Flan and I recently watched a TED talk that actually made us think a lot more than we thought from the title. The talk was by Colin Stokes and titled ‘How Movies Teach Manhood’.
Colin mentions the Bechdel Test, a tool that rates movies on the following criteria:
How many of your favourite movies pass this? When I heard about the test, I realised I’d become so used to watching movies in which the main characters are either men or women discussing men. A lot of the time, you’ll find there will be a woman in a group of main characters, but only one – the token female. Alternatively, you’ll have a few women, but they’ll be either plotting to get men or complaining about them. The common roles of women seem to be mothers, wives, girlfriends or wannabe girlfriends. Meanwhile, the men are racing around in cars/helicopters/planes/trains/etc., hitting/shooting people and getting the girls in the end. Colin was worried about what these stereotypical roles were teaching his young children, and it definitely made me pause to think. Are girls learning to take charge of the situation, to be brave, to learn, to take care of others? Are boys learning to trust girls and let them lead as well?
Flan actually brought up the topic the next day after realising his daily work life doesn’t pass the Bechdel Test. Out of the seven people in his department at a technology company, none are female. In his physical office room (open-plan), there are sixteen people, and only one is female. Why is that? (I’ll leave that thought there so we can all have a think.)