1. g_man526
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    g_man526 Member

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    The Bechdel Test!

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by g_man526, May 1, 2013.

    Ah yes, that thing. For those not familiar with it, the Bechdel test is considered one of the bases for testing whether a work presents the female perspective:
    1) There must be more than one female character.
    2) These multiple female characters should speak to one another at least once.
    3) They should talk about something other than a man.

    I wonder what you all think: is it possible to present the female perspective in a plot without passing the Bechdel test? This is going to sound awful because it'll sound deliberate, but do any of you ever find other methods work just as well?
     
  2. funkybassmannick
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    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

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    Yes, if there is only one character who is female.
     
  3. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't worry about passing tests. I just get out human perspectives. I guess my main m/s does not "pass" this test. But I don't care.
     
  4. Anthony84
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    Anthony84 New Member

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    Maybe it depends on the kind of writer.

    What happens if you are an unstructured writer and you don't like plotting for a considerable stretch.

    I'm guessing you could run into some trouble.

    But, that's what editing is for :)

    Go back and insert multiple females...
     
  5. AVCortez
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    AVCortez Active Member

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    But what do women talk about other than men?
     
  6. Anthony84
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    Anthony84 New Member

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    Fantastic question.

    Anyone?

    Anyone who possesses Omniscient powers would be most helpful.
     
  7. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Food? I think a lot of the same things men talk about. Although we do talk about shopping more than most men. Most men I know don't discuss shopping. But, I've found that the ones who do are extremely well-informed and give excellent opinions.
     
  8. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I don't know what this test was created for, but sounds like something I'd use if I wanted to do some literature analysis on novels that represent the female perspective, and I needed something to narrow down my samples. Like for some essay or presentation for a lit class.

    If there's at least one female POV character, you have a female perspective (whether it will piss off a bunch of feminists or not is another matter). That's my "other method."
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    who the heck is bechdel and why should any writer give a flying fleep about his/her test?
     
  10. Suffering-is-Beauty
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    Suffering-is-Beauty Member

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    what she said. why limit your writing with some meaningless test.
     
  11. AVCortez
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    AVCortez Active Member

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    Men don't talk about food they eat it. Men talk about sport and beer; women and fighting. Often while watching fight-sport, with beer, while thinking about women.

    The Cortez test to determine whether or not a novel is gender biased:

    1) There must be more than one male character.
    2) These multiple male characters should speak to one another at least once.
    3) They should talk about something other than a sport, women, beer or fighting.

    I'm willing to admit it's loosely based on the Bechdel test, but maintain it is no less pointless.

    EDIT: Oh, I wiki'd the bechdel test too, as I had no idea what it was - It was originally created for film, which to me seems more applicable than literature. It's more difficult to show complexity in minor-characters in film, so flat female characters are more prevalent than in writing.
     
  12. Pheonix
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    Pheonix A Singer of Space Operas and The Fourth Mod of RP Staff Contributor

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    That test sounds kinda ridiculous... I mean, a work could pass that test and still be sexist.

    For example

    1) There must be more than one female character. --> There could an entire sorority house filled with women,

    2) These multiple female characters should speak to one another at least once. --> Talking to each other, non stop...

    3) They should talk about something other than a man. --> About how much they love shopping and how they all are going to start a new diet on Monday.

    Passed the Bechdel test, but that doesn't mean it isn't sexist... :p
     
  13. sanco
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    sanco Contributing Member

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    ^This.

    (edit) Then again, the test isn't about not being sexist. It's about whether it provides female perspective or not. So it would fail as you'd get a lot of perspective on shopping and dieting.
     
  14. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    Washing powder? Bingo? Laddered tights?

    Only kidding before all you lovely ladies attack me but I've never heard so much crap about that test, like if you don't answer yes to all the questions your book is rubbish? Should be called the Blechhhhhhhhhhh-del test!
     
  15. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've had many conversations with men about food.

    I admit I do have quite a few conversations about shopping, but I virtually never discuss dieting. Then again, I'd be a terrible ambassador for my gender -- what I do personally could never speak for all women. I'm puzzled by them probably more often than I'm puzzled by men.
     
  16. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    perfect analysis of men, minus the fighting - I'm a beer-drinking, raw-steak eating love,r not a fighter lol!
     
  17. sanco
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    sanco Contributing Member

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    Personally, I've never had a conversation about sport or malt liquor.
     
  18. AVCortez
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    AVCortez Active Member

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    That's a bare faced lie. Men have no time for talking, there are more important things to consider like winning bread, affairs, and being emotionally distant with their children.

    You're missing out. Colt 45 is the only thing me n' the lads talk about.
     
  19. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    I thought Aussies couldn't give a XXXX for Colt 45...
     
  20. AVCortez
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    AVCortez Active Member

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    Can't actually buy malt liquor in Australia. Not sure why, just not ghetto enough I guess. I'm from the south, so no four X here - VB, Carlton, or Boags draft is the preferred. That said, Melbourne has grown a lot over the last couple of years, people drink a lot of cider, micro-brews and imports now. A mate of mine said it best. "Have you noticed that beer has gotten -- well, gay, over the last couple of years?" He said as he sipped a strawberry-pear cider.
     
  21. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    send Bruce to Belgium and he'll know how 'gay' beers are getting, then send him to Dublin for a pint o' plain!
     
  22. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Bechdel test. Hmmmm. Can't believe someone actually came up with this. Can't believe anyone else actually found anything of value in it!
    You can have a novel or film with female characters that does not actually reflect any degree of 'feminism' (think Alien) Sigourney Weaver kicked ass but I hardly think she gave the film a 'feminist perspective'. Just off the top of my head, I cannot think of any 'second female absent' script or manuscript which did, in fact, reflect a feminine perspective but I know they are out there. Furthermore, I think anyone obsessively focused on something as inane as this test is archaically and hopelessly stuck in the 1970s and should go ahead, burn a bra, and then move on into the 21st century!
     
  23. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I was raised with guys. Lots of guys.
    So my stories are usually filled with more guys than girls.
    My characters just do whatever, reguardless of their sex. If they
    happen to love shoes, so be it, if they happen to gush about
    guys who cares? It all comes down to what fits for the story.
    All cliches are unavoidable - especially when you're dealing with trends.
    The less trendy your character the more leeway you have.
     
  24. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Maybe this is because most of my late teen/adult life I've hung around musicians, but male musicians talk about shopping all the time. "What am I gonna order from Thomann next? Oh, I just ordered this... yeah it cost... omg it's awesome... hey, dude, I'm gonna order some shit, you wanna pitch in, buy something too? Oh, I just saw such a sweet thing X in music store Y."

    In fact, a lot of guys I know suffer of GAS. The other kind. Gear Acquisition Syndrome (instruments, weapons, computer gear...). And then they trade shopping tips like there's no tomorrow.
     
  25. funkybassmannick
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    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

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    The test isn't a sign of whether it's a feminist movie or whether it's even a good movie, but just if there is a female presence in the movie and if they're actually engaging about things other than men. It's a rule of thumb, and all rule of thumbs break down eventually. It's also a little tongue-and-cheek, considering the second and third rules are redundant for effect.

    But you may be surprised how many movies don't even pass this simple rule of thumb. Star wars series, batman trilogy, slumdog millionaire, shrek, watchmen, bourne series, transformers, ghostbusters, big lebowski, wall-e, oceans 11 series, fight club, pirates series, austin powers series, the fifth element, princess bride, james bond series, indiana jones series, lord of the rings series, trainspotting, mission impossible series, toy story, X-men, back to the future series, pulp fiction, interview with a vampire, even run lola run.

    According to British writer Charlie Stross and Canadian/American director Jason Reitman (Thank You For Smoking, Up In The Air, Juno), only a small portion of films actually pass this test.

    Really, the Bechdel test isn't a list of requirements for anything. Fight Club is a movie mostly about male culture and identity, so it's fitting that it's a male-centric movie. Likewise, there are surely plenty of chick-flicks that don't pass the inverted Bechdel test, and that's fine. The point is that there is a trend in Hollywood to write male-centric movies, and the trend is the problem.
     

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