The Bechdel Test / by Anthony Gibbins

The Bechdel Test is named for the cartoonist, Alison Bechdel, who first introduced the idea in one of her strips. Bechdel herself prefers the name Bechdel-Wallace Test, which credits the woman, Liz Wallace, who helped develop the idea.

The Bechdel-Wallace test can be performed on a work of fiction, in order to find out something of the way it portrays female characters. A large amount of fiction, including about half of all films, fails the test. offers a useful list.

To pass the test, a work of fiction must meet the following three criteria; 1. It has to have at least two women in it 2. who talk to each other 3. about something other than a man. Deadpool fails, but Batman vs Superman passes. Zootopia passes, but Kung Fu Panda 3 and Monsters Inc. do not. Fightclub, Train Spotting, Forrest Gump, Groundhog Day, The Princess Bride, Stand By Me and Raiders of the Lost Ark all fail. The Life of Brian, Inglourious Bastards, Amelie, No Country for Old Men, The Dark Knight, Sin City, The Incredibles and V for Vendetta all pass. So do Pulp Fiction and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

I’m happy to say that Legonium, pars secunda passes. partes prima, tertia, quarta and quinta, sadly, do not. But partes sexta and septima do, as will many more to follow. It’s no great achievement to pass the Bechdel-Wallace test, but its problematic that so much of our fiction does not. I’d like to think that Legonium would have passed even if I’d never heard of the test, but I am glad I had heard of it, and that it is in my mind as I write these stories.

A bit about the Latin. I took quolibet from the wonderful Latin podcast, quomodo dicitur. They bill their show as ‘A Weekly Podcast about Anything’ (Colloquium Latinum hebdomadale de quolibet). I highly recommend a listen. The translation for pool, ludus tudicularis, I found in a German dictionary of modern Latin. It truly is a book de quolibet.

They play pool for two hours talking about anything. It often pleases Claudia, a learned woman, to talk about ancient monuments.