The Real-Life Bechdel Test
Updated: Apr 2
I was lying on the couch binge-watching Sex and the City, a glass of alcoholic something-or-other in hand. My four favorite women were fabulously enjoying a New York brunch, when suddenly, Miranda was pissed.
Carrie had been talking about Big (which for anyone who watches the show, eh, it happens a lot). Miranda, annoyed at how much Carrie has been hurt by him, asks to talk about something else. So, the women switch to a new topic--another man. Miranda, now completely over it, stands and says:
“All we talk about anymore is Big, or balls, or small dicks. How does it happen that four such smart women have nothing to talk about but boyfriends? It's like seventh grade with bank accounts!”
Damn, I thought, dragging my hands around the couch for the remote. I clumsily found it and hit the pause button on Miranda’s face. She was mad, and had a reason to be. I thought about it, my head tilted and eyebrows raised. I took a drink. I was mad too.
My sister recently started her freshman year at college, and we talk often. Almost every time she calls, she brings up guys. “Are you making any girlfriends?” I ask. “Have you met any girls you like to hang out with?” I ask again.
“These guys are just friends, Jordan,” she’ll say, irritated or “I can hang out with whoever I want,” or sometimes, “I talked to a cute guy today.”
And okay, she is 19, in college, and single. Like, live the dream, I get it. But it saddens me how so many girls overlook how crucial it is to connect with women. I can barely have a conversation with my own sister, who is gaining all of these new life experiences, without talking about men.
Many have heard of “The Bechdel Test” (named for author Alison Bechdel) as a popular feminist gauge for films. Although some passing films do not always have feminist themes, it’s a nice little way to see if two women can have an on-screen conversation that doesn’t involve men. Unfortunately, almost all films fail the test. It proves to be supremely difficult to have two women characters have a conversation about something else that isn’t a man. So why is this?
“How does it happen that four such smart women have nothing to talk about but boyfriends?”
Women, your value does not come from how pretty some guy thinks you are. You are more than how interesting a man thinks you are. Your value comes from what you do, what you love, and what you know. We truly grow by connecting and falling in love with other women.
Women who support each other and lift each other up is a beautiful thing, hardly glorified in our culture. The best and most fulfilling relationships I have in my life come from women who understand me and help me become better every day.
So, try passing a real life Bechdel Test. Girls, go out with your women friends and really talk about your lives, dreams, and accomplishments. We are more than the guys we are with, or how men see us.
Be fierce, be strong, and don’t ever run out of things to talk about.