What Is Bechdel Test and Should You Use It in Writing?

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What is Bechdel test? Have you ever heard a term Bechdel test? What’s its purpose? Bechdel test evaluates whether a film, book or other work of fiction portrays women in a sexist manner. Have in mind that a work of fiction may pass the Bechdel test, and remain sexist nevertheless. In this article, I’ll cover the basics of the Bechdel test and help you decide whether you need it in your writing.

Where Did the Bechdel Test Come From?

It was back in 1985 that Alison Bechdel unconsciously created this idea in one of her comics – Dykes to Watch Out For, installment called The Rule. In The Rule, you see two women going to see the movie. At one point, one says to the other that she has a rule when it comes to movies – she’ll only watch a movie that has at least two women in it that talk to each other, about something other than a man. She then concludes that the last movie she was able to see was the Alien, where two women talked about a monster. They both realize that the movie they were going to watch isn’t worth it and go home.

What Is Bechdel Test
What Is Bechdel Test?

What Are the Bechdel Test Questions?

Bechdel test is comprised of the following questions:

  1. Does the work of fiction have two women
  2. Who talk to each other
  3. About something other than a man

Some would argue that both women need to have names. This signifies their importance as leading characters, or at least characters that are more involved in a story.

Simply asking these questions is not enough, though. There are numerous examples of two (named) female characters that exchange a couple of sentences in a dialogue, while the artwork remains sexist.

What Is the Reverse Bechdel Test?

Just like everything else in life, the Bechdel test has its opposite. The reverse Bechdel test revolves around two male characters who talk to each other about something other than a woman.

Should You Use It in Writing?

A Bechdel test can be used to signify the subplot in your written work. By using the (other than a man) discussion among the two female characters, you can easily present their needs, desires, hobbies, or character development. You can showcase their fears and provide a deeper insight into a character. It can also serve as a great addition and influence to the main plot and the main character, as the story progresses.

Movies That Pass the Bechdel Test

You may wonder what are some movies that pass the Bechdel test? Here’s the list:

Books That Pass the Bechdel Test

Popsugar listed 30 books that pass the Bechdel test. Just to name a few:

Summary of What Is Bechdel Test

If you’ve wondered what is Bechdel test, the answer is that it’s comprised of three questions that a work of fiction must answer with a yes in order to pass.

  • Are there two women?
  • Do they talk?
  • Is the discussion about something other than a man?

These questions serve to expose how women are presented in a certain movie, book, or other work of fiction.

Bechdel test questions can serve you while you write to create a subplot, show character development, or influence the main character and plot. Have you used the Bechdel test before? Did you test your books? Leave a comment below.

what is bechdel test

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