The Bechdel Test, sometimes called the Mo Movie Measure or Bechdel Rule is a simple test which names the following three criteria:
(1) it has to have at least two women in it, who
(2) who talk to each other, about
(3) something besides a man.
The test was popularized by Alison Bechdel’s comic Dykes to Watch Out For, in a 1985 strip called The Rule.
“Save” the “Pearls” 2: The Fanmagining (this is a novelised version of the alternate version of the Save The Pearls world)
- The World, The City, and other facts of life
The story goes that once, all people lived on the surface, and there were great cities that grew up into the skies, and the cities grew so high that they blocked out the sun. The sun, being wrathful, burned these cities to the ground and lay waste to the whole earth, releasing great oceans of water that buried the ashes of the cities. The sun, Sol she is called, and she remains wrathful, seeks the out the pearls, the palest of the peoples of the earth, tricked her, hiding their faces beneath the soil.
The story goes that once, after the seas had buried all the ashes of the cities of the earth at Sol’s request, not knowing that the pearls had hidden their faces beneath the soil, the cities of the pearls had revealed themselves, great walls rising from the dust, great doors flung open, and the whole earth hollowed out beneath so that the pearls need never set foot upon the surface and fall victim to her anger. That the pearls came in dark cloaks and spoke to the peoples of the surfaces, to the Hematite peoples, to the Amber peoples and Zircon and Sapphire peoples.
And they said to the Sapphire peoples, who were golden of skin and straight of hair, these people should serve in the houses of the city, and live among the Pearls but not be of them, for they were touched only lightly by Sol. And to the Amber and Zircon people, they were brown of skin and straight of hair, these people should work on the surface of the earth and raise the crops, for they were of the colour of the earth and not touched too deeply by Sol.
And to the Hematite people they said, these people are touched deeply by Sol, these peoples are not fully human to survive such a touch, they must be as beasts or demons, and they decreed that the Hematite peoples should labour beneath the earth and kept from the gaze of Sol that she might tempt them to further beastliness.
And the Hematite peoples and the Amber and Zircon and Sapphire peoples agreed, by and large, for the Pearls showed them wondrous things, vast warehouses of food and clothing, and there were many colours of people amongst the Pearls who tended these warehouses, and the peoples were satisfied that the Pearls would be good leaders to follow.
My name is Eden Newman, and I know that the history that is sung from the lowest pit to the highest chamber within the city is twisted, a false story implanted by the Pearls to protect themselves. I will be eighteen years old in just two weeks, and I am running out of time.
SO YOU WANT TO WRITE A FANTASY:
How exciting! Fantasy is so fun! You can do anything you want to your universe, because it’s fantasy - which is really great, because you’ve always wanted cats to talk and everyone else to share your distaste of squash. Plus you could have magic! Or not, you know, low-fantasy works too. Maybe it will be another Epic/High fantasy, and surely you’ve got a trilogy in the works, or perhaps you’re writing steam punk…anything your heart desires! This is so fun!
What’s that you say? You say you have a hero in mind? Wonderful! Your hero is a strapping young farmboy? Yes? Well, okay. It’s been done before, but I trust you. He’s an orphan, you say? And the Chosen one? Oh, well alright. (Hey you steampunk novelist. Don’t walk away. I noticed you were writing about a young boy who wants to be an airship mechanic. It’s okay, just keep following along.) There’s a great big evil he must defeat in order to save his town, village, country, or the world? Well yes, there does need to be some antagonism in this story, so I’ll let that go, and of course your big evil needs monster or henchmen or something, and yes, this kid really does need a wiser, more experienced person to hel-he’s a man too?
Well you know it wasn’t uncommon for older men and younger male warriors in training to carry on relationships in certain societ- hmm? Oh they’re not gay? Are you sure?
I suppose. If you really feel that way. I just thought it would be interesting and realistic is all, but let’s get back to your story. So he needs a mentor, because he’s only a farmboy, and this older man actually knows what’s going on, but he can’t explain because…well you can think of why later.
What’s that? Oh! There’s a girl character? Lovely! What’s she like? I’m sure the hero here needs a friend, perhaps, or maybe a sister, or another advisor, and maybe just maybe- oh.
She’s the love interest?
Are you sure?
She’s particularly beautiful. Sweet, giving, and has been eying the hero now that he’s gone through some warrior training, and of course she’s graceful. (Is she an elf?) Oh, you gave her a sword. Well that’s a relief, those monsters/henchmen we tossed out into your world are crawling all over the place and so it’s a good thing to keep- she can’t wield it, can she?
No, no, you gave her a broadsword. Her fingers are soft and smooth like silk, you just described this two pages ago. A swords woman has callouses. And even if you lie about that, or gloss over it, you just gave a petite blonde a broadsword. (Do you know what a broadsword is? Have you ever tried lifting one, and then swinging it around for a half hour? Nevermind, don’t do that. You’ll hurt yourself trying.) She just lost the fight. So the hero could save her.
Let’s do this over again.
Particularly beautiful, blahblahblah, no broadsword. Okay. Good. She can’t fight? Well no, she couldn’t fight, she was trying to wield a broadsword on foot. That’s just not practical. What, you mean she really cannot fight? Well that seems stupid, she needs to do something-embroidery?
She’s going to embroider things? And do what, make the perfect cross stitch?
It’s because she’s a woman?
She’s a woman so she can’t fight, but she likes to embroider-
STOP. STOP STOP STOP STOP!
We’ve gone too far! This is absurd. She lives in a world where danger is at every turn, and the worst she can do is bat her eyelashes and faint? Nevermind her craftiness, it’s not like she gets to use it to stitch wounds on the battlefield.
What do you mean it’s realistic?
This isn’t realistic! How is she alive when you’ve painted a big red target on her back that says “Beautiful noble thing the hero cares about - steal me, I’m helpless to stopping you!”? Well but she’s a woman, and women were supposed to be cooking and cleaning and having children in this time. What time? Whatever do you mean, dear novelist? It’s unrealistic to have her be powerful, she’s a girl!
But this is a fantasy novel! There’s no such thing as having to stick to one time period, and remember, we were so excited to do whatever we wanted to in the world because of this being a fantasy novel and all! But this is like Europe! It was a misogynistic society! There was patriarchy! I am trying to be accurate in my portrayals!
THIS IS “EUROPE” WITH MAGIC AND THE UNDEAD. OR STEAMSHIPS. AND FIRE BREATHING CREATURES. THERE ARE DARK FORCES INVOLVED. THIS ISN’T GOING TO BE ACCURATE.
Fine, you know what? You want accuracy. That’s cool. It’s okay to base your world off of stuff in the real world. So that’s why she can’t fight! Why are you arguing with me on this?
Well because maybe it’s why she can’t fight! But maybe it’s not. Let’s just FORGET Europe. Look at Japan - women in Samurai families could train with weapons in order to defend their homes! that was a patriarchal society, and they still trained those women to fight. Or how about Mongolia? Not only were women in charge of the supplies, home tents, and animals, but they could choose to marry and were supposed to initiate sex. And they could fight or be a battle strategist too! And hey, Genghis Khan actually made selling, kidnapping, and raping women illegal under his rule! Maybe we can avoid implying that all brown people have mandatory rape festivals!
Get this, she doesn’t even have to fight to be powerful! [ableist slur redacted], huh? A woman wrote the first modern novel, remember? Maybe she’s a novelist, and wrote the equivalent of the Tales of Genji. Maybe she’s a diplomat, some of the Mongolian women acted like that. Or maybe she’s an adviser - a political adviser. Maybe she’s the Queen! She’s not the Queen? Well, maybe she’s running the show behind the scenes. Or she’s a spy.
Want to hear something even [ableist slur redacted]? Not all societies function/ed under the western notion of what equality should be! Sometimes being the woman of the house means a whole hell of a lot because you run the place where people eat, sleep, and live. And the men have a totally different separate function in society that is not greater or lesser in standing. You remember seeing all those reblogs on why its not okay for white girls to run around in Native American war bonnets, right? They’re worn by men who have earned that right in battle, and women generally don’t wear them. They had their own regalia. A lot of non-western/white cultures don’t have the same norms, traditions, domains split between men and women but that doesn’t make it misogynistic or even unequal. Try looking up stuff like dual-sex/dual-gendered systems, female husbands, and matriarchies and patriarchies existing in the same culture or society. Not all cultures function the same way white Europeans do! Remember that when world building.
So your girl could totally be in charge of the household and not be a simpering helpless blonde. That household may put her equal to her husband or the hero who goes out and fights without a domain.
Remember that hero we had at the beginning? He’s now without supplies, transportation, food, a place to live, or any money or support. All he has are weapons. Because the women of your world are in control of the households. Men are warriors. Whoops. He’s not going to get very far without supplies. Now he has to learn to deal in this society by protecting the female domains who keep him supplied and clothed. Maybe he has to take up quests in order to afford the way to defeating the bad guy.
You want to write women who do stuff besides have babies? Awesome.
You still want her to be good at embroidery?
Fine by me. Just fine by me.
What do you do with that farm boy now? Don’t ask me, I don’t have the damnedest idea.
Reblog — reblog — a thousand times reblog!
There’s female vikings and shieldmaidens, Queen Boudica, pirate women, just to stick with warriors. There’s women who worked as field nurses in just about every single war ever, and if you think that’s not a skill worth writing about I’m not sure I want to read your books. And who do you think runs everything while your farmboy hero empties out towns of able bodied men to fight in his adventure war? Embroidery? Who the hell has time for that when there’s a farm to run, a mill to keep working, the town’s law to uphold and it’s defenses to coordinate. If your farmboy takes all the men into his army, someone is going to have to run the smithy and keep the horses shod. Someone is going to have to work in the factories making sure that the army has ammunition. Oh hey, and speaking of WWII: FEMALE PILOTS.
I do embroidery for fun. I knit. I weave. I can do pottery. I’m not bad with power tools. I’m a bit rusty but I know how to shoot a bow. If push comes to shove I can pick up most any blunt object and put a real beat down on someone, even though I haven’t had a lot of self defense training. I know two ways to kill someone with my bare hands. This is just me, Jane Q. Boring and if I’m more interesting than the female companion/love interest of Farmboy: The Chosen, that says a lot about how much you don’t think women are capable of, and your inability as a writer to make something that’s relatable and real. Get your nose out of Tolkien’s rear end and actually talk to some women, find out what the average woman is capable of.
Stuff like this is why my activism is all mixed up in my writing. Representation and normalization of minorities and oppressed groups and people outside the dominant Western narrative. The stories you tell are powerful.
Hey, there’s a reason my blog is called The Pen and the Sword.
WOAH i didn’t know all this stuff about women in history. this was informative.
All thins kind of reminds me of David Eddings series The Belgariad and The Malorean.
In some ways it very much follows the fantasy tropes (farmboy, chosen one, etc) but he has two main mentors. One is Garion’s grandfather and the other is his aunt. How is very much the HBIC. And kicks so much ass and has never settled down with a man because she’s never wanted to and has been too busy kicking ass and taking names.
Garion’s love interest is a girl named Ce’Nedra who is small, slender and can’t fight. She’s part dryad. She’s useless and whiny. And blah blah blah they start out hating each other but eventually fall for one another and yadda yadda and they get married.
Once married Ce’Nedra cranks out a kid who is kidnapped. Garion goes after said kid. What does Ce’Nedra do? Sit around weeping and wringing her hands? She can’t fight after all. But she is exceptionally good at getting her way. So she goes out and raises up this enormous army to help Garion in his search and kicks some butt and takes names that way.
3D Printing Mandelbrot Fax Attack
In the past, 3D printers were a long way from being common. That’s the past, this is the present.
Remember fax machines? Yeah of course you don’t, you probably don’t even remember what DVDs or cellphones are. I’m talking dino-age-cotton-gin stuff here. Fax machines run like this. It’s like email, except instead of the letter coming up on your screen, it prints out of a printer. Like on paper. Physical, rain-forest killing paper.
Back in the day when you wanted to fuck with someone, you might Black Box them. Send them a huge letter that was just one HUGE black sheet. That’s a lot of ink and a lot of time.
Last week, the Church of Anonymous Inc, decided they didn’t like the business practices of Belgian bread industry. They sent them a surprise.
Think of Black Boxing a guy but with a 3D printer. The most intricate and complex shapes you can imagine. A Mandelbrot of atomic precision. Mathematical models uses to explain the 5th dimension to Nobel Prize winners. Needless to say, it takes a while.
A 3D printer can be disabled for months if left to be, carefully configuring, atom by atom, each and every silicon waif. Touch it, it’s like touching solid air, a cube that somehow contains more air per square inch than any piece of air the same size. It has more empty space than empty space.
You could unplug the machine, but that gums up the works. Plus would you unplug an precision atomic knitting machine. There’s some risk of splitting open a black hole. That cord stays in the wall like life support.
The Church of Anon Inc thinks they’re waging some kind of holy war, which maybe they are. Are loaves really that big of a deal? Probably not, but people have to whine about something, and there’s always going to be a couple of paladin types roaming around.
The real issue here, is somehow I got caught up in this. I just bought a super cheap piece of office space, only to realize upon moving into the blank white room why that was. Standing in the corner, churning out, like a dog frothing at the mouth, a bubble bath spilling over, a sudden case of explosive 5th dimensional mathematical infinities, is a small 3D printer in cased in its own cloud of output.
At least this half of the office is okay.
Prompt by Writing Excuses
SYWTWAF: Signs You’re Writing the Wrong Kind of Fantasy
- You have decided to write about a plucky White Woman in the 1960’s American deep south. Said White Woman saves the day, and helps the poor Black People. And said Black People are decorative secondary characters meant to show how awesome and great and neat the plucky White Woman is! This is actually a gross oversimplification of someone’s real life and they get no proceeds or profits from your fantasy novel!