Midweek musings: The Rule

Firstly, regarding those who still argue about “staying the course” in Iraq:

image from despair.com (check out their cluelessness poster)

Secondly, I’ve been thinking about applying the Mo Movie Measure Bechdel-Wallace Rule to reorganising my SF collection, giving pride of place to those novels which pass it and relegating the rest to the less convenient shelves.

For those who’ve not come across it before, the Bechdel-Wallace Rule for feminist moviegoing is as follows:

  • The film must have
    1. at least two named women in it, who
    2. talk to each other, about
    3. something other than a man.

Moving away from SF and movies, I’m glad to say that Jane Austen passes the Bechdel-Wallace Test with flying colours, as the many women in those novels talk to each other all the time about various factors influencing societal status that involve matters of character, discretion and honour among women quite separately from the men of their communities. Indeed, Austen’s characters all spend at least as much time discussing marriage as an institutional necessity than they actually spend discussing individual men as potential husbands.

Categories: arts & entertainment, culture wars, gender & feminism

Tags: , ,

6 replies

  1. Heh, one of my favorite new blogs, Girls Read Comics (And They’re Pissed) frequently invokes the B-W Rule.
    I regret to say that the last three movies I saw don’t fit the bill. The second woman in Tears of the Black Tiger exists solely so that the main female character can talk about boys; Black Snake Moan really only has two characters. Let’s not even talk about Ghost Rider (although I suppose you could count Eva Mendes and her breasts as three separate characters, but it’s likely they only talk about boys).

  2. I’ve been pleasantly surprised as I go through my SF, actually. Once you get past the “Golden Age” stories, writers tend to introduce more than one female character, and seeing as SF tends to involve missions/quests, and the esoterica of technology/magic, the girls do get to discuss more than just da boyz.
    Teela Brown though. Ugh.

  3. You seem to have tog-dotted the Despair site – it keeps asking me for a userid and password.

  4. Paul, I suspect that’s due to The. Bigger. Blog. where I found the link to the cluelessness poster in a comments thread. I wish I could remember which Big. Blog. it was, but I couldn’t find the comment again by the time I’d noodled around on the despair.com site.
    Anyway, the cluelessness poster’s tagline was:

    There may be no such thing as a stupid question, but there sure are a lot of inquisitive idiots

  5. I’ve never heard this rule before. It’s great! I’ll have to think about it in the SF I read. It’s sad just from a quick thought of my favourite books that I often have to include quite minor characters to get a book to qualify.

  6. Jennifer, it’s really quite a low bar to hurdle, isn’t it? So telling that there is still so much entertainment material put out which can’t clear such a low bar.
    I plan to see Becoming Jane when it opens, but from the Austenblog I’m trepidatious: the script appears to concentrate heavily on her spinsterhood as (a) a lifelong reluctant state and (b) seminal to her work. If every conversation she has with other women in the movie revolves around wanting to marry her alleged muse, I shall vomit.

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