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This is Not the Test You're Looking for

The Bechdel Test has been discussed briefly on our show and I’ve heard it mentioned in almost every panel I’ve participated in or attended over the past year. Before utopYA in June I did more research about the test to understand it better. In conclusion, I still believe this test accomplishes nothing.


The test was popularized by Alison Bechdel's comic Dykes to Watch Out For, in a 1985 strip called "The Rule." (The current strip archive only goes back to 1987.) She credits a friend, Liz Wallace, with “The Rule.” 

The rule has been gaining traction since it was brought back to the surface in the August 2005 post The Bechdel Test, AKA, The Mo Movie Measure, on Alas! a blog. The test has three rules:

  1. There are at least two named* female characters, who
  2. talk to each other 
  3. about something other than a man.

*The female characters having names is not part of the original strip but something Alas! points out they added by mistake.


I assume the character in the strip explaining "The Rule" is gay. The point she seems to be making is she prefers movies with a female-to-female relationship, romantic or otherwise  a perfectly reasonable expectation for the character in the strip.

"Behind the Candelabra"

When you have a movie like “Behind the Candelabra” (or “Brokeback Mountain”) that tells the story of two gay men, what can you infer about the film because it fails The Bechdel test (the women do not talk to each other)? Can you say it fails as a film because women are underrepresented or, as a story, because the women in the film are not complex and interesting? Is this a sexist film? Are the writers and filmmakers sexist? The test really doesn’t conclude anything about “Behind the Candelabra” and the failure shows how limiting this so called test is.

Look at the film “Gravity.” It fails all the rules. But Sandra Bullock's character Ryan Stone is not just complex and interesting — she’s strong, human, and very real. There’s no romance between the male and female character; we don’t even know Ryan’s sexual orientation.

Dr. Ryan Stone played by Sandra Bullock


The character in Bechdel’s strip would not watch "Gravity." That’s fine because I think the rule means something different to her and that’s why, taking it out of the context of the strip, it's an oversimplification of the conversation about representation.

Without knowing what the goal for the character in “The Rule” is, how do you know if her goal matches yours? To me, feminism means that the sexes are equally represented so this rule is useless to me because I think "Gravity" is a brilliantly sex balanced film.  

The complete cast of “Gravity” contains seven people  five men and two women. Only one man and one woman appear on screen; the rest of the cast are voices. You could argue that some of the male voices could have been female, but the power of the Ryan Stone character required the contrast to emphasize her even further. It’s like putting one, five gram gold piece on one side of the scale and five, one gram gold pieces on the other.



Depending on the feminist view you take, the Bechdel test may work for you. My complaint is it’s broadly used to measure equality of the sexes in story and it does not do that. At best, it measures female-to-female relationship representations. That’s it.

Story telling is so complex and multifaceted. Not only do I believe a test cannot be created to determine sex equality in films, I think any list you create would be prejudiced.


episode 124 - James from Cloud Cap Games

This week we have a great interview with James Brady from Cloud Cap Games in Portland, OR. Cloud Cap is Regina's favorite LGS (Local Game Store) and a great community based small business. Listen to hear us discuss setting the tone for the store, getting started running a small business, and, of course, some of our favorite board games. We wrap up the show with some summer game recommendations. 


Cloud Cap Games
Blue Highway Games

Games Mentioned

The Resistance
Ticket to Ride
Mage Knight
7 Wonders



Playing Cards
Love Letter


Betrayal at House on the Hill


King of Tokyo

Until next time, game on! 
Regina & Rhonda

Episode 124


Gaming Terminology Primer: Introduction

So, recently my mother started checking out Game on Girl. She's been gaming on PC since the good old days of Doom and Hexen. She still plays Diablo 2 from time to time, as well as various games on other platforms. She told me that she really liked my articles (thanks, Mom!), but that she didn't always understand the jargon. So I thought it might be good to write a series of articles on gaming terminology, both for my mother (hi, Mom!) and anyone else who might be thrown off a bit by our use of jargon around here.

I'm primarily going to stick to PC gaming and what I consider to be the three most common genres in PC gaming because, well, that's what I play. (By the way, PC stands for Personal Computer.) I'm going to do my best to hit the terms I consider to be important and basic, but if I miss something you were curious about, I'm certainly happy to take questions along the way. You can do that either by posting in the comments below, emailing me at, or via twitter @MarsUller.

Wherever possible I'm going to cross reference other articles and podcasts on Game on Girl that are related to what I am covering. Regina and Rhonda have several podcasts on this subject and it would be a shame not to utilize them.

So let's get an early start, shall we? Here are the three most basic PC game genres, in my opinion, to start with. They have a lot more to them, but I'll be covering them in more depth in the coming weeks.


Stands for Role Playing Game. This is a game type that is basically a pen and paper role playing game shipped off to your computer. Think Dungeons and Dragons and you've got the right idea, only your game master is a heartless bastard because it's a machine.


At its most basic, a shooter is a game where you spend most of your time solving most of your problems with the available weaponry in whatever setting you happen to be in. While this might seem like that's all there is to shooters, I will show you there's more.


Because Risk just wasn't enough. Yup, that's right. Generally, a genre of pushing your little dudes around the map so you can become the overlord of wherever it is they are running around.

I know these definitions are a little vague, but I promise we'll go a whole lot deeper. Next time, for instance, we are going to delve deeper into the depths of RPGs and I'll teach you how to talk like a professional elf.


"Remember the Athenians."


Continue?: Bullies, Video Games and the Concept of an Extra Life (Part III)

Author's Note - This series of essays discusses the tribulations I faced as a child and teenager in very explicit detail, and is extremely personal. However, it was very therapeutic to write, and while there are some embarrassing revelations about my youth in the piece, I feel that it is still worth sharing. Also keep in mind that I am not censoring anything that happened to me, so there are very harsh words in this text. For that reason, I will place the rest of this piece behind a jump. I have added images, including some original art I made in Photoshop in high school that, in retrospect, suggests the duality of lives I discuss in the essay, which was a prevalent thought even back then.

I recommend you read the first and second parts of this essay before finishing up this series!

Click to read more ...


episode 123 - Fangirl Tricia Barr

Have we got a great show for you this week! Tricia Barr from FANgirl Blog joins us. We discuss Star Wars fandom, strong female characters, and writing. Check out the episode and let us know what you think in the comments.


Tricia Barr is FanGirl
"What is Strong?"
"Agent of My Own Destiny: A Discussion of Character Agency"


We didn't do book recommendations on the show because we were having such a great conversation with Tricia, but here is what we would have said:


The Guild - The Offical Companion (because fandom belongs at the beach - Regina) 
The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury (because, you know, sand - Rhonda)


Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier  (because it's about a mountain, duh. :) - Regina) 
Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (because the mountains are thought provoking - Rhonda)


A Light in August by William Faulkner (because reading awesome american novels internationally is just awesome - Regina) 
Never Coming Back by Tim Weaver (international murder/thriller - Rhonda)

Until next time, game on! 
Regina & Rhonda

Episode 123

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