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Old December 30 2011, 07:12 PM   #16
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Re: Star Trek and the Bechdel Test

CoveSanta wrote: View Post
Can I just say that the whole concept of the Bechdel test is pointless and provides no useful information about a television series or episode?

Carry on...
I think it's interesting and has a point. It provides information about the characterization of women in a show/film, doesn't it?
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Old January 3 2012, 02:31 AM   #17
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Re: Star Trek and the Bechdel Test

plynch wrote: View Post
CoveSanta wrote: View Post
Can I just say that the whole concept of the Bechdel test is pointless and provides no useful information about a television series or episode?

Carry on...
I think it's interesting and has a point. It provides information about the characterization of women in a show/film, doesn't it?
Clearly, it does, and anyone who doesn't see the point of Bechdel is doing so intentionally.
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Old January 3 2012, 08:14 AM   #18
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Re: Star Trek and the Bechdel Test

I gotta say that I am totally floored. It is very, very difficult to find an episode that passes the Bechdel Test and yet so easy to find many that would pass it if we reverse the genders.

I'll keep trying though, but the fact that it is so difficult does say something about the portrayal of women in fiction.
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Old January 4 2012, 04:14 AM   #19
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Re: Star Trek and the Bechdel Test

Destructor wrote: View Post
Clearly, it does, and anyone who doesn't see the point of Bechdel is doing so intentionally.
I guess I see the point, I just disagree with the entire premise that it's pushing. Frankly, the question is irrelevant in my mind, and provides me no insight into whether or not there are good female characters or not.
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Old January 4 2012, 04:49 AM   #20
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Re: Star Trek and the Bechdel Test

The question is whether the female characters in a work of fiction are defined as something more than extensions of the male characters. By itself, no, that isn't specifically a standard for defining a good female character, since there can be good female characters who are defined by their relationship to men, and bad ones who aren't. But given how hard it is to find women in movies who aren't defined that way, it's reasonable to say that stories that do manage to include such female characters deserve credit for it. And it's reasonable to point out that the bias exists and that more creators should make an effort to address or avoid it. It's relevant in the aggregate.
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Old January 4 2012, 08:02 AM   #21
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Re: Star Trek and the Bechdel Test

CoveSanta wrote: View Post
Destructor wrote: View Post
Clearly, it does, and anyone who doesn't see the point of Bechdel is doing so intentionally.
I guess I see the point, I just disagree with the entire premise that it's pushing.
The only premise it's pushing is that a good TV series should probably feature multiple female characters who have lives outside of who they're dating. Unless you're saying that women's lives should revolve around men, I don't think you actually disagree with its premise.
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Old January 5 2012, 02:41 AM   #22
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Re: Star Trek and the Bechdel Test

I know that Hoshi and T'Pol have a few conversations in the episode Vox Sola about how to communicate with the alien they're dealing with.
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Old January 5 2012, 03:23 AM   #23
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Re: Star Trek and the Bechdel Test

The Bechdel Test is interesting. It seems likely should be so easy to pass, and it's fascinating how few works do. In 79 TOS eps, how many pass the test? Very few, especially if the androids in WALGMO and I Mudd don't count as women.

Vanna and Droxine briefly argue with each other about the structure of their society in The Cloud Minders. There's one.
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Old January 5 2012, 04:18 AM   #24
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Re: Star Trek and the Bechdel Test

captrek wrote: View Post
The Bechdel Test is interesting. It seems likely should be so easy to pass, and it's fascinating how few works do. In 79 TOS eps, how many pass the test? Very few, especially if the androids in WALGMO and I Mudd don't count as women.
I don't think the former counts anyway, since Andrea and Chapel exchange at most three lines that aren't about men: 1) "I'm Andrea. You must be Christine. I've always thought how beautiful your name is." 2: "I am now programmed to please you also. Is the food appealing?" 3: "Yes, thank you." And those are both part of scenes where the rest of their dialogue is about or with men. The Bechdel Test specifies having at least one conversation that isn't about a man, not just the occasional isolated line.

And I'm not sure Uhura's brief conversations with Mudd's female androids really pass the spirit of the test, since they're solely about Uhura wanting to stay beautiful forever. So she's still being defined by her attractiveness rather than her career or her personal interests or the sorts of things that male characters are usually defined by.

But the Droxine-Vanna exchange in "The Cloud Minders" definitely passes. Good catch.
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Old January 5 2012, 05:28 AM   #25
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Re: Star Trek and the Bechdel Test

Sci wrote: View Post
CoveSanta wrote: View Post
Destructor wrote: View Post
Clearly, it does, and anyone who doesn't see the point of Bechdel is doing so intentionally.
I guess I see the point, I just disagree with the entire premise that it's pushing.
The only premise it's pushing is that a good TV series should probably feature multiple female characters who have lives outside of who they're dating. Unless you're saying that women's lives should revolve around men, I don't think you actually disagree with its premise.
I think there's a tendency, particularly among men, and particularly among men who like certain shows, films and books that do not pass the Bechdel test, to get defensive about them and say things along the lines of Who cares and Doesn't affect the quality of the work. We should be aware of this tendency and try to push back against it. The Bechdel Test is a great example of how 'invisible' sexism can be. You barely notice how few independent female characters there are in cinema and on television until you start applying the test- and realizing barely anything passes. Massive kudos to Voyager for passing the Bechdel more than any other Trek show, and most sci-fi shows in general.
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Old January 6 2012, 12:21 AM   #26
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Re: Star Trek and the Bechdel Test

Destructor wrote: View Post
I think there's a tendency, particularly among men, and particularly among men who like certain shows, films and books that do not pass the Bechdel test, to get defensive about them and say things along the lines of Who cares and Doesn't affect the quality of the work. We should be aware of this tendency and try to push back against it. The Bechdel Test is a great example of how 'invisible' sexism can be. You barely notice how few independent female characters there are in cinema and on television until you start applying the test- and realizing barely anything passes. Massive kudos to Voyager for passing the Bechdel more than any other Trek show, and most sci-fi shows in general.
That would be the point. I do not believe the Bechdel test indicates whether or not there is sexism, invisible or otherwise, in a particular work. That is what I was trying to say. I disagree with the basic argument that having a female character in an episode of a TV series who fails to have a conversation about something other than a man is inherently sexist. There are lots of intelligent, educated, self-sufficient women in this world who still have plenty of conversations about men with other women. The two are not mutually exclusive.
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Old January 6 2012, 01:44 AM   #27
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Re: Star Trek and the Bechdel Test

CoveSanta wrote: View Post
Destructor wrote: View Post
I think there's a tendency, particularly among men, and particularly among men who like certain shows, films and books that do not pass the Bechdel test, to get defensive about them and say things along the lines of Who cares and Doesn't affect the quality of the work. We should be aware of this tendency and try to push back against it. The Bechdel Test is a great example of how 'invisible' sexism can be. You barely notice how few independent female characters there are in cinema and on television until you start applying the test- and realizing barely anything passes. Massive kudos to Voyager for passing the Bechdel more than any other Trek show, and most sci-fi shows in general.
That would be the point. I do not believe the Bechdel test indicates whether or not there is sexism, invisible or otherwise, in a particular work. That is what I was trying to say. I disagree with the basic argument that having a female character in an episode of a TV series who fails to have a conversation about something other than a man is inherently sexist.
How is it not sexist if the only thing that female characters talk about amongst themselves is men? If the only thing female characters talk about amongst themselves is men, that means that those characters are only being portrayed in terms of their relationships to men. But women, of course, exist separately from men and have large portions of their lives that do not revolve around men -- just as men exist separately from women and have large portions of their lives that do not revolve around women. If women are depicted as only ever talking amongst themselves about men, then those female characters have no lives outside of whom they're dating. And if women are not portrayed as having lives outside of whom they're dating, then that's sexist.

There are lots of intelligent, educated, self-sufficient women in this world who still have plenty of conversations about men with other women. The two are not mutually exclusive.
But the Bechtel test doesn't fail a work for having female characters who talk about men. It fails a work that has female characters who do not talk about anything else. It's not the presence of talk about men that's sexist, it's the absence of anything else that is sexist.
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Old January 6 2012, 02:12 AM   #28
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Re: Star Trek and the Bechdel Test

Sci wrote: View Post
If the only thing female characters talk about amongst themselves is men, that means that those characters are only being portrayed in terms of their relationships to men. But women, of course, exist separately from men and have large portions of their lives that do not revolve around men -- just as men exist separately from women and have large portions of their lives that do not revolve around women. If women are depicted as only ever talking amongst themselves about men, then those female characters have no lives outside of whom they're dating. And if women are not portrayed as having lives outside of whom they're dating, then that's sexist.
Yeah, this. It's also about recognizing that we define the male view as the default. Take the new Sherlock Holmes movie. Holmes and Watson have adventures, talk politics, go to bars, solve mysteries, get up to all sorts and talk about all sorts of things. It's not really questioned that women would not be involved. Movies where women do these things are vanishingly rare. Just because an individual movie or episode isn't sexist, the cumulative effect of 95% of all movies/television being about men is.
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Old January 6 2012, 02:25 AM   #29
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Re: Star Trek and the Bechdel Test

CoveSanta wrote: View Post
That would be the point. I do not believe the Bechdel test indicates whether or not there is sexism, invisible or otherwise, in a particular work. That is what I was trying to say. I disagree with the basic argument that having a female character in an episode of a TV series who fails to have a conversation about something other than a man is inherently sexist. There are lots of intelligent, educated, self-sufficient women in this world who still have plenty of conversations about men with other women. The two are not mutually exclusive.
But it's not about what real women may or may not talk about, it's about how the creators of fiction portray women vs. how they portray men. Male characters in movies routinely talk about things other than women. Outside of romantic films, they mostly talk about their work, their beliefs, their goals, their hobbies, etc. If they do talk to each other about women, it's generally a sidebar, a brief change-of-pace scene between scenes that advance the main plot. It's a fairly small percentage of what male characters talk about in most films. But by contrast, female characters in the same films are rarely shown talking about their work, beliefs, goals, hobbies, etc. They mostly relate to men, which means either they don't talk to other women (because there are plenty of movies that have mostly male casts with only one or two female speaking parts) or they only talk about men (because in many films the women are only there to be romantic interests for the men).

So it's not really about conversations. That's just the metric used to assess what the test is really about, which is how films define male and female characters. Male characters in film are generally defined by their careers or their quests, with romance or sex being just one facet of their lives. But female characters in film are generally defined by their love lives and little else. Or if a film does have a woman defined by her career -- for instance the archetypal strong female hero Ripley in Alien, or Agent Carter in Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol -- she's often a solitary woman whose interactions are mainly or exclusively with men.

Ultimately, the point of the "Test" is to compare how the two sexes are portrayed in movies. You're missing the point because you're only thinking about how the women act and not how it compares to the portrayal of men. The Test is defined in that particular way because it's very, very easy to find a movie in which there are at least two men who have at least one conversation about something other than women, but it's very hard to find a movie in which the same goes with the genders reversed.
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Old January 6 2012, 06:38 AM   #30
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Re: Star Trek and the Bechdel Test

CoveSanta wrote: View Post
Destructor wrote: View Post
Clearly, it does, and anyone who doesn't see the point of Bechdel is doing so intentionally.
I guess I see the point, I just disagree with the entire premise that it's pushing. Frankly, the question is irrelevant in my mind, and provides me no insight into whether or not there are good female characters or not.
I don't think it's pushing a premise so much as it is making a point and presenting an interesting way to look at entertainment.

Failing the Bechdel test does not make a work bad or mean it has no other value. TVTropes uses the example of "Twelve Angry Men" or numerous movies that take place in all-male military settings. At the same time, a work can pass the test and not be particularly progressive in any way, or it can pass the test and be a piece of crap.

But applying the test to various works in our culture -- and then trying it in reverse as well -- illustrates the extent to which women in pop culture are often depicted only as ancillaries to men, and that's a sociological issue worth discussing.
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