I discovered the Bechdel test about nine years ago. It is very simple: a film passes the Bechdel test if, within the work:
- a woman talks to another woman, and;
- they talk about something else than a man.
The conditions are so trivial that it hurt to find out how incredibly few of the films I had ever come across passed the test. The pain hasn’t decreased much with time.
The Bechdel test isn’t really actionable – I have given up hope of it ever showing up among the audiovisual industry’s self-congratulatory standards – but it is a sensible and telling pocket lens to keep in the back of one’s mind.
There are plenty of other areas where lack of diversity or representativity are hardly addressed. I started writing this text after driving around in an area where highway billboards cater to startups and where the $100k all-electric Tesla S is a commonplace car. It’s safe to say the problems you think are worth solving when you live there tend to have a common taint. It is likewise in my own work environment, where I navigate as a cis white dude in a pyramidal grid of cis white dudes.
I don’t think privilege can be voluntarily given up any more easily than it can be forcibly taken away. But it’s always healthy to confront its existence. I wish there were more Bechdel-like tests in my world to shine light on what I’m not able to see.