This falls into the “this is a good thing to know,” as opposed to the “this is definitely good news (!),” category. The Bechdel Test is a quick and dirty way to gauge the sexism of a movie, invented 25 years ago by Alison Bechdel, the cartoonist and writer of Dykes to Watch Out For. A film needs to meet three criteria to pass:
So how does Hollywood do? You can go take a look at the statistics and graphs yourself but, the bottom line is: not well. Of the movies reviewed at bechdeltest.com only half (half!) pass. The most shocking number: 13% of the movies have only two points—meaning slightly more than a tenth of the reviewed films feature women who only talk about men.
It’s not as if the films of the 1960s are skewing the numbers or anything. This is a pattern that, if anything, is picking up momentum. Let’s go over some recent releases: The Social Network (one point), How to Train your Dragon (one point), Inception (two points—women who are dreamed up by men don’t count), The Trotsky (two points), Iron Man 2 (two points), The A-Team (zero points), etc.
Of course, a movie having three points doesn’t automatically mean it’s feminist-friendly (go check out some of the comments on the latest Twilight movie which, on a technicality, squeaked out a pass). In this case failing means a whole lot more than passing but, for your own edification at least, the Bechdel Test is…revealing.