What does the Bechdel test mean

The term Bechdel test has been roaming the net for years. It is used in discussions about movies to confirm one's own gut feeling that Hollywood in particular is still interested in reducing the female sex primarily to external stimuli.

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Of course, it's not that easy. But the so-called Bechdel test - presented in 1985 by comic author Alison Bechdel in the comic "Dykes to Watch Out For" ("Remarkable Lesbians") as a loose catalog of questions - leads to astonishing results, which even every open-minded man gets the blood of Have to let your ears drift.

Specifically, the Bechdel test should help to perceive stereotypes in films, especially with regard to the portrayal of female roles in cinema and television. Bechdel, who has been known to a wider public since 2006 at the latest and the publication of her highly praised, autobiographical graphic novel “Fun Home”, was not concerned with determining the cinematic quality of a film.

Instead, she wants to point out that many films have only a few female leading roles or that women are still less complex than men in the cinema. In addition, according to Bechdel, many (Hollywood) films are based on clichéd ideas about female sexuality and opportunities for social development.

What are the questions of the Bechdel test?

There are now two versions of the Bechdel test. The original version contains three questions, the modified four questions.

  • Are there at least two female roles?
  • Are you talking to each other?
  • Are you talking about anything other than a man?
  • If there are several female roles, do they all have a name?

There are terrifying lists of classic films on the Internet that all failed the Bechdel test, including "Avatar", the first three "Star Wars" films, the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy and (no joke!) "Lola runs".

Editor's recommendation

The Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University supports Bechdel's non-scientific method of tapping the cinema for sexist and primitive portrayals of women.

A study evaluated 500 films from 2007 to 2012 that were particularly popular (i.e. with above-average box office results). It turned out that only a third of the films had at least one female lead. The ratio between male and female actors in the study was 2.5 to 1. Follow-up examinations from the last few years also confirm the analysis.

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