Media Tests and “The Crystal Gems” Test

This was originally Posted in My Tumblr account in August 26 of 2015

As the discussion of the portrayal has grown, a number of Tests have been becoming more mainstream. The objective of this tests is to judge if the women in a story are portrayed well or if they are thrown aside for the sake of the male characters.

If you are into this discussions, you may have heard of at least one of the following tests:

Bechdel Test: Also called the Bechdel-Wallace Test. it was created by Liz Wallace and made widely known after Alison Bechdel featured it in her comic Dykes to Watch Out For.

The rules are as follow:

  1. The movie [media] has at least two women characters;
  2. Who talk to each other;
  3. About something other than a man.

The “Anita Corollary” (created by Anita Sarkeesian from Feminist Frequency) also adds: The conversation should go for at least one full minute to count.

Mako Mori Test: First proposed in 2013 by Chaila on Tumblr as a response to what, she felt, was a lack of recognizion to the character of Mako Mori in Pacific Rim because the movie did not pass the previously mentioned Bechdel test.

The test goes as follow:

  1. At least one female character;
  2. Who gets her own arc;
  3. That is not aobut supporting a man’s story

Sexy Lamp Test: This one was coined by Comicbook writer Kelly Sue Deconnick. and is meant to indicate if a Woman is in the story as an object or an actual character.

This one is quite simple:

  1. If you can replace a female character with a lamp and the story remains unchanged. the story fails.

There are other two tests worth mentioning, the Elen WIllis Test (flip the position of two related characters and see if the depiction of them holds up) and the Tauriel Test (have a woman do a job and be GOOD at her job), however i want to focus on these three specific tests because i feel they cover the basic ground of what a female character should be depicted as.

Since these tests are used to point out the bare-minnimum a movie should aim for in it’s depiction of women, it is often criticized because it still doesn’t prevent the work from being sexist.

For example, a movie can perfectly pass the Bechdel test and still be sexist or have said conversation have no bearing in the rest of the movie. This is a problem because, while the tests themselves do not exist as a quality mark but, once again, the bare-minnimum a movie should aim for (and with the intention of aiming higher than that) it IS often used as a way for people to defend a work that is still problematic.

Because of that, i have decided to combine the three tests into a single one.

I tought of calling it the “Tri-Test” because of the combination of three different tests. but it’s kind of boring. I also considered calling it the “Furiosa-Test” but, sadly, i haven’t seen mad Max: Fury Road yet so… i’ll call it the “Crystal Gems Test” for now.

Crystal Gems Test

The Test is as follows:

  1. A work has to Have at least four [Major Female Character];
  2. It must pass the Bechdel Test (Two of them have to talk with each other about something other than a man)
  3. It must pass the Mako Mori Test (One of them must have an arc that is independent of a man)
  4. It must pass the Sexy Lamp Test (one of them has to have a noticeable impact in the story)
  5. At least four Women must pass at least one of these tests and be able to indicate who passes which. No Test can repeat itself with the exception of The Bechdel Test, since it needs two characters to pass it.
  6. The more times you can repeat the previous step, the better

In other words, this is what the bare-minnimum should look like

image

However, the beauty of this test is that, unlike it’s individual parts, you can actually Rank the work based on how well it does in the tests.

So, if the above image is the minnimum score needed to “Approve”. a decent score would be closer to this:

image

And an outstanding result would be this:

image

This, I call the “Furiosa Medal of Badassery”

This different results allows to better analyze how well female characters are treated or in which ways the work fails and how it can improve. For example:
image

In this case, the hypothetical work has an excellent result in the Sexy Lamp Test but still fails because It does not accomplish the Mako Mori part of the test. which means the work has Four [Major Female Characters] who are important to the plot and two who speak to each other, but none of them has an arc independent of a man’s story, thus it fails the test.

One exception to the rule is for works where characters are limited because of the needs of the story, so it is not possible to have the four female characters the test asks for.

In this case, the test will be:

  1. Have at least the same male-to-female ratio
  2. Have two characters pass the Bechdel-Wallace Test*
  3. Have at least one character pass the Mako Mori Test
  4. Have at least one character pass the Sexy Lamp Test
  5. Each female character has to pass at least two of this tests

*In case the story only has one [Major Female Character], the Bechdel Test may be skipped. but she MUST pass the other two.

i shall clarify that this is not intended as a way of judging the quality of a given work, but, like the rest, as a way to see if the depiction of women in the work is acceptable.

It is also important to note that this Test is also not an effective way to measure diversity in a work. it can easily have a perfect score and still be white as bread and straight as a ruler.

The reason why other tests have not been included is that with each Test included, the minnimum number of female character increases. And while i do not believe having more women is a problem, the idea is to set a minnimum acceptable of [Major Female Character] and i consider having four women a reasonable amount to have, but the test doesn’t see that as a maximum number, just the minimum the work should have.

Credit to the people responsible for creating the different tests mentioned here.

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