KJ (owlmoose) wrote,
KJ
owlmoose

  • Mood:
  • Music:

Passing Bechdel

I posted earlier today about the Women of Dragon Age Challenge. Over on Tumblr, there's been a little bit of a discussion about the choice of the Bechdel Test as a criteria for submissions. I have some thoughts -- of course I have thoughts; any discussion of the Bechdel Test is like catnip to me -- but I didn't want to hijack the post advertising the challenge, so I've come over here to talk about it instead.

One of the things I love about this particular challenge is that it explicitly references Bechdel and requests that every story pass. I have said before, and continue to believe, that the Bechdel Test is not primarily about evaluating the quality or female-friendliness of any one particular work but about looking at larger patterns in media. But still, I do think it can be a really great tool to apply to our own writing, because it makes us really think about our choices. Which characters do we write about? What do they talk about? And why?

To use a Dragon Age example, let's say I decided to write a story about Aveline and Brennan, discussing a man they arrested and the crime he committed. Is that a conversation about a man, or is it a conversation about work? I would tend to say that it's the latter, which would allow it to be considered it a Bechdel pass, even if the criminal is the only thing they talk about. But let me take a step back and ask another question: does the criminal have to be a man? Is there some reason intrinsic to the story I'm telling? Or did I make him a man because we tend to think of male as the default? Did I pick a minor male NPC because he fit into the story better than any other NPC available, or was he just an easy choice? Could I have made the character a woman, or chosen a female NPC, without any fundamental change to the story? And if the answer is yes, then why not do it?

I'm not saying every story can or should pass the strictest version of the Bechdel Test, especially not short stories, and especially not in fanfic where we are limited by the characters presented to us in canon. But I appreciate that we can use this challenge, and others like it, as an opportunity to look at our work a little more critically.

This entry is also posted at http://owlmoose.dreamwidth.org/569601.html. There are currently comment count unavailable comments on DW.
Tags: fanfiction, feminism, writing
Subscribe
  • Post a new comment

    Error

    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

  • 4 comments