I just saw a reference to the Bechdel test for women characters in movies and I googled this to find out what it meant. My Google search led to this video from youtube.com/user/feministfrequency, which begins with the narrator saying:
The Bechdel test, or the Mo Movie Measure, is a type of litmus test to assess the presence of women in movies. It originated from Alison Bechdel’s comic, “Dykes To Watch Out For,” in 1985. Here’s how it works; a movie just has to pass these three simple questions.
The three questions are:
- Are there two or more women in the movie WHO HAVE NAMES?
- Do they talk to each other?
- Do they talk to each other about something other than a man?
And then the short video goes on to show the movie posters of so many movies that do not meet this test.
I’m a long-standing feminist who writes fiction stories and screenplays with strong female characters because that is what interests me and because I think fictional portrayal has such a strong impact on perceived real-life views. But even though I know about the lack of strong female fictional characters in many movies, I was still surprised as I watched this video.
Why? Because the Bechdel test bar is so low!
The Bechdel test is not even talking about women being lead characters or taking control of their own actions or having large roles in a film. The test is simply talking about women having a presence and whose characters have names.
If you are a fiction story or screenplay writer, ask yourself if your work meets the three simple questions of the Bechdel test. And if not, rectify this lack asap because fictional portrayal so strongly influences people’s real-life opinions!
P.S. And while you will find many posts on this blog that concern the portrayal of women in fiction, click here for a post on a broader subject — “Fiction Portrayals Impact More Than Gender and Diversity Issues” — another important consideration for fiction story and screenplay writers.
And you can read most of my screenplays and TV drama and comedy pilots, all of which I hope pass the Bechdel test, on Amazon Studios. Click here now.
© 2016 Miller Mosaic LLC
Phyllis Zimbler Miller (@ZimblerMiller) has an M.B.A. from The Wharton School and is the author of fiction and nonfiction books/ebooks. Phyllis is available by skype for book group discussions and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Her Kindle fiction ebooks may be read for free with a Kindle Unlimited monthly subscription — see www.amazon.com/author/phylliszimblermiller — and her Kindle nonfiction ebooks may also be read for free with a Kindle Unlimited monthly subscription — see www.amazon.com/author/phylliszmiller