Does Your Tradition Pass the Bechdel Test?

This was a question that popped up on one of the Facebook groups I’m a part of, and we could only find a single line in the entire corpus of Norse mythology that passed the Bechdel Test.

So, out of curiosity, I’m wondering how other religions stack up. For those who aren’t familiar with the test, here are the criteria:

  1. The work must have at least two named female characters (as in, with actual names, not just “so-and-so’s wife”)
  2. Who talk to each other
  3. About something other than a man or men

Sounds easy enough, right? Actually, you would be surprised how many works fail this test.

The book of Ruth.

Coincidentally it also refers to a man as “Naomi’s husband”. :slight_smile:

That was the first that came to mind. I’m sure Judges contains something along those lines. No other books strike me as being likely to contain something like that.

The Gospel According to St Luke.

Elizabeth and Mary, both pregnant, are discussing the babies that each of them are carrying. Granted, the babies are male, but I think the Bechdel Test refers to discussions of romance, i.e. do the women have full personalities or are they simply the love interest of the men in the story?

It depends on the version of the test. I’m following the example from the TV Tropes Wiki, which states:

The requirements are just what they say they are — it doesn’t make any difference if, for instance, the male characters the women talk about are their fathers, sons, brothers, platonic friends or mortal enemies rather than romantic partners. Conversely, if a work seems to pass, it doesn’t matter if male characters are present when the female characters talk, nor does it matter if the women only talk about stereotypically girly topics like shoe shopping — or even relationships, as long as it’s not relationships with men.

Found here:

So, if we’re limiting the discussion to male romantic partners, then they pass, if not, I’d still count that as a failure, because they’re still conversing about male babies (even though they aren’t technically ‘men’ yet).

The requirement for the women to be named actually isn’t part of the original Bechdel’s Law. That was from a later variant, known as the Mo Movie Measure.

Spot on.

Ruth 1:14-18

14 Again they sobbed aloud and wept; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-bye, but Ruth stayed with her.
15 “See now!” she said, “your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her god. Go back after your sister-in-law!”
16 But Ruth said, “Do not ask me to abandon or forsake you! for wherever you go I will go, wherever you lodge I will lodge, your people shall be my people, and your God my God.
17 Wherever you die I will die, and there be buried. May the LORD do so and so to me, and more besides, if aught but death separates me from you!”
18 Naomi then ceased to urge her, for she saw she was determined to go with her.

Also, anyone who thinks gender bias exists in the Bible has never read the Book of Judith…she saves Israel by getting an Assyrian general drunk and cutting off his head.

Judith 13:1-8

1 When it grew late, his servants quickly withdrew. Bagoas closed the tent from the outside and excluded the attendants from their master’s presence. They went off to their beds, for they were all tired from the prolonged banquet.
2 Judith was left alone in the tent with Holofernes, who lay prostrate on his bed, for he was sodden with wine.
3 She had ordered her maid to stand outside the bedroom and wait, as on the other days, for her to come out; she said she would be going out for her prayer. To Bagoas she had said this also.
4 When all had departed, and no one, small or great, was left in the bedroom, Judith stood by Holofernes’ bed and said within herself: “O Lord, God of all might, in this hour look graciously on my undertaking for the exaltation of Jerusalem;
5 now is the time for aiding your heritage and for carrying out my design to shatter the enemies who have risen against us.”
6 She went to the bedpost near the head of Holofernes, and taking his sword from it,
7 drew close to the bed, grasped the hair of his head, and said, “Strengthen me this day, O God of Israel!”
8 Then with all her might she struck him twice in the neck and cut off his head.

Esther also saved the Israelites from annihilation by convincing the king to reverse a decree ordering the slaughter of the Jews and to issue one demanding the death of their enemies instead.

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