Problems of Diversity & History
When originally developing Wavemen, it was important to both Robin and me that the cast be gender balanced. A friend of ours, writer and lawyer Matthew Parker, gave himself a similar challenge by having a story which passed the Bechdel test during the first scene. For those who do not know, the Bechdel test was proposed by comic artist Alison Bechdel as a litmus test for gender inclusiveness in modern media. It follows three basic steps, each of which must be satisfied in order to pass the test. Keep in mind that the Bechdel test is not an absolute metric of gender bias or a lack thereof, but is a good simple indicator of balance in character writing and development. The steps are as follows: 1) Are there two or more female characters? 2) Do they ever speak to each other? 3) If they do, is it about something other than a man? A shocking number of modern films, television programs and comics fail this test, commonly on the first step. There is much discussion about why this might be the case, but regardless of the cultural grounds, it was important to us to portray a realistic and even cast of characters, and this meant passing the Bechdel test. For Wavemen, this has posed a bit of a problem, as the Heian period of Japan, like ancient and less ancient history, had a tendency to marginalize the accomplishments of women, or credit them to contemporary men. In addition, while the Heian period did not have as strictly enforced gender and class roles as later eras, they were still significant, and many women were subject to arranged marriages and other institutions that precluded the kind of adventures we wanted to bring across in our comic. Next time, we’ll discuss the ways we worked around this problem, and meet some of our female cast.
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