Does Your Book Pass the Bechdel Test? Does It Need To?


The Bechdel test was developed in 1985 in – perhaps unusually – the comic strip of Alison Bechdel, an American cartoonist and 2014 recipient of a MacArthur “Genius Grant”. In it, two women discuss going to the movies and one of them outlines her requirements for seeing any of the films being shown. They have to meet three criteria:

*The movie has at least two female characters.
*The two female characters talk to each other.
*The conversation is about anything other than a man.

Bechdel credits the idea to her friend Liz Wallace, who was in turn apparently inspired by some of Virginia Woolf’s writing. Twenty-five years later, the Bechdel test gained mainstream recognition (maybe a sign of the times). Continue reading

The Completely Different Viewpoints of Men and Women on Domestic Violence


At the end of October 2018, I went to the monthly meeting of my local branch of the political party I’m a member of. I’m not hugely political, mostly because talking about politics is a good way to lose all your friends when you realise they think in a fundamentally different way to you. If you think joining a political party and making friends with the other members resolves this problem, then you’re wrong. I’ve yet to meet a single person who thinks exactly the way I do. Continue reading

Can Women Write Male Characters? Can Men Write Female Characters?


Receptionist: How do you write women so well?
Melvin: I think of a man and I take away reason and accountability.
As Good As It Gets

Melvin wasn’t sexist – after all, he hated men and women equally – but this quote seems to be remembered when writing from the perspective of the opposite gender arises.

Continue reading