Real Life Bechdel Tests
Lately I've been doing good work building what Taylor Swift or Soul Cycle or Shonda Rhimes might call my tribe, my squad, my ride-or-dies. It's that group of strong, powerful women that support and nourish each other; those people who show up to cheer you on when you're on top of your game and to bring you ice cream when you've bottomed out; those people you buy tacky fridge magnets for every time you travel and go on six mile walks with the first time you ever hang out.
This is part of an effort to be more intentional about what energies I let into my life and what energies I'm putting out into the world. I'm asking myself questions like:
- What am I holding close? (aka maybe thinking about lost friendships and heartbreak and even ice cream so often is making me a little crazy and lactose intolerant)
- What am I manifesting? (aka maybe tweeting about how I'm a mess is making me a mess)
- How does what I do or see or say impact what the world sends my way? (aka maybe I need to stop watching Grey's Anatomy so that I don't have crazy drama in my world)
In combining all these questions, I've been thinking more about what my friends and I spend time doing together and what we talk about during that time. And I've realized that we spend a lot of time talking about men (boys). My friends concur. Most of the time it's like an episode of Sex and the City up in here.
So right now I'm pulling a Miranda and proclaiming, "How does it happen that four such smart women have nothing to talk about but boyfriends? It's like seventh grade with bank accounts!" How do we end up talking about boys so often? And how often do we really talk about boys? This led me to wonder,
Ok, so first note -- the Bechdel Test is a test most often used to analyze TV and movies that requires that the production have (1) at least two women in it, (2) who talk to each other, (3) about something besides a man.
Seems pretty simple, right? Well bechdeltest.com has put 6686 films to the test so far, and only 57.8% have passed. How is this the case? How do more than a third of films not feature women talking to each other about anything but men?
As a feminist, a film lover, and a woman, this really bugs me. But in light of realizing how often I talk to my friends about men, I'm beginning to wonder if my life would even pass this standard.
So I've decided that I'm going to put myself to the test for a few weeks. I'm going to keep a dialogue diary and track my conversation partners and content. I want to know: How many of my conversations include other women? How often are women in direct dialogue during those conversations? And how much of the content of those conversations is about something other than men?
All in all, how hard is it to pass the Bechdel Test? I'm really hoping I score higher than a 57.8% That is failing, after all.
Check back in a week or two for my results. They'll be the beginning of a new blog series I'm working on called Pseudo-Stats. But more on that later.
Image is a panel from Alison Bechdel's comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For where there Bechdel Test first appeared in 1985.