Month: September 2014

The Bechdel Test

When Brad Pitt’s wife in World War Z called him at the most inopportune moment possible, alerting the whole zombie world to Brad’s presence – even I, miss self-proclaimed feminist since primary school – found myself frustrated with this WOMAN for not being able to leave her man alone for like, 2 seconds, so he could save the world. Clingy much?!

This is why the Bechdel test is so important. The Bechdel test is a simple check to evaluate the representation of women in film. The Bechdel test sets the bar really low, and even then a large portion of films fail it.

For a film, book or the like to pass the Bechdel test, the following requirements must be met:
1. It features at least 2 women who have names
2. These women talk to each other
3. They talk to each other about something other than men

There are a few caveats to this, such as when the setting of the film doesn’t allow for the presence of strong female characters (Dead Poet’s Society) or when the strong female character is the only character (Gravity).

Think about whether or not some of your favourite movies pass the Bechdel test. I think you will find that a good portion of them don’t.

Why does the Bechdel test matter?

This simple, if not limited test highlights an important issue – the underrepresention of half the world’s population in media. The media is incredibly powerful in shaping our worlds. When we watch movies and read books which portray women solely in relation to men or as objects to be sexualised or saved, we rob women and men of the opportunity to see a female as a human being first. One that is able to speak about abstract ideas, feelings and heck – maybe even move the plot forward and save the day.

I often wonder about what message we are sending to little boys and girls when the dominant narrative is that boys are heroes that must be aggressive and do it on their own, and girls are objects to be sexualised or protected from the world. What message does it send to both genders when women in film are consistently side-lined and men are the aggressors or saviours?

In Britain, the leading cause of death in men under the age of 35 is suicide. In South Africa, violence against women and girls remain endemic. In the United States of America, every single mass shooting except for one has been committed by a man. The representation of women in film is not just a “woman’s issue” – its humanity’s issue, period.

The Bechdel test merely asks that 2 women who have names talk to each other about something other than men. That is something that happens every day. Men can be sensitive and nurturing, women can be leaders who are strong and athletic– and it’s about time we start expecting this from film and media.

A Love Poem to No-One in Particular

A poem by Mark O’Brien, as seen in the motion picture The Surrogate

Let me touch you with my words
For my hands lie limp as empty

Let my words stroke your hair
Slide down your back
And tickle your belly
For my hands, light and free flying
As bricks
Ignore my wishes stubbornly
Refuse to carry out my quietist

Let my words enter your mind
Bearing torches
Admit them willingly into your being
So they may caress you gently

A trip down Morrison Street

Lauren Veckranges, Morrison Street, Durban, James Hu
Image courtesy of James Hu

Last weekend, I took a rather spontaneous trip to Durban and was pleasantly surprised when I stumbled upon the hidden gem that is 8 Morrison Street.

By its own account, The Morning Trade Market (there is a sign but no one calls it that) is inspired by Jozi’s own Arts on Main situated in the thriving Maboneng district. From the artisan coffee to the rustic warehouse feel, one can’t help but be reminded of the Johannesburg hotspot. The proud Jo’burg girl in me says anything that Jo’burg does no one can do better. But I am here to betray my people and tell you it’s much, MUCH better.

For one, it’s not crowded. You can walk from stall to stall without fear of being run over by a craft beer drinking youth, fighting the scourge of middle-class oppression.

Morrison Street, Durban, Market, Arts on Main, Neighbourgoods, Lauren Veckrangse
Ample space for cart wheeling and other Sunday morning activities

As a bonus, the market offers a wide variety of delicious food and fresh produce. The most exciting product on offer was undoubtedly the kale chips. You know who eats kale chips? Kourtney Kardashian, that’s who. Apparently the authentic food on offer including falafels, polish sausage and koeksisters are also pretty good – no word if this is supported by a Kardashian yet.

Frankie's ginger beer, 8 Morrison Street, market, beveragekale chips


And then there is the selection of sweet temptations. I have nothing to say here but: macaroons, ice cream, cupcakes, homemade marshmallows, toffee apples, diabetes.

macaroons, market, 8 morrison streettoffee apples, 8 Morrison Street


Head down to (you guessed it) 8 Morrison Street every Sunday between 8 – 2 to stuff your face and mess around in the photo booth.

Lauren Veckranges, photobooth, 8 Morrison Street#Durbanism, 8 Morrison Street, photobooth, Durban#Durbanism, 8 Morrison Street, photobooth, Durban#Durbanism, 8 Morrison Street, photobooth, Durban, James Hu, Lauren Veckranges