I’m Starfoxy. I’m a married at home parent to two little boys. I’m a nursery leader in one of our ward’s nurseries. I have a degree in Astrophysics. I will also be blogging here regularly from now on, about which I am very excited.
Everyone has a thing. Something that you fixate on. Something that you care about, and think really matters. Lots of the time, people will agree with you that, yes, it does matter. Sometimes they won’t. Sometimes your thing is something you have a career in, sometimes not. My husband’s thing is intellectual property, and copyright law, he’s a software engineer.
My thing is the representation of women in media. I fixate on and analyze advertisements, movies, TV shows, news broadcasts, and books. Someday I would like to be Jean Kilbourne. I could go on for hours about some of this stuff, long after other people have lost interest.
One thing that I’ve come across is called the Bechdel test or rule. The rule was popularized by Alison Bechdel in her comic strip “Dykes to Watch Out For.” Ms. Bechdel says that the rule originated with one of her friends, and is alternately called the Mo Movie Measure, or the Bechdel-Wallace test.
A movie is said to pass if it meets these three reqirements:
- It has at least two female characters in it.
- They talk to each other…
- About something other than a man.
This test is surprisingly stringent, and lots of movies that have ‘strong female characters’ do not pass this test. The thing I really like about this test is the ambiguity in the last requirement. If you get strict about it, you could even say that some chick flicks fail this test, because the whole movie revolves around ‘catching’ a man, no matter how many women are in it.
The other thing I like about this test, is thinking of how a movie could be changed so that it would pass, and what those changes would mean. For example, Finding Nemo barely passes, only because Flo asks Peach about the patient’s root canal during an ensemble scene. However, if any one of a number of other characters were female the movie would easily pass the test. If one of the other aquarium fish were female, Nigel the Pelican, One of the sharks, or Crush the Turtle to name a few.
Another thing it brings up is what sorts of behaviors we like in men or women. Again from Finding Nemo, if Bruce the shark had been a woman she would have been a less likable character. The loud, pushy, male stereotype is more likable than the loud, pushy, female stereotype. While Bruce was obviously meant to be annoying, he was still funny, and likeable. If the only difference was a woman’s voice reading the same lines, she suddenly becomes an insufferable mother-in-law sort of character- practically a villain. This is a clear illustration of how our society feels about pushiness in women as opposed to men.
Whenever my husband and I watch a movie we bring up this test, and play “what if” with it. It’s a great way to open discussions about what sort of stories are told, the roles characters play, and how we would feel about them if they were different.