So I've been thinking a lot about the overall shape of my novel - properly writing a female protagonist in a satisfying way, etc....and I hit on a side question about the overall shape of my plot that I thought posed and interesting question. We talk about passing the "Bechdel Test" (or the "Mako Mori Test") as being important for female characters in a plot - but does it apply the other way? If so, does it apply to the same degree? The reason I ask is this - I'm writing a pretty female-dominated story (female protag, female antag, female sidekick, multiple other important female characters.) I have no problem with passing the actual Bechdel test - I have plenty of female characters who constantly talk to each other, and mostly it's about work. However, if I flip the narrative - a lot of my male characters really DON'T pass the Bechdel test if I apply it backwards. I have the love interest - who's main arc revolves around falling in love with the protagonist. I have his buddy/co-worker - who I've realized often functions as a vulgar, testosterone-laced version of the rom-com "female character's best friend" - so he certainly doesn't talk about anything but the surrounding women. I do have an older male mentor character - but even he is really motivated by his past romance with the female mentor character (she's become a jaded alcoholic oppressed and enabled by the villain - for which he falsely blames himself - and that guilt pushes him forward). Now - there is a BACKGROUND plot that passes a reverse-Bechdel - all of my reporter characters are covering the election of a Pope, so when I cut to the cardinals, obviously they're ALL male, all priests, and mostly talk about religion. But does that solve a problem in the FOREGROUND plot? Then again, is it even a problem? We talk about under-representation of strong women in fiction and that's why we have the Bechdel Test in the first place. The flipside of that argument is that really we don't have an underrepresentation of strong male characters in fiction - so therefore a book about a kick-butt girl-squad that doesn't pass a reverse-Bechdel can't really be defined as "part of a larger problem". Discuss.