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Men’s Rightser on the Bechdel Test: “Why do Women need to talk to each other ? I don’t get it.”

Talk amongst yourselves.

So some Swedish movie theaters have decided to institute a new rating system to let viewers know whether or not the films they show pass the Bechdel Test — that is, if at any point in the film two female characters have a conversation about something other than a man.

Over in the Men’s Rights subreddit, a fella with the classy handle classypedobear takes strong exception to this terrible affront to human decency. His argument?

classypedobear 28 points 1 day ago (37|9)  This test is BS, simply. I think what they are trying to accomplish is noble but that is where the good stops.  Why do Women need to talk to each other ? I don't get it. I have plenty of female friends who get along better with males. If two women hav a conversation about their kitten or their baby ? I think it's even worse.  Bad idea overall


Thanks, AgainstMensRights subreddit!

236 replies on “Men’s Rightser on the Bechdel Test: “Why do Women need to talk to each other ? I don’t get it.””

His mustache would have to have gotten knocked off in the fight, too.


I meant I was imagining how it would have looked if you’d drawn Pierre as the hero, not that the hero was Pierre. 🙂

@Dvärghundspossen Joel Mchale’s Jeff is the main character, but Community is great ensemble sitcom that focuses plenty of time on the three flawed, quirky and very human three female characters.

Um, I know, I’ve watched it, that’s why I recommended it to others. 🙂 I was just surprised to find out that I seem to have over-estimated how much screen-time is given to women vs men. I’m not saying Community is bad or anything, it’s obvs far better than most sit-coms gender-wise, I just thought it was interesting that even a feminist as myself who knows all about research showing that people think men and women have been talking an equal amount of time when men have in fact been dominating the conversation and so on apparently falls into the same trap herself.

Regarding villians, yeah, it’s incredibly stupid that they think that a) feminists wouldn’t want female villains, and b) it’s normal in a movie that every single conversation is about the villain and the villain only.

I mentioned the Elm Street movies further up the thread, and they pass Bechdel with flying colours, despite the fact that Freddy is the villain and a lot of the conversations are about him. It’s just that if you make a movie with several female characters that aren’t just there in order to be love interests or the like, they’re bound to talk to each other at some point about various stuff, not just exclusively the villain. Bechdel pass comes pretty much automatically as long as you have more than one woman that actually moves the narrative forward, even if the villain is male.

The color purple and Kill Bill both pass the test……So, was there a gotcha?

I’m not very familiar with the other 2 films though.

And second the mans test should merely be:

1. It has to have at least two [named] men in it
2. Who talk to each other
3. About something besides a woman

Simple. I understand that it isn’t on the same level because men in films don’t have a problem with talking about something other than a woman, but to make it more complicated destroys the point of the test. This is a baseline. Honestly I’ve seen plenty of films that don’t even pass the first two parts with women.

The bechdel test isn’t proving that a film is feminist its just pointing out how many films don’t pass the test of basic human interaction.

I feel like I’ve become The Great Defender of the Bechdel Test. It’s like, it can’t ever be mentioned without people immediately pointing out that passing Bechdel doesn’t prove that the movie is feminist, failing Bechdel doesn’t prove that it’s sexist (despite the fact that nobody ever has claimed that this is the case, everyone feel obligated to point this out). Just the other day this movie critic in one of Sweden’s biggest newspapers made a long article that was essentially just about how Bechdel pass doesn’t prove that the movie is feminist and Bechdel fail doesn’t prove that it’s sexist, in response to the new Bechdel approval stamp that David’s article is about. AND IT MAKES ME SO TIRED.

It’s like people constantly point this out, and also the old tired “doesn’t say anything about the individual movie”, because they can’t admit to themselves how crappy media is when it comes to representing women.

RE: Dvarghundspossen

Enh, it’s one of those tired chestnuts that never go away, like the whole, “actually TALKING about sex and asking consent is a total buzzkill!” thing. No matter how many times you disprove it, it keeps popping up again like a teenage boner. Just as inconvenient and annoying, too.

Dvarghundspossen I hope you didn’t think I was saying that.

I think the bechdel test is great for seeing if women are portrayed as people.

I think it is weird that some folks think women only talk about men….there are so many other things to talk about: politics, movies, the fact that some companies lie about the thread count of their sheets, recipes, our health, work, our families, fashion, horse back riding ect.

@Melody: My comment wasn’t directed at you, it was more a general rant because I just ran across this movie critic who was being all “when did you know that passing the Bechdel test doesn’t prove that a movie is feminist?”. 🙂

Bechdel test does have a point, sure, but I really don’t put much value on it. Simply because it is a measure of only one thing, and movies that pass it might still be sexist garbage. And plenty of films that have no real problems with sexism (apart from the lack of female characters, which may or may not be excusable) can’t get a pass.
When I watch movies, I never really think of them in the terms of bechdel unless it’s blatantly obvious. I generally just think about each characters individual actions, characterization and any possible implications behind the writing, intentional or not.

Though it might be interesting to just have a checklist and just see if a movie passes while I watch it 😀
I guess I just prefer deeper analysis when it comes to my entertainment.
Now I am thinking how many games I love pass o_o (Not very many, probably, as most lady characters either don’t meet or talk about the main character the only time they are seen talking to each other – even when they are supposed to be friends. Of the top of my head, only one passes and only very, veryvery barely.)

I also personally prefer a film have no *oft excluded group here* than just resort to tokenism just to “avoid” not having any… Ofc it would still be preferable if people would just find writing in women, queer characters and POC etc. without having to think about it as some favor or some shit. Like, if the characters appearance or gender isn’t supposed to make some statement, why not making something other than a white cismale 😛
Put some variety in character roles, damnit!

Near-exclusively white cishetmale movie casts wouldn’t be a problem if they weren’t the great majority of everything that mainstream media pushes out. I so wish people who complain about feminists and POC talking about these issues would just understand that. The problem isn’t necessarily on the insistence of tokenism and certain tropes, but the problems arise from the fact that they are overused to the exclusion of everything else 🙁

Ps. Which is exactly why having a movie that does have a poorly written cishetmale who is white shouldn’t be something that gets people riled up – there are plenty of positive examples to counteract the occasional shitty one.

Anyone is free to point out a weakly written character. But pretending like it somehow makes the tsunami of “minority” representation void is just missing the point entirely.

[quote] [quote]It refers to a personal ability or mode of behavior that pushes you through hardship, physical or mental. Usually expressed as “you have sisu/it was done with sisu”.Some people might give more specific definitions, but those might not be commonly agreed on. Some people like to pretend sisu is something Finns are especially good at, or something foreigners cannot understand.[/quote]

I’m fascinated by the words in different languages that relate to their cultural identity (eg, virtus in Latin, sophrosyne in ancient Greek). American English has no such word that I know of. Because we have no culture.[/quote]

Another Finn here, I think “vigour” is a good translation for “sisu”:

Good, did you actually SEE Kill Bill? The women in the film don’t actually spend all of their time talking about Bill.

Here’s the screenplay:

Yes, I saw Kill Bill. No, I have never given the movie the Bechdel test and I have never combed through the screenplay. Likewise, I never said that the women in the film spend all of their time talking about Bill.

I pointed out a movie that “clearly” passes the Bechdel test and compared it to movies that don’t clearly pass the test (though they may pass the test with a closer look) and pointed out something common between those that don’t, that being the presence of female protagonists dealing with male antagonists.

The film passes the Bechdel test by the second scene in which the main character and one of her female enemies stop fighting to talk to the woman’s daughter. Bill comes up later in the conversation, but the two women have a history of their own that they talk about.

Ok, thanks for the info.

Interesting selective memory on your part

What “selective memory” are you talking about? If I stated that certain movies don’t pass the test and one actually does, then that would mean that I was in error.

I don’t understand the snide response. Nothing I have stated here is in opposition to anyone else. I contributed a point of view to the discussion. Someone below asked why there are not more female antagonists in movies and my answer would be “good question”. Maybe society is more comfortable with portraying men as evil. I don’t know.

Fort Worth.

My in-laws are mostly strange yet cool (one of them believes she has prophecy powers) but it’s the flying part and the Texas part.

Favorite Disney villain? Maleficent. Because she turns into a dragon in kingdom hearts and is one of the harder baddies to beat. (Lots, and lots, and lots of running and ducking and swearing about Donald being old cold AGAIN)

Yeah, poor Donald. Dude couldn’t soak damage worth a DAMN. (And I don’t actually have a favorite villain. I’m not really a villain kinda guy.)

@LBT, I had the same thought about how the second criterion (the men are not expected to overcome adversity) of the Vintermann test would put the men on the sidelines of any conflict or drama. Though maybe Mr. Vintermann likes his movies entirely adversity-free; just two hours of Middle Class Joe going to his cushy, well-paying job and being served dinner by his obedient wife and going on the occasional uneventful resort vacation.

*Sigh* was reading the Mary Sue blog, and they had a post on the Bechdel test approval mark on Swedish theatres. And lo and behold, predictably enough the blog poster as well as pretty much all the commenters goes “it’s such a useless test because a movie could be sexist and pass and it could be feminist and fail”, WHICH NOBODY HAS EVER DENIED, and then the commentators start naming various movies that has a strong female character but still fails Bechdel as some kind of proof of how useless the test it is. Like the Avengers. “Look, the Avengers had Black Widow, an ass-kicking female hero, but it fails Bechdel, which proves that Bechdel is a useless test”. Hey, I loved the Avengers movie too! And I love Black Widow! But can’t you seriously see that it’s no coincidence that there are a bunch of male heroes while only one female hero? That it’s so easy to come up with examples of movies that have ONE admittedly ass-kicking female hero in an otherwise male cast, but really fucking difficult to come up with a movie where it’s the opposite of that?

“Have you two Finns ever done anything that required sisu?”

Hmm… I managed to gratuate? Then there’s the long winter that requires some sisu for you to get through. It’s so dark and cold and so much snow shoveling… Imagine months of not seeing the sun except in small glimpses during the lunch break. It’s dark when you get up to go to work and it’s dark again when you get back home. After a while you’ll need sisu to get out of the bed!

“Speaking of Finland: Have you seen this Tumblr?

Oh sure, i scrolled through a couple of pages when it first started making waves. It’s probably funnier to non-finns though. 🙂

@Viscaria It’s been alright, right below zero but no permanent snow yet. I hope the snow comes soon though, cos it makes it so much lighter and somehow not so cold. I don’t know if that makes sense, but the frost feels worse when the ground is bare. Gotta get that christmas feel 🙂

Wait…it’s, uh, -3°C here. It’s no colder in Finland?

Thank you for proving that I’m not just whining and it is legitimately cold here currently. (Here just east of NYC, US…here is not that far north in other words)

Tangentially, pecunium? Has it been hovering between barely 40 and HOLY FUCK IT’S COLD there too? Looks like we might break 50 over the weekend, I might be comfortable without being buried in blankets! You should see me in the winter, or rather, see the bundled up ball of fabric with me in it, if I’m going to be out for any length of time when it’s below freezing — socks, leggings, tucked into another pair of socks, jeans, not pulled up until undershirt is tucked in, sweater, possibly a t-shirt under it depending how HOLY FUCK IT’S COLD we’re talking, jacket, top button buttoned AFTER wrapping in scarf, hat, other scarf, shawl, frankengloves, and, of course, my boots — things you master when taking the bus in Pittsburgh when it’s 20 and wind straight off the rivers. (If it’s truly inhumanly cold, I’ll pull out my costume stockings even…see, if I get good and properly shivering cold, every muscle in my back locks and I’ll be in pain for days, I’d rather look absurd and be able to reach my socks without wincing)

The last couple days have been really bad for weather. -15C and then -20C (in the morning — it warmed up) witha windchill of -26 both days. Phone says -7 today though, so yay!

Yes, I did ask you about the weather to whine about my own. I figured, it’s gotta be worse in Finland, right? And then we would commiserate together.

Minus 31 effing degrees celsius this morning. My car started, though. Yay. Now if only they could get the heat working correctly at work, I’d be much happier. Not as happy as I’d be if it wasn’t effing winter.

Hmmm, WP ate my comment, lets try again.

I, on the other hand, am ecstatic that it finally snowed down here (only about -9C this morning); I still can’t get used to this whole ‘no significant snowfall until Nov/Dec’ bullshit we get down here in the plains. I grew up with winters that go from Sept-Apr and dammit, anything else is downright unnatural.

I have never been so glad for my recent development of a cold tolerance. I can now handle temperatures down to freezing without a coat, just a sweatshirt. Shame I lost the summer heat tolerance in exchange, though…

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