Why We Need the Bechdel Test

I finally finished watching Jessica Jones! And while I have a bad habit of getting into fan cultures months (or sometimes years) late, I finished Jessica Jones with one thought that remains evergreen: The Bechdel Test. 

Jessica Jones (clearly) passes the Bechdel Test. It’s not as if the show ever lacked women who  talked to each other (talked, hung up on, loved, threatened, lied to, trusted–for once the whole gambit of human conversation was given to women!). It’s not as if there was ever a lack of female friendships (Jessica and Trish; Jessica and Hope for instance).

DaredevilProfile1And then we have Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson), the nurse in Netflix’s Daredevil (a show I couldn’t watch due to the inglorious amount of male angst). Claire was different than the other female characters because this was a woman Jessica had not yet interacted with. This was a new relationship. And no matter how important Claire’s role might be in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Nurse Night, anyone?) what matters is the Bechdel Test.

“Guilt makes people do stupid shit.” – Claire

“I’m not guilty. It’s not my fault.” – Jessica

“See, I hate that. I want everything to be my fault. Good or bad. Means I have some control.” – Claire

“You don’t.” – Jessica

“Obviously. But it keeps me dreaming I can change things for people.” – Claire

This conversation happened in an elevator between two women who don’t know each other. Two women with no obligation to each other. Two women having a conversation. This is what fanfiction is made of! Reading into these character moments is what births speculative fiction. We can speculate on their relationship.

The Bechdel Test therefore is more important than representing a multiplicity of what a woman can be or saying women’s stories matter. At its core, the Bechdel Test requires two women to talk to each other about something other than a man. Simple (or it should be). But there’s another layer. What the Feminist Frequency video above did not address, is that when media passes the Bechdel Test, there is the possibility for female friendships. And with female friendships there is the possibility of lesbian/queer relationships. Suddenly, two women having a conversation becomes more radical and empowering.

I want to speculate on queer relationships. I want that possibility in my media.

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