Dump the Bechdel Test

The Bechdel test, conceived by comic writer Allison Bechdel, applies the following criteria to movies:

  1. There are two named female characters
  2. who talk to each other
  3. about something other than a man.

It’s been used as a sort of feminist litmus test for movies since its inception in 1985.  It’s an eye opener because a lot of movies fail this absurdly simple test and it’s difficult to imagine that there are that many plot lines where the above isn’t helpful, useful, or essential.  It’s a good way to grade Hollywood and its portrayal of women as a whole.  What it isn’t, is a good way way to grade individual movies.  What it also isn’t, is healthy to feminism.  (In my opinion, I’m a man so feel free to tell me to fuck off.)

The impetus behind the Bechdel Test as a tool of feminism is the notion that women are independent of men, which is certainly true, and a necessary thing to highlight in regards to feminism…but it’s harmful because it still uses men (or more accurately their absence) to define women.  Enter: The Mako Mori Test.  The Mako Mori Test, named for the Pacific Rim Character, judges a movie based on:

  1. There being at least one female character;
  2. who gets her own narrative arc
  3. that is not about supporting a man’s story.

The Mako Mori Test is not about female independence in regards to men.  It’s about female independence.  Period.  (Since 2 and 3 are redundant.)  It’s reminiscent of George R.R. Martin’s famous answer as to how he manages to write such convincing female characters.



Because, you know, they are.  Whether there’s a man in the frame or not.


About Alex

I am awesome.

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