Media Masculinity Within the Margins
Conclusion: passing the test
In a 1985 installment of Dykes to Watch Out For, a comic strip about the day-to-day lives of lesbians in and around pop culture, Alison Bechdel playfully and insightfully drew up a set of rules that could be applied to works of fiction, particularly movies, so that gender bias could be easily identified. The rules are: 1) it has to have at least two women characters, 2) they have to talk to each other, and 3) their conversation must be about something other than a man. These rules have officially been adopted by film critics, audiences and scholars as the Bechdel Test, and have been applied to a wide range of films, including by a large group of feminist film scholars. Arguably, the real utility of the Bechdel Test is its ability to not simply identify the quantity of females on screen, but the quality of those representations and the relative depth of those characterizations. Since its widespread adoption, the test has been adjusted for depth (that there must be at least 60 seconds of conversation between women, for instance1), for race (it has to have two POC [people of color] in it, that talk to each other, about something other than a white person2) and applied to other media, including TV and videogames.3 There is also bechdeltest.com, a wiki-database that has tested over 4,000 films with the added requirement that women who appear in the films must be named characters. But, is there a Bechdel Test...
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