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ningloreth [userpic]

A question... And some more banners

August 29th, 2011 (10:37 am)

A couple of posts by people on my f-list, (whose names I won't mention because this is in no way a comment on what they said), have again got me pondering something I've been wondering for a while:

If you have two women in a scene (and those two women are, say, detectives), and they're discussing a man (and that man is, say, a villain, and what they're discussing is how to nail him) does that scene still fail the Bechdel test?

And if, instead, you made the villain a woman, would that be sexist?

...

I have been to the Miro exhibition at Tate Modern, and to one of the BBC Proms concerts! Unfortunately, for reasons I won't go into, it was all so stressful I almost forgot to enjoy it. I have lots of thoughts on Miro, though, which I may even post. But at the moment I'm obsessively re-editing one of my old stories, Shadowland, which has been sitting at the back of my mind, growling, ever since I wrote the damned thing. It's the longest, most ambitious story I've ever written, The Beginning included, and it's not right. And, though no one else will ever re-read it, I can't settle down to write my next story until I'm happy (or happier) with it...

I've made some new banners for it, though, because that's the fun part.























Comments

Posted by: curiouswombat (curiouswombat)
Posted at: August 29th, 2011 11:30 am (UTC)
Hmm 2

I think the idea of the Bechdel test is necessary - to point out that there is such an imbalance in so much fiction whether on page or screen. But the actual test itself is really much too simplistic, too black and white.

I really like the new banners - and I would be happy to go back and reread Shadowland - but I remember that I didn't read it when I first found it - I am sure it wasn't the cross-over element and so I am not sure why I skipped over... so it would be interesting to see what you feel need rewriting.

Posted by: ningloreth (ningloreth)
Posted at: August 29th, 2011 06:33 pm (UTC)

the actual test itself is really much too simplistic

Yes, like those silly Mary-Sue tests. But I have seen it used as some sort of standard -- AO3 even has a 'Passes the Bechdel test' tag!

I didn't read it when I first found it - I am sure it wasn't the cross-over element and so I am not sure why I skipped over...

It's a pity you don't remember, because I'd love to know! It's like a poor relation, or a Victorian orphan, or something. When I was writing it, my Dad was very ill, and I was spending a lot of time driving to Manchester and back, etc, struggling to keep the story going, with only half of my mind focussed on it, and it changed direction, and it grew, and got out of hand...

But it has a lot of stuff in it that I'm quite proud of (including a couple of battle scenes) and, having spent the afternoon editing the first five chapters, I'm beginning to think that, with careful expansion of a few obscure points, I can actually cure what I thought were major structural problems...

I will let you know when the new version is up -- I may even post it here!

Posted by: curiouswombat (curiouswombat)
Posted at: August 29th, 2011 11:15 pm (UTC)
GrannyW

'Passes the Bechdel test' tag!

But why would anybody care? AO3's 'all fanfic writers are women writing for women, and if they aren't they ought to be, but we will tolerate men as long as they realise it is a feminine pursuit' underpinnings showing again, I presume!

A good story is a good story - adding bits or taking bits out to 'pass' such an arbitrary line on the sand is likely to detract from how good the story is, I would think.

Any story where a female character interacts with males rather than other females would seem to fail straight away - no matter what form her interaction is.

So your Éowyn leading investigations, or my Tindómë spending a chapter pointing out to the twins why most of their arguments are a load of rubbish, would, of course, fail. But a tale of two elderly ladies discussing whose turn it is to make the tea would pass...

As for Shadowland - I think I didn't really understand what was going on - I was as confused as Éowyn, but I stopped before I did understand. I think I was actually reading it too quickly that first time - when I went back I could see the clues better, maybe?

I meant to say, as well, that I do agree that the Bechdel test is useful for showing up the way women are all too often seen in Hollywood films - just that it is too clumsy.

Edited at 2011-08-29 11:19 pm (UTC)

Posted by: Karen (kazzy_cee)
Posted at: August 29th, 2011 11:47 am (UTC)

Sorry to hear about the stress!

I love the banners :)

Posted by: ningloreth (ningloreth)
Posted at: August 29th, 2011 06:18 pm (UTC)

Thank you!

Posted by: Maz (thismaz)
Posted at: August 29th, 2011 01:24 pm (UTC)

What beautiful banners. Absolutely beautiful.

Posted by: ningloreth (ningloreth)
Posted at: August 29th, 2011 06:18 pm (UTC)

Thank you :-)

Posted by: Quinara (quinara)
Posted at: August 29th, 2011 03:50 pm (UTC)
Buffy sparkles

I think your situation would fail the Bechdel Test - but that wouldn't necessarily mean that the situation was anti-feminist or whatever, just that it failed the Bechdel Test, which is a tool to aid analysis rather than any real analysis in and of itself. Similarly, making your villain a woman so that your detectives could pass the Bechdel test would be sexist or not depending on, you know, whether your story was sexist or not. :D

Anyway, pretty banners!

Posted by: ningloreth (ningloreth)
Posted at: August 29th, 2011 06:13 pm (UTC)

I think your situation would fail the Bechdel Test...

Good! That was my intention.

...a tool to aid analysis rather than any real analysis in and of itself...

What I've been pondering is that, like a lot of these things, it's used as so much more than that -- as some sort of 'standard'. I noticed the other day that even AO3 has a 'Passes the Bechdel test' tag!

And I have so many objections to that, I can't even begin to pin them all down. Setting aside the fact that there's a large percentage of the female population who would consider failing the Bechdel test a recommendation (chick lit, chick flicks) and, though I wouldn't want to be one, it's their choice...

My main ... gripe, I suppose the word is, is that restricting a female character's behaviour to behaviours that 'they' deem 'non-sexist' is still restricting a (female) character's behaviour (as well as the writer's creativity, and downgrading the importance of 'the story').

What actually sparked the post (which was meant to be a sort of 'Does the barber shave himself' question) was another post about Steven Moffat's being a dirty sexist (I think because River Song, having just regenerated, said, with all her normal exuberance, that she needed a mirror to see her new body).

The scene reminded me strongly of David Tennant's gleeful discovery that he had 'big hair' (which was funny because Christopher Ecclestone had had a shaven head), and I would bet the farm that that was Moffat's intention. It was very much in keeping with River Song's character, and with her status as 'a bit of a Time Lord'.

...making your villain a woman so that your detectives could pass the Bechdel test would be sexist or not depending on, you know, whether your story was sexist or not.

You know that, and I know that, but the people who allocate points for these things...

Though, actually, I was thinking more about the explosions of wank that can occur when a woman is shown in a 'non-positive' role.

If I really wanted my women to pass the Bechdel test I would make them lesbians and have them discuss getting the female hero into bed, purely to validate her status as hero :-)

ETA Thanks, btw :-)

Edited at 2011-08-29 06:15 pm (UTC)

Posted by: Quinara (quinara)
Posted at: August 29th, 2011 07:40 pm (UTC)

Ah, it all makes sense now! And I'm pretty much in agreement. :D

If I really wanted my women to pass the Bechdel test I would make them lesbians and have them discuss getting the female hero into bed, purely to validate her status as hero :-)

I tend to find it incredibly easy to pass the Bechdel test - you just need two women/female characters and let them talk about themselves. Everyone likes talking about themselves!

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