Are you familiar with the Bechdel Test?
Developed by Alison Bechdel, it is a test of sexism in literature and film (or other cultural objects). The test is fairly simple;
- Does the work have at least two women in it,
- Do they talk to each other,
- about something besides a man.
It is surprising how many films fail the test and how many don’t meet it. Check out Bechdeltest.com for a list.
It also got me thinking. Can we apply the Bechdel Test to reality? Can we ask the same of our leaders, pastors, teachers, etc?
Does our theology pass the Bechdel Test? Does our faith? Do women share a place or represent a small minority? Do they have relationships with each other? Do they communicate on their own to each other? Do they reify the male dominance? Do they talk about other things that the men in their lives?
From what I know of Driscoll and others of his ilk, their churches and theology would struggle to pass the Bechdel Test. When women appear, it is at the side of a man, as his aid (supporting him). They often appear to provide a women’s voice to a man’s issue or subservient to a man. They often appear to discuss their place as sex objects, subservient, or subjected to men.
If any one would like to show me otherwise, i would love to see it. Mark often speaks to men and women, often talking to or about “the guys’ out there. But has a woman every spoken to women? Was their a majority (or would that represent the femininization of the church that Driscoll is so opposed to)? Do those women talk about about other things than being wives, sex objects, submissive?
Please show me if I am wrong.
I also just found the Finkbeiner Test (similar to the Bechdel but for journalism).
To pass the test, one must not mention…
- The fact that she’s a woman
- Her husband’s job
- Her child care arrangements
- How she nurtures her underlings
- How she was taken aback by the competitiveness in her field
- How she’s such a role model for other women
- How she’s the “first woman to…”
Lets see how Mars Hill does in relation to it’s First Lady, Grace Driscoll. Googling her name brings up a good amount of resources but gets us off to a bad start. The vast majority have her in relation to her husband, not on her own. On Mark’s webpage, the bio names Mark and Grace Driscoll together (their daughter gets her own section but not Grace) and the bio lists Grace twice (both times in a sentence starting with Mark : “He and his wife, Grace,” and “Pastor Mark and Grace.”). The pronoun she appears zero times, while he appears 99 times.
Lets look at the bio on Resurgence, a ministry website. Now her name appears 6 times on the page though only 2 in the bio (the others are in titles and links) , to his 9 (doing better). However the he/she ration is still slanted, 59 to 2. Her first reference is, “Grace Driscoll delights in being a stay at home mom and helping raise the Driscoll’s three sons and two daughters.” FAIL! It refermces her child care and nurturing. The second reference, “In 1996, at the age of twenty-five, Pastor Mark and his wife, Grace, started a small Bible study at their home in Seattle,” FAIL! References her husband’s job (and lists his age but not hers).
There is a page called Mars Hill’s First Member: Grace Driscoll. Its pretty rough. First, “After graduating from college (where God told Mark to marry me, preach the Bible, plant churches, and train men).” So when talking about college, we don’t learn about her education but about God telling her to marry a man and his calling from God. Not her calling, not her passions, not her goals but his. Ouch. Later, “I spent endless hours with young gals, working through life issues and doing all the church hospitality (refreshments, wedding showers, baby showers, dinners, etc.), all while pregnant and working full time.” Seems okay. She connects with other women but it seems to call attention to what women do (cooking, refreshments, and breeding). Read the whole thing. At least she gets to talk but often about her service to Mark. Seems to fail the Bechdel and the Finkbeiner.