is astonishing beyond belief and deeply disturbing. Thank you for this. As a filmmaker, it has really made me think.

  4. I have often noticed this in films. Another test I would add is this: Does the male protagonist marry/sleep with/win a woman who is massively out of his league in looks, age and intelligence, and who in real life wouldn’t give him a second glance? Almost always.

    Conversely I would recommend a film that doesn’t technically pass the the BM test: True Grit. Brilliant.


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