Bechdel Test: What It Is and Five Movies That Pass

Much of Alison Bechdels content in her cartoon strip Dykes to Watch Out For (DTWOF) as well as her memoirs Fun Home (2006) and Are You My Mother? (2012) has addressed individual and family dysfunction as well as the use of therapy. In honor of her recently receiving a “genius grant” from the MacArthur Foundation, I thought it would be a good time to focus on one of her most famous accomplishments, the so-called Bechdel Test.

What is the Bechdel Test?

It started in the 1980’s as a joke in her comic strip but eventually became a widely known “thing.” Today, the Bechdel test, as it’s come to be known, is commonly applied when evaluating a particular TV show, movie, book, or whatever. One “passes” if it meets the following criteria:

  1. It has to have at least two women in it,
  2. who talk to each other,
  3. about something besides a man.

Knowing about the Test enables us to better understand this popular online joke:

So this girl walks up to another girl and says ‘Hey, have you heard of the Bechdel Test?’

And the other girl says, ‘Yeah, my boyfriend was telling me about it the other day!’

Five Movies That Pass the Bechdel Test and Are Relevant to Minding Therapy

From a list of Test-passing films on TotalFilm, I’ve chosen five I’ve liked that have never wound up on Minding Therapy before. They’re presented in chronological order:

I. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

How It Passes: Rookie FBI Agent, Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) riffs off her buddy Ardelia (Kasi Lemmons), as the two quiz each other for their upcoming tests during physical training. They later volley ideas back and forth about the case.

Best Female Character: Undoubtedly Clarice. Her voracious commitment to catching Buffalo Bill gets her tucked into some tight corners – all while being emotionally manipulated by Hannibal.

She never loses her resolve, swooping in to rescue Catherine Martin while the rest of her department bumble around elsewhere.

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