10 Films That Nail The Feminism Test

by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Quiz! Which movie is more feminist: Snakes on a Plane or Lara Croft: Tomb Raider? Chances are you answered this question incorrectly, based on a new feminist film rating system that Swedish movie theaters are instituting. To make the grade, a film must pass what's known as the "Bechdel Test," conceived of by cartoonist Alison Bechdel in the 1980s. The criteria for passing are simple: A film must contain at least two named female characters (i.e. not "secretary #3" or "drunk girl at a party") and these characters must talk to each other at least once about something other than a man.

Yesterday we listed 10 films that don't pass the Bechdel test (including Star Wars, Casablanca and Lara Croft). Today, let's have some fun with 10 films that do pass the test.

  1. Scream 3
  2. Miss Congeniality
  3. Evil Dead
  4. Friends with Benefits
  5. Starship Troopers
  6. Belle de Jour
  7. The Bring It On sequel
  8. Snakes on a Plane
  9. I Know What You Did Last Summer
  10. Last Tango in Paris

Does this list prove that the Bechdel test is silly? Hardly. What the Bechdel test (or the paucity of films that pass it, anyway) was meant to show is how many films are centered exclusively on male characters and/or don't bother to fully develop female roles. The Bechdel test was never intended to measure how feminist or progressive a film's content is — as this list pretty clearly demonstrates! Equal representation doesn't necessarily mean representation that feminists will find charming.