The “Bechdel Test” for Swedish films: Welcome to the modern world, where women speak about more than just men

Shakespeare might fail the test too - but we're not in the 1500s anymore


Perhaps the most surprising thing to British audiences about the introduction of a “Bechdel Test” for Swedish films is that, in Sweden, nobody seems to find it weird. The Bechdel Test first appeared as a joke in a 1985 comic strip, and requires that a work of fiction contain at least one scene in which two named women talk to each other about anything other than a man. Pretty easy, you would think, if you are or have ever met a woman. The truth is, not many films pass it. Not even many “feminist” films, and especially not most Hollywood blockbusters.

“I don’t think this will attract sneers”, said the Swedish journalist Sofia Nyblom, about the news. Not in Sweden, maybe. In Britain they’re sneering fit to make their faces ache. In Hollywood, meanwhile, they either haven’t woken up yet, or they’ve all fainted.

One sneer goes: if you’re going to “single out women” for equal treatment, you have to apply it to all minorities. This is a good point. Except that women are not a minority, meaning that gauging gender equality is much easier, sums wise, on account of our being exactly half of the population.

Others have applied Godwin’s Law to the Bechdel Test by instantly comparing Swedish feminists to Nazis. Their argument is rather spoiled when you remember that nobody is actually burning films that ignore half of the population, just humorously drawing attention to them.

There is also an argument about historical accuracy: it would be wrong to crowbar women into a First World War film because chicks didn’t really feature that much at Ypres. That’s true. So you’d expect a film set in, say, contemporary London, to be equally historically accurate about how real people interact, right? But they’re not.

Critics also argue that many classic films fail the test. So do most of the plays of Shakespeare, but to be fair, he was writing 400 years ago when women were banned from the stage. That’s not actually the case any more.

There is one other argument, which is that maybe women are belittled in all media, the workplace and global life simply because they are fundamentally more rubbish than men. This is my favourite, because it is the most honest. If you truly believe it, then marshal your evidence. If you don’t believe it, then you are a feminist. That is the Guest Test. Welcome to the cause.

Twitter: @katyguest36912

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse requiredI am ...

LSA Level 3 required in Caerphilly

£50 - £60 per day + plus Travel Scheme: Randstad Education Cardiff: The Job: O...

Welsh Year 6 Teacher required in Barry

£100 - £110 per day + Plus travel scheme: Randstad Education Cardiff: The Job:...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Pro-democracy protesters fill the streets in front of the Hong Kong government offices on a third day of the Occupy Central campaign  

Hong Kong protests: Why are we obsessed with the spread of democracy abroad when ours is failing?

Amit Singh

Daily catch-up: ugly buildings, fighting spirit, and a warning on low pay

John Rentoul
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?