A recent querier made a unique claim: their book, which had a male protagonist, passed the Bechdel test.
The Bechdel test requires:
- at least two women
- who talk to each other
- about something other than a man.
A female protagonist is not necessary. But it’s rare to find a Bechdel-passing story with a male lead.
I see too many male protagonists even though half our authors, and half the human race, are women. If you include enough women to pass the Bechdel test, why don’t you have a heroine?
It feels half-assed.
Yet I want all stories to pass the Bechdel test. In an ideal world, all books would pass and all protagonists would split evenly among genders.
Verdict: passing the test is awesome whether your hero is male or female.
But I encourage all writers to ask every character’s gender. Why can’t her mother be her techno-savvy role model? Why is the bartender a guy? Why is the smoking hot runway model a woman?
It turns out if one-third of characters are female, we think the ratio is 50-50. If it’s actually 50-50, people get the impression women make up an overwhelming majority.
Keep writing women. We’re not close to equality yet.