Failing the Test, Feeling the Guilt

Feminism has been on my brain like a catchy refrain. As an increasingly self-aware woman, it’s a concept that has become very important to me lately. I try to read as much as possible to become a better role model and feminist.

So I know all about the Bechdel Test–a simple, three question test to determine whether a film is woman-friendly. If you are unfamiliar, the Bechdel requirements that determine fem-friendliness are:

1. There must be two women,

2. Who talk to each other,

3. About something besides a man.

And I know that when a movie fails the Bechdel Test, it’s not a movie that realistically portrays women, and therefore I should try not to support such a movie. Right?

“The Rule” by Alison Bechdel


I want to say yes. As a “good feminist” I want to agree with that statement…

and swear off all of the patriarchy-supporting, manic-pixie-dream-girl filled cinema that has rooted itself in mainstream culture.

But I loved The Grand Budapest Hotel. And Super Troopers and Her and a whole bunch of other movies that failed the Bechdel Test. And that makes me feel…conflicted. Am I a terrible feminist for feeling this way?

Wes Anderson is pretty great
Wes Anderson is pretty great.

This question has gotten me all worked up and confused. I want to be socially conscious about my media consumption, but by doing so, I shut out a great majority of films. And I don’t want to close myself off and censor my viewership just because something is a little less lady-friendly. If I were to do that, I would be missing out on a lot of art–good, bad, and hilariously bad.  And I might even lose grasp of why the Bechdel Test is so important in the first place.

Seriously. I feel like a better person since learning about the Super Troopers “meow game.” Even though the film only featured a few women who didn’t ever talk to each other, the film itself is still hilarious and entertaining. Some may even refer to it as “a classic.”

So maybe I’m just trying to rationalize here, but I think I’m still a good feminist. Nobody is a perfect embodiment of anything, and to critique others (or myself) on their alignment with feminist ideals is a waste of breath. The point is caring enough to recognize why I’m even experiencing this crisis in the first place, and acknowledging that my taste in film and music sometimes conflicts with my political beliefs.

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