Deriders of the Bechdel Test tend to gravitate immediately towards what I like to call The Shawshank Redemption Clause. They cite as many works as possible which are completely awesome, and have no ladies in them, as evidence that the test is stupid.
Me, I see that as evidence that their faces are stupid. And that they have entirely missed the point of the Bechdel Test.
No one would ever deny that it’s possible to create a masterpiece that has no women in it. However… there are few true masterpieces in the world, and there are very few stories in the world that are so VERY good that having more than one interesting female character in them is something that wouldn’t improve the narrative.
I had this in my head upon revisiting Night Watch, because I remembered very clearly that a) this is primarily a story about men and b) this is one of my favourite Discworld novels of all time. And I say this as someone who is meh about Small Gods and Reaper Man, two of the most celebrated of the Discworld novels, precisely because the overwhelming focus on male characters and point of view left those books, in my opinion, lacking something.
Mostly, I was scared that my focus on female characters would spoil this book. It’s not like it would be the first thing that my developing feminist perspective has utterly ruined for me.
But it turned out okay. Because (spoilers, sweetie!) Night Watch is still awesome. It’s mostly a male narrative, AND it’s awesome.
(But, as it happens, it passes the Bechdel Test. Just.)