The Bechdel Test: Why Teen Girls Never See Themselves in the Movies
Written by Logan Mazettia, Posted on , in Section Inspirational
Why Do Films Minimalize Women?
Alison Bechdel, an American Cartoonist, authored a long-running comic strip entitled "Dykes to Watch Out For." In this comic, Alison utilized a character meant to give voice thoughts and opinions on current issues of the times. In 1985, in a strip titled "The Rule" this character states that she will only watch movies if they follow certain requirements. The films have to include at least two women, who both have names, and who speak to each other about anything besides men. Seems easy enough to follow, right? Surprisingly, though, there are very few movies that meet this requirement. Most movies portray females, especially teen girls, as characters who add very little to the story unless it revolves around men.
Jack the Giant Slayer, Oblivion, Hangover Part 3, and The Internship are all cinematic successes of 2013, however, each of them failed the Bechdel Test. With so many films created solely around intense action, mindless inappropriate behaviors, or females and their relationships with men, young girls are growing up more confused than ever before as to who they truly are, what they are capable of becoming, and of their personal value. How often do they see films with confident and happy women, engaged in meaningful friendships with other successful and balanced women? Not often enough.
Are Teenagers Being Taught The Wrong Lessons?
Cinematic stories that highlight the lives of teenagers frequently revolve around two main topics: substance abuse and sex. When this is how young people are portrayed in the movie industry, is it any wonder that so many feel like they are doing the normal thing when they get involved with these behaviors? Through her comic strip, Alison Bechdel hoped to enlighten society about the fact that women and teenage girls are interesting individuals who lead fascinating lives, are creative, who struggle with challenges, who overcome obstacles, and who develop personal strengths. These are the character traits that movies need to portray in today's teen girls. This will help society to see how amazing these young women are, and perhaps even more importantly, help them understand this about themselves.