Bechdel Test

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Synonyms: Bechdel's Law, Bechdel/Wallace Rule, Dykes to Watch Out For Test, Mo Movie Measure
See also: Misogyny in Fandom; Fuck You, She's Awesome
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Criteria for picking a movie to watch:

  1. It has to have at least two women in it
  2. who talk to each other
  3. about something besides a man.[1]

In pop culture

The Bechdel Test entered popular culture via Alison Bechdel's comic strip, Dykes to Watch Out For, in a 1985 strip titled "The Rule."[2] Bechdel credits her friend Liz Wallace for the idea. It's also known as the Bechdel/Wallace Rule and the Mo Movie Measure, though the latter is a misnomer, as the strip predates Mo's addition to the cast of characters.[1]

Handy as a quick and dirty way to assess the feminist cluefulness of a narrative.

In fandom

Partially in response to the Bechdel Test and to show that entertainment producers are still failing at it all too often, in 2010 Livejournal user ivanolix came up with a concept for a spectrum of (points of fail) for gender equity in TV shows. [3]

Some fan fiction authors who use An Archive Of Our Own or AO3 tag their stories "Bechdel Pass" or "Bechdel Test Pass" to indicate a story which passes the test. Others use the tag "Bechdel Fix" to indicate that their story inserts a Bechdel-passing scene into a previously Bechdel-failing canon source. [4]

Other fans have held Bechdel-themed ficathons. One such event, hosted in penny-lane-42's livejournal, [5] garnered 119 commentfics (short stories posted in the comment field of a blog or Livejournal). These were indexed on a related account at the delicious website.[6]

The 2011 Yuletide fan fiction exchange fest include the Misses Clause sub-challenge, which challenged writers to write and tag Yuletide stories passing the Bechdel Test.[7][8]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Bechdel, Alison. The Rule, published on 16 August 2005 at DTWOF: The Blog. (Accessed 19 October 2008.)
  2. Ulaby, Neda. The 'Bechdel Rule,' Defining Pop-Culture Character, published on 2 September 2008 at (Accessed 19 October 2008.)
  3. Standards for gender equity in TV shows, Livejournal entry by ivanolix, 18 November 2010, (Accessed 3 April 2011)
  4. Works with Bechdel-related tags at the AO3 295 Bechdel-tagged stories as of April 7, 2011.
  5. penny-lane-42, THE BECHDEL TEST COMMENT FIC-A-THON Posted Oct 10, 2010. Last accessed April 7, 2011.
  6. Bechdel Test's Bookmarks Last accessed April 7, 2011.
  7. "Give us your ignored, your unsung, your stories of women waiting to be told..." While we love all the stories spun during Yuletide, and the writers who spin them, we've also noticed a trend — many fandoms fail the Bechdel Test. The test, on its surface, is simple and three-pronged. But in fic, as in popular media, many stories fail the test, highlighting or hinging on gender bias that exists within canon and a lack of true female representation in fandom as a whole. So we're proposing a challenge within a challenge, similar to Dark Agenda. A challenge where you, dear author, meet the criteria set out in Bechdel’s original test." The Misses Clause Challenge post by freneticloetry in the yuletide LJ comm, 20 Nov 2011. (Accessed 4 Jan 2012)
  8. Works tagged "Misses Clause Challenge" at the AO3 (319 works on 4 Jan 2012)
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