The Bechdel Test

I’ve been thinking about the Bechdel Test in relation to my most recent stories. I’ve been writing again, which is good. But I wonder if my stories pass this particular issue. I thought I’d do a bit of a recap.

The one I’m working on now, other than The Gods of Reed, is a short story (though growing more than I originally intended.) There isn’t much conversation to speak of, my protagonist is too much of a loner. But it’s first person, so it’s somewhat a conversation (monologue?) with the reader.

Very little of this dialogue excludes the antagonist, a male. She thinks about nothing else throughout the story (maybe a few lines about her family and some notes about magic). Personally, I would have a hard time thinking about pretty much anything but my stalker, should I acquire one. Especially one that delights in taunting. This may change later when she *does* start interacting with someone (there are plans). Not sure how that’s going to go yet.

The Gods of Reed, my other on-going story, is third-person limited with a male lead. He spends a lot of time talking about himself, his own relation to the world, his rapidly diminishing memory and sense of self, etc and so on. But very rarely do we see two females interacting. (It does happen in very brief moments, but if I recall correctly their conversations are centered around aforementioned male lead.) There is a lot of story, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t pass.

The last story I worked is a bit more difficult to pin down. It features characters with… interesting gender dynamics. The main character did, at one time, share a female-shaped body with another consciousness. I think of her as more or less female, as far as one can think of AI as gender.

The other character… I don’t know. That character is of mixed gender: male bio-half, female AI. Though this is mostly in my head, I don’t think any of this comes across in the story at all. (It actually is a short story, two pages, and it isn’t necessary to the plot so I don’t feel bad about this.) Mostly the story interacts with the female AI aspect of the Cyborg and the AI. And their conversation has nothing to do with males, so much as determining their own senses of self given the changes they underwent recently.

So in that sense, it may pass the test but it is somewhat debatable. Perhaps I would give it a half-pass?

The other story set in that universe, a previous NaNoWriMo novel, didn’t have a plot to speak of and isn’t worth dissecting.

The last story I will consider is another novel, one that has a plot and several interesting characters. The protagonist is female again, and has a very clear goal though is somewhat distracted by a male romance. She interacts quite a bit with another female character, her main rival. They bicker (fight) constantly, but mostly about their methods of scouting and information gathering. They rarely talk about their respective romances, or about any male save for ammunition. So of the stories I’ve considered so far, this is the only one that clearly passes the test.

I find it to be an interesting experiment to consider my stories through various lenses. It’s an interesting way to measure it up in terms of character development and world-building. I may do something similar with these, and other stories, as I think of different lenses to use.

Leave a Reply