Women In Films: Is The Bechdel Test Really Worth It?

By Yash Thakur. Posted on August 10, 2015

Women in films, are grossly under-represented. That's not news. Neither is the fact that our cinema, much like cinemas everywhere are patently patriarchal, often to the point of being misogynistic.

Many of you have heard of the famous Bechdel Test; a test to measure the presence of women in cinema. The test is named for Alison Bechdel, creator of the comic strip Dykes To Watch Out For, where the concept first appeared.

For a film to pass The Bechdel Test, the movie must simply tick the following boxes:

1: It must have at least two female characters
2: They must both have names
3: They must talk to each other about something other than a man.

While these conditions seem fairly easy to clear, it's only when you apply them to some of our most popular movies that your realize how pathetically male-oriented cinema is. Not just in India, but across the world.

And even if a film passes the test, it is interesting to know that, more often than not, it is very late in the film, like in Linklater's Slacker and the dialogue between women is scarce. And this is not just in male-directed films; even women directed films have the same issue (35 Shots of Rum).

2015 seems to be the year of female characters and actors in Bollywood. The success of NH-10Tanu Weds Manu 2 & Piku has led to media hype over the progress that our cinema is making in this regard. However a closer inspection would reveal that even these films fail to pass the Bechdel test.

In this interesting video below, Fandor explores the issue in some detail. While the focus is international, the video is still relevant to us here.

What matters more: that if a film passes or fails certain standards, or rather in what way it does so? Do watch and share your views:


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