What are movies teaching our kids about gender, about what it means to be men and women? That’s the question Colin Stokes asks in this recent TED Talks video. Although he raises a number of good points, here are a couple of the more interesting ones.
The Bechdel Test
I’d never heard of the Bechdel Test, but it’s a way of gauging how a movie portrays its female characters. And it’s a pretty simple test.
- Are there at least two women who actually have lines?
- Do these women talk to each other at any point in the movie?
- Is there conversation about something other than the guy that they both like?
So the essence of the test is whether the movie contains “two women who exist and talk to each other about stuff.” That sounds like setting the bar pretty low. But the startling reality is that quite a few movies fail to achieve even this low standard. Either the movie has almost no significant female characters, or it fails to show them interacting with other women on issues unrelated to dating and/or marriage.