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I love Marvel, Harry Potter, Disney, all the big-name movies. Are these movies meant to empower females? No, obviously not. Are these movies a good representation of women? Absolutely not. Most of the movies I watch I enjoy for the storyline and characters, but it is never a nice feeling to feel inferior to the opposite gender. This is where the Bechdel Test comes into play. The Bechdel Test, created by an American cartoonist named Alison Bechdel, is a measure of the representation of women in fiction. The test has three requirements for a movie; 1) have at least two female characters 2) who talk to each other 3) about something other than a man. Seems simple enough, right? Well, try thinking of any movies that could pass this test. Sadly, most of your favorite blockbusters, even feminist ones, do not.

Since the Bechdel Test has become popular, many people have started to notice how genders are portrayed in film. A study conducted in 2016 analyzed over 2,005 successful films and found that 82% of them had men as the top three speaking roles. Men make up the larger portion of not only the cast of films but also the crew. This just shows how underrepresented women are in film. The study also showed that the majority of women with speaking roles were under 32 years of age, as less older women are employed in the film business. This is quite the opposite of men, who range in ages. This is why many are pushing for Hollywood to put more women onscreen.


The Queen's Gambit series poster
Netflix

If you consider what the women who had these speaking roles spoke about shows an even bigger divide between genders. Women are often portrayed as dependent on men or in “need” of being saved. That is why the Bechdel Test requires the women to discuss something other than men, which is basically breaking the norm. Thinking of how this affects the women that watch these movies is saddening. Consider Disney as an example. Most, if not all, Disney movies cannot pass the Bechdel Test and the audience for these movies are easily influenced. Young children are watching these movies and accepting the idea that women’s thoughts, actions, and lives revolve around men. News flash, they do not! We have about a million other things on our minds that come before men.


Gif of a character from the Princess Bride saying "As you wish"
Giphy

The creation of the Bechdel Test has even led to several other derived tests, all of which test movies for other types of inclusion not gender related. These tests include people of color, LGBTQIA, religion, etc.

The fact is most movies are not diverse or fully inclusive. Even our favorites or those that appear feminist can not even pass the Bechdel Test. Even in 2021, as our society has progressed, there is still a major lack of female representation. Although the results of the Bechdel Test aren’t the best, it does not gauge how good a movie is. If it did, we would not watch anything! Just take it with a grain of salt honestly. 

Lauren Wharton is a third year UC Davis student majoring in Animal Sciences. In her free time, she enjoys weightlifting, CrossFit, eating copious amounts of Halo Top, and spending time with her family, friends, and Shiba Inu, Mable.
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