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Author Topic: Bechdel test and other media analysis about discrimination  (Read 25513 times)

Darth Mandarb

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The people talking about the Bechdel test are critics, not cultural dictators.

Interesting choice of words.

When a critic says that some form of entertainment should pass a (or any) test to be acceptable are they not, in a way, attempting to dictate culture?

I think Hollywood should stop making so many superhero films.

Well it happened! For the first time in history we agree on something (nod)

I thought I'd already mention it, but I'll say it again: I don't think every single piece of media has to pass any such criteria, but I do think more should, and those that doesn't pass the criteria should have a good reason as to why.

So they aren't required to pass the test but they must have a good reason for failing it?

Who decides what constitutes a "good" reason for failing the test?
Like Ali said, I'm not a censor, and I think this is a stupid and reductionist take. Likewise, coming with suggestions on what would be better is not the same as forcing people to conform to your standards.

How can you have any real discussion on anything culture-related if every personal statement of opinion is treated as some absolute law proposal?
Now I get why you're tagged as a Sith Lord.


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I've yet to come across any example of a male animal protecting female animals from say, being eaten by a predator, or any similar danger.

I'm not saying animals are making a conscious decision to take such actions, as far as I am aware. I am rather referring to biology and evolution. Take, for example, a whole host of birds.

The female peacock:

Dictated by evolution, drably coloured in order to better be able to hide and survive, and to shelter the precious eggs and chicks from predators.

The male peacock:

Gloriously colourful to draw attention, both from females during mating season, and unwillingly from predators.

Humans are quite obviously not birds, but human biology and evolution still equips the female for the role of nurture, and the male for providing, hard labour and combat, no matter how much our modern society breaks this aspect by allowing males to grow soft and flabby and weak, while providing women the opportunities to live more free and independent lives. Whether someone embraces this new reality as a grand victory over biology, or views it as some horrid corruption that ruins the species, is up to the person making the interpretation. Human is, as far as I can tell, the only animal on the planet with very much direct control over its own evolution, so this seems to be a pretty new experiment, and future generations will be the ones to see the final outcome.
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Danvzare

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I thought I'd already mention it, but I'll say it again: I don't think every single piece of media has to pass any such criteria, but I do think more should, and those that doesn't pass the criteria should have a good reason as to why.

So they aren't required to pass the test but they must have a good reason for failing it?

Who decides what constitutes a "good" reason for failing the test?
I don't want to talk for Blondbraid, so please correct me if I'm wrong, but as far as I can tell, what she's saying is like when a humble vegan explains why they don't eat animal products.
She's not telling you to adopt her belief, but she's hoping that by explaining it, others will gain a better understanding and at the very least consider adopting it.

So to answer your question, the person who constitutes a "good" reason for failing the test, would be the person watching the movie or TV show at that time.

The people talking about the Bechdel test are critics, not cultural dictators.

Interesting choice of words.

When a critic says that some form of entertainment should pass a (or any) test to be acceptable are they not, in a way, attempting to dictate culture?
Isn't everyone always trying to dictate culture?
I'm fairly sure that's how culture comes into existence.

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Isn't everyone always trying to dictate culture?
I'm fairly sure that's how culture comes into existence.

"Culture is all things we do, say, write and draw. Every aspect of every thing we do, is culture."

That's how it was taught to us at school. I think most arguments over culture arise from people with different cultural backgrounds trying to enforce their own idea of "correct" culture over others while refusing the idea that other forms of culture than their own can have merit.
Good thing that's not the case here!
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Darth Mandarb

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Like Ali said, I'm not a censor, and I think this is a stupid and reductionist take.

Let's try to remain civil please.

If you cannot answer (or do not wish to answer) my questions that's fine. I was asking honest questions I genuinely wanted answers to. Not trying to antagonize.

Likewise, coming with suggestions on what would be better is not the same as forcing people to conform to your standards.

I am assuming you mean "would be better" for you personally?

I have some confusion with this because you specifically said "I don't think every single piece of media has to pass any such criteria, but I do think more should, and those that doesn't pass the criteria should have a good reason as to why."

I hope you can see why I/some would interpret that as "forcing people to conform to your standards".

If you didn't mean it that way, great, but that's what it seemed you were saying so I asked questions for clarification.

How can you have any real discussion on anything culture-related if every personal statement of opinion is treated as some absolute law proposal?

By asking questions to better understand what the person, who you are in discussion with, meant?

Isn't everyone always trying to dictate culture?
I'm fairly sure that's how culture comes into existence.

Perhaps? I'm far from an expert but it doesn't really diminish my question, does it?

They [critics] are still trying to dictate culture.


Ali

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They [critics] are still trying to dictate culture.

But this is an untenably silly take that would cast having an opinion on just about anything as dictatorial. You're not "forcing people to conform to your standards" unless you... you know... force people to conform to your standards.

WHAM, have you actually read ANY of the arguments put before you here?

Males being more decorated to attract females is NOT the same thing as males being protective of females, and comparing humans to animals is ridiculous because for every example you bring up, there is a perfect counter-example of animals that do the opposite. Among cassowaries, females are larger and protect territories from other females whilst males rear their young, with Seahorses males rear the babies in a pouch on his stomach and Hyenas live in matriarchies where even the smallest female pup outranks the highest male hyena. As for Peacocks, there's this interesting tidbit; Males may display even in the absence of females. When a male is displaying, females do not appear to show any interest and usually continue their foraging.

Or if you want an animal actually related to humans, look at the study of a group of baboons, where a flock came across a batch of poisoned meat, the strongest and most aggressive males hogged all meat for themselves, and were subsequently poisoned, leaving the females, infants and meeker males alone, and the group of baboons permanently restructured their community so as the biting and bullying that had happened with the aggressive males around were no longer accepted, and this change not only remained several generations later, but baboons from the outside adopted the group's rules too.

And again, comparing humans to animals in your manner is offensive because it's been part of justifying real oppression, in several European countries women couldn't vote or have their own bank accounts far into the 20th century, and this was justified exactly with the sort of bullshit evo-psych you've been spreading, that women aren't biologically suited to do men's work, they should be relegated to the home because they're so much more nurturing/emotional and programmed to take care of babies.

I don't want to talk for Blondbraid, so please correct me if I'm wrong, but as far as I can tell, what she's saying is like when a humble vegan explains why they don't eat animal products.
She's not telling you to adopt her belief, but she's hoping that by explaining it, others will gain a better understanding and at the very least consider adopting it.

So to answer your question, the person who constitutes a "good" reason for failing the test, would be the person watching the movie or TV show at that time.
Well, that's a fairly good explanation for what I've been trying to say.
I am assuming you mean "would be better" for you personally?
It's not just about me personally, I speak for a lot of women feeling the same way, and I think many minorities feel similar to their representation as I do with women.
Media can affect how we think about things, and I want more and better representation not just because I want to see fellow women in the media I consume, but also because seeing strong female characters can help other people accept women doing
things that doesn't adhere to narrow female stereotypes, and this is why films like Wonder Woman and Black Panther has mattered so much to so many people, because having a good quality film made with a black or female lead showed a lot of people that
women and black people can be people worth telling stories about and not just some optional niche figures who only serves to support white male leads. I suggest watching this;


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And again, comparing humans to animals in your manner is offensive because it's been part of justifying real oppression, in several European countries women couldn't vote or have their own bank accounts far into the 20th century, and this was justified exactly with the sort of bullshit evo-psych you've been spreading, that women aren't biologically suited to do men's work, they should be relegated to the home because they're so much more nurturing/emotional and programmed to take care of babies.

The difference is that I don't justify anything. I merely observe history and culture and evolution and biology as it exists around us, and you seem to take my observation to mean I somehow support or condone these traditions, for some reason. Just because examples exist of one thing that explain things around us in the way, at least over here, we are taught these things in schools, doesn't mean that other ways exist in the broad diversity of animalia across the planet.
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And again, comparing humans to animals in your manner is offensive because it's been part of justifying real oppression, in several European countries women couldn't vote or have their own bank accounts far into the 20th century, and this was justified exactly with the sort of bullshit evo-psych you've been spreading, that women aren't biologically suited to do men's work, they should be relegated to the home because they're so much more nurturing/emotional and programmed to take care of babies.

The difference is that I don't justify anything. I merely observe history and culture and evolution and biology as it exists around us, and you seem to take my observation to mean I somehow support or condone these traditions, for some reason. Just because examples exist of one thing that explain things around us in the way, at least over here, we are taught these things in schools, doesn't mean that other ways exist in the broad diversity of animalia across the planet.
You are justifying it by presenting it as a legitimate scientific theory, and not a hodge-podge cobbled together from lazy and simplistic generalizations of animals, and presenting patriarchal oppression as a logical evolutionary outcome instead of the choices and culture of people running society, and by presenting this as somehow programmed into human nature, you are in fact implying that any attempts to challenge female oppression is futile and foolish. and the phrasing;
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no matter how much our modern society breaks this aspect by allowing males to grow soft and flabby and weak
...basically implies that you think it was better back when a man's worth was based on his ability to dominate and subdue anyone weaker than him.

I have given you plenty of counterexamples, and links to various sources, I suggest you read them before arguing further.


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no matter how much our modern society breaks this aspect by allowing males to grow soft and flabby and weak
...basically implies that you think it was better back when a man's worth was based on his ability to dominate and subdue anyone weaker than him.

Are you saying modern society does not enable people to be far more lazy, obese and weak than past societies?

I'm also not arguing against your points because I agree with them, I've no reason to argue against them for the most part, save for the difference of you calling it "patriarchal oppression" and me calling it "mostly well intentioned foolishness combined with outdated modes of thought".

After all: "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity."
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no matter how much our modern society breaks this aspect by allowing males to grow soft and flabby and weak
...basically implies that you think it was better back when a man's worth was based on his ability to dominate and subdue anyone weaker than him.

Are you saying modern society does not enable people to be far more lazy, obese and weak than past societies?

I'm also not arguing against your points because I agree with them, I've no reason to argue against them for the most part, save for the difference of you calling it "patriarchal oppression" and me calling it "mostly well intentioned foolishness combined with outdated modes of thought".

After all: "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity."
Would you seriously say that denying half the population to vote or own their own money, and putting them into forced marriages before that, or marital rape and beating your spouse being legal for centuries, or girl babies being left to die in the wilderness just because they were girls, were just some stupid mistake that came about by accident? By that logic, was the trans-Atlantic slave trade just a big misunderstanding, or the Soviet gulags just a well-intentioned but slightly mismanaged attempt to educate people into loving citizens?


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Would you seriously say that denying half the population to vote or own their own money, and putting them into forced marriages before that, or marital rape and beating your spouse being legal for centuries, or girl babies being left to die in the wilderness just because they were girls, were just some stupid mistake that came about by accident? By that logic, was the trans-Atlantic slave trade just a big misunderstanding, or the Soviet gulags just a well-intentioned but slightly mismanaged attempt to educate people into loving citizens?

No. When did we get from women being depicted in media being based on history, which is based on earlier history, to women being forcibly married again? I seem to be confused on the topic of the conversation here.

I posed, based on observations of evolution, biology, history and culture, that the most common ways women are depicted are based on all of those things, and that new ways are rising to the fore, though they will take time and effort to become mainstream. From this we seem to somehow found the false conclusion that I approve of all aspects of that history or somehow oppose change?  ???
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Ali

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From this we seem to somehow found the false conclusion that I approve of all aspects of that history or somehow oppose change?  ???

You do consistently adopt a stance against efforts to deliberately change society. In fact, you seem nostalgic for a time when people weren't as 'lazy' and 'stupid'. The only progressive change you seem prepared to consider is a 'natural', glacial form of social change, constrained by (supposed) biological realities that happen to justify existing inequalities.

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Like I said above, I support the change, and I support having more women in prominent roles in media, which includes myself working to have female protagonists in my games, but I know from seeing it in action that trying to force change too rapidly on people who aren't ready for it will only result in a backlash. What I mean by that is the exact kind of moral policing, calling out movies or games for failing to meet some kind of unwritten standard as if doing so were a crime unto itself, which we keep seeing now spread from the online world into the real world.

And yes, I do think that much of the accomplishments of modern western societies have damaged those societies. Hell, the very Gamergate event Blondbraid mentioned before is a prime example of people who have no real problems in life, on both sides of the issues discussed therein, venting their lack of meaningful existence into petty arguments with strangers and screaming into the void that is the uncaring internet. It leads to people who lack a cause and purpose to adopt imaginary causes, to live fantasy lives fueled by various forms of media and the internet, and to attack anyone they perceive as threatening that way of life.

It's not an entirely new phenomenon, but the fact seems to be that a large portion of the population is wasting its potential and resources, in a time of abundance and easy life.
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Ali

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I know from seeing it in action that trying to force change too rapidly on people who aren't ready for it will only result in a backlash.

Can you think of an historical example of advocates for progressive change not incurring a backlash, and yet succeeding? I'm struggling to think of one. But I think it's a topsy-turvy line of thinking that can turn the people saying, "I want to be treated fairly," into oppressors and the people saying "Hell, no!" into victims.

I must say, I'm particularly repulsed by the contempt you seem to have for the weak, the stupid, the obese, the lazy... your world seems to be full of inferior specimens.

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There are always those who resist change. Sometimes they are fools holding us back, sometimes they are wiser than we might have known. The only way to find out is to see things through, so future generations can find out what the outcome was. My point is that by trying too hard, you will once again just push people away from your way of thinking rather than help guide them into the fold.
For a good modern day example: make good games and movies with female protagonists and support those creators. Create new ideas, characters and stories.
For a bad example: turn every single pre-established story and character into a minority version of itself at any cost just to be able to say you were 'inclusive' because that's what the PR advisory board said the corporation should do with their intellectual property.

Also:
"It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable."
I think we should apply the same kind of thinking to learning and critical thinking, too, rather than encourage people to be their worst selves just because they can afford it at this moment. I fear society, before long, won't be able to afford it. Feel free to differ on this, of course. I feel you might be obligated to do so by principle at this point.  :-D
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No. When did we get from women being depicted in media being based on history, which is based on earlier history, to women being forcibly married again? I seem to be confused on the topic of the conversation here.

I posed, based on observations of evolution, biology, history and culture, that the most common ways women are depicted are based on all of those things, and that new ways are rising to the fore, though they will take time and effort to become mainstream. From this we seem to somehow found the false conclusion that I approve of all aspects of that history or somehow oppose change?  ???
Because of cause and effect, and me trying to show you that patriarchal oppression isn't the result of men wishing to protect women, it's oppression of women disguised under rhetoric of it being to protect them and for their own good, you keep painting these limitations of women as some idyllic past where they were sheltered by big strong men, I come up with counterexamples to show that it wasn't how it was back then, and this tied back to how you claim not featuring female soldiers in games was
somehow a result of men trying to protect themselves from seeing dead women, but it isn't, it's manchildren not wanting to see women as capable fighters.

And yes, I do think that much of the accomplishments of modern western societies have damaged those societies. Hell, the very Gamergate event Blondbraid mentioned before is a prime example of people who have no real problems in life, on both sides of the issues discussed therein, venting their lack of meaningful existence into petty arguments with strangers and screaming into the void that is the uncaring internet. It leads to people who lack a cause and purpose to adopt imaginary causes, to live fantasy lives fueled by various forms of media and the internet, and to attack anyone they perceive as threatening that way of life.
Gamergate was NOT two equal sides. All the death threats, rape threats, and graphic descriptions of how they'd harm their opponents came from the Gamergate side, whereas the only thing people like Anita Sarkeesian and those siding with her did was highlighting the sexism in the industry and suggesting how to improve it.
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What I mean by that is the exact kind of moral policing, calling out movies or games for failing to meet some kind of unwritten standard as if doing so were a crime unto itself, which we keep seeing now spread from the online world into the real world.
Did you seriously miss the part where repeatedly I said not all media has to meet all the criteria I set up?
I even brought up an example in Master and Commander which I thought was a good film that didn't pass the Bechdel test and didn't need to?
I know from seeing it in action that trying to force change too rapidly on people who aren't ready for it will only result in a backlash.

Can you think of an historical example of advocates for progressive change not incurring a backlash, and yet succeeding? I'm struggling to think of one. But I think it's a topsy-turvy line of thinking that can turn the people saying, "I want to be treated fairly," into oppressors and the people saying "Hell, no!" into victims.

I must say, I'm particularly repulsed by the contempt you seem to have for the weak, the stupid, the obese, the lazy... your world seems to be full of inferior specimens.
True words, there is no human right we have today that wasn't fought tooth and nail by the proponents of the status quo.
Also:
"It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable."
I think we should apply the same kind of thinking to learning and critical thinking, too, rather than encourage people to be their worst selves just because they can afford it at this moment. I fear society, before long, won't be able to afford it. Feel free to differ on this, of course. I feel you might be obligated to do so by principle at this point.  :-D
Then be your best self and start using empathy and stop using strawman arguments.


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I never said the gamergate situation had two equal sides, but there were still idiots on both sides making thins worse. More so on one side than the other, sure, but still. Stones and glass houses.

And just because I point out that moral policing exists is not saying that is what you are doing, nor do I believe I have said at any point that you were doing such. It's a wider phenomenon that is appearing more and more, creeping into newspapers, columns and editorials. Opinion dressed as the one truth.

It's starting to feel like I'm talking into a broken radio. I keep saying I agree with nearly all of your points and you keep acting like I'm attacking you or accusing you of something, somehow?
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I never said the gamergate situation had two equal sides, but there were still idiots on both sides making thins worse. More so on one side than the other, sure, but still. Stones and glass houses.

And just because I point out that moral policing exists is not saying that is what you are doing, nor do I believe I have said at any point that you were doing such. It's a wider phenomenon that is appearing more and more, creeping into newspapers, columns and editorials. Opinion dressed as the one truth.

It's starting to feel like I'm talking into a broken radio. I keep saying I agree with nearly all of your points and you keep acting like I'm attacking you or accusing you of something, somehow?
I could say the same, you started this conversation claiming video games not depicting female soldiers, and historical societies not allowing female soldiers were due to men wanting to protect women and not see women die,
what I've been trying to say this whole time is that that argument is basically painting oppression as some benevolent misunderstanding, and that is pretty insulting to those being oppressed.

Then you brought up a bunch of evo-psych talking points about animals and ignored my and Ali's arguments on why that was offensive.
I haven't really seen any evidence whatsoever of you reading or thinking about any of the links I posted with factual sources countering your theories,
if you want to show you're arguing in good faith, I suggest you'd try to actually think about what people are telling you rather than just repeat your pet theories
pretending cultural roles are biological inevitabilities. Read the link with the baboons I sent you and ponder that.

If I come across as aggressive in my replies, well, what do you expect when someone posting theories imply that I'm biologically programmed to need to be protected by a group that has historically enacted oppressive laws on people like me,
and that any attempts by my group to gain equal human rights is basically a weird recent human experiment that might have gotten overboard and also be responsible for half the species going flabby and lazy?

Let me ask you this; if you'd told an African-American that slavery was instituted to protect black people from the harshness of the world, that they were naturally wired to be subservient and want to help other people,
and that civil rights were a recent fluke experiment that might have gone too far, would you expect them to take it kindly?