Also known as the Bechdel Test, a concept dreamed up by Alison Bechdel in a strip called Dykes to Watch Out For sometime in the 1980s.
To start off, this is what the Bechdel Test is: if a movie (or a book or a TV show or something like that) has 1. at least two women who 2. talk to each other about 3. something besides a man, it passes the Test.
Passing the Bechdel Test does not mean that the movie/book/TV Show is inherently feminist. The Twilight series (I refuse to call it a saga, it’s an insult to the term “saga”) passes the Beschdel Test and it’s extremely sexist. In contrast, much of the Harry Potter series doesn’t pass the Bechdel Test and Hermione Granger is a fully fleshed out female character, intelligent and friendly and hard-working and easily frustrated and full of integrity and devious and <and so on and so forth>.
(Hermione isn’t just a strong female character. Female characters can be—and should be—more than just “strong”, which is why I don’t state her as such. We don’t just categorize men as “strong male characters”, rather we call them cynical or religious or obnoxious or intelligent or assholes or anything else besides strong. If men can be complicated and flawed, why can’t women?)
Hence, to use the Bechdel Test to state whether a work is feminist or not is incorrect and disingenuous.
However, despite this, the Bechdel Test does serve one purpose: to highlight the fact that in much of our modern day media, women either are non-existent, obsessed with the doings or men, or utterly insignificant in a tale that’s all about men.
And that’s it. To highlight that media as a whole doesn’t seem to think of women as people with individual personalities and story arcs that don’t revolve around men.
Now with that in mind, let’s get to the story in question.
In Sweden, four cinemas have started to add a new rating to highlight which movies have a more significant female presence. In order to get an “A” rating, you need to have at least two named women who pass points two and three.
This doesn’t sound too bad, right? Women hold up half the sky, women are people, and how hard is it to imagine that two women might want to talk about something that’s not related to a man, right? I do this all the time.
r/mensrights are complaining that Sweden’s forcing movie makers to add some random scene about two women talking about shoes. And of course, women only talk about kitties and babies, according to one r/mensrights Redditor, so why would they ever need to talk to one another?
And so on.
Man, it’s as if thinking of women as people with individual personalities and preferences and whatnot is too hard for some people.
The Bechdel Test: highlighting the fact that apparently, the idea of women with personalities and experiences that don’t revolve around men is too hard to comprehend.