a handy guide to feminist and intersectional critiques of narrative

(reference for when i am trying to explain these to people and they are looking at me like “huh”):

  • the Bechdel test: does the story have a) more than one women, b) who talk to each other, c) about something other than a man.
  • the Ellen Willis test: if you flip the genders, does the story still make sense?
  • the Sexy Lamp test (courtesy of Kelly Sue DeConnick): can you replace your female character with a sexy lamp and still have the story work? if yes, YOU ARE A HACK.
  • the Mako Mori test: there is a) at least one female POC character, b) who gets her own narrative arc, c) that is not about supporting a man’s story.
  • the Tauriel test (which i made up in response to The Hobbit 2 [which passes] and Skyfall [which fails]): a) there is a woman, b) WHO IS GOOD AT HER JOB.

and in justification of my recent TV obsessions, i would like to note that Scandal, The Vampire Diaries, Buffy, and Nikita (ALL HAIL MAGGIE Q) pass all of these tests with flying colors.

UPDATE: i just discovered the Finkbeiner test and it is FANTASTIC.

FURTHER UPDATE: these were noted by oranges8hands and are EXCELLENT and add some much-needed intersectionality:

The Deggans Rule: a) At least two POC characters in the main cast, b) in a show that’s not about race.

The Racial Bechdel Test (I first saw it laid out by Alaya Dawn Johnson): a) it has two POC in it, b) who talk to each other, c) about something other than a white person

and then I offered an amendment to the Bechdel test: d) both women have to be alive at the end

FURTHER FURTHER update, from coelasquid (via oranges8hands)

“Women in tupperware” It’s like Women in refrigerators except instead of killing the lady and stuffing her in a fridge they incapacitate her during high stakes plot point and seal her away to preserve her freshness.

See: Every pivotal scene in Tom Cruise’s Oblivion movie.

new addition from boob-tube-reviews:

Russo test for LGBTQ+ characters:

  1. The film contains a character that is identifiably lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender.
  2. That character must not be solely or predominantly defined by their sexual orientation or gender identity. (i.e. they are made up of the same sort of unique character traits commonly used to differentiate straight characters from one another.)
  3. The LGBTQ+ character must be tied into the plot in such a way that their removal would have a significant effect. Meaning they are not there to simply provide colorful commentary, paint urban authenticity, or (perhaps most commonly) set up a punchline. The character should matter.