The Magowan Test for bias against girls in kids’ movies

Have you heard of the Bechdel Test created by Alison Bechdel in 1985 to check for sexism in movies? The Bechdel Test names the following three criteria for a movie: (1) it has to have at least two women in it, who (2) who talk to each other, about (3) something besides a man.

So here’s my version for kids’ movies: The criteria is it has to have (1) at least two females who are friends (2) who go on an adventure (3) and don’t wear revealing clothing

What do you think?

To clarify given your comments: Kiki and the mom figure are friends, Ponyo and the mom figure are friends as well.

Before you worry over the films with token “feisty” female characters that won’t make the cut, think about how easy it is for so many movies starring males to sail through this challenging criteria.

10 thoughts on “The Magowan Test for bias against girls in kids’ movies

  1. It’s pretty good, but I’d be happy with just 1 female character who is the central protagonist without being accorded the “girlfriend” role. _Spy Kids_ and _Kiki’s Delivery Service_ both make my cut, even though neither has a 2nd girl. Both have strong mother figures though, and they certainly go on adventures without wearing revealing clothes!

    • Lesley,

      I was considering writing: a female who is front and center. I opted for the friends because ideally, the test should survive movies where males have key roles as well. Kiki’s Delivery Service should fit, but her cat isn’t male, her friend isn’t male. Maybe I should write friend or mentor who is female.


        • But Kiki’s mother doesn’t go on the ‘adventure’. In a lot of female-centric movies only the main character goes on the adventure. The Worst Witch doesn’t pass despite being about a group of girls who are friends, because only one of them has an adventure. Heck, Annie only passes because there is more than one adventure – Annie goes on one or two by herself (approximately) and her friends go on a completely separate one!

          Maybe a female front-and-center, who goes on an adventure, and has at least one female friend or mentor? That would allow for movies where the main character goes on the adventure by herself.

          • Hi Lenti,

            Kiki’s adventure starst when she leaves home and there is a woman involved…the woman who gets Annie from the orphanage is in the adventure…so often, females in movies don’t interact at all or are enemies. That is what this test for.


    • Spirited Away, Mary Poppins and Annie I think barely make the cut. Anne of Green Gables is a good one. Finding Nemo and The Wizard of Oz are two movies that come so close but don’t really have a second female.

      • Hi Torey,

        Spirited Away, Mary Poppins, and Annie all make it. Barely is OK. I haven’t seen Anne of Green Gables but I’m guessing it would? The Wizard of Oz makes it with Glinda. Finding Nemo doesn’t and shouldn’t.


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