Rating myself against the Bechdel Test.

According to the wealth of knowledge that is Wikipedia, the Bechdel test is used to identify gender bias in fiction. A work passes the test if it features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man. Commentators have noted that a great proportion of contemporary works fail to pass this threshold of representing women.

After reading above, I started thinking.

While I could probably point to a few scenes otherwise, for the most part my YA series (all 6 of them, written under my real name, Courtney Brandt) completely fails this test.  When my (fictional) young ladies get together, they almost always discuss dudes.  Perhaps off screen they might have discussions about school and life in general, but for the most part the majority of their conversations revolve around boys.  While there’s nothing I plan on doing about this in the immediate future – in future edits of the books, I could definitely see myself altering some of the conversations to focus on some any other topic.  One could make the argument that I am merely following the trend of a lot of YA novels (those that aren’t set in dystopian futures, anyways), but I’m not sure I can let the fact go.  If my female characters are supposed to be inspiring, they certainly need to do better.

I am glad then, that of the three non-YA novels I’ve written, most hold up very well in the test.  Room 702 and Fates I and II rarely get bogged down in ladies talkin’ about men.  There are a few scenes, yes, but the females characters in all three manuscripts have many scenes where men aren’t mentioned at all, or, at a minimum there are many scenes where both genders are worried about far more important things than who likes who.  Still, going forward, I want to hold myself (and my characters) to a higher standard.  For any given scenes, it’s worth asking the question of how necessary it is for two female characters to mention a man.

Perfect example. Yes, they did discuss career, family, etc. – but there was a whole lot of conversation around men. (Also, had to include because of the ‘Emirates’ element).

What are your thoughts?

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