Monday, September 13, 2010

Bechdel Test

One of the coolest things I have gotten to do at my University is take a class in Graphic Novels. One of those novels was called "Fun Home" by Alison Bechdel, which portrayed a young girl coming to terms with her father's sexuality and her own. Many in my class snickered at the drawings portraying lesbianism, some even felt extremely uncomfortable or made jokes to "lighten the mood," but I found it to be unique and insightful.

Then, as I was beginning to write my final paper in the class, I started Googling authors of these novels for more background information and came across the Bechdel Test's website. This "test" is a movie rating system that deals with feminism and goes against what we consider "gender norms." The rules are as follows:
1. The movie must have two (named) women
2. that talk to each other
3. about something other than a man, finding a man, marriage to a man, etc.
What I find intriguing is not only the very small list of movies that fit this criteria, but how focusing on these three aspects can open up a whole new world for young(er) women who want to watch a movie that isn't all about love/marriage/etc. Most of my favorite movies don't meet this criteria at all (namely because most of my favorite movies have male leads).

I'm wondering if this rule, or test, could be used with literature as well? How many of my favorite novels would be considered "unfit" by this rule? It's an eye-opener on how gendered and biased our culture still is and how women are still being told to conform into the stereotypical gender roles. Just something to make you think about how our society has "evolved" to where we now sit.

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