The Bechdel Test is famous for two reasons:
- Firstly, due to the very simple and minimal standards that a piece of media needs to meet to pass.
- Secondly, due to the sheer volume of stories that do not meet said standards.
The original test, first mentioned in Alison Bechdel’s comic, asks if in a piece of media there are two (named) women who talk to each other about something that is not a man.
With the rise in popularity, many have compared these standards to films and constantly updated lists of films. Many other tests have created a checklist for films and books. For example, the Vito Russo Test measures how LGBT characters are portrayed in films (they cannot be used just as a punchline to a joke, and their character must be tied into the plot).
What exactly do these tests indicate? Why do people care? The answer to both is inclusivity. While the Bechdel test shouldn’t be the gold standard for feminist literature, it is a step towards recognizing when women are not fleshed out. Representation and diversity in our stories matter.
If you are interested in reading some female-centric books, here are some available for checkout from our library.
The Handmaid’s Tale
by Margaret Atwood
FICTION • ebook
Set in the near future, the United States and is now called the Republic of Gilead, a monotheocracy that has reacted to social unrest and a sharply declining birthrate by reverting to, and going beyond, the repressive intolerance of the original Puritans.