What Is The Bechdel Test And How Does It Evaluate Female Representation In Entertainment?

Female representation in entertainment and all other fields has been fighting a strong, long-drawn fight. And we’ve seen some solid change, which though promising, is not enough. But back in 1985, when for obvious reasons, female representation was down the drain in art and cinema, cartoonist Alison Bechdel took matters into her own hands. She managed to create a simple test with certain rules that can be used to measure the level of female representation and feministic angles in movies and tv shows. It is known. as the Bechdel Test. Now, this test has been around for about 35 years. And yet, most modern movies continue to fail this test. In fact, the test is literally, barely being implemented. Isn’t that shocking?

In a world which is trying its best to head toward gender equality, our movies and TV shows are still scared to approach this test because they might actually fail it. So, are you wondering what these rules are and why movies are still not meeting the criteria? Let’s learn more about it.

What Are The Rules Of The Bechdel Test?

A 2018 BBC study found that just under half of the films named Best Picture at the Oscars have passed this test. This has been happening for ages now, 020, The three Best Picture nominees in 2020 (The Irishman1917Ford v Ferrari) failed the test, and three were argued over (Marriage StoryJokerOnce Upon a Time in Hollywood), and only three (Little WomenJojo RabbitParasite) passed. Ironically, in 2021, even a more visible percentage of the nominees continue to fail the test. Isn’t that surprising?

What are the rules of the Bechdel Test that decided whether the movies pass or fail?

1. Are at least two women featured in the move?

2. Do these women talk to each other in a personal sense?

3. Do they discuss something other than romance or a man?

Don’t these rules look really straight, simple and of course, easy to follow? Alas, most famous modern movies seem to disagree there. These movies are, therefore, refraining from taking the test because well, they already know that they are majorly failing the same. Considering how hard we’re trying to bring about gender equality, isn’t this realisation truly unfortunate?

Also Read: 6 Thriller Movies Where The Female Characters Aren’t Written ‘Dumb’ And Don’t Need Any ‘Saving’

Why Aren’t Movies Able To Pass The Bechdel Test?

“When it comes to representation, we get into a habit of lapping up crumbs and pretending to be fed, the test carries a lot of weight in its revelations and in doing so, it eases us into further, more important questions about who else and what else might be missing,” says Corrina Antrobus, the founder of Bechdel Test Fest, the London-based film festival celebrating progressive depictions of women on screen.

I totally agree with her there. You see, the moment we see some sort of positive movement in terms of the representation on screen, we end up believing that something amazing has been done. We indeed, lap up the crumbs given and pretend like we’re full. That’s a part of the whole problem, we don’t push for these improvements and if we don’t, we might never see them.

Also Read: From Anupamaa To Imlie, Female Characters That Are Weaving A Wave Of Change In Indian Television

It’s about time that we ask for the representation that we wish to see on the screen and make sure that the level of representation and gender equality is maintained on all grounds- on screen as well as in real life. It’s time to speak up and raise our voices for the right, we can indeed make this happen.

Also Read: OTT Projects Have Better Female Representation Than Theatrical Releases, Says Study. We Have A Long Way To Go!

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Mehak Walia

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