Semantic Shenanigans Episode 2 – Bechdel Test with Women at Warp

Janet Gershen-Siegel

Jespah (Janet Gershen-Siegel) has been a fan of Star Trek since probably the first set of reruns of The Original Series. She has an eclectic background, including an undergraduate degree in Philosophy, a JD (she practiced insurance defense law for a few years in New York and is a lot happier since she retired from that in 1990), and a MS in Interactive Media, which is a real-live social media degree.

Along the way, she has about a decade and a half of data analysis work under her belt and currently works as a blog coordinator for a high-end wedding blog and also as a blogger for hire (topics include diverse subjects like ad retargeting but also the nursing job market), and has a shingle out to work on social media presence, with a focus on independent authors as she is also a published science fiction author. Plus, she has been a community manager for a large Q & A website since 2002, which is before that existed as a job title.

She was raised on Long Island so, when she is riled up, the accent gallops back out and she can sound like Fran Drescher with a law degree. She lives in Boston with her husband of over 20 years and more computers than they need.

She can always be bribed with pie.

Semantic Shenanigans Episode 2 – The Bechdel Test with Women at Warp

We discussed the Bechdel Test with the Women at Warp podcast as a part of the annual 24 Hours of G & T fundraising marathon podcast.

 Semantic Shenanigans Episode 2 – The Bechdel Test with Women at Warp

Our show, Semantic Shenanigans Episode 2 – Bechdel Test with Women at Warp, is ready to download here.

Welcome to Our Guests!

Women at Warp

Women at Warp is a Star Trek podcast. And they can be found at: http://www.womenatwarp.com/. Their crew is Andi, Grace, Jarrah, and Sue. It was our pleasure to meet and talk with Jarrah and Sue.

What is the Bechdel Test?

Alison Bechdel probably had no idea how important her rule would become. We still talk about it, over thirty years after it was first articulated.

The Bechdel Test comes from an old comic strip, Dykes to Watch Out For. More specifically, in 1985, Allison Bechdel published The Rule at: http://alisonbechdel.blogspot.com/2005/08/rule.html.

The test and its interpretation spawned the Bechdel Test website.

In addition, the Women and Warp tested all Star Trek live-action series and their results are available here.

The Test

The Bechdel Test interprets media (originally just films, but it’s been applied to episodes of televisions series. And, in a limited fashion, it can probably find application within the realm of books) and consists of three requirements in order for a piece of media to pass:

  1. The film (or television episode, etc.) must have at least two named female characters
  2. Who must talk to each other
  3. About something other than a man.

And that’s it! For example, in a three-hour (e. g. 180 minutes long) film where two named and enslaved female characters discuss the quality of their chains in five seconds, then the film passes no matter how they are treated in the other 179 ½ minutes.

Furthermore, the conversation need not have any depth. This miniscule exchange would cause an entire film pass:

“Hi, Jarrah!”

“Hi, Shanna!”

Given how minimalistic and bare bones passing is (and the fact that the women in the film, etc. could have no power and be treated horribly), results can often surprise.

Because Fifty Shades of Grey passes (Anastasia Steele and her friend Kate talk about school). And Star Trek Beyond, with its five strong, self-determining female characters, does not (Uhura, Syl, Kalara, the Admiral, and Jaylah generally don’t spend any time together). Hence other tests seek to improve the results and make them more meaningful.

Two Different Tests

The Sexy Lamp Test

This test asks – could a woman be essentially replaced by an inanimate object without destroying the integrity of the film (or book, etc.)?

The Furiosa Test

And this test says your media (film, etc.) passes if it gets men’s rights advocates to boycott it.

More about Feminism in Trek and Media

One of the bigger issues arises because women are not necessarily seen as being competitive for lower-level roles. That is, nonspeaking or non-named roles. Because the arresting officer can be female. And so can the intake physician or the green grocer or the accountant in a film. Furthermore, when starlets get these kinds of opportunities, they can start building their careers. And those small roles make it possible for people to join SAG-AFTRA and, eventually, start competing for bigger and more substantial roles.

The discussion did not end there. Tune in for more!

How do you, as a fan, react to The Bechdel Test? Tell us in the comments, if you like. Or send us a note!

Thank you!

Thanks for listening! Our show would not be possible without the help, kindness, and generosity of some truly wonderful people. First of all, we would like to thank Busy Little Beaver Productions and more specifically the G & T Show for giving us this great opportunity. We would also like to thank our music providers, Cerys and Kailani of Invocation Array. Thank you, ladies!

So our biggest thanks go to sound engineer extraordinaire, Michael Medeiros, and his niece, Katie, our announcer girl. Yes, we have the only announcer who has to take a break and study fractions and the times tables.

Furthermore, we would also like to thank our families for instilling in us our curious and creative impulses, and for encouraging us in all we do.

Finally, thank you, our audience. Because you’re why we are here. We do this for you.

Our Next Show

Our next show will be recorded on Monday, November 21, 2016. And we don’t have a topic yet!

Show Note URLs

Finally, please check out these links to our origin stories and everything else we talked about!

What is the Bechdel Test?

Alison Bechdel probably had no idea how important her rule would become. We still talk about it, over thirty years after it was first articulated.

Busy Little Beaver Productions and The G & T Show

While you’re here, please check out our parent show and the links to our sister shows.

Invocation Array

Thank you SO much, Cerys and Kailani!

Mike & Announcer Girl Katie

And Mike is a published author, too! Please check out his work. It’s just wonderful.

Janet Gershen-Siegel

Jespah (Janet Gershen-Siegel) has been a fan of Star Trek since probably the first set of reruns of The Original Series. She has an eclectic background, including an undergraduate degree in Philosophy, a JD (she practiced insurance defense law for a few years in New York and is a lot happier since she retired from that in 1990), and a MS in Interactive Media, which is a real-live social media degree. Along the way, she has about a decade and a half of data analysis work under her belt and currently works as a blog coordinator for a high-end wedding blog and also as a blogger for hire (topics include diverse subjects like ad retargeting but also the nursing job market), and has a shingle out to work on social media presence, with a focus on independent authors as she is also a published science fiction author. Plus, she has been a community manager for a large Q & A website since 2002, which is before that existed as a job title. She was raised on Long Island so, when she is riled up, the accent gallops back out and she can sound like Fran Drescher with a law degree. She lives in Boston with her husband of over 20 years and more computers than they need. She can always be bribed with pie.

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