Do Women Have Names in Film?

The Bechdel Test is something I feel really good about, in regards to feminism. This video by ‘Feminist Frequency‘ on youtube explains really well how the test works:

So essentially, to pass the test, a film

1… has to have two or more women in it (who have names)
2. Who talk to each other
3. About something besides a man

That sounds so simple. If you head over to this link, you can see a wide variety of films which people have rated as passing, partially passing, or failing the test. There’s a helpful key of icons so you can quickly see what passes and doesn’t. It’s shocking.

Now, the odd thing is that one might expect that two women with names talking to each other in a film about something other than a man, would promote women in some way or make us feel good about ourselves and each other. While Bechdel test does raise awareness about the presence of women in films, it does not guarantee the women have a positive presence in the films. Take ‘Devils Rejects,’ for example. Two women talk to one another in ‘Devils Rejects’ but the conversations could hardly be considered woman-promoting. There are many other less extreme examples. Also, several of the movies on the list only barely pass the test. I’m not critiquing the Bechdel Test. I do feel a little weird about the film industry!

Awareness is a wonderful thing. Could all my indie-filmmaker friends please make some positive films promoting women? Something with a good amount of our real thoughts on everyday things like pets, nature, food, exercise, writing, art, family. Something which shows women being active and initiating fun activities, like going camping and swimming, like taking a trip simply because we have wanderlust, not because we got dumped and are depressed! When you make this movie, let me know. And then promote it unceasingly!!! 🙂 I want to see you at Sundance!!

2 thoughts on “Do Women Have Names in Film?

  1. the point is not that the presence of two women/talking/about something besides a man has to PROMOTE women, it doesn’t have to cast their relationship in a positive light or give them positive roles. the point is that there are women represented as something other than a satellite to a man, or as a male idea.
    you’re ideas of the things that women can do is as pigeonholing as the movies themselves. let a lady be a tortured soul, a villain, a tragedy, a real human being, not an advertisement for the Benefits of Woman

    • I’m all for women being who we are. I have played the role of ‘tortured soul’ many times in theater and life. I am advocating that we be portrayed as real human beings, definitely. My personal real-ness involves going camping. My real womanhood involves being active and adventurous and I don’t personally feel the need to perpetuate in my own life the damsel-in-distress vibe which has been so prominent in film and media lately. I don’t condemn women who do. We have the right to choose our moods, personalities, activities, and moves in life.

      I didn’t give every possible example of what I would like to see women do in film. ‘Tin Man,’ which I wrote about in a previous post involves a female villain as a lead character. To add to what I said in this post, I think it’s cool that Baby Firefly in Devils Rejects in completely nuts and evil, whether the rest of her family is around or not. I’m advocating women’s ability to act for ourselves. My examples were incomplete and yet relevant, imperfect as the human that I am.

      Thank you for your comment!

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