“Dykes to Watch Out For” by Alison Bechdel

Appreciators of modern culture seem to be rather keen on revealing of the negative stereotypes in the works of art. The findings of the gender, racial, or feminist issues in books, films, or paintings are becoming more and more popular. Such a tendency can be understood as the awakening and development of self-awareness of many people.

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The concept of the single story is topical in a modern-day America. The danger of single story lies in the fact that the modern culture still is full of hidden prejudices that should be fought to assure it is free of any bias and undesirable meanings.

The notion of single story deals with the stereotypical description of a particular phenomenon. In 1985, Alison Bechdel released her comic strip “Dykes to Watch Out For”. In one part of the strip, known as “The Rule”, the author introduced an interesting idea for checking the gender inequalities and sexism issues in the works of art. Bechdel described two women who were going to watch a movie that would meet three requirements. First, two women at least should be present there. Second, women should discuss something.

Third, the object of their discourse can be anything but not men (Bechdel “The Rule”). These simple rules became a test for checking whether the film is biased in regards to women. It turned out that most Hollywood films did not meet these requirements. When the test became popular and actively discussed, the new ones appeared.

One of them is the racial Bechdel test. This test challenges the depiction of people of colour in works of art. According to it, there should be at least two people of colour, who discuss something other than a white man (“The Racial Bechdel Test” par. 4).

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie presented one of the most influential speeches concerning the danger of the single story. According to her words, people themselves invent a lot of stereotypes that have adverse outcomes. She provides an example of referring to Africa as the poorest “country” in the world where all people suffer from hunger and die from AIDS or in wars. Such stereotypes should be erased from society as far they contaminate the common sense of the whole world (Adichie “The Danger of a Single Story”).

I think that Adichie applies to pressing problems of the modern societies. It is hard to challenge her arguments. The situation is rather different with Bechdel test. The Mako Mori test changed the concept of the presence of at least two independent and strong women in the film.

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The film “Pacific Rif” should be regarded as biased according to Bechdel’s idea. However, its main character — Mako Mori, is a strong woman who experiences her personal storyline that is not connected with men. This film refutes Bechdel test and gives rise to the Mako Mori test (Romano par. 17).

In my opinion, it is relevant to avoid the danger of the single story in a modern-day America. Nevertheless, the attempts to do so should be well-grounded. There is no need to check every existing film for the presence of prejudices. It is much more important to get rid of stereotypes that influence the whole world. Such a change starts with the proper upbringing and improvement of the positive and unprejudiced thinking. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s speech should be regarded as a starting point for self-development.

Works Cited

Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi. “The Danger of a Single Story.” Video. Ted.com. TED, July, 2009.

Bechdel, Alison. “The Rule” n.d. JPEG file

Romano, Aja. “The Mako Mori Test: ‘Pacific Rim’ inspires a Bechdel Test alternative.” 2013.

The Racial Bechdel Test. n.d.

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