3.1. Gender Awareness in Translation
According to Vanessa Leonardi and Annarita Taronna, gender awareness in translation
“implies that the translator’s ‘responsibility’ should not be limited to a mere (re)writing of the source text” (2011, 380). Therefore, translators need to implicate themselves as cultural mediators in the power of “legitimate political project towards the respect of identities, as a
dismantling action of political cultural and minority inequalities, as a destructor of stereotypes shadowing human encounters” (Brufau 2011, 11). Olga Castro agrees with Leonardi and Taronna’s idea of the necessity of gender awareness in translation and states that “from TS it is also possible to propose a new rhetoric of translation that deconstructs the hierarchies between sexes and texts, and which replaces cliché language with a terminology that is capable of transmitting the active game of identities that converge in translation” (2009, 6).
Following these lines, the translation itself can also contribute to expose the translation’s ideology and illustrate the ideology hidden behind the translator’s choices (Leonardi and Taronna 2011, 383).
The study of gender has become a solid discipline in Translation Studies which is known nowadays as Feminist Translation Studies (Federici and Leonardi 2012, 184). It is aimed to “reverse the role traditionally played by both women and translations in society by challenging the patriarchal and sexist language which has dominated the world for years”
(2012, 184). This is done by supporting the “rethinking and subversion of hierarchical paradigms in Translation Studies” seeing the act of translating from a gendered perspective, which encourages the usage of dynamic strategies in order to never assume the subjectivity of women as a stable category (Leonardi and Taronna 2011, 380). Consequently, feminist translation does not solely focus on lexicon but on “discourses”, “ideologies” and
“identitions” that can be legitimised or normalised (Brufau 2011, 6).
Furthermore, three main names are at the forefront of the development of “the more academic feminist critique of film” (Von Flotow and Josephy-Hernández 2018, 297). These three names are Mulvey, Silverman and Lauretis, whose work “provides separate but related examples of early gender-conscious criticisms of the audiovisual products that continue to drive cultural and socio-political representations of gender, where gender is considered as the socio-cultural behaviour that performs or demonstrates a certain sexual identity; it is behaviour that is learnt through repetitive practice, training, and mechanisms of social control” (2018, 298). Mulvey’s psychoanalysis of scopophilia, Silverman’s study of the women’s voice in cinema as a way of assigning traits reinforcing sexual differences, and Lauretis’s focus on the representation of lesbian entities in films (2018, 299) have “paved the way for a plethora of studies on different gender questions” (2018, 300). However, “relatively little attention has been paid to questions of gender in the language of audiovisual products,
which is, after all, what is translated, and what translation studies research needs to focus on”
3.1.1. The Canadian School of Feminist Translation
The Canadian school of feminist translation has “identified translation as the combination of a practising theory and a theorising practice from which to examine cultural and ideological issues” (Castro 2009, 3). Consequently, the 21st century feminism is “closely related to cultural and identity issues in an almost political battle to transport the political claims of women and/or minorities” (Brufau 2011, 6). Translation has changed its focus and, now, it comprises a great deal of sociolinguistic issues, such as feminism. In this regard, Spain is seen as “a strong centre of theoretical and practical production” in the fight for equality (2011, 10).
Additionally, the stress is put on analysing not only literary texts, as it has been mentioned before, but also audiovisual products and, thus, audiovisual translation (Castro 2009, De Marco 2006a). This new focus on translation can be conceived as the ‘third wave feminist translation’ (Castro 2009, 4). Thus, gender awareness is a necessity when talking about audiovisual translation because of the implications that this latter concept involves.
3.1.2. The Bechdel Test
For the sake of this work, it has been analysed the translation into Spanish of the series The Bridgerton, which is in English, in order to analyse from a gendered perspective the translator’s choices. This is done by focusing on whether the text, in this case the subtitles, maximises, minimises, neutralises or omits certain information from the original source due to the possibility of disseminating certain hegemonic perspectives, as if they were universal by reason of the readers’ unfamiliarity of the source text (De Marco 2006a, 182), by cause of gender blindness (Zaragoza and Ricart 2020, 424). However, the “identification of the text type is a fundamental aspect to take into account in any text analysis approach to translation”
(Federici 2012, 185).
In this sense, the Bechdel Test offers “an unusual combination of empirical data and political judgement” (Selisker 2015, 505). According to Scott Selisker, “the Bechdel Test gives films a pass or fail rating based on three linked criteria” (2015, 505). This criteria and, consequently, the origination of this test, was introduced by Alison Bechdel in her comic strip
Dykes to Watch Out For in 1985 (Von Flotow and Josephy-Hernández 2018, 297). In this strip, she stated the three criteria to recognise a non-misogynist text: “One, it has to have at least two women in it who, two, talk to each other about, three, something besides man”
(Selisker 2015, 505). As Von Flotow and Josephy-Hernández state, “[t]his cartoon and the feminist socio-cultural and political requirements it delineates have been widely applied by film critics and viewers alike [since] is used to both assess audiovisual products from a feminist perspective and explain the failure of certain products from that same point of view”
(2018, 297). Following this criteria, The Duke and I (Quinn 2000) can be partially considered a misogynist text because of Daphne’s monotonous topic of discussion: marriage. On the basis that the original source might be considered anti-feminist, the adaptation of this novel to the confessedly feminist series The Bridgerton (Valentini 2020) may involve unwanted consequences such as discourses which follow a hegemonic patriarchal ideology.
3.2. Sexism in Translation
As in the social sphere, sexism is still latent in translation by cause of the hegemonic values that have persisted through time thanks to their perpetuation in different levels and from diverse sources. Castro points out different sexist metaphors that compare women with translation such as Gilles Ménage’s 17th century coined concept Les belles infidèles and Derrida’s translation contract, similar to a marriage covenant (2009, 5-6). The former expression describes translations as women, who “will be unfaithful (infidèles) if they are beautiful (belles)” (2009, 5). Leonardi and Taronna agree with this idea that women have been considered as subordinate components of society (2011, 399) by reason of patriarchal values.
The latter term uses a classical sexist rhetoric by proposing a “translation contract (like that of marriage) by which the translation marries the original in order to be comple(men)ted in another new text that guarantees the survival of both” (2009, 6). For this reason, there is the need of sociolinguistics, which is “concerned with the uses of language and the values associated with such uses” (Nida 2012, 44).
The audience do not commonly question “standard patterns of behaviour”, “certain expressions” and “attitudes” which are portrayed through the screen and, consequently, they become “part of an interculturally shared background” (De Marco 2006a, 182). Language reflects a culture and gives access to the ideology of that culture (Nida 2011, 43). If a sexist
type of language is portrayed through the screen — and in its translation — and the target audience do not decode the message that has been shared, it can be considered that “cinema, and screen translation, may have the power to monopolize the audience’s conscience and subtly contribute to inculcating and perpetuating unpleasant assumptions, patriarchal stereotypes and discriminatory attitudes that become more and more difficult to uproot from our minds” (De Marco 2006a, 182).