Published on Left Foot Forward, by Daniel Elton, December 28th 2011.
For an organisation often seen as the prime home of political correctness, the BBC has not covered itself in glory in the final months of 2011 when it comes to women’s representation. First we had the bizarre spectacle of a 10-person shortlist for sports personality of the year that did not feature a woman – apparently winning gold at the world rowing championiships or the European gymnastics championship is not enough.
Now we have the decidedly odd decision to nominate a panda as one of the women faces of the year. Away from the BBC, a time-honoured way of measuring whether the film industry has noticed that 51 per cent of the population are women is the Bechdel Test.
A film passes the Bechdel Test if, at some point, two names female characters speak to each other on a subject other than a man. It is a very low bar.
If one woman appears in the first scene and says: ‘What’s the time, Alice?’ and another replies ’It’s 3 o clock Zelda’, never to be seen again, the movie has passed the Bechdel Test.
The Bechdel Test Movie List website identifies 149 movies being released in the USA in 2011, of which six did not feature at least two women, 53 did feature at least two women but at no point did they speak to each other and 12 did have women speaking to each other, but only about men.
Results and Comments Bechdel Test 2011: … (full text).