I’m re-reading a large Tom Clancy thriller because it has an olympic tie-in and I’m sort of a sucker for the Jack Ryan thrillers. These are NOT feminist books by any stretch of the imagination, and I think one could argue successfully that these books are anti-feminist in many ways.
But. Rainbow Six passes the Bechdel Test. WHAT? Yup, it does. In case you haven’t read Rainbow Six, let me just assure you that it is a typical Clancy thriller about spies and guns and terrorists and shooting people dead without a trial. The main characters are all men. The two main characters are familiar to people who read the Ryanverse books — John Clark and his son-in-law, Domingo Chavez. Back to how this book passes the Bechdel test.
1. There are at least two named women characters. There are far more than two named women characters in this book, but for now we’ll just mention Sandy Clark and Patricia Chavez, her daughter.
2. Who talk to each other. Sandy and Patricia do talk to each other in a dinner scene where both of their husbands are also present.
3. About something other than a man. Yes. Yes, they do talk to each other about work. Sandy is an ER nurse and Patricia is a medical doctor doing an OB/GYN residency.
This scene is a weird little slice of domesticity in the book. I’m not sure what its purpose is exactly, except to emotionally set up the next operation that John and Domingo have to go on, which involves rescuing children.
To be (slightly) fair, there are also named women who play a more central role in the plot, but none of these talk to other women, only to men. I am only half-way through this re-read, so if this changes I will let you know.
If Tom Clancy can pass the Bechdel test, surely it shows that this is a very minimal standard. Yet, there are many books and movies that don’t pass the test, meaning they really ignore half the world’s population in the stories. Things that make you go hmmm.