What is the Bechdel test?
According to bechdeltest.com/:
“The Bechdel Test, sometimes called the Mo Movie Measure or Bechdel Rule is a simple test which names the following three criteria: (1) it has to have at least two women in it, who (2) who talk to each other, about (3) something besides a man.”
The test was popularized by Alison Bechdel‘s comic Dykes to Watch Out For, in a 1985 strip called The Rule. For a nice video introduction to the subject check out The Bechdel Test for Women in Movies on feministfrequency.com.
OK, so OF GOLD AND FIRE isn’t a movie (or TV show, YET). But after being reminded of this little test, I figured I’d mention it since it could easily apply to other mediums too. Because why not? Plus it’s a chance for me to plug our writing and rich story—and our bad-ass lady characters.
Most people will boil this test down to one sentence: were there women in it that spoke to each other about something other than men? If so, check mark, it passes.
Being two women who talk about many things other than men (and no, we aren’t in a lesbian or sister-wife situation despite my husband’s never-ending jokes to the contrary), Aristen and I find this fairly easy to accomplish.
What will you find in OF GOLD AND FIRE (and all our writing)? Female leads who talk to other females about many other things. Astara and Dahlia, the main characters in OF GOLD AND FIRE, are two obvious examples. They both talk to each other about everything: history, other characters (women and men), the society in which they find themselves, men included of course. But the leader of a major group is a woman. The second in command of another major group is a woman who eventually **CENSORED SPOILERS** …
Is it that important that women speak to each other about things other than men which is the premise of the Bechdel test? Well, there the naysayers (“Why the Bechdel Test Fails Feminism”), with good reason. Having two women talking to each other about smoking crack would ensure a pass; and the test, as pointed out by the author in the article above, fails to take into account the nuances of the challenges we women face.
And after all, isn’t what’s important is inclusion in general? Diversity overall?
Yes. I agree. But doesn’t that sound a little like the #alllivesmatter movement? Of course there was never any “movement” in #alllivesmatter, only a counter point with no argument attached by people who were never planning to do a damn thing anyway … But I digress. Let’s move forward, shall we?
But this test—the Bechdel test—isn’t about ALL inclusion, it really boils down to inclusion in male-dominated industries for women. You can be sure that a movie/book that could not pass this simple test would unlikely pass more nuanced tests or specific study. While we’re both all about inclusion of all types of people in any industry, this is just one more positive aspect of our own writing (and movies someday huh, huh!?!? That’s the dream, isn’t it?).
Much of what is in our writing is about is addressing racism and sexism. One of our characters, being from a matriarchal society, has a much different view of sexism than the average person in the setting society, and we try to tell the story through her point of view. Another has visible racial features which earn her fear and ridicule from the setting society. In my humble opinion, our story has just about everything, and that’s why we hope you’ll love it as much as we do. Hell, we talk about it ALL THE TIME. Not about men. 🙂
P.S. If you enjoy a good discussion with a mention of the Bechdel test and feminism, this post on Medium discussing Frozen knocks it out of the park, and it’s hilarious!