Tag Archives: Bechdel Test

The Smurfette Principle

Defined as having one token female accessory.  Can you think of any?  Inception, Seinfeld, Tool Time, Star Trek…

Here are some interesting comments included on Sociological Images’s reposting of this Feminist Frequency video:

jfruh 10:44 am on May 3, 2011 | # | Reply

The logic behind the Smurfette principle is about how in our culture being male is the “default” gender and being female is “marked.” (This is true even though there are slightly more women then, because of institutionalized sexism, etc.) Women are defined by their gender, but men aren’t. So, with the male smurfs, just the fact that they’re male isn’t enough to define them; they need some other characteristic (they’re smart, they’re vain, they’re good with their hands, etc.). But Smurfette is defined by her femaleness; there’s no need to give her further identity.

Or, to put it another way, “Men are people; women are women.”

(Please note that I’m not endorsing all of this or saying it’s immutable, I’m just talking about how the cultural logic works.)

One cartoon of a similar vintage that does a good job of avoiding this, interestingly enough, is Scooby Doo. The main characters feature two men and two women, all with pretty different characteristics. So it’s not has if there are no other options open to the writers and cartoonists, even for cheesy kids fare.

M 5:14 pm on May 3, 2011 | # | Reply

I also find it faschinating that our perception of gender is so skewed that this actually works – throw in one or two women with a group of guys, and we think it’s balanced. But approach 50/50 or more for the ladies, and all of a Sudden we feel like they are taking over.

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The Bechdel Test – A Female Presence in Film

I imagine a corresponding test to determine intelligent male presence would have to be:

1) Have two or more men with names

2) Have these guys not sexually objectify or harass any women

Good luck.

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