How Hollywood is Shaping Up on the Feminist Front

For all the feminists out there – and those who want to see significant female presence in movies (beyond boobs and butts), this is a video that runs through the movies that were nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars and measures them for how well-represented women are in the Hollywood scene.

They use the Bechdel Test  – what initially began as a bit of a joke now really highlights the lack of a significant female presence in films. Basically it says that if a movie passes the test it must fulfill the following conditions:

  1. The movie must contain at least 2 women.
  2. They must have names
  3. They must talk about something else other than a man.

The question I have is: if you start placing emphasis on this rule in movies, will you end up getting scenes where women speak to each other just for the sake of it? Will we end up with really contrived, politically correct movies? Or is it not too much to ask that women talk to other women in films about something other than a man for at least 60 seconds?

It’s an interesting concern about the representation of women in today’s media.

Her adaptation for the Bechdel Test to racism (and talking about something other than white people), and someone who commented about adapting it to LGBT representation (and talking about something other than sexuality) are also really interesting, highlighting issues with Hollywood’s minority representation that really shouldn’t be a problem in this day and age.

What do you guys think? Do you reckon we could come up with a Bechdel Test for geek representation in Hollywood films? Where number 3 becomes: They must talk about something other than science and technology? Or is this whole Bechdel Test thing just getting too picky about representing everybody in movies?

[Via Feminist Frequency]

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69 Responses to How Hollywood is Shaping Up on the Feminist Front

  1. Well I do think this is a little lame myself, BUT its an opinion of women, and I am a man. I dont understand the fuss myself, but thats easy to say since I guess I am not a woman.

    Besides, with personal opinions like this is good to have extreme, moderate, and modest views on how things should be, helps even things out since in this time period people try a hell of a lot harder to appeal to everyone's desires.

    I think the Academy Awards are a joke though. There are a lot of movies that star primarily female casts, but you wont see them in many places since they wont sell tickets. and its the ticket sellers that tend to make it to the awards, with a few artsy foreign films so we dont embarrass ourselves to our neighbors over seas.

  2. I think the test isn't supposed to point out that *every* movie needs to pass the test, just that there are so few that do. Even The Help, which has a female-centric cast, only passed on a technicality. The problem is that many movie studios are owned by white guys and cast white guys and society is so used to seeing white guys that we're desensitized to the idea that someone OTHER than a white guy could play the lead. Geeks are just as bad as everyone else – remember the outrage at biracial Spider Man or the mere possibility that Thor would be played by a black actor? We need to work on seeing past traditional gender and race lines in general, like men being able to cook and do housework while women build houses and play sports or a black female action star who *looks* like an action star and doesn't get offed in favor of the dainty white female.

  3. I don’t know how men and women’s brains are different and how and why they operate as they do but women are simply not up to par because they do it to themselves.

    More store salespeople are women, more secretaries are women, more house cleaners and babysitters are female. And this is not because “the man puts them down”.

    My wife, who I am forever in love with shares my views on 100% and has probably somewhat led me to these conclusions herself. She loathes her gender and thinks that females are most of the time way below men standards. And to prove that she is an awesome person she’s a journalist and at the age of 23 will have her bachelor degree in journalism with 5 years of experience already, working for the biggest newspaper in our country and moving on to one of the most quickly developing online news site, being an editor at both places.

    She wants to have an awesome family and wants children, she has a blog that has gotten a lot of attention for a short period of time and she wants to go to places, to explore and innovate, to create new things, to help people understand things.

    This is VERY rare from my observations and I feel like I’m one of the luckiest men out there. She is not on par with men, she is above them and THAT is how females can prove they’re worthy to be equal to men. NOT by inventing rules for movies and saying they don’t get treated equally. Deserve that treatment, do not demand it. If you’re good enough you’ll get the attention of others.

    I myself can’t think of a lot of young and good actresses but I can point out to some good elder ones like Jodie Foster, Meryl Streep, Maggie Smith, Julianne Moore… But male actors? I’ll need to write on essay on that.

    If females want more female films then perhaps females need to climb the heights of Hollywood and get on those chairman boards and when a female writer comes up with a script the female chairman can say “this really touches on a lot of female issues, it needs to become a movie”. But no. Let’s invent rules. It's easier. And let's talk about "the issue". We'll make it better that way. And not by actually working towards achieving equality.

    • "Deserve that treatment, do not demand it." – Jesus christ dude, check your sexism. Women already DESERVE the treatment of being seen as equals and represented as equals in films because ALL PEOPLE ARE EQUAL – they don't have to prove it to you or anyone else.

      Also, really, no one gives a damn about your wife. Learn to stay on topic and stop being so sexist kthanxbai.

      P.S the test *isn't* a rule – what makes you think anyone is going to impliment this and suddenly start measuring all films and not releasing them if they don't match it? It's simply a device to look at whether a certain part of our culture is sexist – and dingdingding it still is. It shows a lot that you got so miffed at someone doing this when it doesn't harm you in any way.

      • Hey man, my wife is just a good example of how women can be equal. Most just choose not to be. Nothing sexist about that.

        And by your example of "no one gives a damn about your wife", no one gives a damn about you as well. So f*ck off. I am on topic.

        • LOL "most just choose not to be" – uh, no. All people all equal. Some people are assholes, true, but that's nothing to do with their gender. Sadly, even the assholes are still equal and deserve to be treated as such.

          You're not on topic – the topic is sexism within the film industry and you just rambled about your wife and claimed women have to CHOOSE to be seen as equal. And people wonder why we still need feminism…

        • Whatever man. People are entitled to their opinions and I strongly believe women are doing it to themselves. The woman in the video is clearly very intelligent and yet, from my point of view, she is wasting her time with these sort of things, instead of going out and doing something good for the species. And no, I don't believe talking about feminism is doing something for the species. It needs to come natural, not be forced.

          But aren't, for example, tests in high school exactly for that? To decided how some are not equal to others? When you work towards something you will be good at it. You can't decide one day at the age of 50 that you want to be an archaeologist and everyone will invest in you and your research … you have nothing to show for it. People wont see you as equal to lifetime archaeologists.

          And my point of view is that most women simply don't really have a lot of goals or don't really work well towards achieving them. Or their goals are simply not that major in the first place. That's where it starts being unequal. Movies are just a single field of this, why do I have to restrict my thoughts to them when the root of the issue is obviously bigger?

        • Interesting that you think equality isn't worth debating or fighting for because "It needs to come natural, not be forced." – would you say the same thing about racism? People of colour should not challenge popular racist viewpoints, debate, talk or fight for it because "it needs to come natural"? How about gay rights? People shouldn't fight or talk about that because it needs to come naturally? I mean really – please think about how absurd that comment really is.

          Equal rights are human rights – they are NOT about intelligence nor gender. Someone may have a much lower IQ than me – that doesn't give me the right to hurt them or exploite them.

          What you've basically just said is "tests in school probably determine that women are stupid so they have to choose to fight to be smart and therefore their opinion to be regarded as valid or important". Women massively excel men in schools – but glass celings hold them down, as do the fact that most industry and buisness is run by men. This doesn't make women less equal ffs.

          You're right, you shouldn't have to restrict your thoughts when the root of the issue is obviously bigger – the roots of this issue are sexism, power, privilege and inequality. If you could take your sexist head out of your ass for a second, you might realise how much of a douche you are and try to change,

        • By "come naturally" I didn't mean it needs to be ignored. Man you're really pulling my words apart… What I mean is that it shouldn't be an issue in the first place. But then someone comes out and says "you know what? I think there aren't a lot of women on the stock market! I will make this issue known worldwide and stop it!"

          Of course I am for equality! And I know very well women exceed in high school. But what glass ceilings exactly are we talking about? Man bosses don't let females get to high places? How did men get in these high places at all? Banks trusts men more and lend them more money so they can start up business, while women are left with nothing?! In my past I've seen just one business ruled by a woman and it failed and the entire company of 300 people was sold in the matter of 3 years.

          WHY?! That's what I'm asking. I have not said anywhere women are stupid or that they don't deserve an equal chance. But WHY is this world perceived to be ruled by the Man?! What have we done that has demolished woman's reputation? Sure in the past men were assholes and women stayed in the kitchen and were considered weaker and so on. But we no longer live in such times, friend! In this day and age everyone can do anything, and yet there aren't a lot of women that can show for that! WHY?

          I love books written by women, I love some actresses, but it's almost as if the ratio of man to woman on this planet is 10:1. Man are everywhere amongst the top positions! Yet women cut my hair and sell me goods and do other mundane jobs that don't really require that much skills or knowledge. Why and how is this still going on? I simply fail to believe that men have anything to do with that. Not anymore at least. In the past – of course.

        • So… you think JUST because people debate and talk about inequality and sexism that they're not actualy doing any activism towards it too? How the hell do you know this, are you psychic per chance? I'm involved in activism AND I debate and talk about sexism – I can do BOTH those things, whodathunk it?!

          By the way – talking and debating about sexism in the general public is half of the battle in the fight against sexism. How do you plan the world to get less sexist by not ever discussing sexism?! We have to make people aware these issues actually exist!

          Your personal experience again, well done, that seems to be all you have to go on.

          May I recommend looking into the concept of a glass ceiling and how seixsm and inequality very much still stops women from getting to the top. Studies have proved that people are more likely to be judged harshley and critisised for being in a job that isn't the norm for their gender – so in other words women can get to the top, but studies prove it's harder to stay there due to the fact they are judged harsher. That is just one study though – why don't you google this stuff to find out how much sexism still exists in terms of the workplace?

          I'll tell you why the world is "percieved" to be be ruled by "the man" – because white men rule everything. For your info:

          In 2010, women held only 17 percent of seats in national parliaments and 17 percent of ministerial positions. Of the 150 elected Heads of State in the world, only 7 were
          women. Of the 500 largest companies in the world, only 13 were headed by a woman.

          Of the 535 seats in the 111th U. S. Congress, women hold only 89 or 16.6%.

          The wage gap still exists. On average, women earn about 80 cents on the dollar compared to men.

          One year after graduation from college, women earned only 80 percent of what their
          male counterparts earned. Ten years after graduation, women earned only 69 percent of what their male counterparts earned.

          In addition to the wage gap, there is also a wealth gap between men and women.
          Women only own 36% as much wealth as men.

          A study of the top 100 top-grossing movies of 2008 found that men had 67 percent of
          the speaking roles. Women only had 33 percent. Researchers found that female
          characters were more likely to wear sexy, provocative clothing than men (26% vs. 5%) or to appear partially naked (24% vs. 8%). In particular, female teenage characters were more likely than other women to wear sexy, provocative clothing (40%) — even more than those age 21 to 39 (32%). Additionally, teenage girls were as likely to appear partially naked than older women (30%).

          Men were also more likely to work behind the camera. For every five male directors,
          writers or producers, there was one female

          SOOOO hopefully this answers your question, this is WHY is this world perceived to be ruled by "the Man" as you put it. If you take all these facts I have just given you and simply take from it that "oh, women must just want less, or be less competitive" then you'd be wrong, and sexist. Which is my point… look deeper rather than just spouting out more sexism into the world.

          (Oh! This is before I've even mentioned the attack on womens reproductive rights!)

        • Haha, but you didn't answer the question AT ALL! You didn't get to the BOTTOM of the problem! WHY is this happening? Your copy-paste skills from research done in the US is awesome but it doesn't tell me anything useful. "Women are judged more harshly" how? How exactly? I think this is a psychological issue for women alone, not men. I think they just feel a lot more pressure when they're in a room with more men. Sure there are men assholes but there are also women assholes, we're equal at that.

          But why aren't boards of directors full of women instead? How has this happened? Plenty of new organizations have gone huge in a matter of years and yet there are almost never women on top of them.

          Google? Two men. Twitter? Four men. Facebook? One man. Did women not have equal start with these men when graduating? Why aren't there a lot of big female startups that have grown so huge? There is no gender involved in inventing and developing something like that. Even Microsoft and Apple… Adobe, Autodesk. I can go on. Where are the females in such companies? Where all you need is a working brain and ideas that can make life for other people easier.

          Women just don't try is what is my opinion. Not "try hard enough" just "not try at all".

          If you have more data to support how women ideas are shot down or technology is somehow inaccessible to them then you're welcome to share it and I'll read it and accept your position.

        • Frankly, voidtester, I gave you the roots of the problem a few comments ago! "The roots of this issue are sexism, power, privilege and inequality." – I've also given you several studies to look up and several concepts there to explain exactly why sexism still exists. Gender roles and power play a huge part – so why don't you go do your own research, eh?

          Here is the link to the study about people being more worse when they work in jobs opposite to their gender roles – http://www.lemondrop.com/2010/12/08/people-judged

          There's also metadata studies looking into the way women are percieved in the media for their jobs – largely based on them being a woman or their apperance. I'm giving you all the things to look up here. You're asking a lot of big questions yet refuse to think critically – do you HONESTLY think the reason women aren't heading up huge orgainsations or being head in politics or anything else is down to a biological difference between men and women? Why won't you even consider concepts such as social mobility, glass ceilings, power, sexism, the way women are socialised differently to men, media representations etc etc? Oh wait, I KNOW – because you're sexist!

        • Further to this… something for you to think about:

          Shall we relate your argument back to racism again? What would you think if I said "well… I guess the reason black people were white people slaves is because they just didn't try hard enough!" – would you think "fair enough, must be the case" or would you say FRICKING HELL that's racism – it's because white people were racists! Something to think about…?

        • Hm… the hell… my comment disappeared. Anyway.

          The study you linked to only showed that "people who were the non-stereotypical gender were judged more harshly". So both men and women were judged harshly for not being in the stereotypical position.

          I'm not about to contact Victoria Brescoll for the full results but they're not really published in full detail anywhere. But I see that women feel the same way about men when men take up positions considered to be ideal by women? This only shows an issue with humanity, not men's inequality towards women.

          Your racism argument is invalid. Black people are indeed equal to white people. It's just how history rolled out that got things like this in the first place. African people at first didn't know much and were brought to the US to do white people's choirs. At one point, and pretty quickly as normal human beings would do, black people learned everything equally to white people. As it's always been the US still abused them and there was a revolution. Lesson learned? Everyone can learn, everyone can take action. In my country color isn't an issue. It's mentality that is an issue.

          And you keep calling me names even though I WOULD hire a woman to do a man's job if she wanted it, EXACTLY because I have the prime example of my wife, which you insulted, being an extremely successful woman. Do go on, good lady, with your fine morals and principals.

        • Well for the second time my big comments disappear because apparently they need to be approved by the administrators. Oh well. I suppose if the admins are on your side then you win. Goodbye.

        • Not at all, somehow, they appeared in the moderation queue automatically… I have no idea why. Sorry about that.

        • The study you linked to only showed that "people who were the non-stereotypical gender were judged more harshly". So both men and women were judged harshly for not being in the stereotypical position. I'm not about to contact Victoria Brescoll for the full results but they're not really published in full detail anywhere. But I see that women feel the same way about men when men take up positions considered to be ideal by women? This only shows an issue with humanity, not men's inequality towards women.

          But it still doesn't answer my question of why new, big companies aren't led by women? What stops them when everything they need to depend on to be successful is themselves? You think that if 2 women sat in their garage for a few months and came up with a good search engine, that no one would use it because they were women?

          And you keep calling me names just because I don't share the same view as yours, EVEN THOUGH I will hire a woman to do a man's job, if she wants it, EXACTLY because I have the prime example of my wife being better the a man, which you insulted by saying no one cares about? Do go on, good lady, with your strong morals and principles.

        • That's exactly what I said voidtester – "people who were the non-stereotypical gender were judged more harshly" – EXACTLY. Since we're talking about women in high up positions of power like buisness or the film industry (dominated by men as the statistics show) then this shows why there aren't many women in these positions.

          It also effects men – but it effects them for workforces such as nursing and teaching – which we weren't discussing, we're discussing the film industry. You proved my point, thank you. Please look at ALL the answers I gave you before again!

          Calling you sexist isn't name calling, it's an accurate observation. Keep proving me right.

        • "And you keep calling me names just because I don't share the same view as yours, EVEN THOUGH I will hire a woman to do a man's job, if she wants it, EXACTLY because I have the prime example of my wife being better the a man, which you insulted by saying no one cares about? Do go on, good lady, with your strong morals and principles."

          This is all I have to say to you and I think I've wasted enough of my time. Keep doing what you're doing. Hopefully you make a difference. But I somehow doubt it.

        • D'awh, I love how you avoid all the points and debates!

          Wow, go you, you'd employ a women! GRAND JOB. You're still displaying sexism. You should work on that.

        • I think you have actually done a fantastic job of proving the feminist point for us. Banks trust men more. Why? Well, because in the past, men were the businessmen. It's a historical precedent, not a rational one.

          You also offer anecdotal evidence that you know of only one company run by a woman, and it failed. There are several things I would like to point out in this anecdote, if you will allow me.
          1.) Women and men make up approximately equal parts of the population, and are allowed to be equally educated in this day and age, so why (as you ask) is there such disparity in numbers. You've already amazingly answered this with the previously mentioned bank comment. Loans are a boys club, and women find it difficult to gain capital to bankroll new businesses.
          2.) You also mentioned that this business failed in less than three years. Is it not true that many businesses run by men also fail in short periods of time? Why does it matter that this business was run by a woman? It doesn't. Not one iota. And yet you used this anecdote to illustrate… what? That women don't work hard? Obviously she did, if she was even able to start her own company. That women are poor business associates? Please don't measure all of us by ONE failure. That men won't do business with women and help their businesses thrive? That is not really so shocking, when you've already mentioned banks.

          You also mention, "In this day and age everyone can do anything, and yet there aren't a lot of women that can show for that! WHY?" You've already answered this question, as well, in your anecdote about your wife. You mentioned that she hates her own gender. It is unfortunate but true that women who do not *act* femininely "make it" while women who maintain an emotional and physical awareness of their femininity are cast aside, both by men and other women.

          I should not have to act like a man to break into my field. We are all people, and we are all different. We should be celebrating our differences by embracing equality rather than claiming that equality means everyone should be the same.

          I think I'm done with my soapbox for now, but we'll see how I feel as I continue to read this discussion.

        • This argument between Voidtester, Ohdear, and ren really got me thinking about these issues over the last 24 hours or so. The differences between these viewpoints bring up some complexities, and my response is too long to post in the comments here. Anyone who is interested can find it at http://mishlai.livejournal.com/97912.html

        • You didn't prove a point. You proved how English is a faulty language. There's no term "hey woman". And it was quite obvious Ohdear is a woman, but it doesn't change the fact I try to reason with her, or ask her "are you a man or a woman so that I know how I need to call you". An example of how "I" treat people equally.

        • I love how you can't possibly use your critial THINKINGS skills to think constructively about perhaps WHY there is no such term as "hey woman" or why there is a phrase such as "man up" either? *shakes head*

        • This is going to get really cool when I mention that the "Language and gender" studies were started by a man. To which you're going to counter with "because women's voice wasn't heard at that time". And then I'll say "Yes it could have, women are more then half the population of the planet, if they really wanted it their voice would've been heard". And then it's going to get really messy.

          But the issue at hand is that most women don't really care and that's why this is happening. That is the root of the issue that I'm trying to show to you.

        • What the hell is that "skillz"? Am I not using the English language properly, even though it's not my mother tongue? Is it some kind of way for you to amuse yourself thinking that I'm an idiot even though I've remained well mannered and giving feedback from my own personal experience with having hundreds of both male and female colleagues in different positions over the years?

        • So you have a huge deal wth me using a Z on the end of skills, even though you told me to fuck off earlier? Please.

          Wonderful way of trying to make something trivial into an argument to avoid actually answering the debates in the above thread, though :)

        • Do you ever feel really saddened by trolls? Like how they expect everyone to be offended by sammich jokes or how they think they're SO funny jokes too? I guess it shows the level of wit of a sexist… ;D

        • I know… there is a shirt in existence in which a woman is wearing an apron and chef's hat, holding a mixing spoon and it says "I should be in the kitchen."

          When I read my sister the exchange between you and voidtester, she said "Did he miss the short bus today, and that's the reason he's running amuck on the Internet?"

          I think you have very well crafted responses, Ohdear. Thank you for your time in this debate.

        • Thank you very much! :)

          Nice to know as I felt less calm than usual in this debate (as it just kinda makes me wanna cry when geeks are sexist rather than sexy!) Thanks for the support!

  4. Meh.

    What this test doesn't do is determine whether the movies is worth watching. I don't watch movies but If you determine what is and what isn't worth watching based on a series of litmus tests you are going to be limited to crappier and crappier Hollywood drivel as studios compete to meet a formula. There are a number of these "tests" and almost all are based on single issue activism. These tests quantify what is basically a qualitative medium.

    I didn't watch a single one of the nominated movies. So they all failed the "Grant" test. Frankly, the only way to get a string of movies that pass this particular "test" is to watch the woman's network.

    I reiterate: "Meh."

  5. I was initially a bit wary of the Bechdel Test. However, when you think about it, when would this happen? Generally if two women are *working* together in some way. Not thinking about a man, thinking about work, or life in general. Why not have caper films with two women who would probably talk tactics at some point? Or a rom-com where the leading women still care about their jobs? It doesn't have to be plot padding.f

    • And in regards to the science and tech bit, hey, if girls get to see girls doing science and tech, then that's a good thing, given they're underrepresented in these fields anyway.

  6. @ Anna – Most stereotypes and gender rolls in movies are there because we the audience expect to see them there. Claiming that movies are the way they are "because some white man owns the film company" is just flawed logic, quit watching Michael Bay movies and go pick up The Color Purple or Black Rainbow.

    • I totally agree with you. Although most major studios are, in fact, owned and helmed by white guys, I do realize the problem is societal, but it’s a question of the chicken and the egg- do they make the movies with white guy hetero leads because we *want* to see them or have we just seen so many movies with white guy hetero leads that it’s normalized (humans are notoriously attached to their comfort zones)? If there were more mainstream studios putting out more movies that challenged our society’s perception of normal, what would the effect be? I love some of the movies that are on the line up in the next few months because the lead characters promise to challenge us, such as Pixar’s “Brave” and Lionsgate’s “Hunger Games”. I really hope that more movies come out like this because a generation raised on movies with strong male AND female characters is what we need right now.

  7. How about this, we all go about our daily lives and write the stories we want to write, and the good ones will be made into movies. If they happen to pass, who gives a flying f**k? If you want more women in movies, write more movies with them in it and leave the rest of the movies alone.

    Discriminations of all types (Racism, Sexism, Sexual Orientation-ism?) are retarded. Trying to police it by forcing non-discriminatory things to include them excessively is equally more retarded. Affirmative Action of any sort pisses me off. This included.

    I'm also politically inclined to say that no institution has the right to force me to do affirmative action, so there's that as well.

  8. i thought this was very interesting and well presented. most of the arguments below seem to stem from a misunderstanding of the purpose of this video – that hollywood is still a very male-dominated industry. i for one am always searching for movies about a female character that have some real depth.

    • I agree, place your money in the movies that fit the type of movie you want to see. There are a LOT of people that send their teenage kids to movies that are nicely fitting into these "White Male Hetro" lead roles and women/girls talking about boys (as well as books/movies like Twilight, written by a female that involves little else then a girl wanting a boyfriend).
      The fact remains that regardless of who "OWNS" the studio, be he or she White, Black, Asian, Hispanic ect, if something MAKES MONEY, than corporate America will keep selling it.

      It will NEVER happen, but if you dont like what they are doing STOP watching it, STOP sending them your money, and pickup something more worthwhile…. maybe painting? Building birdhouses, volunteer at a shelter, whatever tickles your fancy.

  9. I think it's an interesting idea, and I do get the idea behind the test. The problem is the answer.

    The answer isn't getting into a hissy-fit and demanding Hollywood make more women-centric films or more minority-centric films. Hollywood, as it is now, generally doesn't know how to make good movies when dealing with women/minorities. Trying to force them to do it will only make a bunch of crappy movies no one will watch and then they'll say "See, we were right. Our movies are the best movies!"

    Someone in Hollywood (and it doesn't matter what their ethnic or sexual orientation is) has to break from the mold and really try to make popular and profitable movies that focus on women and minorities. Until someone, or several people, do this, no amount of lamenting or testing will change anything. The language of Hollywood is money and fame, and until people in the industry and the audience starts speaking that, they aren't going to change.

    And I'll be honest, I doubt the audiences ability to accept change more than I do Hollywood's ability. The times when good movies are put out there, ones that do something different (whether it involves women or minorities isn't important), the audience doesn't like them (and by that I mean they don't spend enough money on said film to show it's a success). You get the same thing in the Game Industry. It's hard to innovate and march to the beat of a different drum if your customer isn't willing to cough up any money to make it profitable and attractive. :-/

    • I wish I could "like" this more than once, perfectly put… I had a similar response to renaissance woman, but I sounded like a boob. Well spoken :)

  10. I definitely think a geek Bechtel test would be too much.

    Regarding the Bechtel test itself, I have mixed feelings. The premise of it is important – to draw attention to the frequently shallow cinema roles that women are placed in. Cliche's such as "damsel in distress", "prize to be won", "sexual accessory to demonstrate the male lead's reproductive prowess", "wife who was raped and murdered to morally justify a 2 hour long righteous killing spree", and other such roles are clearly selling women short. It is good that attention is being drawn to this.

    A few things trouble me about Feminist Frequency's approach though. She seems to say that no progress is being made while raising the bar to retroactively fail films that would have passed the simple criteria. In some cases, this seems nitpicky. In Tree of Life for example, two women are discussing the death of a child. I wouldn't consider this "two women discussing a man" even though the child is male. In Midnight in Paris she objects to men joining the conversation (though this isn't one of the test's simple criteria), and to Gertrude Stein being represented but not talking to a woman.

    It seems to me that the point is being lost. What we need are more fulfilling female characters being written into our cinema, but what is being focused on is that more films need a 60 second period where Y chromosomes are not present in any sense. I think, in some ways, that misses the point that the Bechdel test was designed to address.

    Disclaimer: I am a man, and I sometimes suffer from gender bias. I reserve the right to be wrong from time to time.

    • I think as a man we should be allowed to be wrong most of the time! :)

      Agree'd to the fact that there shouldn't be necessary a swing in the exact opposite direction to "balance out" the male dominated movie, why not have equal male and female interaction, regardless of who is being talked about or the topic of conversation. I know in real life when I speak to my friends, male or female, we talk about everything. Make the writing better, make it real and it shouldn't be a problem beyond that.

      Also as a side note I watch a lot of the netflix sitcoms, not many movies or live tv, but female characters in a lot of these cheesy comedies seem to have pretty equal footing as far as the content is concerned, though there are fewer of them present in most of the shows.

      I am a boy too, so 80%ish of this can be wrong (minus grammar and spelling)

  11. the first statement of the question makes me think you are not so open minded as the post and the video suggest, take your time and think about it a little more, but instead of women think about black people, gays, and all other minority.

  12. I saw A LOT of things around that I just feel offended by as a reader and a member of today's society.

    First of all, the fact that the fights over feminism are even raised over and over again makes us, women, look very sexist.

    Second, one of the things I saw in the upper comments is " We need to work on seeing past traditional gender and race lines in general, like men being able to cook and do housework while women build houses"… Seriously?!

    Here comes the difference, the OBJECTIVE, NON ARGUABLE, BIOLOGICAL DIFFERENCE! As much as we want, we do not have the same physical strength as men's. We can cry out all we want, but the normal woman doesn't have a man's strength. This is just nature.

    The same way it is BIOLOGICALLY defined that we get in some pretty sh*tty moods and situations because of a specific PERIOD every month (still talking about the most common case).

    Also, WOMEN GIVE BIRTH! This is still the only possible way to get a child – a woman should give a birth to it. I will ignore the fact that if we go by some of the upper-commenters' logic, this means nature (or God if you wish) is sexist and has made us weaker and the-only-gender-that-can-give-birth. My point here is that we get very protective, moody and feel strange, weird and sick during pregnancy and after that. And this is something that makes a lot of women quit their careers. This is also one of the main reasons women have work-related issues in big companies. How can you count on someone that can get pregnant and leave you for about 2 years in which they don't work, but you pay them? This is just the way it goes – pure facts and pure logic.

    Should men be angry at God, Fate or the Universe because of the fact that color blindness occurs mainly in males and almost never in females?

    There was a group of men here, in Bulgaria, that wanted equal rights for their gender, too, because no one would hire them as nannies. Well, of course everyone would prefer a woman for the job – we have the maternal instinct! N-A-T-U-R-E! Just as we are a lot easier to give in to hysteria!

    And since this is about movies and I don't want OhDear to throw herself on me, I will add something "on topic":
    Here is what happened with Anjelina Jolie's first movie as a director: http://www.dnaindia.com/entertainment/report_ange

    About that – why is she making a movie that a lot of gender-centered organisations find offensive? Why can't she just make a masterpiece in the fantasy genre for example? And when she becomes famous as a director – then make a strongly arguable movie.

    Of course, everyone can say 'I will find at least 5 good women directors' and that's why I'm not going to prove my point by putting the names of more female directors, but Anjelina's case is the most recent one.

    Women are so consumed by being 'feministic' that most of their masterpieces are centered around the dramatic female lives.

    Sincerely,
    a (female) person

    • The biological differences argument is old and largely invalid. Women soldiers do just as well as male soldiers in combat situations. Men do just as well as stay-at-home dads as women. Women bodybuilders can look just as beefy and lift just as much as male bodybuilders. Men dominate the culinary world even though the stereotype is women do the cooking.

      My boyfriend and best friend (two guys) have just as much PATERNAL instinct as I do maternal instinct and take care of my nephew just as well as his mother or me. Another friend breaks down and calls me in hysterics every time he fights with his mother. My own brother is driven to tears every time he gets overly frustrated and angry, just like I do. My boyfriend's mom and sister have put as much work and effort into doing the manual labor of building homes as his licensed contractor father.

      The problem with stereotypes is that everyone gets hurt. Fathers have spent decades trying to fight for more time to spend with their kids while Mothers have spent decades drowning under "Mommy Guilt" for trying to progress as a person outside of the home.

      We need to break through all this and realize that people are people and not stereotypes. Standing behind old ideals doesn't progress us as a culture or a race.

      • Thank you!

        Biological differences does not actually mean we're biologically destined to end up in specific roles – the roles we have (for instance that women make better care-givers) are socially conditioned and nothing to do with our biology.

        Even proven biological differences are NOT a basis for discrimination.

      • Not to be nit picky, and I know that it will sound that way, but the comment about a female body builder being able to lift as much as a male body builder would have to be perceived in a very skewed manner to come close to accurate. The strongest power lifting females in history wouldn't hold up to the strongest men. Now that being said, there are plenty of women, that are stronger than men… but pound for pound on a similar athletic level as one another a woman is NOT as strong (physically only now) than a man is.

        That's not a bad thing, its just how it is. Kinda off topic and nit picky I know, sorry ;p

  13. Just want to point out that according to the test, Kevin Smith's "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" passes. It had 4 women talking about a jewel heist for a large chunk of the film. They all had names too. Their names even rhymed! There was also Carrie Fisher talking about religion but that was to two men. So while this film does past the test, I would not say it was a very pro-feminist film. This may cast some doubt as to the reliability of this test.

    • The test is not to measure feminist issues in films, but rather to test feminine representation. Theoretically, if feminine representation is more equal, then that is a measure of how far hollywood and society have come to equality.

  14. I can understand what this is supposed to be showing. That some films contain few female characters who can't have a scene without a man. Films that represent women more probably would be better.

    The thing is though, are these women integral to the plot? I mean, if there was a film about a man, are those women relevant? Fair enough they could add a few scenes where women have some sort of converstaion (I dunno, about the weather or something) and pass this test. But are they just token characters or are they relevant to the plot?
    I'd rather see a movie where all the characters are important (well, obviously you need supporting people and extras etc). Just sticking a couple women in because they are women isn't helping anything. If they are main characters, or are important supporting charaters or whatever then I'd watch it. I think one of the main problems is that movie makers tend to make movies that sell. No one is going to make a movie where two women talk to each other for an hour about crap if it isn't going to sell. If they make a movie where women have important roles and the movies is GOOD then it will sell.

    In my opinion, it doesn't matter whether the actor is a woman, black, gay etc just as long as the movie is good. I hope (if anyone reads this) you understand what I mean and don't just immediatlye assume I'm trolling or whatever.

  15. A lot of the women in these movies are being propelled into a life of fame and fortune that most people can only dream of. Is this lady really so negative that she feels compelled to take a shit on these actresses' parade by only expressing how supposedly shallow their roles are and minimizing emphasis on the time spent and the talent required of them to fill those roles or the recognition they received for doing such a damn good job at it?

  16. She made sense to me, until she called Suckerpunch a pretty horrible movie. I mean really, that's a great way of showing how shallow your understanding of sexism and exploitation is. Hell, Suckerpunch is ABOUT how screwed up the exploitation of women in modern culture is.

  17. It's not putting EVERYBODY in movies. HALF the population is made of women, you know? I doubt half the population is geek. Sorry.

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