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Bechdel Test Updated to Check If Work Includes Three Women of Different Ages Who Are Also Same Woman

by Kath Dunham. @kathdunham.

NEW YORK, NY - The Bechdel test, originally a question of whether a work of fiction included two women who talk to each other about something other than a man, has been updated today to also exclude works that don’t include three women who are different ages but are also all the same woman, sources confirmed.

“I like to think that the original Bechdel test led to the writing of more stories that center independent women,” said Allison Bechdel, creator of the Bechdel test and author of the graphic novel Fun Home. “I hope this new version leads to more stories being written about three women — one small, one medium, and one big — who are all the same woman but at different times in her life.”

Film critic Beatrice Sampson discussed the effect that this new test would have on the film industry.

“This definitely raises the bar,” said Sampson. “When it came to the original Bechdel test, a staggeringly disappointing number of movies met the criteria to begin with. Now that films also have to focus on the three-but-one combo, there will be even fewer. Like, almost  none - at least until the ‘Fun Home’ movie comes out.”

Screenwriter Caroline Vargas spoke with The Broadway Beat about how the new criteria is influencing her work.

“It’s important for me to consider the new criteria in my work since the original Bechdel test advanced representation so much,” reported Vargas, “I’m reworking my screenplay, which is a piece featuring over 40 speaking roles, so that every single female character is played by three different actresses at three different ages. Admittedly, it’s a lot to keep track of. The script is currently around 900 pages.”

At press time, Bechdel updated the criteria even further. It now states that the film must include two women discussing something other than a man; that they must be portrayed at three different ages by three different actors; and that, at some point, the character must also write a comic strip.


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