neil-gaiman said: Good call. But does that count, I wonder? The Bechdel wording is "women" not "females" so reverse wording is "men" not "males", and Matthew is pretty definitely a raven and not a man. (We can definitely count Morpheus, anthropomorphic personification or not.)

Without treading too far into the high turbulence waters that are gender label discussions, I would say that Matthew definitely counts, for several reasons:

1 - As stated, prior to becoming Dream’s Raven, Matthew was a human man, Matthew Cable, and despite his body Dream-form (? He does go Earth-side during Brief Lives) he seems to retain the personality and identity of Matthew Cable, including all of his memories (like knowing how to drive, that he was an alcoholic), while his raven-ish tendencies are more incidental (flight, perching, etc.  Does he like to eat eyeballs, or am I confusing him with Quoth the Raven from Discworld?  If he does, his grudge war with the Corinthian takes on a whole new, rather goofy aspect that I quite like).

ETA: Would we have the same question about Lucien, who was a raven but now looks like a man again? 

2 - “Women” in the Bechdel Test is routinely applied to characters who can be described as “female or self-identified female sentient entities”.  If they’re using it on My Little Ponies, then it’s difficult to argue that the term excludes humans reincarnated rein-dream-ed (this is how the original post wound up having five footnotes) as ravens.  If we narrow the definition of man/woman to exclude any gendered sentient character (sentience only being a required attribute because the Bechdel Test requires a conversation as well, so can it be applied to ballets?), we start having to exclude vampires, werewolves, and Time Lords (and the idea of even beginning to apply the Bechdel Test to a Time Lord/Lady like the Corsair that happily switches between differently gendered bodies… oh no, I’ll leave that to the gender studies experts.)

… and I could go on rather longer, because while I find the Bechdel Test to be an interesting and educational exercise, it has certain underlying problematics, including its requirements for dialogue and its inability to distinguish content (e.g. A story wherein two women discuss problems at work and their children will arbitrarily pass or fail the test depending on if their boss/coworker is a man or a woman or if their child is a son or a daughter without any other distinguishing features in the content) that make it a less accurate gauge of gender bias than it is sometimes depicted… 

… but I won’t, because I’ve probably already taken up too much of your time.  Thank you, sir, for writing such wonderful stories that challenge so many of these labels, raise such interesting issues, and especially for Brief Lives.  I look forward to the next one.

Tags: neil-gaiman