REPRESENTATION - Why I'm A Feminist


I'm a big fan of films, especially films that make me feel something. Like love, hope or joy. Even sadness. 
I recently watched a TED Talk by a guy called Colin Stokes. He talked about something that I had never heard of before: the Bechdel test, created by Alison Bechdel. 
The test requires a film (or any piece of media) to pass 3 tests. 
  1. The film must have at least 2 females with talking roles. 
  1. The film must have 2 females talking to each other at some point. 
  1. The conversation of these females must be about something other than men. 
I started applying this test to all films that I watched, thinking “this test is easy, I cant imagine any film today failing”. But film after film that I watched failed this test. 
You may wonder what difference this actually makes, why bother making the test, or discussing it. The reason I believe this matters is representation. 
Representation matters in 2 ways:
  1. Films where women are present, but have no lines, reinforce a culture where women are viewed by men as the backdrop of life. Like wallpaper, they are meant to make things look nice, but not really anything else. In this view women are not taken seriously and are perceived as being unable to contribute anything of value to life. 
  1.  Films that are devoid of female lead roles reinforce a culture where women's stories are not heard, their points of view and experiences have little value and men are the leaders; the movers and shakers. In this view women have very few role models to look up to and it subliminally reinforces to them that they are secondary in life. 
By itself, these claims may seem incidental (i.e. How can a movie have that much effect?). But each incremental aspect of sexism contributes towards a complete worldview, so each incremental aspect of sexism within society must be challenged and rooted out.

May we be those that amplify the voices of people in society whose own voices are seldom heard. May we be those that look past the superficiality of our worldview and see the harmful parts beneath it. May we be those that root out discrimination in our hearts and in our culture, to create a world that is truly at peace.

For more on representation and the Bechdel test I highly recommend the TED Talk I mentioned at the beginning, as well as this brilliant vlog by Anita Sarcheesian.

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