Alison Bechdel has changed the way we talk about women in film.
Recent MacArthur “genius” grant winner and famed cartoonist Alison Bechdel has been outspoken since the 80’s as far as setting standards in how we view female inclusion in the oft-male dominated film industry.
Her comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For ran for 25 years (since 1983) and was very much influential in this regard. Her 1985 strip, “The Rule” suggested a baseline metric by which we can evaluate the inclusion of female characters in a film. This baseline metric was based on three questions:
- Does it have two female characters?
- Who talks to each other?
- About something other than a man?
This became known coined as “The Bechdel Test.” At the time, this concept was mostly discussed within feminist groups, but over time it became a mainstream temperature gauge for how well women were included into films.
Despite things dramatically changing for women in films over the years, the majority of lead roles still do go to men and the idea of equality within the acting profession still has a ways to go. “The Bechdel Test” will remain relevant and still be applied when films are discussed until equality in this regard is fully realized within the film industry and within our culture.
The MacArthur Foundation Class of 2014 is listed here.