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Through Her Eyes: Some Thoughts on Men Writing Women

Julian Barnes once called writing across gender the “one basic test of competence.” This clearly isn’t basic: look how often movies, Hollywood and art-house alike, consistently fail the Barnes (not to mention the Bechdel) test. Whenever another disappointing, one-dimensional female character waltzes onscreen (from Grace Kelly in Rear Window to Carey Mulligan in Inside Llewyn Davis), I know the first thing my partner will say afterward: well, that was obviously made by a man. Which is to say: what we just saw wasn’t an authentic person, let alone woman.

What Test? With Thanks to Alison Bechdel

* Eric McDowell *

To pass the Bechdel Test, a film must satisfy a very simple set of criteria: (1) it must have at least two female characters, preferably named, who (2) talk to each other about (3) something other than a man.