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Semiformalishmaybe

Bechdel Test

One of the concepts I like in contemporary feminist discourse is the Bechdel Test; the idea that it is an outcome of the male gaze that many stories have an odd gender balance and gender placement that either places women around the periphery of story points (as "background noise") or only includes them as singular examples as part of a cookie-cutter notion of diversity. This is similar to the "token black" idea in a story, and often is paired with the idea that being part of $minority is all the characterisation that someone gets; they are there to "represent" rather than be fully fleshed-out as a character. One might have in a group, "The wannabe rock-star with troubles with their parents, the stuffy academe who also sings, the snooty person from Belgium who is obsessed with cats, the woman, and the black guy" as a notion of a well-rounded cast of characters. The Bechdel test was originally meant as commentary on gender issues, but it applies well to all sorts of diversity.

I think I'm generally reasonably friendly to the idea of tests like this (and would like to use the basic concept for issues I care about, like mature handling of morality; for example, if a work of media involves significant moral undertones, if it involves moral conflict but never has multiple people, trying to perform conflicting notions of "the right thing", it's philosophically infantile).

Naturally, I don't want to overapply this test (or any tests of this sort); some people really haven't developed themselves past moral absolutism, and I recognise as well that it's easier to write a story where there really are "good guys" versus "bad guys". I certainly don't want to be "that guy who can't enjoy a good story because it isn't written from my philosophy", or "that guy who is always c omplaining about everything". Still, taken in moderation it's another good lens to swap on for a bit when evaluating a work.

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