Can breaking gender stereotypes become a stereotype in its own right?
I am currently writing a short Dieselpunk story, where a young woman is the inventor of the world’s ugliest car. Her fellow protagonist is an elderly male poet who wants to capture the essence of speed in words. I have suddenly realised this means my story can’t pass the Bechdel test.
For those who don’t know, the Bechdel Test is any story where:
- It has to have at least two women in it,
- who talk to each other,
- about something besides a man.
However, I don’t want to throw in an unnecessary character just for the sake of passing the test. And there is a certain irony is using an elderly white male as my ‘feminine’ voice, as the poet.
So that is my conundrum for today. Do I gender-swap the poet to a woman? Do I add another character? Do I accept the fact that this story won’t pass the Bechdel test?
You might ask why this is important to me. It is because I want to write stories that don’t define women (or men, for that matter) as stereotypes by their gender. I have found gender biases creeping into my work when I get tired or lazy.