My younger sister is in college, and so she frequently comes home with interesting tidbits of knowledge. Recently, she told me about the Bechdel Test – something I’d heard mentioned before, but never really looked into. Essentially, the Bechdel Test is used to determine the importance of women in a film. Here are the rules
1. It has to have at least two (named) women in it
2. who talk to each other
3. about something besides a man
You’d think that it would be easy to pass this test, but some of the greatest movies of our time fail, either because there is only one female character (no matter how important) or because the female characters don’t interact with each other. A majority of chick flicks (films filled with women and made specifically for women) fail because the girls never get around to talking about anything other than boys.
I took a look at my own stories, and the only ones that pass the Bechdel Test are my lesbian romances. My gay romances are so short that they rarely feature secondary characters of any importance, much less meeting these three criteria. In my work in progress, a collection of novellas almost like a season of television, I’ve noticed improvement. While they’re still short so each story doesn’t have more than two or three secondary characters involved with my main characters, there are quite a few female characters that work with my heroine – and do things other than discuss boys (though there is plenty of that, since it’s a romance after all).
Don’t get me wrong. I’m perfectly content to watch an all male cast battle to save the Earth, and I have no problem with there only being one female lead character in a world of men. But I do want to make sure that there is a little diversity in my writing to spice things up. What do they say? “Variety is the spice of life.” We have to get out of our ruts every once in a while and try the unexpected. (Shameless plug to my slogan right there).