What is the Bechdel Test?

The Bechdel test is a set of rules with the goal of raising awareness of the gender inequality in major motion pictures. The guidelines are as follows, the film must include at least two women, the women must have a conversation, and that conversation must be about something other than a man. The two women can converse about anything, just not about a man. This seems like a pretty simple set of guidelines to follow, however, only half of all major films have met the requirements to pass the Bechdel test.

Alison Bechdel, a cartoonist and author of, the now popular adapted musical, Fun Home, created the test. The idea first appeared in Bechdel’s comic “Dykes to Watch Out For.” In the strip, a woman explains to her friend that she doesn’t see any movie that doesn’t follow these set of rules that she made up. She then explains that the last movie she was able to watch was Alien.    The Bechdel test does not determine if a movie is empowering to women or if a movie depicts women in a demoralizing way or even if a movie is sexist. Its main purpose is to point out the way gender is represented in major films. When women are depicted as only conversing with men, as if men are the only thing worth talking about, it paints the picture that women don’t contain the same depth as men. Women are represented without the depth to talk about something other than men in half of all major pictures. Women are so much more than just their connections to men.

According to bechdeltest.com, recent popular movies that have failed the Bechdel test include Deadpool, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Star Trek Beyond. The fact that these movies failed to pass isn’t surprising because the lead characters in each of these films are mainly men. Recent popular movies that have met the requirements to pass include Ghostbusters, Bad Moms, and Finding Dory. This is also unsurprising because each of these films has female main characters. Surprisingly, movies like Spotlight and American Sniper, both academy award nominees, have failed and movies like War Dogs and Fifty Shades of Grey have passed. The Bechdel test doesn’t determine which films are feminist, it solely provokes discussion about the way in which gender is represented in major motion pictures.

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