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greensleeves

[No Spoilers] Is the third season now 2-0 on the Bechdel Test?

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Holy crap!

It took a while for this thread to post so I was on to other stuff while this discussion was going on. I certainly never expected this!

There are a lot of misunderstandings here:

- The Bechdel Test is NOT and has NEVER purported to be a measure of a movie's feminism.

- The Bechdel Test IS meant as a rough, easy measure of how 'woman-centered' a movie's plot is. THIS IS ENTIRELY DIFFERENT FROM MEASURING THE 'FEMINISM' OF A MOVIE.

- There are plenty of great movies that fail the bechdel test, and plenty of horrible ones that pass it.

- However, the bechdel test DOES effectively demonstrate a problem with the overall presence of women in media: the vast majority of movies PASS the REVERSE bechdel test while an astounding number FAIL the bechdel test itself.

(For example, I'd guess that around half of GoT episodes pass the Bechdel test and all of them pass the reverse Bechdel test.... sadly this is actually pretty good.)

For more information:

http://bechdeltest.com/

I hope this clears up all the misunderstandings in this thread!

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The bechdel test is supposed to determine if a work of fiction portrays women well or not. Basically a piece of fiction must have a scene in which two women have an entire conversation without mentioning men.

Of course it's a ridiculous measure of the presence, or lack of sexism in a work. Two women in one series could pass the bechdel test by talking about how wonderful cleaning, cooking and shopping is. Another pair of women in another series could fail because their business discussion just happened to mention Pete from work.

This is not what the test measures at all! It was never meant to measure these things!

And, I agree that the test is so pointless...

truer words have never been posted.

I am sorry, but I have just seen the list of movies that actually passed. And I disagree completely with remark that movies are too man-concentrated and sexist towards women. For me, Galadriel in LOTR/Hobbit is the proof that woman can have strength equal, or even higher than any man in her world. Also, there are so many beautifully written female characters that show their strength and power in men`s world. I am sorry, but when you think of all great actresses of this time, and their roles - Meryl Streep and Cate Blanchett, as honorable mentions, you`ll see that society isn`t that closeted as we think. And that comes from man who lived in very closeted society and now works in another.

Oh yes, a lengthy debate between two women about breast enlargement, botox and high heels, THAT would pass :) while a discussion of the theory of relativity might fail since Einstein might be mentioned.

Unfortunately, protar misrepresented this test early on. It's not meant as a measure of sexism or the strength of female characters. It is simply a measure of the presence of women in the work and how women-centered the plot is. Nothing more, nothing less. I wish you guys would give it another chance.

Most films/TV also fail a male Bechdel test.

This is not true.

I'm not sure the premier passes with flying colours either, that convo was rather insipid.

Insipid convos count, and you also have the conversation between Ros and Shae about Sansa's birth.

As a man who has had no idea that this test even existed, I find it fascinating that a test on feminism is basically completely centred on a measurement of the male element. You would imagine that a scene or story would be judged within its own context, but apparently the measure of feminism can only be measured by the presence or not of a man. Essentially we are told that even the measurement of female worth is reliant on the element of the male to be meaningful, as if women cannot measure their own 'feminism' without a reference to the 'male' Its fascinating, you are judging a scene as feminist if it has an absence of a male element, and in so doing, are actually using the male in your own real life activity of measurement. Do women really value the worth of their interactions by whether or not men are being referenced in them?

Again, this is not a test of a movie's feminism! The purpose of the Bechdel test was severely and unfortunately misrepresented early on in the conversation.

One of the the obvious things injected into this season so far is the increased feminist overtones. Anyone whining about lack of gender equality on this show is grasping at straws. George's books are quite pro-woman, but this show goes even further to push that agenda, so much that it is becoming heavy handed. So much so that they have done great disservices to characters like Brienne, Shae, Cat, Jeyne ("Talisa" ugh), and others in trying to weed out negative traits (Brienne's innocence, Shae being largely an empty whore, Cat being cruel to Jon and generally more assertive, and of course Talisa as the back-talking nurse in the very first scene she interacts with a King (Robb) and a god damn high lord (Roose Bolton). Call them simple deviations if you want, but there is a clear pattern and ironically it is making these characters less complex and realistic.

As for this blatantly flawed test, I suggest you go back to some Anita Sarkeesian videos where you can spout your pseudo-academic trash.

This test is not meant to be a measure of feminism in a work! I love GRRM and admire the strength and variety of his female characters and how they interact with a male-dominated world.

For examples, I watch Homeland and Shameless, two shows with strong female leads. In Homeland, the main character might be talking to another female but about a terrorist that is a man. Or in Shameless the main character might be talking to another female about her degenerate father. Sexism because they weren't talking about something else? What about when two men are talking about a women, is that counted?

I admit to being blind to these things. Sometimes you don't see something if you aren't actively looking for it

This test is not a measure of sexism or even the presence of good female characters. Don't try to interpret it that way. I haven't watched Shameless, but I love Homeland and completely agree about the strength of its female lead.

Gee, this conversation got trolled. Shocker.

Cant believe the mods let this through.

Why should the inevitable presence of trolls prevent discussion of gender in media? I wish they had posted the thread earlier; then I might have been able to correct protar's complete misrepresentation of the test and actually steered this towards something meaningful.

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@greensleeves

Regardless of what that original intent was, yes nowadays the bechdel test is mostly used as a measure of sexism in a work. Which is what I find stupid. Even as a measure of a woman's presence in the plot it is shady. For instance we could be talking about a harem genre anime with half a dozen females and one male. Most of the plot could revolve around these women interacting but it could easily fail the test because the man is the centre-piece. Now as a measure of how woman-centric the series is, then it's slightly more reliable but hardly foolproof. So regardless of what people are using it for I see it as nothing more than a fun little curiosity.

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Most films/TV also fail a male Bechdel test.

This is not true.

Do you have a link that shows lists of movies that fail each of the 4 equivalents of the bechdel test?

2 males talking about another male.

2 males talking about another female.

2 females talking about another male.

2 females talking about another female.

I doubt there's any decent film or TV show that passes all of those.

In all fashions the bechdel test is absurd and useless.

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@greensleeves

Regardless of what that original intent was, yes nowadays the bechdel test is mostly used as a measure of sexism in a work. Which is what I find stupid.

This is false. If you watch the youtube link it explicitly explains this. You might want to twist it into that, but you would be wrong to do so. It's like giving someone a math test then saying that they are bad at history.

Do you have a link that shows lists of movies that fail each of the 4 equivalents of the bechdel test?

2 males talking about another male.

2 males talking about another female.

2 females talking about another male.

2 females talking about another female.

I doubt there's any decent film or TV show that passes all of those.

In all fashions the bechdel test is absurd and useless.

The Bechdel Test requirements are:

1. There are two (named) women in a movie

2. They talk to each other

3. About something other than a man.

Thus the reverse Bechdel Test requirements are:

1. There are two (named) men in a movie

2. They talk to each other

3. About something other than a woman.

Sunday's episode passes the reverse test easily. Off the top of my head, I can think of the conversations between the men of Night's watch and the conversation between Bran and Jojen.

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This is false. If you watch the youtube link it explicitly explains this. You might want to twist it into that, but you would be wrong to do so. It's like giving someone a math test then saying that they are bad at history.

I'm not the one twisting it though. I'm simply saying that a lot of people use it to measure sexism in a work, which is true (as should be self-evident by people using it as such in this very thread.). And really you're analogy makes no sense. The presence of women in a work of fiction is pretty closely related to the feminist value and/or sexism of that work, so it's perfectly understandable for people to use the test as a measure of that.

Also you ignored my point that even as a simply measure of woman's presence in a work of fiction, it doesn't really work.

EDIT: Also the video quite clearly links the test into the sexism of the film industry at the end so you chose rather poorly if you wanted a video to illustrate your point.

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Find a scene in this show where no one mentions a man. You can't.

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I'm not the one twisting it though. I'm simply saying that a lot of people use it to measure sexism in a work, which is true (as should be self-evident by people using it as such in this very thread.). And really you're analogy makes no sense.

You told people early on in the thread that it was used as a measure of a movie's sexism... thus leading to the widespread misunderstanding. However, those who actually use and like the Bechdel test do not use it this way (to measure sexism in a movie).

The presence of women in a work of fiction is pretty closely related to the feminist value and/or sexism of that work, so it's perfectly understandable for people to use the test as a measure of that.

Not necessarily... as many examples in this thread demonstrate.

Also you ignored my point that even as a simply measure of woman's presence in a work of fiction, it doesn't really work.

I wasn't aware that you ever made that point. If you did, I disagree with you. Could you provide some evidence/ point out where you said that?

EDIT: Also the video quite clearly links the test into the sexism of the film industry at the end so you chose rather poorly if you wanted a video to illustrate your point.

Sexism in the industry because of the overall lessened meaningful presence of women in media. This is very, very different from saying that the Bechdel test condemns individual movies for being sexist.

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The actual sad thing is that the vast majority of Hollywood movies don't pass this test. And it's actually only one scene necessary yet it's still usually not present.

That's due to the misogyny present in the industry. Aspiriing screenwriters are even told by professors to deliberately fail the bechdel test. The audience (both men and women) apparently want the focus to be on white male actors and the women are supposed to support the men. It's ridiculous and unfortunately seeing some of the responses here that are anti-bechdel test, you can see why these hollywood writers do what they do.

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This is false. If you watch the youtube link it explicitly explains this. You might want to twist it into that, but you would be wrong to do so. It's like giving someone a math test then saying that they are bad at history.

The Bechdel Test requirements are:

1. There are two (named) women in a movie

2. They talk to each other

3. About something other than a man.

Thus the reverse Bechdel Test requirements are:

1. There are two (named) men in a movie

2. They talk to each other

3. About something other than a woman.

Sunday's episode passes the reverse test easily. Off the top of my head, I can think of the conversations between the men of Night's watch and the conversation between Bran and Jojen.

Yes as I said the test is absurd, you're only helping my point... even when you compare a 'reverse' test you completely ignore half the options.

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You told people early on in the thread that it was used as a measure of a movie's sexism... thus leading to the widespread misunderstanding. However, those who actually use and like the Bechdel test do not use it this way (to measure sexism in a movie).

But it is used as such, regardless of how it was originally used. I was entirely correct in saying so and am not to blame for any misinterpretation because

1.) I didn't misinterpret anything. And...

2.) I'm not the only person to originally have that opinion on how the bechdel test is used.

This very thread should make it clear that people are using it to measure sexism in a film. The meaning and purpose has simply shifted.

Not necessarily... as many examples in this thread demonstrate.

I meant in general. Both refer to the portrayal of women in fiction. If you can't see the link then I'm afraid I can't help you.

I wasn't aware that you ever made that point. If you did, I disagree with you. Could you provide some evidence/ point out where you said that?

To quote my previous post:

"For instance we could be talking about a harem genre anime with half a dozen females and one male. Most of the plot could revolve around these women interacting but it could easily fail the test because the man is the centre-piece. Now as a measure of how woman-centric the series is, then it's slightly more reliable but hardly foolproof. So regardless of what people are using it for I see it as nothing more than a fun little curiosity."

That gives an example of a genre in which there is a lot of female presence, however such a series may not pass the bechdel test. Therefore it is unreliable in determining woman's presence in a series. A series can also be woman-centric (by which I assume you mean it has a female protagonist.) and also fail the bechdel test: for example a romcom from the POV of the woman where she does nothing but agonise over her love interest.

Sexism in the industry because of the overall lessened meaningful presence of women in media. This is very, very different from saying that the Bechdel test condemns individual movies for being sexist.

Of course it isn't. If the sum of these films that fail the bechdel indicates sexism, then the test must also be condemning the individual films of being sexist. Else where's the sexism coming from?

Of course the truth is that some films are sexist and some films simply have legitimate reasons to fail the test.

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If you watch a film and happen to find the male conversations better than there's no problem. What is a problem is making a blanket statement that all conversations not about men are uninteresting. I think what you're experiencing is not that conversations centred on women are always uninteresting, but that most directors and writers are male and so have trouble writing interesting female orientated conversations.

No, that's not my point. In real life, I generally find a conversation among an all-male group to be much more interesting to me than a conversation among an all-female group, though there are some exceptions. And to the extent I'm seeing what I think are realistic portrayals of such conversations on TV or in movies, I'd expect that generally to hold up as well. That's not antipathy, but simply preference, and I know a lot of women who would feel the same, except reversed. That's certainly not a universal sentiment, but it is something that certainly exists.

You don't need to be a feminist to get angry at a blatantly sexist remark.

To quote Nigel Tufnel, "what's wrong with being sexy?"

In any case, this is exactly the mindset to which I object. Why is it a cause for anger if someone generally prefers all male to all female conversations, or vice-versa? This is just indicative of the pressure to conform that is at the heart of much of feminism. Some guys may tend to prefer conversations among other guys. Some women may tend to prefer all female conversations. Others have no preference. So what?

I know plenty of women who like their "girls nights outs". Good for them. But in my experience, women will tend (again, not exclusively) to spend a lot more time discussing relationships than men do. They'll often be discussing them from a female perspective. And if they're not discussing relationships, their sometimes discussing what could be termed "feminist" issue. Well, blech. That stuff doesn't interest me. So mind if I go hang out with the guys at the bar?

But it seems now that recognition that their tend to be differences between the genders, and to have a preference one way or the other, is "sexism". Pretend that their really isn't any difference at all, and if you think there is, well, you're sexist!

Bah, humbug.

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No, that's not my point. In real life, I generally find a conversation among an all-male group to be much more interesting to me than a conversation among an all-female group, though there are some exceptions. And to the extent I'm seeing what I think are realistic portrayals of such conversations on TV or in movies, I'd expect that generally to hold up as well. That's not antipathy, but simply preference, and I know a lot of women who would feel the same, except reversed. That's certainly not a universal sentiment, but it is something that certainly exists.

To quote Nigel Tufnel, "what's wrong with being sexy?"

In any case, this is exactly the mindset to which I object. Why is it a cause for anger if someone generally prefers all male to all female conversations, or vice-versa? This is just indicative of the pressure to conform that is at the heart of much of feminism. Some guys may tend to prefer conversations among other guys. Some women may tend to prefer all female conversations. Others have no preference. So what?

I know plenty of women who like their "girls nights outs". Good for them. But in my experience, women will tend (again, not exclusively) to spend a lot more time discussing relationships than men do. They'll often be discussing them from a female perspective. And if they're not discussing relationships, their sometimes discussing what could be termed "feminist" issue. Well, blech. That stuff doesn't interest me. So mind if I go hang out with the guys at the bar?

Then your problem is not female conversations, it's simply stereotypically female topics which is entirely different as there's nothing stopping men discussing those.

Now that you've explained it, I don't think that's a sexist view to take, but I still feel you worded it insensitively.

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I thought they went out of their way to make Brienne appear a more adept swordfighter then Jamie which didn't happen in the book. I also think they tried to make Cat more sympathetic, and Shae more sympathetic. In that sense I suppose it is doing more for the portreyal of woman then the book did.

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@Greensleeves, I do appologize if I have misunderstood it, and obviously I did, so sorry. I`ll do a research about it and expand my knowledge about it, and then answer you with appropriate answer. I was merely talking about my own perception of those conversations, and I find them not to be so centric about men. Like Margaery said `I want to know what that means` so that conversation was about Margaery and Sansa, and Joffrey was just link between two of them.

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Don't conflate feminism with not being sexist please. One is a social movement with some controversial ideas on how to bring about gender equality. The other is common decency.

Feminism has many definitions and there are many types of feminism (second wave, third wave, and all the different types inbetween). By a lot of definitions a conscious desire to not be sexist is enough. Congratulations, you are a feminist!

:grouphug:

...

If you see people using the Bechdel test (and not actual analysis) to condemn individual movies of being sexist or anti-feminist then you should correct them. That is not what the test is. Everyone I've seen who uses and likes the the test does not use it this way.

If you have frequented corners of the internet where it is misused then I am sorry. Please don't condemn the test based on that.

In particualar, I (the originator of the thread) am telling you that I did not mean for the test to be used in that way.

On the harem anime example (Note that the original test is not meant to apply to TV so its not perfect): A harem anime should easily pass the first two conditions of the Bechdel Test (many media works don't). If it fails to pass the third... then maybe the Bechdel test is a bit off... or maybe it's an indicator that the female presence isn't very meaningful. Either way the 2/3 the anime gets is an indication of female presence. It probably has a good chance of getting 3/3.

The harem anime is also a good example of why the Test is not used to measure sexism in individual works, but rather in the entire industry. Women can be very present in a work (like your harem anime) but it still might have very sexist undertones. On the other hand great movies like Mulan and Wall-E fail the bechdel test despite the first having a feminist message and the second being awesome. However, when we look across a large number of movies we see a trend of not much meaningful female presence (as measured by the Bechdel test). This is in contrast to the trend we see with the reverse Bechdel test where the vast majority of movies pass.

These widespread trends allow us to point out sexism in the industry... not judging individual works with whether or not they pass Bechdel. When trying to make a judgement on an individual work, of course you actually analyze the work.

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@Greensleeves, I do appologize if I have misunderstood it, and obviously I did, so sorry. I`ll do a research about it and expand my knowledge about it, and then answer you with appropriate answer. I was merely talking about my own perception of those conversations, and I find them not to be so centric about men. Like Margaery said `I want to know what that means` so that conversation was about Margaery and Sansa, and Joffrey was just link between two of them.

It's okay. The thread ended up being posted many hours after I had originally submitted it. I'm sorry I wasn't there to keep it from getting so derailed. If I had realized that so many people would misunderstand the purpose of the test I would have included an explanation. Don't feel obligated to go out and research, just know that what you were originally told about the purpose of the Bechdel test is wrong.

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Now that you've explained it, I don't think that's a sexist view to take....

I believe there are many who would disagree with that, as they are opposed to the existence of gender stereotypes or gender-based assumptions period. That's why I tweaked, because there often is peer pressure here against stating an opposing view.

One of my favorite sports movies is A League Of The Their Own. Like I said, I love Bridesmaids. And back in the day, I was a sucker for a Meg Ryan Rom-Com. But at the same time, there are still chick flicks and guy flicks, though the occasional chick or occasional guy will see it differently. And I'm fine with that. But there are people who object to that entire concept, and unfortunately, they sometimes manage to cow those who see it differently.

Either the HBO series is good entertainment, or it isn't. Whether or not it meets some particular test developed by feminists to measure...whatever...., and then to condemn it on that basis, is the type of closed-minded to which I object. Because essentially, they seek to pressure industry to produce works that meet their standards of what is appropriate from a feminist perspective, which naturally has the effect of suppressing works that aren't.

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It's okay. The thread ended up being posted many hours after I had originally submitted it. I'm sorry I wasn't there to keep it from getting so derailed. If I had realized that so many people would misunderstand the purpose of the test I would have included an explanation. Don't feel obligated to go out and research, just know that what you were originally told about the purpose of the Bechdel test is wrong.

You deserve a proper answer, and by Gods, you shall have one :). It`s not obligation, those are manners, and beside that I want to. I thought that Bechdel test was about importance of female characters to the story and that their appearance at the big screen is essential. That was where I was heading with my first reply.

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Feminism has many definitions and there are many types of feminism (second wave, third wave, and all the different types inbetween). By a lot of definitions a conscious desire to not be sexist is enough. Congratulations, you are a feminist!

:grouphug:

"Shudders"

I'm happy just being someone who displays common human decency thank you :P there's far to much baggage associated with the word feminist and the lack of a solid definition is part of the reason I think it's kind of pointless - there's no direction and eventually the more extremist groups simply tear the more reasonable groups apart.

If you see people using the Bechdel test (and not actual analysis) to condemn individual movies of being sexist or anti-feminist then you should correct them. That is not what the test is. Everyone I've seen who uses and likes the the test does not use it this way.

If you have frequented corners of the internet where it is misused then I am sorry. Please don't condemn the test based on that.

In particualar, I (the originator of the thread) am telling you that I did not mean for the test to be used in that way.

Well fair enough. I mean I don't think that it can be used as a measure of sexism, so really we've been on the same side on that matter the entire time. But as I like to say, people are always entitled to their incorrect opinions so if people want to use it like that I'm not going to stop them, though I will disagree with them.

On the harem anime example (Note that the original test is not meant to apply to TV so its not perfect): A harem anime should easily pass the first two conditions of the Bechdel Test (many media works don't). If it fails to pass the third... then maybe the Bechdel test is a bit off... or maybe it's an indicator that the female presence isn't very meaningful. Either way the 2/3 the anime gets is an indication of female presence. It probably has a good chance of getting 3/3.

I would go with the option that the bechdel test is simply a bit off. Female interactions regarding men can be meaningful. To imply otherwise is to imply that men automatically make a conversation not meaningful which of course is wrong.

The harem anime is also a good example of why the Test is not used to measure sexism in individual works, but rather in the entire industry. Women can be very present in a work (like your harem anime) but it still might have very sexist undertones. On the other hand great movies like Mulan and Wall-E fail the bechdel test despite the first having a feminist message and the second being awesome. However, when we look across a large number of movies we see a trend of not much meaningful female presence (as measured by the Bechdel test). This is in contrast to the trend we see with the reverse Bechdel test where the vast majority of movies pass.

These widespread trends allow us to point out sexism in the industry... not judging individual works with whether or not they pass Bechdel. When trying to make a judgement on an individual work, of course you actually analyze the work.

But surely, if the bechdel test is used to determine that the entire industry is sexist, it must be implicating that some of the works which fail are sexist right? But not all, and as you say we must look at each individual film on it's own merits to determine which. And we also have to do that to determine if there is a meaningful female presence, and if the work is female centric. So if each work must be analysed in depth before we can say anything about the female presence for an individual film, what's the point of the test?

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