Monday, December 8, 2014

Beyond the Bechdel Test

The Bechdel Test  asks whether two women in a work of fiction have a conversation not about a man.

So does Bechdel work in Chick Lit?

We've got Becky Bloomwood (Sophie Kinsella's heroine) trying to make curry and also her many financial woes discussed with her roommate.  At least the first Shopaholic passes the Bechdel test with flying colors. So passing the Bechtel Test is possible in Chick Lit.

I'm not sure if Bridget Jones passes the test, though.  Off the top of my head, I can't recall one scene where Bridget isn't having a discussion with a woman not about a man.

So does that make Bridget Jones more of a contemporary romance than a chick lit?

Does failing the Bechdel test mark the line between Chick Lit and Contemporary Romance?  

I'm not sure, but since I fancy myself a feminist (or at least a capable woman), I subjected my own work to the Bechdel test.

Risking Ruin passes.  Technically.

Marisa has conversations with her assistant that don't have to do with a man.  But who talks about their love interests and exploits with their assistant?   (Surely someone does, but no one I know.)

Marisa also interacts with the private investigator that she's hired to help sniff out a potential conspiracy behind the rash of sexual harassment lawsuits.  But again, I'm not convinced this "counts."

In both these situations, conversing about a man would be out of the normal course for a professional woman.  And with Marisa's high powered position and personality, it would be out of character her to "dish" with either her assistant or professional contact.

I think the truth in passing the Bechdel test is when two women have a conversation where men could be discussed, but aren't.  

Yes, that is a higher standard, but in the 30 years since Allison Bechdel came up with the standard, it's time to expect more.

Next time I'll analyze Risking Ruin as to whether it passes this higher standard.  (If you've read this far, please consider giving my book a try.  I'd love your feedback.)

So what are your thoughts about Bechdel in Chick Lit, the line between Chick Lit and contemporary romance, my proposed "Bechdel plus" test, armchair criticism of popular fiction for women, or anything else?

No comments:

Post a Comment