The movies we watch have a huge effect on what we believe about the world, whether we realize it or not.
Who are the main characters in your favorite movie? What do they talk about together? Is the answer “female characters who talk about a lot of things other than the boys in their lives?” If so, awesome!
Unfortunately, that’s not the answer most girls give. There is a very interesting test, inspired by cartoonist Alison Bechdel, that asks whether a movie features at least two females who talk to each other about something other than men. Here’s a shocker…only half of all films show female characters who interested in other things.
Why is this an important feature to test? Well, we live in a world where women are constantly told that they are worth less than men, or that they their main concern should be winning the attention of men. When we watch movies that encourage this, it is hard for us to believe otherwise.
Sure, one strong female character is great, but is it too much to ask for multiple strong females? If we want a world where women feel comfortable, powerful, and equal to men, we have to create movies that show strong women supporting each other and pursuing things other than the attention of men. If we had more movies that showed this, then girls and women would feel more inspired to see themselves as independent, thinking humans who respect each other.
Female characters in movies should be valued, just as women and girls should be valued in their lives.
Hollywood is a male-dominated world. That means that women who want to be actresses, directors, or producers face a lot of discrimination, and are often looked down upon or are discouraged by men in the industry. Because of the way things are behind the scenes, many movies end up being very subtly (or not so subtly) sexist.
You should always be critical when watching a movie. Ask yourself: does this movie feature strong, confident women? Do these women want more in their lives than to get boyfriends, husbands, or attention from men? Are the men in the movie respectful of the women in the movie?
Movies are a reflection of the world we live in. They show our conflicts, desires and fantasies in a captivating way. So, choose what you watch carefully. Remember that films not only show a world, but also help create the world we live in.
Here are a couple of fun films that pass the Bechdel test:
- The Incredibles
- Lelo and Stitch
- A League of Their Own