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Really? Fifty Shades of Grey passes the world's test for 'feminist' films.

Could 50 Shades of Grey actually be the most feminist movie of 2015? Well, it passed the Bechdel test…

It’s been criticised for glamorising domestic violence and on the question of whether it promotes female empowerment, the audience is well and truly divided. But 50 Shades of Grey has actually passed a very simple feminist test that most major blockbusters fail to meet.

It’s called the Bechdel test and it’s used as a very simple way to gauge whether a film includes well rounded and complete female roles. The criteria is straightforward, the film should have (1) at least two women in it, (2) who talk to each other (3) about something besides a man.

Most films would surely meet that criteria, right? Wrong.

Read more: Genuine question: Should Fifty Shades of Grey be shown in schools?

You would be quite surprised to know just how many of your favourite movies do fail to adequately represent the complex and interesting lives of women. Out of over 5,500 movies logged, just over half pass the test.

More often than not, women are represented as one-dimensional characters who are relevant only to the plot when they’re connected to or speaking about a man. Or they’re not represented at all.

So how did 50 Shades manage to pass when it’s a story about a woman smitten with a man who wants to choke, beat and control her?

Read more: Being a female submissive in a BDSM relationship is an extreme form of feminism.

Well, the movie has around four female characters including the lead, Ana Steele – the woman who falls for Christian Grey. Ana manages to talk to her roommate, her mother and Christian’s mum about topics that don’t revolve around a man. These include conversations about Ana’s studies and, um, making sandwiches. Hmmmm.

By no means does the Bechdel test comprehensively look into whether a film is truly about female empowerment. After all, Gravity a film that follows a female astronaut with no love interest fighting to survive on her own in space, fails the test. Because she’s the only female character in the film.

Sandra Bullock Gravity
Sandra Bullock plays Dr. Ryan Stone in ‘Gravity’. Image via Getty.
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So yeah, it’s a flawed test. But that’s kind of the point.

What the Bechdel test highlights is the glaring systematic failure of Hollywood to portray the interesting and multi-dimensional lives of women.

A film like 50 Shades of Grey shouldn’t be considered a feminist film purely because it has at least two women who talk about something other than a man. We should be able to consider higher standards than that.

Ana Steele lusts after Christian Grey. Apparently her character passes the feminist test…

The issue surround the lack of female representation in Hollywood is an issue that led actress Reese Witherspoon to form a production company that purely commissions films with strong female leads. This was after she saw a group of very famous women fighting over a one-dimensional role. Her company, Pacific Standard, has since released Gone Girl and Wild both in 2014.

Both films have done exceptionally well at the box office, and it’s a reminder to the entertainment industry that they need to pick-up their game. Women have incredibly interesting stories to tell, and they don’t revolve around a lust for men.

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