Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Regency Romance and the Bechdel Test

These Austenacious ladies
passing the Bechdel Test
Do you know how difficult it is for a Regency Romance to pass the Bechdel Test? (Well, at least mine are.)

Regency Romances are all about pursuit of a spouse, usually during the London Season, and all the gossip and on-dits and, of course, the fabulous clothes. Naturally, everyone is talking about everyone else. It is rather difficult for two Regency women to sit down and have a conversation without it turning, sooner or later, to one of the other characters, usually Our Hero.

My characters do talk about other things in between. There's been discussion of mismatched horses, whether or not one should put one's hair up in rags at 3am or collapse to bed in exhaustion and suffer the curling tongs tomorrow, to how awful the negus is and whether something is sufficiently enchanted... to attract a bloke. (Aw man, so close!)

I guess it all comes down to how strict one interprets the conditions of the Bechdel test.

Strict interpretation: discuss ANYTHING except one of the male characters. He can't slip in at all.

Loose interpretation: discuss ANYTHING which has nothing to do with a male character, but the conversation either drifted in to the subject from discussing Our Hero, or segued into a discussion about him. The important part is that we saw our two women discussing something that wasn't Our Hero.

Bechdel failure: our two women never discuss ANYTHING except Our Hero (or another male character).

So where do you draw the line? Do you favour a loose interpretation? After all, women discuss the things in their lives, but also the people in their lives, which includes the men they interact with. Or do you prefer a strict interpretation, because women's lives do not revolve around the lives of the men they know?

I'd like to think my Regencies pass the Bechdel Test, even if only barely, because my women characters do show interest in things other than the male characters. I don't know if I'm the best one to judge.

Do me a favour; next time I release a full-length Regency Romance, someone let me know if it passes the Bechdel Test.

Her Grace favours a looser interpretation, but then, it shouldn't be difficult to pass the Bechdel if the characters are well-rounded and the plot well-constructed.

No comments: