“Bechdel-sploitation” Explains the Library of Erotic Films That Surprisingly Pass the Test (NSFW)

Every feminist or movie lover is familiar with the Bechdel test, a criteria that tasks fiction to include female characters who a) talk to each other, and b) talk to each other about something other than men. It sounds simple enough, but a surprising amount of seemingly feminist films fail the Bechdel test. Even more baffling? The high amount of erotic films that do pass the test.

In this video essay by Fandor, they take a scholarly look at the library of questionable films that pass the Bechdel test, from Nudes of the World to Satan’s Cheerleaders. Their analysis reveals the surprisingly positive message of early erotic films while also pointing out the imperfections of the Bechdel test and how the test is not an automatic detector of feminist-friendly films (for example, Satan’s Cheerleaders, which passes the Bechdel test, is an entire film about how feminism is comparable to Satanism). In the end, the video raises more questions than answers, but it reveals how the line between feminism and exploitation is less defined than you might think.

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