Bechdel and Other Tests
November 14th, 2021
Written by Erin McCoy, Katie Creel, and Juliette Woodrow. Inspired by and data from “The Next Bechdel Test”
In this problem, we'll go over how list comprehensions can be used to solve hard problems in satisfyingly few lines of code.
Here is a problem you can start with. This should be solved with one line of code:
- Construct a list of all the numbers 1-1000 inclusive
- Construct a list of all multiples of 2 from 0 to 2000 inclusive
Now let's try out some more! Given a list of numbers lst, write one-line list comprehensions to do the following:
- Produce a list of the absolute difference between each of the numbers in lst and 10. Recall that the abs function returns the absolute value of a number.
- Produce a list of the absolute difference between the numbers in lst that are between 10 and 15 inclusive, and 10. Recall that the abs function returns the absolute value of a number. (We haven't covered using if in list comprehensions in class yet, so this is just a challenge if you want to look up how to do it.)
Now, suppose we have a list of pairs such as this one:
pairs = [('zzz', 3), ('bbb', 10), ('ccc', 4), ('aaa', 6)]
Write one-line list comprehensions to do the following:
- Produce a list of the second elements of each tuple in pairs.
- Produce a list of the first elements of each tuple in pairs, except that the first character of each of these elements is made uppercase. You can assume that each such element in the tuples has at least one character.
Short History of Bechdel Test
Named for Alison Bechdel, the Bechdel test seeks to analyze the representation of women in fictional media (books, movies, TV shows, etc.). To pass the Bechdel test, the piece of media must:
- Feature two women
- Who have a conversation
- This conversation is about something other than a man
As of 2021, 58% of movies pass the Bechdel Test, and this number has steadily increased over the past century.
The popularity of the Bechdel test has inspired others to create their own named tests measuring other inequities in media. Here are a few examples:
- A movie passes the Uphold Test if 50% of on set crew is female.
- A movie passes the Waithe Test if it features a Black woman in a position of power in a healthy relationship
- A movie passes the Villalobos test if the film has a Latina lead, and the lead or another Latina character is shown as professional or college educated, speaks in unaccented English, and is not sexualized
For more information about Bechdel and other tests, please take a look at “The Next Bechdel Test” article
In this section, you will use your nested data structure and graphics skills to build your very own data visualization application. You will analyze a dataset consisting of >50 movies and which tests the movie passes and which it fails. Your goal is to build a piece of software that helps you investigate representation and bias in movies.
Identifying issues of bias and representation in datasets is a natural extension of many of the interesting ethical topics that we have talked about in CS106A so far this quarter. As we've mentioned before, our hope is that by introducing these sorts of topics early in computer science education, we can help the next generation of software developers and computer science researchers—which could include you!—be more mindful of the potential social implications of their work and to use their powerful tools to help others.
The rest of this handout will be broken into several sections.
Definitions from FiveThirtyEight
- Two named female characters
- Said characters have at least one conversation that is not about a man
- There’s a female character who is a protagonist or antagonist with her own story
- The female lead has dimension and exists authentically with needs and desires that she pursues through dramatic action
- And the audience can empathize with or understand the female lead’s desires and actions
- A primary female character ends up dead
- A primary female character ends up pregnant
- Or a primary female character causes a plot problem for a male protagonist
- A movie passes with a score of five or higher:
- 2 points for a female writer or director
- 1 point for a female composer or director of photography
- 1 point for three female producers or three female department heads
- 1 point for a crew that’s 50 percent women
- 2 points if there’s a female protagonist who determines story outcomes
- 2 points if no female characters were victimized, stereotyped or sexualized
- And 1 point if a sex scene shows foreplay before consummation, or if the female characters initiate or reciprocate sexual advances
- A lead female character is introduced as one of three common stereotypes in her first scene: as sexualized; as hardened, expressionless or soulless; or as a matriarch (tired, older or overworked)
- But a failing movie can redeem itself and pass if the lead female character is later shown to be three or more of the following:
- Someone with a career where she is in a position of authority or power
- A mother
- Someone who’s reckless or makes bad decisions
- Someone who is sexual or chooses a sexual identity of her own
- Half of one-scene roles go to women
- And the first crowd scene features at least 50 percent women
- There’s a non-white, female-identifying person in the film
- Who speaks in five or more scenes
- And speaks English
- The film has a Latina lead
- And the lead or another Latina character is shown as professional or college educated, speaks in unaccented English, and is not sexualized
- There’s a Black woman in the work
- Who’s in a position of power
- And she’s in a healthy relationship
- The supporting cast is 50 percent women
- The on-set crew is 50 percent women
- Half of the department heads are women
- Half the members of each department are women
- And half the crew members are women
- Every department has two or more women