Comedian Paul F. Tompkins Defends Bechdel Test In Brilliant Display of Allyship
As with anything related to feminism and the media, there's been a lot of debate over the Bechdel test and its relative usefulness. That debate, of course, continues to wage on, made ever the more complicated when celebrities like Shailene Woodley react to the word feminism as if it's a slur. But a recent defense of the Bechdel test by comedian Paul F. Tompkins serves as a good reminder of a couple of things — but mostly that it can feel really great when a dude stands up and actually shows the world what it means to ally yourself to women.
Tompkins' Bechdel-related conversation took place mainly on Twitter, where he engaged in one of those social media "debates" we've all had. You know the kind: Where one side's being a shady douchenozzle when all you're trying to do is make them see that the patriarchy's got some issues. The interaction was sparked when writer Cassie St. Onge commented on Dawn Of The Planet Of the Apes' failure of the Bechdel test. This summoned a troll, who Tompkins then fought with for a while, before taking to his blog to state his advice on how men can do better when it comes to relating to the women in their life — and how those women relate to a media that systematically shoves them aside (bolded emphasis mine):
Another favorite passage is when Tompkins relayed an anecdote in which he'd unintentionally shoved aside two female friends' opinion of a movie not being feminist:
And that’s when I realized that none of this was about me, and maybe I should shut up and listen and try to understand. And also to be more aware of things like this and develop not just my sympathy, but my empathy.
If anyone's wondering, this is what allyship looks like. This is what it looks like when someone looks past their own privilege and actually makes an effort to think about other people's experiences. Tompkins thinks men (yes, all men) need to make that effort, and he's right. Like he said, this isn't about him, or men in general. That so many people frame feminism as something that has to focus on men is part of the problem in the first place.