The Bechdel Test and a Sexy Lamp

Read Forrest Helvie’s “The Bechdel Test and a Sexy Lamp.”

2. Select a film for your analysis.

You may choose a film from any genre — drama, comedy, family, action and so on. It does not have to be recent, nor does it need to be pro-feminist. The point is that you analyze the film from a feminist perspective. My recommendation is that you choose something that has at least one female lead or supporting character, so that you will have enough material to work with.

3. Review the Feminist Movie Analysis Checklist (below) for guidance.

4. Watch the film you selected and make notes as you watch.

5. Write a feminist analysis of the film based on your notes, your understanding of the concepts we have covered so far in the course, and the materials that we have viewed/read.
Your analysis must include basic information about the film, including the title of the film and a very brief plot summary.
Extensive plot summary is unnecessary. Points will be taken off for excessive summary.
The majority of the essay should be a discussion of the way in which the movie represents women and feminist concerns.

I would suggest working your way through the Feminist Movie Analysis Checklist [PDF] and discussing (explaining/exemplifying) the answers that seem most important to the movie as a whole and your experience watching it through the feminist “lens.” You don’t have to go through and talk about everything. Maybe pick three to five points to talk about in detail.
Finally, don’t feel compelled to give a glowing or scathing review of the film. Most movies are a mixture of positive and negative things, and it is appropriate that your analysis reflects that.

Relevant info:
This 2-3 page essay-report is worth 15 points and should include works cited. Your analysis should thoughtfully engage the content of the movie and integrate it with the material we have discussed in the course. Grammar and punctuation count toward your overall score.
You should also consult the writing style rubric which will provide more detail about grading procedure.

Checklist for Feminist Movie Analysis
Consider the following questions about the movie that you have selected. I have presented many of the categories as opposites, when things are often not so clear. There may be characters who have both characteristics, or some characters who are portrayed one way and some the other. I bring up these categories to help you think through the dynamics at work in the film. It is up to you to sort through which ones are most relevant to the piece that you have chosen.
1. Are women main or supporting characters in the film?
2. Are the women portrayed as being weak or strong (physically, emotionally, morally, intellectually, etc.)? Overly emotional or capable?
3. Are they independent or dependent (personally, professionally, financially, emotionally, etc.)?
4. Do they generally dress provocatively or practically? As objects or subjects?
5. Are they white or nonwhite?
6. Are there characters in the LGBTQ community?
7. Are there women with different body types? And how are these body types represented (positively or negatively)?
8. How old are the main women in the film? What is the age difference between them and their “love interest(s)”? How are older/elderly people characterized (wise, bumbling, irritating, valuable)?
9. Are there people with disabilities in the film? How are they represented?
10. Is there violence toward women in the film? Misogyny?
11. Would you say that the movie is generally positive or negative, from a feminist perspective? Why? Give specific examples to support your thoughts.
Again, this is not a perfect list, but it should guide you to many of the most important categories to consider for a feminist analysis.

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