The Bechdel Test

In order to determine whether a film passes the Bechdel Test just ask yourself these three simple questions:

1. Are there at least two named female characters? 
2. Do these characters ever speak to each other?
3. Do they speak about something other than a man? 

It is astonishing how many popular Hollywood films do not have even this minimal level of female representation.  For a more detailed explanation take a look at this handy little video from Feminist Frequency:


The Bechdel Test is by no means a perfect system as it doesn’t take into consideration whether these female characters are in any way realistic, well-rounded or even believable representations of women. Also, in some cases, I can understand why there might be a distinct lack of women in some films (The Shawshank Redemption, for example, because it is set in a male prison). However, for the majority of Hollywood films there is simply no reason why a group which comprises around half the population is so widely under-represented.

So every time I review a film I’m going to list the number of male and female characters in it and whether or not it passes the Bechdel Test. If a film doesn’t pass that doesn’t mean that I automatically think it’s terrible. I just want to keep tabs on this problem and highlight how widely women are under-represented in, and sometime completely excluded from, Hollywood films.


(Also, although intended for film, I will apply this to TV programmes when writing about individual episodes.)