25 February 2018

Women on Stamps | Bechdel-Wallace Test

In 1986, the American cartoonist Alison Bechdel and Liz Wallace unwittingly invented the Bechdel-Wallace Test. It appeared first in the comic strip Dykes To Watch Out For., and now is used as an indicator for the active presence of women in films and other fiction, and to call attention to gender inequality in fiction.

It has three rules:
1. The movie has to have at least two women in it.
2. Who talk to each other.
3. About something besides a man.

It doesn't seem like such a hard test... but it is kind of shocking to realize how few movies can actually pass this test. 

Secrets & Lies is a 1996 British film that passes the Bechdel Test, with a ton of room to spare. The actresses that appeared on this stamp are Marianne Jean-Baptiste and Brenda Blethyn. The stamp was issued in 13 May 2014 and belongs to the series Great British Film Special Stamp (More information about the issue.)

I have received two more stamps, but I am afraid that the films depicted on them don't pass the Bechdel test:

For the new edition of Sunday Stamps-II A to Z, I have decided to show some of the stamps I have got on letters and postcards, related to one topic: women. This is the post for the letter B.


  1. That seems a good test to me! I never had heard from this test before but it is a good way to see if there's sufficient diversity (as we name it in Dutch).

    I don't watch much movies at the moment, but I happen to watch three tv series (two detectives: a British and a Swedish one, and a psychological one), and all have female main characters - who talk to other women as well, and almost never about men :-)

    And there is a tv serie based on a book by Agatha Christie, in which the main characters are a couple, of which the woman is so brave and clever. A delight to see, too.

    I am not sure if it is coincidental that I am watching these movies only, or that I unconsciously prefer movies who pass this test fully? :-)

    1. I also wonder your last question, because it happens the same with me, also regarding to books.

      Once one starts to apply the test, one gets scared about how few films (even series!) pass it!

  2. Love Mike Leigh (Secret and Lies director) he always has strong and interesting women in his films.

  3. Great test, and I loved Secrets and Lies.

  4. Secrets and Lies is one of my favourite films! (also a huge fan of Mike Leigh)

  5. A lot of fans of Secrets & Lies here, I see! :D

  6. I had never heard of this test. We don't watch so many films and I would never think of applying it. There are many other issues to which a test of this type could be applied.

    1. Since I knew about it, I use it a lot! :)


Thank you for coming. All your comments make me extremely happy.