In Alison Bechdel’s 1985 comic Dykes to Watch Out For, one of the characters featured in the strip describes a rule they have about watching movies: the film must have two women who talk to each other about something besides a man. This rule, now called the Bechdel Test, has gone on to revolutionize the way we look at how women are represented within mainstream media.
But while the Bechdel test has proven to be a great tool for gauging how well white women are being portrayed on screen, the test often doesn’t take into account how women and femmes of color tend to be misrepresented.
Fortunately, there’s a new test in town: the Kent Test.
Created by culture writer Clarkisha Kent, the Kent test is a detailed point system meant to “determine whether a film or any other piece of media has provided the audience with adequate representation of femmes of color.”
You remember some time ago where I mentioned that I was working on something I'd hope would be a nice alternative to the Bechdel test?
Well, here it is. The Kent Test. A test that specifically gauges whether WOC representation in a piece of media is pathetic or strong. https://t.co/Hg6rHl3YBY
— Clarkisha Kent: Slayer of Colonizers (@IWriteAllDay_) March 8, 2018
Like the Bechdel Test, the Kent Test comes with a list of requirements that a piece of media must follow in order for its representation to be considered strong:
1. Must not solely be a walking stereotype/trope.
2. Must have their own plot / narrative arc.
3. Must not be solely included in the narrative just for purpose of “holding down” some male character and his story.
4. Must not solely be included in the narrative to prop up a White female character.
5. Must not solely exist in the film/piece of media for the purpose of fetishization.
6. Must have at least one interaction with another woman/femme of color (bonus if the second women of color is not related to the first woman of color in any way, shape, or form).
7. Must not be the go-to character “sacrifice” in a film/piece of media.
Unlike the Bechdel test, the Kent Test works as a rubric. Each requirement gets a point which then gets added up and graded on a scale from “abysmal” to “strong.”
With the way the internet and social media have made it easier for discussions on diversity in mainstream media to take place, it’s important that they come from an intersectional stand point.
Cover Image Courtesy of Equality for Her and Clarkisha Kent