Bechdel test influence literary choices


Photo by Daria Tumanova on Unsplash

The gender choices authors make influence the choices readers make.

LunaBella Peralta, Events editor

In 1985, a comic strip was released that would change the gender equality scene in entertainment forever. American cartoonist Alison Bechddel created this comic scene that would form the Bechdel test.
Bechdel had been inspired by Virginia Woolf, an English writer who contemplated the role of women in literature at the time. She found that women were primarily shown in regards to their relation to men and only as mothers and daughters. Years later, investigations surrounding female representation in entertainment are still a topic of issue. The Geena Davis Institute analyzed 201 films from 2010 and 2013 and found that only 31% of the named characters were female (Bechdel Test).
“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 that other sex. And how small a part of a woman’s life is that,” said Woolf.
This quote inspired Alison Bechdel, who showcased the rules to the Bechdel test in her popular comic “Dykes to Watch Out For.” This comic scene in particular featured two female characters discussing that a film should include at least two women, that they talk to each other, and that they discuss something other than a man (Bechdel Test). This became the Bechdel test, which Bechdel explains also came to her by influence of a friend.
Other regulations have then been added to the test, but the same idea stands to promote women representation in media. Since then, it has been applied to media in reviews and screenwriting software. Even in literature we can apply this test to see which books and written pieces have female characters that play big roles and share enlightening conversations.
Today this test is still relevant to promote gender equality and women representation in literature, films, and shows.
“Bechdel Test.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 8 Jan. 2021,

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