I think this video raises a good point:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLF6sAAMb4s?wmode=transparent]

If you’re not in a place to watch it, it’s a test for movies about whether there is a “female presence.” Not that it’s feminist, or even portrays women well. Just as to whether it even portrays women at all.

The test:

1) Does it have two or more women in it (with names).
2) Do they talk to each other?
3) About something other than a man.

As the video points out, a surprising number of movies don’t meet these three, pretty simple points.

Of course, some stories won’t lend themselves to this critique. Shawshank Redemption and Cool Hand Luck fail, but of course they do–they’re set in all male prisons.

But even When Harry Met Sally fails the test. It’s not that there aren’t women in it, it’s that the women in it only talk about one subject: men. But again, the men in it only talk about one subject: women. And I don’t think that Harry is necessarily better drawn than Sally (the reverse actually).

So it’s not exactly a foolproof test, but it’s still an interesting test.

And, I’d note, it applies to a lot more than just movies.

For example, my novel The Saints Go Dying fails the test. It does have women characters, but they don’t talk (though, if they did, I don’t think it would be about a man). On the other hand, in The Marinara Murders I pass with flying colors. And it does feel like a more well-rounded story (to me).

Anyway. Food for thought for all the creative-types out there. Does your story have enough women?