I didn’t realize this, but I found it very interesting: there exists a test for media that is a rather compelling look at the inequality of gender in said media.  It’s called the Bechdel Test, and it is beautifully elegant:

To pass the test, there must be:

  1. Two females who
  2. Talk to each other about
  3. Something other than a male.

It was surprising to me how many movies and books fail this test.  I suppose that means that (a) I am naive about my notions of equality being shared among my fellow humans, and/or (b) I have a much stronger bias in this field than I thought I did.  I do strive to see every person, male or female, black or hispanic or white (etc.), as equal, but I do know that I have subconscious biases due to my upbringing (I just didn’t know many “persons of color” and I live in a male-centric world) that I try to correct for.  One great point made by someone on the site was not that this test is a case for a movie aligning with feminist ideas or such, but rather that if you reversed the genders (two men who talk to each other about something other than a female) it would be much less common for a movie to fail.  Another point made to me recently was that the pressure for a male protagonist in our society means more media will fail (because by their very nature, stories are about the protagonist)… but that’s part of the point in terms of audience shaping content.

There’s another test, the so-called Johnson Test, that replaces “female” with “person of color” and “male” with “white.”  It’s interesting that although mainstream media fails this test even worse, there are a large number of media in what I’ll call more specialized sections (the author of the test mentions “urban lit” as such a category) that pass it easily.  Definitely an argument for the importance of context.

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