Of all of the ideas squishing their way through the bowels of cyberfeminism, none irritates me more than the Bechdel test. In case you’ve been living under a misogynist rock, the Bechdel test is a way that feminists can tell if a movie is worth taking up time that could otherwise be used speaking truth to power or looking for dates on Cats of Instagram (catsofinstagram.com). If a movie passes the test, it gets the Bechdel stamp of approval and is fit for feminist consumption.
Here are the three rules of the test, according to http://www.bechdeltest.com:
1. It has to have at least two [named] women in it
2. Who talk to each other
3. About something besides a man
Seems like a pretty handy little test there. It got me thinking that maybe I can save myself some time by not reading articles on feminist blogs that fail it. Since most blog posts don’t have characters or dialogue, the first two rules don’t really apply, so we’re left with:
3. About something besides a man
Here are some feminism articles to which I applied my modified version of the Bechdel test:
This Everyday Feminism article takes an unpopular stance and defends selfie-taking as confidence-boosting self-expression for women. It’s an interesting idea that I pretty much agree with.
The author—no doubt blinded by the flash on her iPhone—goes off the rails when she blames hatred of the selfie on men. First of all, most of the posts I found trashing selfies, like this one, seemed fairly gender-neutral. Second, who likes looking at self-portraits of girls more than guys? How many times have you seen a Facebook post of a selfie flooded with men telling the girl to stop being such a self-involved bitch?
The stupidity kicks into high gear when Tatum claims that selfies are empowering. If snapping a photo of your duck face in a Starbucks bathroom is empowering, then you may as well grab a shot of the empowered floater you left in the toilet behind you. Sorry, Everyday Feminism. You failed my sniff test, and more importantly, the Bechdel test. Flush.
This Huffington Post write-up is a short one, but it makes some silly assumptions and finishes with a glaring Bechdel test violation. The first line—”It’s no secret that there aren’t enough women in the tech industry”—makes more sense when you read it as “We would like it if there were more women in the tech industry.” There you go. It sounds much less speculative and censorious like that.
The author then claims that the relatively low number of females in technology fields is caused by the “brogrammer vibe” at most startups. This may or may not be valid, but I’m not concerned with validity. I’m only concerned with my test. And you just failed, so I’ve just closed my browser tab. Next.
Even when the article is something I don’t find completely stupid, the corniness of Jezebel’s house writing style makes reading their articles akin to getting my balls caught in an elevator door. There’s actually a “no siree” in this one. Other than that I don’t have any problems with the article. What Dr. Drew said seems pretty stupid and the way he tosses aside endometriosis as a “garbage bag disorder” seems pretty fucking cruel.
Oh, wait—I actually do have a problem with this article. The entire thing is about a man, making it yet another Bechdel test violation. Sorry, Jezebel, out the window with ye.
I still really hate the Bechdel test, and I’ll hate any other test like it that would be used as some sort of ideological boundary to enjoying a piece of art. To apply stupid rules such as the Bechdel test to art seems to me like something a propagandist would do before he finished his film. The film’s artistic quality wouldn’t matter so much as how many references to his country there were, how well the flag was positioned in each shot, and how on-message it was.
On the other hand, using this test cuts out a lot of noise. Even a cesspool of garbage click-baitsturbation such as Jezebel becomes a lot more palatable if you apply a little Bechdel test magic to it.