East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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The Mako Mori test

The Bechdel Test has been used in these last few years as an index of the degree … something.
Basically to pass the Bechdel test, a story (originally a movie, but it works for any narrative) must feature two female character, both with a name, that share a dialogue in which they do not talk about a man.
It’s been pointed out that the Bechdel test – that originally started as a joke in a satirical comic strip – is a useful tool to spot gender inequality, but beyond that, it’s very much a matter of hand-waving.

A story can pass the Bechdel and still be a pile of drivel, while a story can fail it spectacularly and still be a good, solid, fun and significant story.
Case in point?
Debbie does Dallas passes the Bechdel, Fistful of Dollars does not.

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Firm-breasted lawyers

593x800_7883_Red_Sonja_2d_fantasy_oil_painting_warrior_female_red_hair_picture_image_digital_artOnce again about female characters in fantasy.

The painting here on the right is by the great Donato Giancola.
It’s my idea of a fantasy sword-woman done right.
She has character, she projects strength and toughness but she has class.
OK, so maybe there’s no reason in the ‘verse to handle a sword like that (or so they told me) but who cares – I can believe she’s a real woman.
No brass bikini, no empty, inflatable-doll-like curves to please an adolescent audience.

And the adolescent audience is what’s making me nervous.
And a quick survey of the fantasy and sword & sorcery field in my country* has been dis-heartening. Continue reading