Episode 4: Diversity – Sexism and Gender

Welcome to Episode 4 of Fandom Cracked!  In this episode, your hosts discuss how various fandoms fare with regards to sexism and representation of women.  Your hosts will use the Sexy Lamp Test, the Bechdel Test, and the Mako Mori Test to examine various female characters, and will explore the usefulness of these tests.  The concept of intersectionality will also be introduced; Future episodes will go deeper in exploring this theory and its significance in fandom.

Here’s the link to the wonderful Trekkie Feminist, who we mentioned in this episode for her amazing work on using the Bechdel Test for every single episode in Star Trek!

Podcast Notes:

  • Bechdel Test – A test used to gauge the level of active participation of the female presence in a work of fiction, primarily used in movies and television but can also be used for female characters in a wider range of media such as books and comics. To pass the Bechdel Test, the work must 1) have two (named) female characters that 2) have a conversation together, and 3) the conversation must be about something other than men.
  • Canon – Official. Happening within the official storyline given by the author, producers, or other official persons that produce material of a fandom. Often used in fanfiction to differentiate between actual storyline versus created by fans. “It was never stated in canon that they love each other, but did you see the way the looked at each other in episode 5 of season 6? They’re totally in love!”
  • Cis/Cisgender – A person that identifies with the gender that they were assigned at birth.
  • Dash (Tumblr) – The home page of the social media website Tumblr where blog posts that a user has followed appear and can be scrolled through.
  • Fangasm – An overwhelming feeling(s) of joy and happiness in relation to a work within a particular fandom. “I saw the back of Jennifer Lawerence’s head at the convention and I could hardly contain my fangasms.”
  • Fangirling – The act of becoming extremely excited in regards to an object or product related to a particular fandom. Often involves shaking, making high pitched noises, or hyperventilating. “She got so excited at seeing Benedict Cumberbatch on TV that she started fangirling.”
  • Intersectionality – The exploration of how different systems of oppression or discrimination are connected.  According to this theory, one cannot faithfully examine oppression by separating one form of oppression from another (e.g., talking only about gender discrimination without taking into context how racial discrimination and discrimination against sexual orientation can impact it).
  • Mako Mori Test – A test used to gauge the level of active participation of a female character in a work of fiction, primarily used in movies and television but can also be used for female characters in a wider range of media such as books and comics. To pass the Mako Mori, there must be 1) at least one female character that 2) has their own storyline, and 3) that story line does not revolve around the main male character.
  • Sexism – A prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women.
  • Sexy Lamp Test – A test used to gauge the level of active participation of the female character in a work of fiction, primarily in movies and television but can also be used for a female character in books or comics. The test states that if the female character can be replaced with a sexy lamp and the plot remain virtually unchanged, the story does not pass the test.
  • Ship/Shipping – From the term “relationship,” it consists of putting two or more characters in a relationship. The “ship” does not have to be canon, occur within the show, or even within the same fan universe (ex. Shipping a character from Supernatural with a character from Doctor Who). “I know that Toph and Sokka aren’t canon, but I totally ship it!”

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