The Bechdel test is unfair, critics say | Deseret News National
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AMI BRAMME, Associated Press
Culture

The Bechdel test is unfair, critics say

"The Other Woman" — a comedy about a cheating man's wife, mistress and another mistress banding together and exacting revenge — is shedding light on issues with the Bechdel test, according to Noah Berlatsky at Salon.

Berlatsky writes critics are unfairly applying the test, which questions if a film includes two (named) women who talk to one another about a topic other than men, to “The Other Woman.”

“Having a film featuring three female protagonists who do nothing but talk about men is, the Bechdel test suggests, unfeminist,” he says. “But if a movie for women, with female stars, about female friendships and the evils of male infidelity can’t pass the test, maybe the problem isn’t with the film, but with Bechdel’s rubric.”

Some agree the Bechdel test is not the best measure of feminism in films. Film critic Karina Longworth said Bechdel’s criteria are “too easy to satisfy in a superficial way,” reports Katy Waldman at Slate.

“Just because a film includes a scrap of conversation between two women about something other than a man does not necessarily mean that the film has any meaningful interest in women,” Longworth told Slate.

But Caroline Siede at A.V. Club believes the test should not be changed (despite its deficiencies) because it accurately shows trends in Hollywood.

“The Bechdel test cannot determine whether individual films are feminist nor does failing the test automatically mean a film is misogynistic. Instead, the Bechdel test is a means to measure female presence on screen,” she says.

She adds a film isn’t necessarily sexist because it fails the test.

“If a film fails the test it simply means female characters have no meaningful presence outside of their interactions with men. What the Bechdel Test does tell us is that these films are not interested in showing women interacting with other women, and that is on par with a larger trend in Hollywood.”

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