Act 47

May 5, 2011

The 545 Test

In the spirit of the Bechdel test (, the 545 test asks: given the ratio of male to female incidental characters (background characters) described within a given text, could the population of a world sustain itself?

Some background info
The 545 test was devised during the group at the gynacon panel-discussion, “you have a female lead character dammit, what more do you want?”, at the recent swancon 36/natcon 50 convention. I am adding it here as an act of cyberfeminism because the discussion itself came out of musings about Act 9 (oh wow, I can’t believe it was so long ago!), Viola’s Bookshelf, and my observation that when you reverse the gender of *all* the characters in a text you suddenly find yourself with a whole lot of incidental characters that are female. And they stand out. A lot. Because the norm, which is so common that we don’t even notice, it that most of the workers and plebs and other very minor characters who are there to move the plot forward and provide world building tend to be men.

What do you mean ‘could the population sustain itself’?
Well, if a text presents a ratio of, say, about 9 male characters to every 1 female character, would there be enough women to breed a replacement population? Or would the author’s otherwise well crafted world collapse in just a few generations?

What does 545 mean?
It is named after the hotel room that the guerrilla programming event took place in :)

So… how does the latest text you have been reading/watching/etc rate?

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