I recently watched a super hero series, where the cast had a large percentage of women. But something felt unsatisfying. When two of the women chatted about the main character I realized, that this series would not pass the Bechdel test. What a shame.
Please check out the wikipedia article. The Bechdel test is meant for movies, but I see no reason to not apply it to books. This test rates the representation of female characters in a movie, using three simple rules:
- There have to be at least two women.
- They must talk to each other,
- About something other than a men.
- (later addition: they both have to be named characters)
It’s surprising and somewhat disturbing, how many popular movies do not pass this test.
Why is it important?
There is a tendency to cast characters as white males. And there is a need for diversity and equality in characters, that can not be soothes with one member of a minority group (i.e. a woman). I’m not saying, that there have to be as many female as male characters, but you should definitely keep an eye on this test. Only because you included some women into a story does not mean, that they have a role in it.
Basically it’s not that complicated to pass the Bechdel test. Just follow the rules like a checklist and you will be better than most.
This post is a short one, just to introduce this very meaningful rules. Please check your own stories and if they do not pass this test, think about the reason for this.
It’s not a crime, even some of mine don’t. Mostly because I can’t have that many characters in a flash fiction or short story. But don’t tell me you have great female characters without them talking to each other. (About coffee, the weather, politics, the plot… there is no reason to exclusively talk about men. Really)