Potentially Problematic Opinions Month: I’m a Feminist, But the Film I’m Writing Doesn’t Pass the Bechdel Test

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  • Jtown
    7 years ago

    Some people forget or don’t realize the Bechdel Test is supposed to expose a problem in the larger picture (ie. it’s more important how many films/books/etc in a group fail than whether an individual work does). The fact that the bar is set low is to make a point; too much focus on whether an individual work passes the Test runs the risk of treating it like an academic exam where failing is unacceptable and passing is satisfactory.

    It is reasoned that, similar to the other test you mentioned, works which (substantively, not just technically) pass the Test are also more likely to have better developed and more relevant female characters. However, this is a supposed correlation, again, across multiple works, not something automatically true for everything.

    Like you pointed out, passing the test doesn’t necessarily mean the portrayals are good or “feminist friendly.” Like the Lamp Test, taking the Bechdel Test into account is simply a way to get writers to do more than the status quo of thoughtlessness (among other things) when it comes to female characters.

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