Discussion: Bechdel Books

Who here has heard of the Bechdel test? Well, in case you haven’t, it’s a litmus test developed by Liz Wallace and named after Alison Bechdel (the artist/writer behind the comic below)


To pass the test, your pop culture media must have:

Two Named Female Characters
Who Talk to Each Other
About Something Other Than A Man

I’ve decided to choose five books off my shelf. and put them to the test – the Bechdel test.
Hush Hush – Becca Fitzpatrick
As much as I do love this series, it fails miserably at the Bechdel test. Almost every time the main character and her best friend Vee talk, it’s about guys, which is really something that irritates me. Ladies, there are other things happening in the book to talk about besides the guys you want to date! How about the fact that your boyfriends are fallen angels?!
Grade: F
Uglies – Scott Westerfeld
You’d think this would fail the Bechdel test because it’s about superficial beauty and all that, but actually this book series passes the test. Shay and Tally generally do talk about other things besides men. They talk about the possibility of a world outside the pre-defined notions of ‘ugly’ and ‘pretty’ and new pretty’ which society has drummed into them. Of course, they do talk about guys – like David or Peris – but mainly just in passing.
Grade – B
Inkheart – Cornelia Funke
This is one of my favourite book series’ of all time, and I’m delighted to say that it passes the Bechdel test with flying colours as well. Two of the main female characters – Meggie and her Aunt Elinor – spend lots of time talking about things other than men, like their shared love of books. Yay Inkheart!
Grade – A
Emma – Jane Austen
I know this book is set in, and was written in Victorian England, but this test fails the Bechdel test as far as I can see. Emma is obsessed with finding a husband for her friend, and that is basically the centre of the book. I know that in that time, unless you were super rich, you had to marry as well as you could, but this fails the test unfortunately.
Grade – D
Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda 
Despite this being from a boy’s point of view, this actually passes! Simon’s sisters talk about other things besides guys, such as their lives and what they’re doing. There’s a bucketload of reasons why this is my favourite book and this is just one of them.
Grade – B
Which books do you own that either fail or pass the Bechdel test? Do you agree with the books I’ve given? If you’re looking for some books to read that pass the Bechdel test, then here’s some recommendations from me:
-The Hunger Games
-To Kill A Mockingbird
-The Harry Potter books
-My Sister’s Keeper
-The Fault In Our Stars
Happy reading!

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