Bechdel or Bust!
Last year at this time, I wrote on Facebook that one of my novels didn't pass the Bechdel test; but I never said which one or why. So this year, I'm setting out to run Ophelia, Broken Road and the Priestess series to the test. (Although Julia probably has an unfair advantage over the other women, as she has two books with which she can be tested.)
If you've never heard of it, the Bechdel test is the (unintentional) brainchild of cartoonist (and now novelist) Alison Bechdel. In 1985, she released a strip wherein one character said to another that she required the following out of a movie:
1. It has to feature two or more named women.
2. They have to talk to each other and
3. The conversation has to be about something other than a man.
In 2014 (on my 28th birthday, no less), Slate proposed a revised test featuring six steps. To spice things up a little, I'll be adding 1-3, 5 and 6 to the original test. (I'm leaving out number four, because I'm white and straight and will probably [almost always] write about white, straight women.)
1. The novel has to feature two or more named women.
All three pass with flying colors! Ophelia features the title character's assistants, employees, and nurses. (The only women that aren't named are the ones that are in the group the day she chucks Harry out of her office.) Broken Road has Krystállina's twin daughters, assorted royalty and nobility and goddesses. The Priestess books have Isian priestesses, Vestals, slaves, and a bunch of other women. (5/5/5 pts)
2/3. These women have to talk to each other, and the conversation has to be about something other than a man.
The number one thing I can think of is Ophelia's assistants supporting her while she's walking around the room to hasten her labor. The priestesses talk about a lot of different things, not necessarily Yeshua and Pontius. The one that trips me up is Broken Road–I can't remember for certain if the women at the betrothal ceremony talk about men or not, so I'm giving that half credit. (10/10/6 pts)
4. A woman's story is being told. She is not relegated to the role of sidekick, romantic interest, or bit player.
Easy sneezy. All of my novels are about women, first and foremost. If she's a romantic interest, it's because she's in love with someone, not the other way around. (5/5/5 pts)