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BadRep Reference Post: The Frank Miller Test

2005 October 17

This is a backdated post for our writers to refer to.

Created in the same spirit as the Bechdel Test, the somewhat tongue-in-cheek Frank Miller Test goes to show how much some writers (coughFrankMillercough) are obsessed with writing about sex workers. Like the Bechdel Test, this is not the final word on whether or not a work is feminist, it is merely useful shorthand for a very common trope.

If the proportion of female sex workers to neutrally presented women is above 1:1, the author fails the test.

While sex workers have stories that we want to hear about, it is all too common for writers to create works where the only roles for women are in the sex industry – where the sex industry is the only place that women can be successful. While this could be interpreted as political comment, it all too often seems merely an excuse, especially in visual mediums such as films and comics, to portray lots of scantily-clad young women and pander to the male gaze.

Genres such as historical fiction, noir, crime and detective stories are where this trope is most often found.

The Shortpacked webcomic’s take on Frank Miller. Miller is the creator of Sin City.

The test was first proposed by ‘thene’, blogger at Aaru Tuesday here.

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