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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.”

kittens!
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

Wait. WHAT IS WRONG WITH TALKING ABOUT KITTENS?

Thanks, AgainstMensRights subreddit!

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naltia
naltia
7 years ago

On a related note, I just watched a midnight showing of “Thor: The Dark World.” And it PASSED the Bechdel Test! 😀

I’m thrilled beyond words because most (if not all) Super Hero movies fail it, so I just love the fact that this one passed. *happy*nerd*dance*

titianblue
7 years ago

Can I recommend “The Bletchley Circle”, a 3-episode TV crime drama? I’m pretty certain it fails the reverse Bechdel test. Ok, it also fails completely on the PoC and tends to be heteronormative (although I thought there was sexual tension between two of women characters) but the principle characters are all women and the men are very much supporting roles. There are pretty gruesome murders so TW for violence against women but it is glorious to see a story about a group of four completely different women. They are so well written.

To my joy, ITV are making a second series to be broadcast next year.

titianblue
7 years ago

I should perhaps mention that there are no kittens in The Bletchley Circle, though.

Dvärghundspossen
7 years ago

That comment about Bechdel and LIFE is just… mind-blowing. Is there anyone who’s life doesn’t pass? Who’s never ever heard two women talk about something other than a man? Or, if the person is a woman, who’s never talked to another woman about something other than a man? Perhaps some dude in an incredibly gender-segregated society (like taliban-controlled Afghanistan) has a life that fails Bechdel, but otherwise…

CassandraSays
7 years ago

I’ve lived in Saudi and even there most men have mothers, and sisters, and cousins, maybe wives, or daughters, and all of those people do tend to talk to each other.

Maybe this guy is so awful that every time he walks into a room all the women in it go silent.

girlscientist
girlscientist
7 years ago

@titianblue: To my joy, ITV are making a second series to be broadcast next year.

Oh my God, that would be fantastic! I loved the Bletchley Circle! It was like a breath of fresh air to see truely well-written smart women on TV.

girlscientist
girlscientist
7 years ago

@CassandraSays: I’ve lived in Saudi and even there most men have mothers, and sisters, and cousins, maybe wives, or daughters, and all of those people do tend to talk to each other.

I actually saw a Saudi movie this summer, Wadjda, which passed the Bechdel test with flying colors. I really enjoyed it (and it even had an incredibly creepy *female* villain).

CassandraSays
7 years ago

It’s worth seeing then? No sign of it in the cinemas here but I’m sure it will make it to Netflix eventually.

titianblue
7 years ago

@girlscientist Series 2 is four episodes with 2 storylines. *does little dance of joy*

http://www.radiotimes.com/news/2013-05-08/the-bletchley-circle-series-2-confirmed

Buttercup Q. Skullpants
Buttercup Q. Skullpants
7 years ago

Is there any variant of the Bechdel test out there, where the movie doesn’t end with the lead female getting paired off romantically and living Happily Ever After? Sometimes it seems like Hollywood can’t imagine any other satisyfing conclusion to a female character’s arc.

I think part of pedobear’s paranoia about women talking to each other is that they might end up comparing notes on PUA/MRA fuckery and become more resistant to gaslighting, abuse and boundary testing. Can’t have that!

kittehserf
7 years ago

I started watching the Bletchley Circle, because it had such good reviews. I liked the idea, and the only thing I wondered about was how easily they seemed to get cooperation (or just being listened to) from the police – it didn’t seem likely. But it was the creepy violence that turned me off after the first episode. Violence against women, particularly sexualised violence, is not something I can watch, these days, however well done the program is.

girlscientist
girlscientist
7 years ago

@titianblue: *squee*

Athywren
Athywren
7 years ago

Some don’t understand Bechdel test (“Could your life pass the Bechdel test? Could anyone’s?”)

Uh… yeah. How could anyone’s life not pass the Bechdel test? How insular are these people’s lives? Even in school, my life passed the Bechdel test.

Can I recommend “The Bletchley Circle”

To my joy, ITV are making a second series to be broadcast next year.

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! <3
I loved that show! I mean, I found quite a lot of it disturbing, but it was very well done… plus Anna Maxwell Martin was in it, and I've become a fan of her in the past few years.

Is there any variant of the Bechdel test out there, where the movie doesn’t end with the lead female getting paired off romantically and living Happily Ever After? Sometimes it seems like Hollywood can’t imagine any other satisyfing conclusion to a female character’s arc.

…Catwoman?
(I finally watched that recently… not sure why it’s been so widely panned, it could’ve been better but it really wasn’t as awful as it’s been made out to be.)

titianblue
7 years ago

@Kitteh, I understand about the violence – it was disturbing. Hoping that the second series will be without it, especially given the plot hints that they’ve revealed. You’ll be pleased to know, in the interests of realism, that the police only listen the once, in that first series.

@buttercup, Damn, I know I read or watched something recently, which would have passed your test and my migraine-ridden brain is refusing to cooperate. Argue, it’s like having that pre-sneeze sting in my mind, because I should know, it’s nearly there and I just can’t remember. Will let you know when I do. *totters off to swallow more painkillers*

titianblue
7 years ago

Ok, this wasn’t it but the Resident Evil franchise pass @Buttercup’s test ….

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
7 years ago

Gothika — the lead women get happy endings, but no men involved.

pecunium
7 years ago

So my beloved and were talking and I joked that my life can’t pass the Bechdel test (being a guy and all), and she agreed, and then I said, “wait, it has. I have been in rooms where women have been talking about non-men and I didn’t interject”.

So yes, these guys are dumber than a box o’ rocks.

Viscaria
Viscaria
7 years ago

Some don’t understand Bechdel test (“Could your life pass the Bechdel test? Could anyone’s?”)

This probably sounds silly but honestly this is so hurtful and upsetting to me. It feels really gross to know that there are a not-insignificant number of men out there who refuse to see women as people living rich, full lives. It’s like they think we disappear the moment they stop interacting with us. That’s how little we matter.

Viscaria
Viscaria
7 years ago

And, like, “rapiertwit” leaves this revealing comment about what will happen to film if studios start pushing to pass the Bechdel test:

The hero grapples with the villain at the top of clock tower. The villain has him over the side, almost tipping our hero off the edge…
Cut to two women having a conversation that is not about a man.
Back to the clock tower…

It’s like are entirely incapable of imagining that women could actually influence the narrative. That maybe the hero and the villain could be women. I… argh.

Arctic Ape
Arctic Ape
7 years ago

Random OT musing inspired by the mention of Bechdel:

I just bought a DTWOF album that contains selection of strips from the last (and best) years before the hiatus, finally translated into Finnish. Haven’t read it yet, but I greatly enjoyed the English versions of same strips, and at quick glance the translation seems brilliant. BTW, reading American progressive blogs has helped me a long way to understand the political and cultural references.

There’s so much cunning linguistic (ahem) play that the translation is going to be an interesting work of art by itself. I fear I’ll have many moments of “Argh I would have done that one better” and “Argh why didn’t that one occur to me?”. As an aside, I remember one book title spoof that kinda works as Manboobz inside joke: “Short Book Of Penguin Women’s Sex Stories” (presumably from “Penguin Book Of Women’s Short Sex Stories”)

Another aside: The Finnish equivalent of “dyke” (in queer slang sense, not slur sense) is lepakko (bat), just because it sounds vaguely like lesbo (lesbian). Then, I just recently learned there’s an obscure American comic book hero named Batwoman, who’s indeed gay…

Dvärghundspossen
7 years ago

@Buttercup: I think you can find various examples of action movies that don’t end with the heroine pairing up with someone. The alien movies, Terminator one and two, and lately Gravity (which I just saw in the theater and it was a real nail biter! Strongly recommend!).

Dvärghundspossen
7 years ago

Although I guess Gravity is more drama than action.

kiki
kiki
7 years ago

Gotta love that opening statement. Hey, MRAs! I think that ‘what you’re trying to achieve is noble’, but apart from that, your entire movement is a pile of horseshit. Make sense?

Shaun DarthBatman Day
7 years ago

I love Die Hard, which technically passes because for 10 seconds Holly talks to whatshername. The thing is that the Die Hard franchise has 3/5 movies with a strong female character/lead (Holly Genarro and Lucy Genarro) and those are the best ones. These women look the terrorists (reporters) in the eye and come out the other side while John just blows shit up. In 3 and 5 they lack the leading female (ok and 2 was a little contrived), and the movies do not have those amazing confrontations. They are lacking, and people tend to see this without understanding *why*. It is the lack of a strong female in a position of power over the terrorists when she should be overpowered. Same thing in Passenger 57 (which passes the Bechdel, the Black Bechdel, and has amazing women, including a female terrorist), for all that idf a woman has a strong lead she is *always* going to be romantically involved with someone by the end, if not throughout. These movies are better for having believable and real representations of women. And DH4 (which failed the Bechdel) was the BEST EVER, Lucy is *not* her father’s daughter, she is her mother’s daughter.

Shaun DarthBatman Day
7 years ago

In the first Terminator, Sarah gets pregnant because she paired off.

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
7 years ago

Jurassic Park 1 & 2 (legit pass, adult women who’re well rounded characters [and don’t take shit from men] talking to girls about dinosaurs and such), and then 3 goes all “one woman cuz we need a mother”.

Dvärghundspossen
7 years ago

She had sex and got pregnant, but she was at her own at the end of the movie.

toujoursgai
7 years ago

Since Sunshine Cleaning has been mentioned – I may be forgetting a subplot, but I believe it ends without anyone getting romantically paired off.

katz
7 years ago

On a related note, I just watched a midnight showing of “Thor: The Dark World.” And it PASSED the Bechdel Test!

Haven’t seen Dark World yet, but the Thor movies are unexpectedly good at these issues. There are 4 named female characters and, despite having by far the best excuse to fill the cast with white people of any of the Marvel movies, there are two non-white Asgardians.

“Could your life pass the Bechdel test? Could anyone’s?”

…Does he think that women never talk to each other, or does it just not occur to him that the word “anyone” includes women?

Is there any variant of the Bechdel test out there, where the movie doesn’t end with the lead female getting paired off romantically and living Happily Ever After?

BRAVE BRAVE BRAVE

Robert
Robert
7 years ago

Bechdel recently (for a given value of recently) released “Are You My Mother”, which focuses on her relationship with, yup, her mother, who is still alive. One of the more cerebral things I’ve read recently, and required several reads to get all of. Well recommended.

gelar
gelar
7 years ago

The hero grapples with the villain at the top of clock tower. The villain has him over the side, almost tipping our hero off the edge…Cut to two women having a conversation that is not about a man.

If I may waste everyone’s time:

[MEANWHILE, in an office directly across from the clock tower]

“I understand your concern, Susan, but we’ve already decided how the funds will be spent. If you were so passionate about guard rails, you should have said something at the meeting.”

“I wasn’t at the meeting.”

“Oh? You should have been there!”

“You rescheduled it.”

“I sent a mass e-mail several minutes in advance.”

“To everyone but me! Why is everyone against adding railings to the clock tower?!”

“It would harm the aesthetic. And nobody wants to deal with the Heritage Committee. And nobody cares. Can you name one other person in this entire town who would care about a guard rail?”

[CUT TO SCREAMING HERO]

[and back to the office]

“I didn’t think so.”

katz
7 years ago

Gelar: Well played.

cloudiah
7 years ago

Gelar, that is awesome.

Dvärghundspossen
7 years ago

@Gelar: *clapping*

Dvärghundspossen
7 years ago

I just had a revelation of sorts. A woman in my Swedish feminist group on Facebook asked for TV series with funny women. I wrote that she could check out American sit-com community. I really had the feeling that in community, men and women get about equal screen time (and also, women also get to be wacko, it’s not just wacko men and women playing “straight man”). Then I looked at the ibdm page for Community. And really, the group of friends that the plots focus on consist of four men and three women, and the three constantly recurring side characters are all men.
I haven’t actually checked men/women screentime, but considering the above, chances are men dominate.
That’s just such a good illustration of how even a feminist like myself can easily be fooled into thinking that men and women are equally represented when there’s actually a majority of men.

katz
7 years ago

Arctic Ape: You’re Finnish? Can you explain sisu?

toujoursgai
7 years ago

That’s an interesting point, Dvärghundspossen. I read somewhere that the writing staff of Community is about 50/50 men and women, which may explain why it’s better at female character stuff than most sitcoms. But “better” still doesn’t mean “totally equal.”

Chie Satonaka
Chie Satonaka
7 years ago

Fargo is my number one favorite movie. Marge is my favorite female fictional character. She’s a female sheriff who is portrayed in a completely straightforward manner, does her job well, and still has a regular life that she enjoys (instead of this “tortured hero” crap that every other movie and tv show does with cops). And she’s the hero of the movie. But I had to stop and think if she even talks to another woman in the film. She does — but she’s talking about a man! So you’re right, doesn’t pass the Bechdel test. Although, another one of my favorite films, Inglorious Basterds, also doesn’t pass the test but features an awesome female hero, too.

cloudiah
7 years ago

OT, but I love this cat (especially the look he gives the camera at about 1:03):

Dvärghundspossen
7 years ago

Btw, today I forgot to bring my headlamp to work. Since we live out in the forest, kilometres away from the nearest street light, I had to walk five hundred metres through pitch dark forest from the bus stop to my house. I considered calling a random man and demand that he give me a ride with his car, but in the end, I walked home by myself, and only nearly hit a tree twice.

wordsp1nner
wordsp1nner
7 years ago

That MensRights thread is a goldmine for completely missing the point. My personal favorite:

For a film to pass the Vintermann Test, it must satisfy the following requirements:

1)It must have at least two men in it.
2) No man in the film is expected to overcome adversity.
3) No man in the film is expected to make any personal sacrifices for a female in the film. </blockquote

Found here: http://np.reddit.com/r/MensRights/comments/1q0prf/sweden_wants_2_females_per_movie_this_is_getting/cd88h1l

"No man in the film is expected to overcome adversity." Then what the hell are the men doing in the movie? Seriously.

Incidentally, the Nanonovel I'm procrastinating on kicks the ass of the Bechdel Test, but the first-person narrator is a lesbian, so…

wordsp1nner
wordsp1nner
7 years ago

Blockquote Fail. It was supposed to end after </blockquote

Chie Satonaka
Chie Satonaka
7 years ago

The thing is that the Die Hard franchise has 3/5 movies with a strong female character/lead (Holly Genarro and Lucy Genarro) and those are the best ones. These women look the terrorists (reporters) in the eye and come out the other side while John just blows shit up.

The Die Hard films are a guilty pleasure for me. I see the first film as a backlash film of the 80’s, however. Yes, Holly is shown to be a strong woman. However, a major plot point is her “betrayal” of John by trying to focus on her career and by no longer using his name. At the end of the film, to illustrate her redemption as a character, she reclaims the McClane name.

And while I enjoyed his daughter’s sassy attitude while she was abducted by terrorists, I was completely squicked out by the beginning of the film when we see John literally stalking his ADULT daughter on a date and assaulting her boyfriend for kissing her. WHAT THE FUCK. She wasn’t a sixteen year old girl going out with an adult man and being confronted by a protective father, she was a woman in her 20’s at that point.

Both mother and daughter are merely women in peril, waiting to be saved by John, regardless of their spunky attitudes. Counter that with the final film, when we meet John’s son. He’s his father equal in every way, working as a spy, and goes along with his father on his task of saving the world.

The gender conventions in the Die Hard film franchise are very “traditional” and in many ways problematic.

Shaun DarthBatman Day
7 years ago

Dvärghundspossen, then I misunderstood your post. Sorry.

Shaun DarthBatman Day
7 years ago

Chie, thing is John is a big stupid lug. He has never been anything more, and that’s why the female leads are so compelling. The character (John) is technically misandry.

Yeah, the romantic renewal is problematic. She does eventually get out for good, though. But I don’t see Holly and Lucy passively accepting that they have been damselled. They are actively thwarting and causing problems for the terrorists and sticking up for themselves. They will never back down. I think they are amazing characters, placed in less than ideal situations.

Chie Satonaka
Chie Satonaka
7 years ago

The thing I really can’t get past (now that we have this last film) is that they added a “buddy” character in Justin Long (who was very charming in the role, I admit) to accompany John and to be his comedic foil in the fourth movie and kept the daughter as a hostage. Then in the last movie, we meet the son, and he gets to be the “buddy” character and the comedic foil, giving him a status that was never given to either Holly or Lucy. It just really irritated me.

wordsp1nner
wordsp1nner
7 years ago

Okay, so thinking about the comments, and particularly about the “reverse Bechdel” I quoted above, I think I reason why the MensRightsters are so confused:

They think that the Bechdel test mandates that female characters never talk to each other about men, because (a) they think all women are the same, so of course all women’s interactions in a movie have to be the same and (b) if they were to come out with some kind of test for movies (see above) it would be an all-or-nothing proposal, whereas the Bechdel is kind of a minimum bar for representing women’s relationships with each other (which not all movies need to do, but too few do).

Good
Good
7 years ago

“The Help” clearly passes the Bechdel Test. It is a drama with a predominantly female cast that is not centered around their romantic relationships. The good guys are women and the bad guys are women.

On the other hand, “The Color Purple” has a mostly women as the major players, but all of the bad guys are men. Thus, all they have to discuss is how the men treat them. Similar situation with the movies “9 to 5”, “Waiting to Exhale” and “Kill Bill”. Seems that most of the conversation between women in movies is discussing how to deal with the male antagonist.

Chie Satonaka
Chie Satonaka
7 years ago

whereas the Bechdel is kind of a minimum bar for representing women’s relationships with each other (which not all movies need to do, but too few do).

Exactly, it’s just a very simple way to illustrate the extremely limited ways in which our culture portrays women in fiction. Women are half of humanity, but if you judged the population based on what’s on television and in the movies, you’d think that white men comprised about 75% of the world’s population.

katz
7 years ago

I was trying to figure out what Good is trying to say and then I realized I didn’t care.