Five Feminist Triumphs that Pass the Bechdel Test

November 8, 2013

I've got an essay over at The Federalist on my annoyance with those who are myopically focused on gender. It centers, in part, on a recent move by some Swedish institutions to institute the Bechdel Test into a ratings system to determine what is worthy of being viewed.

If you don't know—and you probably don't, because patriarchy—the Bechdel Test applies a checklist to movies to determine their worthiness. To pass the Bechdel Test you must have multiple female characters, with names, who talk to each other about something other than men.

I, for one, applaud this effort. In recognition of the good work that the noble Swedes are doing, allow me to present five feminist triumphs that pass the Bechdel Test.

1. Showgirls

Elizabeth Berkeley, killing it
Elizabeth Berkley, killing it

This tale of a small town girl trying to make it in the big city has inspired women since its debut almost two decades ago and will surely continue to do so for generations to come. From the well-choreographed dance routines to the uplifting idea of winning by throwing your enemies down a flight of metal stairs, this picture has something to teach all of us.

Sample line of super-feminist dialogue: "I've had dog food."

2. Requiem for a Dream

All she wanted was to be on TV

Darren Aronofsky's harrowing tale of addiction stars several extremely strong female characters, including one who turns to prostitution to pay for her drug habit and another who starves herself so she can fit into a dress.

Sample line of super-feminist dialogue: "I know it's pretty baby, but I didn't take it out for air."

3. The Counselor

She's an animal!
She's an animal!

I launched an extended feminist defense of that film in this space yesterday. But it's worth celebrating the fact that Ridley Scott and Cormac McCarthy were willing to show women can be merciless sociopaths too! BONUS GENDER SWAG: Cameron Diaz's Malkina triumphs over the phallocracy by having domineering sex with a Ferrari, the ultimate symbol of male absurdity.

Sample line of super-feminist dialogue: "Men are attracted to flawed women too of course, but their illusion is that they can fix them. They just want to be entertained. The truth about women is that you can do anything to them except bore them."

4. The Purge

The Purge
Someone's about to be naughty

I have my issues with The Purge, but there's no doubting that it's a film filled with strong feminist images. From the school girl learning to rebel against the family's oppressive patriarch to the mother who takes charge and gets physical, it's a brilliant subversion of our failed society's expectations.

Sample line of super-feminist dialogue: "Nothing is ever going to be okay again dad."

5. Kick-Ass 2

Please don't hurt me
Please don't hurt me

The nice thing about Kick-Ass 2 is that it let us take a look at the life of a young girl struggling with her sexuality in our super-sexualized culture. Her struggles with bullying provide an example all of our alienated youngsters can identify with.

Sample line of super-feminist dialogue: "Act like a bitch, get slapped like a bitch."

(If you've made it this far, hopefully you understand I'm being sarcastic. The whole thing is absurd. I find the Bechdel Test objectionable for aesthetic, not ideological, reasons. It reduces art to a checklist: "Does it do this, this, and this? Well then it's acceptable!" How childish.)

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