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The Bechdel Test- What is it and why is it important?

The Bechdel Test is something I hadn’t heard of until recently, it’s one of the many things seen trending on the popular app; TikTok. It is a simple test of the presence of females in fiction. The test has three requirements; (1) it has to have at least two women in it, who (2) who talk to each other, about (3) something besides a man.

Although this test may sound straightforward, many known and loved movies fail to meet the criteria. Some examples include; Avatar, The Social Network, The Avengers, The Imitation Game and the list goes on.

Despite the disappointments of the films which do not meet the Bechdel Test requirements, some classic films do meet the mark. The list of successful films contains; Titanic, The Devil Wears Prada, Clueless and Mean Girls.

On the Bechdel Test website, they have a statistics page which outlines the numbers of movies which meet the test requirements. “There are 8076 movies in the database, 4651 (57.6%) of which pass all three tests, 821 (10.2%) pass two tests, 1785 (22.1%) pass one test and 819 (10.1%) pass no tests at all.”- Bechdel Test Movie List

Upon researching, I found that there are numerous Disney movies which do not pass the Bechdel test. These Disney films are played in the early years of young boys and girls' childhoods, encouraging them to learn this awful sense of normality. Some examples of Disney features which do not pass the Bechdel Test include; Aladdin, The Lion King, Big Hero Six, Bambi and Mulan.

Although the test remains simple and can’t wholly indicate whether a film accurately and fairly depicts women, it still encourages us to think, to reconsider how females are shown in the media in comparison to male counterparts. Whilst using the Bechdel Test does not remove the issues females face in cinematic roles, it begins the conversation that really needs to take place.

As a society, we need to address the unwritten bias that is manufactured into so many of our films, TV shows and books. More needs to be done to change female representation in the media, starting with the movies we love.

So, now you know what the Bechdel Test is, have a look at your favourite films, TV shows and books. Do they meet the requirements?

Learn more here.

By Ellie Rochell

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