Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Bechdel Test part 2

Now, to follow up on Yesterday, you may be asking WHY this is so important.   Why should we care Catwoman and Poison Ivy are discussing plants?  Why does it matter that Terra throws a small fit asking Celes what love is and how Terra wants to know now?  How does it advance the story with all of the Femshep and Liara conversations in Mass Effect?

It's actually pretty freaking big.

Traditionally, if women are put into any media, it is to fill a "Token Female/romance" sub plot.  Women, in works written by men- which is most of it- they are only there to look pretty, fall in love, and to defuse accusations of sexism.

Now, that's not ALWAYS the case.  As I stated yesterday, this obviously does not apply to lesbian porn and there are great works where the use of women would be in congruent to the setting,

But, women are fully fleshed out people and pigeonholing this into the role of love interest (and that's it) opens up some VERY unpleasant implications.

That's why we need these as guidelines.  It is rare to see more then one women in the main group of anything. (The Avengers had three -one was a romantic interest but had other traits outside of it. The other two did not present romantic inclinations towards anyone- but none of them talked to each other) 

Men are allowed to talk to each other about issues other then women.  Heck, it's practically guaranteed that there will be more then one man in anything.  They will hold positions of power, they will be complex, multifaceted, and they will occasionally show emotions. 

The token girl will usually be a girlfriend, if we're lucky we'll also get a mother figure. But if those two talk, then it will automatically about the main male character.  It won't be about the girlfriend's job, or how they like to cook, the trip she took to Italy, or how she recently won the Pulitzer. 

Think about it?  While the number has gone up dramatically recently, it's still no where near enough what it needs to be.  For every episode of Once Upon a Time (Where there are about twice as many regular or reoccurring female characters to male characters and NONE are limited to just the girlfriend role.)  We also have a superbowl commercial for Audi that turns a teenage girl into something to fight over and celebrate when you get a black eye.
(Please don't click it, I don't want them to get the hits)

Women can not be reduced to motherhood, part of our function is to give life.  But they can be reduced to being one dimension, to only supporting a man, or to be property for the man to fight over.

The Bechdel test is just a stop gap.  But it's something that needs to be more present in games.  We need fully fleshed out female characters to help make this world, what ever world it is in the game, to feel fuller and more connected. The easiest way to do this is to have more then one main female character and have them talk about something other then the lead man.

Having a women take the place of the lead man and having her talk to other women about other things would be even better at times.

I'm not saying women should be every position in a game. That's just as bad.    But when what makes a game pass the Bechdel test is having a 30 second conversation about PLANTS, then something is up.  Something that drastically needs to be fixed. 

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