Bechdel Test Movie List

/bech·del test/ n.
1. It has to have at least two [named] women in it
2. Who talk to each other
3. About something besides a man

[[3]] The Danish Girl (2015) [imdb]

This movie passed 3 of 3 tests. It was entered by c-riz on 2016-01-07 10:47:40.



c-riz said:
The difficulty in this one is that one of the named female characters is played by a man. The two leads begin the film as husband and wife, but by the end as woman and transgender woman. If one was to consider Eddie Redmayne's character as a man throughout, it would fail, but as this test is about equal treatment in terms of gender, it makes sense to consider him a woman when he is 'Lili'.
Message posted on 2016-01-07 10:47:41
char--- said:
i was thinking earlier about how this movie would handle , i agree with the pass grade. In this unique situation of having a female character played by a male i think its the characters gender that matters not the actors.
As long as they have the conversation not about men after he officially becomes a women then it counts in my eyes.
Message posted on 2016-01-13 15:16:13
Evans said:
Despite this film being lauded as breaking down gender stereotypes, and promoting trans rights, it was not subversive enough to feature 2 women actually talking to each other, and certainly not about any subject than that of her husband.

Redmayne's character's wife does have a friend, but they are never shown having a conversation. There is one scene that shows them discussing how she and her husband got together, but they are not permitted to actually communicated with each other directly, rather, their conversation needs to be passed through Redmayne.
Clear fail: 1/3
Message posted on 2016-01-14 20:06:15
Lu said:
I agree with the rating as not to get it would feel like stealing form the trans community.

However, if feels like a small victory. If we adjust the bechdel test to a male consideration would this movie fail?
Message posted on 2016-02-02 23:59:34
Ella said:
I agree that the movie passes the test completely. The whole point for Lily (starting as Einar) was that she was a woman. I would actually suggest that any conversation between the two main characters counts to pass the test since Lily has been Lily even when she still appeared to be "male" Einar. For that matter I'm not sure if the movie even passes the reverse test (men talking to each other about anything besides a woman). (Maybe with a random conversation between extras on the party "Einar" visits being Lily for the first time; any random party guest conversation?)

But that rather points out a problem both the movie and the Brechdel test have: being heteronormative (seeing and displaying every person/ character as either male or female and confirming this). It is alluded - especially by Lily's character's opinion - and refered to in the end that Lily was a woman because that was her "true" "nature", her "true" body. Since I heard that this movie was based on the life of an intersexual person who had a (?not fully built?) uterus that might make sence for Lily (the movie's character, I don't know about the real person). But by developing the movie this way it suggests that Lily is a transwoman just because her "real" biological female sex was hidden. And, of course, that the very reason for her clear female gender was her clear female sex. But the main point of being intersex is that a person has a body with a more equal distribution of "male" and (!) "female" physical characteristics than an average person - and thus has no definitly (!) either (!) male or female sex. And that's part of the movie: Lily's character has a penis and is alluded to have menstrual cramps (which could maybe be explained if she also had a uterus, well, body parts which relate to menstruation and are associated as female). Lily is not a woman because her body is completely female but because of herself.

And that's a problem for the Brechdeltest as well: It depends on putting characters into clearly shaped binary gender roles. That works out as long as the movie/ rated work does this as well (which most movies do and also this movie kind of falls back into). But what if the movie doesn't? Does a conversation between a woman and a person of ambigious gender (e.g., but not limited to, a gender non confirming person) count? Does a conversation between women about a person of ambiguous gender count? e.g. does a conversation between women count who talk about another person both women think (!) is a woman but "actually" isn't? Or, alternatively, the women think that the person is a man but isn't. This is even possible for a work that is heteronormative and reinforces the gender binary; the gender of that person might be "clear" but unknown by the characters. But it also makes clear that even the possibility (!) of passing or failing the Brechdeltest (or the reverse test) depends on all characters being explicitly either (!) male or (!) female, which, for some charakters and many people, just "clearly" (well, clearly "enough") isn't the case.
Message posted on 2016-10-16 22:58:45
Aduro said:
Gender isn't just a biological category, its also a social one. Seeing as the test focuses on interactions rather than biology I'd say that a character who self-identifies as female and wants to be considered female by others counts as female.
Message posted on 2016-10-17 16:37:46
Becca said:
Not sure why this is considered dubious. . .the film clearly passes. Lili Elbe is a trans woman, and trans women are women. Therefore, Lili Elbe is a woman character. She has extensive conversations with her wife (that aren't about men) throughout the movie.

It seems like some folks are getting tripped up by the fact that Lili is played by a man, Eddie Redmayne. My understanding, however, is that the Bechdel test is about the gender of the characters--not the gender of the actors portraying them. For example, look at the entry on this website about the film Hairspray. This film passes due to the conversations between Edna and her daughter Tracy. That's because both of the characters are female, even though Edna is played by John Travolta. Likewise, the film Jack and Jill (which was horrible, but whatever) passes due to conversations between Jill and Jack's wife. This is despite the fact that Jill is played by Adam Sandler. The character is female even though the actor isn't.

If movies with a man playing a cisgender woman character (like Hairspray & Jack and Jill) clearly pass, it seems logical that movies with a man playing a transgender woman character (like The Danish Girl) also clearly pass. To suggest otherwise implies trans women aren't women. . .which is pretty transphobic IMO.
Message posted on 2017-12-27 07:03:52
neil (webmaster) said:
I've removed the dubious flag.
Message posted on 2017-12-27 20:55:33

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