hey!

May 26th, 2010 | Other Projects

Lookit this cool video about what seems to now be called the “Bechdel Movie test.” I just have to apologize to my old karate buddy Lizzie Wallace, who I TOTALLY stole this idea from. I tried a while ago to re-name it “The Ripley Test” after Sigourney Weaver’s character in Alien. But it didn’t get any traction.

Thanks to my pals Ruth Horowitz and Jake Weisman for alerting me to this.

77 Responses to “hey!”

  1. Acilius says:

    That’s neat! But I must ask- were my ears malfunctioning, or did she mispronounce your name?

  2. Ready2Agitate says:

    way to lay it down! Love when she goes and gets the apple. Har! Nice to see that feminism lives.

  3. Farah Mendlesohn says:

    I’m an sf critic. The books are often just as bad. I now spend a week on the Bechdel test with my students.

    But a small ammendment? Call it 3a: And if they talk about something other than a man, they also can’t be the only two women on the damn space station/in the office, and hate each other/become rivals on sight.

  4. Jenna says:

    wow… this is quite disturbing. Glad you posted it. Also, Farah’s 3B comment: great point!

  5. Renee S. says:

    I believe Alison once said her name rhymes with “rectal.”

  6. Renee S. says:

    Hey, someone also has posted this website:

    http://bechdeltest.com/

  7. Kat says:

    Cool little clip. I just wish the presenter would put her eyebrows down.

    Really, X-Men doesn’t pass? Really? Don’t Storm and Jean Grey (Or Rogue and Storm, or Rogue, Storm and Kitty Pryde or something) talk about mutant-y stuff? I don’t remember…

  8. Anonymous says:

    Right arm!

    I’m happy to say I’ve only seen 3 of those films mentioned: Pirates of the Caribbean (my daughter’s choice),when Harry met Sally(I was bored & watched it on TV),and Ghostbusters (which was hilarious but definitely male-centric).

    Mostly I see obscure indy or international films,documentaries,and the occasional Pixtar flick (I enjoyed Up).

  9. Feminista says:

    Yep,that wuz me above. Oh,I forgot Milk; Anne Kronenberg was the only woman. Still a great film.

    Now we need a similar one on the early days of lesbian liberation. Liza? Maggie?

  10. rinky says:

    noice,

    yes the apple eating bit is definitely a highlight.

    bearing in mind what Alison’s name rhymes with, this method of film analysis should be called bechdel examination.

    i’d like to also see a list of films that do pass the test. and get some staistics

  11. rinky says:

    gotta start previewing,..

    statistics

  12. [...] Bechdel herself, who credits a friend of hers with the [...]

  13. --MC says:

    Hully gully! At least five people sent this to me on the Facebook, but I thought you already knew about it.
    What ARE some films that meet the criteria? My favorite film, “Rules of the Game”, unfortunately does not.

  14. --MC says:

    Oh yeah, and speaking of things I thought you already knew, I only found out this morning that Martin Gardner, the science writer, died a couple days ago at age 94 .. you may know him via his “Annotated Alice” book, a must for anybody wanting to know the original poems parodied by Carroll or a snappy German translation of “Jabberwocky” ..

  15. [...] dykestowatchoutfor.com » Blog Archive » hey! [...]

  16. Becca says:

    Yaaaay!!! Feminist Frequency is so greeeaaaat. happy to see this here!

  17. Ruth in RI says:

    You’re welcome! :-)

  18. Which is why I prefer using the term male domination or male supremacy, rather than sexist. Because the issue isn’t GENDER, the issue is WHICH gender is normal. Masculine/male is default “real” human and takes up 95% of the cultural space. And is no longer interesting or innovative as a result, having wanked itself into its own parody. A definition of human which actually pays no attention to gender — now THAT’s creative.

    But our corporate-owned culture and government is mandated to keep us consuming without real creativity involved. Here’s my question: How many of you out there would insist to friends who asked you to see a movie that you only attend/rent something that passes the Bechdel test? Or only allow your children to see programming that has equal numbers of male and female characters as a ground rule? Think about the limits and social backlash this would cause, and you’ll get why 40 years ago Judy Grahn could write
    “The subject of lesbianism
    is very ordinary; it’s the question
    of male domination that makes everybody
    angry.”

  19. hairball_of_hope says:

    @MC (#14)

    Sad news about Gardner, he lived a long good life. I used to read his math column religiously in Scientific American (back when SciAm was a must-read).

    Checking his Wiki page, I see he died in Norman OK. Ostensibly he moved there to live with his son, a professor at OU (I’m assuming that Gardner required some living assistance), but I can’t help but think how bored he must have been there, and perhaps with his keen mind in disuse, he died of boredom. Norman is much better now than in the era when Kate L and I wasted our time there in the 1980s, but despite the presence of the university, it’s a god-forsaken intellectual wasteland.

  20. Ng Yi-Sheng says:

    The weird thing is that super-gender-stereotyping chick flicks, e.g. Sex and the City 2, totally pass the test. Because the women talk to each other about shoes and shopping and (female) babies.

    But I still love the Bechdel Test. Question: Does Toy Story 2 pass the test? I heard that they introduced Jessie the Yodelling Cowgirl specifically to have a strong(ish) female character. Does she talk to Bo-Peep or a Barbie Doll or Mrs Potato Head at any point?

  21. --MC says:

    Ng @ #20:
    Sad but true, a film can pass the Test yet still be retrogressive. As the Bechdel Test site notes:
    “* Please keep in mind that a movie scoring a [Smiley] (meets all three criteria) does not mean it is at all “good” or feminist friendly, just that it passes all tests.”
    .. which is why films like “Bitch Slap” and “Baby Mama” rate a Smiley.

  22. Kate L says:

    A.B. – You could popularize the name Bechdel-Wallace Test (Wallace-Bechdel Test?) to give your buddy credit. After all, the Kruskal-Wallace Test is one of the most important non-parametric statistical tests! Wow, Your buddy knows karate, movies and statistics!

    Feminista #(9) – You are so right about Milk failing the test! The movie made it seem like there were no women living in the castro back in the late 70’s!!! I kept wanting to mention that fact to the local LGBT leadership folk, but that would have made me even more unpopular than I am right now. Btw, the local LGBT rights group that I am secretary for arraigned for the local mayor to issue this small midwestern college town’s first Gay Pride Day proclamation next week! They have to cite some individuals in the proclamation as being worthy of praise in this regard, so the proclamation recognizes the members of the executive board. Except for me. Our president left me off because he “did not hear from me” requesting to be on.

    (hairball #19) If only we had known each other back in the early 80’s, maybe Norman, Oklahoma would have been more bearable! :)

    ksbel6 is back! ksbel6 is back! :)

  23. Kate L, there were women living in the Castro in the late 70s but most lesbians did not, because rent there was too expensive for non-males to afford. Ditto Noe Valley at that time. We lived overwhelmingly in the Mission or in the East Bay. When I moved to the Bay Area, there were 12 lesbian bars/coffeehouses but NONE in the Castro. Further, I and other dykes often had trouble getting served at Castro eating establishments. Clones were very anti-female, except for drag queens (which they knew weren’t “real” women) and the occasional token hag. Their bars were also very racially segregated and even specialized as to looks or sexual habits. Harvey Milk was good at building coalitions because he was mainstream and not a genuine radical. But dykes in SF were much more politically aligned behind Carol Ruth Silver and Mayor Moscone, who had a stronger understanding of feminism.

    Queer politics in SF was overlaid on gay male culture, which is why it has gaping feminist holes there.

  24. Feminista says:

    In other news: heard yesterday about a victory for Lori Berenson. About time!

    Heads up for a great indy documentary: Papers,about undocumented youth in different parts of the country; the filmmakers,a Portland lesbian couple,involved many local (Portland,OR)youth in the production. I was at a premier last fall. The film’s making its way around the country. papers:the movie.

  25. Diamond says:

    Hmm. Finding a film that passes the test is tricky isn’t it? My first thought was Wendy and Lucy, but then Lucy doesn’t actually speak, being a dog. I suppose Calamity Jane scrapes through – although Calam and Adelaide do mostly talk (and fight) about men, there is a scene where they speak (well, okay, sing) about housework too . . .

  26. Alien passes, plus Aliens and A-Resurrection. But not Alien3.

  27. [...] Do blog de Alison Bechdel (Dykes to watch out for) [...]

  28. hairball_of_hope says:

    Dare I say it? Thelma and Louise.

  29. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Kate L (#22)

    I’d vote for chi-squared as the nonparametric statistical test at the top of the list. Genetic mapping would be impossible without chi-square to map the locus of genes.

  30. Marj says:

    Norman, Oklahoma? I’ve never heard of it, but goddess it sounds grim. Only way it would be worse is if it were Normal, Oklahoma.

    Now you’re gonna tell me there is one…

  31. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Marj (#30)

    There is a Normal, IL…

    http://www.normal.org/

    (… goes back to hanging with Abby Normal …)

  32. ksbel6 says:

    Do Thelma and Louise ever talk about anything besides men? I mean, there is a mention of how long it will take to get to Mexico without going through Texas, but the whole subtext of that conversation is that Louise was raped in Texas and does not want to go back. I doubt it passes.

    With Netflix streaming I have become addicted to Bones. I realize it is a tv show, but it passes the Bechdel Exam. All those female scientists talking about dead bodies, its terrific :)

  33. Ready2Agitate says:

    Even though I had to read it twice to get it, Feminista, when I DID get it, I KNEW the comment “right arm!” was you (even tho it said Anonymous) : ).

    Tears of joy
    Tears of sorrow
    for Lori Berenson….

    I’ll look for “Papers.”

  34. Ready2Agitate says:

    Would it be overly Stuart-like of me to say that at least half the films I watch/have seen probably pass the Bechdel test? I just don’t go to much of anything that comes out of Hollywood (and I see lots of dyke films). Go indie, GLBTQ film festivals, alternative, Women In Film, Women Make Movies, tons of interesting women-centric (or at least not male-centric) films out there! (guess ya gotta live in a film festival sorta city, and have some disposal cash, though – or check out the lineups and see what’s available on-line or on Netflix)

  35. Renee S. says:

    @ HOH #31, hmm, that’s funny, I just broke up with Abby Normal…

  36. Feminista says:

    #34: Ah shucks,Ms.Ready.

    Re: Normal. Teachers colleges in the U.S.used to be called normal schools. My maternal grandma attended St.Cloud Normal School in MN,and as a child I thought that was strange; she seemed normal to me! Many years later I learned that prospective teachers were instructed in the norms of education. And I never figured out who Saint Cloud was,either; one of those Minnesota things,doncha know.

    Apparently many other people didn’t get the normal bit,either,so by the 1910s-1920s these institutions were called teachers colleges. Some of these later became state colleges and then universities. Example: Humboldt Teacher’s College-Humboldt State College-Humboldt State University.

  37. Kat says:

    Feminista, there’s a town called St. Cloud (spelled Saint-Cloud) in France, too (and, google tells me, anther one in Florida).

    thar intertubes also tell me that Saint-Cloud comes from Clodald, brother of the french king Clovis, who was canonized for something or other. It was “St. Clodaldus” originally….

    sorry, nothing of any particular import to contribute…

  38. Bechadelic1 says:

    I absolutely loved Kill Bill I, who wouldn’t love Uma Thurman beating up the bad guys. Now I realize, it was still all about a man. The title says it all :(

  39. ksbel6 says:

    Missouri State Normal College…Northeast Missouri State Teacher’s College……Northeast Missouri State College…Northeast Missouri State University (I graduated with my BA in mathematics in 1994)…Truman State University (MA in education in 1996)…
    Oh, and I live one block north of Normal St :)

  40. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    I came over here this morning to see what the blog was saying about Senator Lieberman pushing the Repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell bill in Congress, and nobody has boo to say about it. Well, BOO! Here’s the ref from NYT Why, Senator Lieberman! I didn’t know you cared!

    Still has to get through the Senate, but it’s a start.

  41. Therry, I do care in a symbolic way. But what I really want is a demilitarization of our culture at every level, and the chance for lesbians and gays to be cops of the world doesn’t feel like a victory to me. I’d much rather our advocacy groups be pushing jobs protection legislation, removal of theocrats from office, insisting that torturers be prosecuted, and, oh yeah, stopping corporate destruction of environment and economy. As a dyke, THOSE are my frontline issues, not who gets to wear a uniform in future wars to control oil and destroy diverse cultures around the world.

    And please don’t read that as criticism, Therry. I appreciate you and your perspective, and like what you say. Including how we might differ on one or more issues, but I know we’re walking in the same stream toward justice.

    I can’t help thinking it’s more kabuki: They’ll focus all our energy on working for something that won’t really change the system, then finally relent with a secret price tag buried in it that slams some other group, and use the subsequent lesbian/gay hate reaction to raise more money for the main purpose of keeping women and people of color second-class citizens (both of which the military is quietly, thoroughly invested in, as a world institution and as internal practice.)

    What we’re really not talking about here is the catastrophe that’s happening a few hours from where I live. This is the season every year when the Gulf of Mexico recharges itself. I don’t know how to talk about it, except to keen and go numb. I expect most of us here feel something similar.

  42. Mentor says:

    [All:

    Just to let you know: For some reason this posting seems to be a real spam-magnet (maybe it's the reference to movies; in any case. there have been about 150 clearly spam-ish "comments" to this posting since yesterday morning.

    All is under control, but I just wanted to mention this in that, while I try to be careful, when clearing out spam to make sure I don't accidentally squish any legitimate message which has gotten inadvertently caught by the spam-filters, now would be a good to be careful about not sending any comments that might get lost in the shuffle. --Thanks, Mentor]

  43. Kate L says:

    There’s someone you’ve got to meet,
    Although you see him everyday.
    His face will look familiar,
    But in a most unusual way.
    He’s Norman Normal.
    I said he’s Norman Normal.
    He looks a lot like you.
    – Noel Paul Stookey (1966)

    Maggie! I am humbled by yout magnificence, to have been in S.F. during those days! What was I doing at approximately the same time? Not taking part in the liberation of my people, that’s for sure! Back then, I had actually applied for a job with the Central Intelligence Agency (yes, that Central Intelligence Agency). I got a call back late one night from a CIA recruiter. He wanted me to drive 80 miles to meet him for an interview in person. When I realized that would mean having a job interview with the CIA in a strange town at approximately midnight local time, I turned him down. I sometimes wonder what my career with the Agency would have been like. There are promos currently airing for a new cable network television show about “the girl next door” going to work for the CIA. Substitute the 1970’s for the early 21st century, and substitute me for the girl next door, and BOOM! instant Girl From Uncle!*

    * – An actual 1960’s television spin-off from The Man From Uncle, starring Stephanie Powers.

  44. Mentor, thanks again for all you do. This Youtube clip is EVERYWHERE on Facebook, generating a great deal of discussion — positive, from what I’ve seen — so possibly it’s going viral or nearly so. Which does kick in the spambots. But it’s fantastic this particular consciousness is being raised. I saw a man commenting on FB call Alison “a national treasure”. Yep.

    Kate L, I just followed the women, wound up in the right place at the right time. Mostly. Feminists were extremely kind to a hick kid who once asked a roomful of Red Diaper Baby steel-toed dykes “What’s dialectics, y’all?” And after a pregnant pause, as they say, an older woman respectfully began explaining it to me. That turned into a loud, freewheeling discussion with a lot of humor and argument, and I was later told they admired me for my guts.

    Okay, I did have guts. Guts and kindness can take you anywhere.

    I’d forgotten about The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. I had a giant crush on Stephanie Powers when I was around 11. But also on Ilya Kuryakin, now known as Ducky on NCIS.

  45. Kate L says:

    True! Sometimes, the scripts on NCIS make veiled references to David McCallum’s (Ducky’s) days as a secret agent and teen-age heart-throb. I especially loved the ultra-modern gadgets that he used in the Man From U.N.C.L.E, like the little communications device that could connect him with anyone else in the world, but was so small, it could fit inside his pocket. Really! It was like something out of the 21st century!! My sister also had all of his albums (he conducted, and even released a pop single that ended with him saying, “Now, will you girls please mind stepping off my motorcycle”(!) )

    Quiz for Maggie (and everyone) in SAT format:

    NCIS is to Naval Criminal Investigative Service as UNCLE is to __________________________.

  46. Pam I says:

    United Network Command for Law abd Enforceement.

    No wonder I can’t remember what I did this morning.

  47. Pam I says:

    nor proofread properly.

  48. Way 2 go, Pam. I had no idea. I was trying to make the C into Chaos but maybe that was Get Smart. Or James Bond?

  49. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Maggie (#49)

    Ah Get Smart… it was KAOS, the evil force opposite CONTROL. GS was a very funny spoof of UNCLE and Bond, with lots of hidden jokes.

    Buck Henry and Mel Brooks were the writers on GS, and they were great.

    Agent 99 (Barbara Feldon) was originally supposed to be Agent 69, but that never got pass the network censors. The network censors were too stupid to understand the joke behind ’99′; in pilot lingo, a 99 is a woman (it’s a visual reference, the rounded part of the numerals substituting for breasts). It’s not considered offensive among pilots; the womens aviation organization is called “The Flying 99s,” headquartered at Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City.

    Barbara Feldon was/is something of a literary person, I saw her a bunch of times at readings at Shakespeare & Co. Alas, the Upper West Side outpost of S & Co. was killed by the opening of Bunns & Noodles in 1994.

    (… goes off looking for Agent 13, last seen in the bowling ball return chute …)

  50. --MC says:

    Kate @ 44: “Norman Normal”! It’s a little known fact that in 1968, in the waning days of the WB theatrical cartoons, the producers were flailing around greenlighting anything that seemed like it might make a good cartoon (the Bunny & Claude series, Cool Cat), and they produced and released a cartoon short based on the song. Noel Stookey did some of the voices and the music.
    Here’s a blog which might have a link to the cartoon (I’m on the dial up) ..
    http://toolooney.blogspot.com/2008/01/200-posts-norman-normal-1968.html

  51. Stephen Gordon says:

    I highly recommend the cinematic oeuvre of Pedro Almodovar, a Spanish filmmaker, for passing the Bechdel Test. Many of them are horrificialy depressing and men are cruel sometimes to women, but there certainly are lots of women in Almodovar’s movies, many of them stunningly beautiful, who talk about a great variety of subjects. They’re also very funny, like the jokes in Shakespearean tragedy.
    They bring me great joy. Among his best is one called MUJERES AL BORDE DE UN ATAQUE DE NERVIOS,
    (“Women on the Verge of A Nervous Breakdown”), and his most recent is ABRAZOS ROTOS (“Broken Embraces”), now available on DVD/Blu-Ray/Whatever.

  52. Stephen Gordon says:

    ADDENDUM: Mr. Almodovar himself is also an openly homosexual man. Hooray for queer cinema!

  53. Ian says:

    Women on the Edge of a Nervous Breakdown is one of my favourite films ever! Well worth watching. There are 3 or 4 strong female characters. They do do a lot of talking about men, but definitely not all the time. It’s also hilarious.

    And it’s a shame that The Princess Bride doesn’t count, it’s always been a favourite – partly because of Cary Elwes. Yum.

    I think you should also be able to use the Bechdel-Wallace test on cartoons, comic strips and graphic novels as well. Peanuts would actually pass the test – Lucy occasionally talks to other girls about herself and Peppermint Patty and Marcy have non-boycentric conversations all the time.

    Garfield – no
    For Better or For Worse – yes
    Dilbert – no
    etc, etc, etc.

  54. Dr. Empirical says:

    Legion of Super Heroes passes the Bechdel-Wallace test. Even in the early sixties, it had a strong feminist message.

    Invisible Kid: Saturn Girl, you stay here. This message is much too dangerous for a girl!

    Saturn Girl: Fuck you. (Gets on spaceship.)

    I’m paraphrasing, of course.

  55. Dr. Empirical says:

    Message? what a weird typo! I meant mission.

  56. Jain says:

    Jan Eliot’s Stone Soup easily passes–and is hilarious. http://www.gocomics.com/stonesoup/

  57. --MC says:

    Sure, “Stone Soup”. Did you know the two little girls in the strip are named after Holly Near and Alix Dobson?

  58. mordant.espier says:

    Virginia Woolf describes this test in “A Room of One’s Own,” but she’s talking about novels instead of movies. Probably your friend’s source.

  59. little gator says:

    the last movie I saw was avatar. It was stupid in many ways, but it passed.

    And it broke my heart that sigourney weaver is now too old to get much publicity even though she was the biggest name and best acter in the whole thing.

    slightly condensed whispers:

    “Is that Sigourney Weaver? why didn’t the ads tell us she was in it?”

    “*sigh* She’s old now.”

    *Oh right. )&%^_*^&_*(&!”

    “acter” isnt a typo. i just made it up to mean a person of any gender who acts.

  60. Kate L says:

    I was watching CNN this morning, and Keith Jones, father of one of the people killed on the drilling rig Deep Horizons, was speaking. He talked about how the Death on the High Seas Act of 1920 severely limits compensation to his son Gordon’s family, and it struck me that I would have fallen under the same restrictive law had I been killed on that runaway oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico back in 1983. Mr. Jones said that because British Petroleum isn’t a person, it only feels pain in terms of money, and that it has to be hit there*. A few minutes later in another story, CNN reported that another existing law limits BP’s financial liability for the ongoing oil spill to 75 million dollars. Sarah Palin may have said, “Drill baby, drill!” back at the last Republican convention, but I’m beginning to doubt her wisdom!

    Oh, and my beloved University of Kansas was mentioned on CNN this moring. Turns out there was an athletic ticket scandal going on that may have cost the university a million dollars. Chump change to the fat cats at BP, but an important sum to a state university. This will be Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little’s first real test since she became KU’s first woman and African-American chancellor last year, so it will be interesting to see how she handles this developing crisis.

  61. Marj says:

    #31 et seq: Normal, IL. I’ll have to visit one day. Is “normal” relative or absolute? When I lived in London I felt perfectly normal, but now I am ET.

    #45 Maggie: Ilya Kuryakin! Not just me, then…

    #56 Dr E: In Scottish English, “message” means “errand”…

  62. Ready2Agitate says:

    I loved Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown when it first came out (I was in my 20s, I think). Then I went to see something else by him that, early in the movie, had a “funny” (!?) rape scene. I walked out and never saw another one of his films. (oh, except I think I *did* see All about My Mother.)

    One of my favorite films of all time is Antonia’s Line.

    John Sayles films often pass the test.

    Others:
    Chutney Popcorn by Nisha Ganatra
    Watermelon Woman by Cheryl Dunye
    Daughters of the Dust by Julie Dash
    Better than Chocolate
    Like Water for Chocolate
    Aimee & Jaguar

  63. Andrew B says:

    Responding to Farah, Yi-Sheng, Dr E, possibly others… The Bechdel(-Wallace-Woolf?) Test works because it’s minimal and not specifically feminist. As Maggie says, it emphasizes how women’s experiences are ignored except to the extent they involve a man. One can identify other problems with the representation of women, but the test is so striking because it asks so little.

    So I agree with Farah (taking her word for it that women in sf always are represented as rivals) and Yi-Sheng, but wouldn’t want to see the test modified to take account of their points. And Dr E, the exchange you paraphrase has nothing to do with the test (unless Invisible Kid is female, which I gather from the context he isn’t).

  64. Alex K says:

    @42 / Maggie Jochild: “They’ll focus all our energy on working for something that won’t really change the system”.

    I’m sadly fuzzy-brained today: This statement reminds me strongly of another, source now lost to me, in which mis-direction is praised as the most powerful tool of oppression: In paraphrasis, “If you can get people to waste their energies in attacking the wrong problem, you can keep on doing pretty much what you want”. Will some kind reader point me to what I’ve forgotten?

  65. Ian says:

    @Alex K: The Prince? Mein Kampf?

  66. Suzanonymous says:

    25 years since The Rule pointed out this basic and extreme bias and it’s still very much in force. The Rule influenced me to pay attention to my aversion to movies.

    I didn’t know it was also pointed out in Virginia Woolf’s book, thanks mordant.espier.

  67. NLC says:

    If anyone is interested in the details, this seems to the passage in question (from Chap 5 or A Room of One’s Own):

    And, determined to do my duty by her as reader if she would do her duty by me as writer, I turned the page and read . . . I am sorry to break off so abruptly. Are there no men present? Do you promise me that behind that red curtain over there the figure of Sir Charles Biron is not concealed? We are all women you assure me? Then I may tell you that the very next words I read were these—’Chloe liked Olivia . . .’ Do not start. Do not blush. Let us admit in the privacy of our own society that these things sometimes happen. Sometimes women do like women.

    ‘Chloe liked Olivia,’ I read. And then it struck me how immense a change was there. Chloe liked Olivia perhaps for the first time in literature. Cleopatra did not like Octavia. And how completely ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA would have been altered had she done so I As it is, I thought, letting my mind, I am afraid, wander a little from LIFE’S ADVENTURE, the whole thing is simplified, conventionalized, if one dared say it, absurdly. Cleopatra’s only feeling about Octavia is one of jealousy. Is she taller than I am? How does she do her hair? The play, perhaps, required no more. But how interesting it would have been if the relationship between the two women had been more complicated. All these relationships between women, I thought, rapidly recalling the splendid gallery of fictitious women, are too simple. So much has been left out, unattempted. And I tried to remember any case in the course of my reading where two women are represented as friends. There is an attempt at it in DIANA OF THE CROSSWAYS. They are confidantes, of course, in Racine and the Greek tragedies. They are now and then mothers and daughters. But almost without exception they are shown in their relation to men. It was strange to think that all the great women of fiction were, until Jane Austen’s day, not only seen by the other sex, but seen only in relation to the other sex. And how small a part of a woman’s life is that; and how little can a man know even of that when he observes it through the black or rosy spectacles which sex puts upon his nose.

  68. Suzanonymous says:

    Thanks NLC.

  69. Marj says:

    Ah yes, Jane Austen, who would not depict interaction between men if a woman were not present. Her novels are all about the getting of husbands, but consider the friendship between Elizabeth Bennet and Charlotte Lucas, and the analysis of early C19 women’s lives therein.

  70. Brazenfemme says:

    Thanks for the link AB – I will use it next semester when I teach feminist counselling theory (sigh, no tenure track in sight).

    As a Canadian, I highly recommend NFB films – you can watch them for free from their website! My favourite of all time is “In the company of strangers” directed by Cynthia Scott:
    http://www.nfb.ca/film/company_of_strangers

    I can’t say enough about it -especially since the women are real, and not actresses in the traditional sense.

  71. freyakat says:

    I also highly recommend “In the Company of Strangers” or “Strangers in Good Company”, which was its title when released a number of years ago in the US of A. This was my introduction to Mary Meigs, who was one special lesbian/woman.

  72. Andrew B says:

    NLC, thanks. Mordant.espier says that Woolf “describes this test”, so if that’s the passage that she had in mind, I think she exaggerated. (Or he.)

  73. fuzzpedals says:

    in the company of strangers
    passion fish
    bend it like beckham
    a league of their own

  74. chriso says:

    I find myself wondering if “9 to 5″ would pass this test. Yes, it has more than 2 women in it with names. But they do talk about a man a great deal, even though it is a male boss who oppresses and harasses them and whom they fantasize about bumping off.

    And Kat, I was surprised too at the inclusion of the X-Men films. I thought of the scene in X-Men 2 where Jean Grey and Storm are flying that plane and they have to fight off those jets and they’re talking to each other about that.

  75. ksbel6 says:

    I’m thinking 9 to 5 passes. Remember when they end up with the dead body in the trunk? That leads to numerous conversations…although maybe the body is a man, so then does that not count? What about the conversations about the work place changes?

  76. alibeamish says:

    excellent movie analysis
    good to use this test if you have daughters too