Everybody's talking about the "Bechdel Rule" all of a sudden, especially as it relates to science fiction. National Public Radio did a story on it the other day. Novelist Charles Stross dissected his own books to see if they passed the test. (Two of them failed.) This guy rigorously applies it to tons of science fiction books, including every single Doctor Who novelization. Just what is the Bechdel rule, and what's its secret connection to scifi? We asked creator Alison Bechdel herself.There are three components to the "Bechdel Rule," which Eisner-winning cartoonist Bechdel first articulated 25 years ago in an installment of her comic strip, Dykes To Watch Out For, particularly relating to movies:
1. Does it have at least two women in it, 2. Who [at some point] talk to each other, 3. About something besides a man.
So we asked Bechdel if she's happy the "Bechdel Rule" is getting so much play, and whether she thinks it should be applied to science fiction stories, as much as other genres. Here's what she said:
Yeah, I'm very glad people are talking about the "Bechdel Rule," even though I'm a little ambivalent about that name. When I talked to the NPR reporter, I suggested changing it to "Ripley's Rule," after the Sigourney Weaver character in "Alien." Since at the time of the rule's inception, that was the only movie that fit its criteria. But she didn't use that part of the interview. It's funny to me that it's getting so much play all of a sudden. For me, the Rule is kind of like feminism in a bottle—applied theory, quick and easy. I think whatever name one gives it, the rule should be applied to everything everywhere, including real life.
The NPR story singles out ABC Family's The Middleman for praise, because Wendy Watson and her roommate Lacey talk about art, music, work and a ton of other topics that have nothing to do with Sexy Boss Man aka Pillow Lips. (Well, I guess work relates tangentially to Sexy Boss Man.) It's actually quite revealing to hear a snippet of smart dialog from The Middleman after we've just heard samplings of drivel from Sex And The City and Grey's Anatomy. Middleman star Natalie Morales proposes her own corollary to the Bechdel Rule: the Morales Rule, which calls for Latino characters on TV to be well-rounded humans, who don't suddenly jump up and dance to Salsa music, sprinkle inaccurate Spanish into their conversation, or say "ay Papi" every few minutes.