Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Feminism says I need to go shopping (but not how you'd think)

Fun fact: there will be no Hollywood movies in 2010 with lady-leads. Which is nice! Half the human race is, apparently, not worth telling stories about! Which brings me to one of my favourite topics: the Bechdel Test. It is a delightful way of illustrating the woefully lacking portrayal of the ladies on the big screen. To pass, a film must:

1. Have at least two women in it
2. Who talk to each other
3. About something besides a man

and it is incredibly depressing to tot up just how few stories pass this not very taxing criteria. (Seriously, check it out.)

Now, I like the movies, but my first love? Books. I am a written word fiend to the extent that many of my favourite books have bite marks on them because I loved them so much and could find no other way to encompass the joy they inspired in me. (Anyone getting all Freudy and suggesting an unresolved oral retentive complex will be subjected to a detailed exposition on how I was breastfed - be warned.)

To demonstrate:

And I don't know if I've mentioned this, but I'm quite into feminism and that. Just in case you need a visual:

So one could reasonably assume that I'd have a whole lot of lady-centric books, nein? Sadly, nein. I do actually go out of my way to look for books by and/or about the ladies as well as everyone else in the world, and yet look how many have two named lady characters, who talk to each other, about something other than a dude:

And how many don't:

Yeah, I own a Dan Brown book, what is your point.

For comparison, may I present the massive wealth of books that fail the reverse of the test: books which do not feature at least two male characters, who talk to each other about something other than a lady:

To conclude: I need to go book shopping.


  1. Have you actually categorised your books according to which past the Bechdel Test? You utter geek.

    Anyways, I have the answer: you clearly need more lezzer books. I am available for consultation should you wish to persue/peruse this avenue.

    (Have you read Ali Smith's Girl Meets Boy? If not, you ABSOLUTELY MUST.

  2. Yes. Because I am cool.

    And I have absolutely bought Girl Meets Boy! Pay day yay. And yes please, a lady-gay reading list would be most welcome.

  3. Perhaps we should start with which gayladybooks you've already read?

  4. Er, now there's a challenge. Off the top of my head and without reference to my bookshelves: Sarah Waters (all thereof),a few Women's Press books I can't remember the titles of, Sugar Rush (haha) ... I think that's it. Recommend away!

  5. Oh goodness, a dearth of lesbian literature! Well there's ye olde Well of Loneliness. It made me cry and want to go and hug every lesbian I know. You just sort of have to read it, really.
    Carol by Patricia Highsmith - not like the best book ever, but it's a proper gay (1950s) book by a proper gay (she was quite hot too; also, super misanthropic) that doesn't end in them all dying, which is a novelty.
    La Batarde by Violette Leduc. I'm less than a quarter of the way through this and haven't read any for a while - it's a nice one to take time over I think - but I'm looking forward to returning to it.

    Not gay but actively Bechdel-conforming: Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. CPG is definitely not the strongest writer but this is definitely worth a read. The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood - a lot of this could be said to be 'talking about a man', but it's not just that - it's more mid-century woman-goes-a-bit-craycray-due-to-societal-expectations-not-just-the-marriage-thing. Dead dead good. And, I haven't read this yet but am excited to - Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (she was a Republican but we'll allow her that).
    Plus, Gertrude Stein.
    Oh I see you've got Persepolis there - in other graphic novel news, have you read/looked at the pretty pictures in Alison Bechdel's Fun Home?

  6. Awesome, I LOVE an excuse to get book-buying, in a righteous manner! How else can I smash the patriarchy but with MORE BOOKS! (They are heavy. Good for smash.)

    The ever-awesome Sady Doyle talked about Herland here: (when I read it, I pretty much bookmarked every page) and I have had Fun Home on my wish list for about four hundred years, must put it at top of Christmas list.

    Thanks loads!

  7. Cheers for the link - didn't know CPG was a big old racialist. Good to know. Though, different times etc.