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Re Porter - The Bechdel Test
bethany porter

“The Mummy” (1999) was on Sunday morning and I like that movie for a few reasons. One being that Brendan Fraser in the 1990s is one of the prettiest things you’ll ever see, and another reason is it is a fun movie. While I was watching I realized, with the exception of Pharaoh’s wife in the very beginning, Rachel Weisz’s character Evelyn is the only woman in the movie.

This reminded me of something I learned about a few months ago, the Bechdel Test. The Bechdel Test is a measure of the representation of women in fiction and it asks whether a work features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man. The requirement that the two women actually have a name is sometimes added. You would be surprised just how many movies, TV shows, and books fail this test.

One of my favorite movies, “The Avengers” disappointingly fails the test. It features three named female characters: Pepper Potts, Natasha Romanoff, and Agent Maria Hill, but they never interact. The original “Star Wars” trilogy fails because there are only three named female characters with speaking roles, and they don’t interact. These characters are: Princess Leia, Aunt Beru, and Mon Mothma.

“Jurassic Park” surprising passes the Bechdel Test because Ellie and Lex have a few conversations about dinosaurs. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II” fails the test despite having a few female characters. This movie falls short because it does not feature a single conversation between the women. 

“Finding Nemo” also fails the test. Actually a lot of Disney movies fail. Jasmine is the only female character in “Aladdin.” “The Lion King” fails. “The Jungle Book” does not feature one female character that says a word, so it fails.

Shockingly, “Cinderella” passes thanks to her horrible stepmother and stepsisters. I am also shocked to learn “Sleeping Beauty” passes, but maybe we shouldn’t promote un-consensually kissing strangers while they are passed out.

Thankfully “Scooby-Doo” (2002) passes. At the very least, Daphne and Velma share a few lines and there are a total of three female characters: Daphne, Velma, and Maryjane. However, there are double the amount of male characters which is slightly disappointing.

It is not fun when you start to examine some of your favorite movies and shows and realize they are lacking in female representation. I think we are all so used to it now that we don’t even notice. It is pretty sad that the literal bare minimum required to pass is that a female character at least has a name and interacts with another female character talking about ANYTHING other than a man, and most movies/ TV shows can’t do that.

Women do exist and we do talk about things other than men. It’s shocking I know.

Pay attention the next time you watch your favorite movie or show, or a read a book and see if it passes the Bechdel Test.

Standard reporter Bethany Porter can be reached at 473-2191.