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Is Your Favorite Film Supporting Gender Inequality? The Bechdel Test Can Give You Your Answer.

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CU Boulder chapter.

In Hollywood, the depiction of female characters has been nothing less than controversial. It is common for female characters in films to be highly feminine, addicted to shopping, and sexualized by every man they pass. There is a common trope of it being obvious that specific female characters were “written by men”, figuratively and literally. 

A test was created in order to categorize how films portray women. This test is titled The Bechdel Test. This test evaluates the entire movie and in order to pass, there must be at least two female characters speaking to one another about something unrelated to a man. This is relevant to measuring women’s representation in fiction media and bringing awareness to gender inequality in the same field. 

A novelist that goes by the name of Alison Bechdel created this test in order to determine if the movie was worth her time to watch or not. There are apparent films that do not pass this test, such as “The Shawshank Redemption”. However, some of these films that pass and fail may surprise you. 

Films that Pass The Bechdel Test

  • “Shrek 2&3”
  • “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”
  • “Anchorman”
  • “Goodfellas”
  • “Remember the Titans”
  • “Jurassic Park”
  • “Karate Kid”
  • “Guardians of the Galaxy” 
  • “Scary Movie”
  • “American Pie 2”
  • “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” 

The first “Shrek” film does not pass the Bechdel Test because the only female characters who speak to each other are Fiona and her mother. The only time they do exchange conversation is when talking about Fiona’s potential husband. However, in the next two films, the character of Fiona develops and becomes more complex. 

“How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days”

Films that Do Not Pass The Bechdel Test

  • “Oppenheimer”
  • “Nope”
  • “Ratatouille”
  • “A Star is Born”
  • “Avatar”
  • “The Lord of the Rings Trilogy”
  • “The Avengers” 
  • “Elvis”
  • “The Grand Budapest Hotel” 
  • “The Imitation Game” 
  • “Edge of Tomorrow” 
  • “Downsizing” 

In the Blockbuster movie, “Avatar” the only worthwhile conversation between two female characters is with Neytiri and her mother, but all these conversations revolve around Jake, the other male main character. 

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Warner Bros.

A lot of films only have one female character who covers all their “progressive” points. But, if the writer’s only motivation for adding female characters is to satisfy the annoying feminists’ needs, then there is still change that needs to be done on a societal level. The Bechdel Test is important in the film industry today because it is a universal way of sparking this needed change. 

Lily McPherson

CU Boulder '24

Lily is a new member here at HCCU! She has joined the team as a writer as well as a social media team member this Fall. Her role is to help oversee the socials as well as create content. Lily is a senior at the University of Colorado Boulder. She is majoring in Sociology with a minor in Women and Gender Studies and a certificate in Social Innovation. Lily is also a part of Phi Alpha Delta which is the pre-law fraternity at CU. She also volunteers for the CU Restorative Justice program as a community representative. Lastly, Lily is one of the team managers for the CU Women's Basketball Team. Lily loves to consume anything pop culture. Whether it be films, books, music, or even TikTok. She is currently reading the first Percy Jackson book "The Lighting Thief”. Lily’s favorite film is the 2019 version of “Little Women”. She also loves to spend time with her family who all live back in the Midwest as well as her dog M&M! Lily spends any time outside of academics spending time with her friends whether it be playing basketball at the rec, hammocking in the mountains, or participating in game night.