Researchers are scratching their heads trying to figure out why it's so rare to have women talking to each other about something other than men.
The Bechdel Test for Movies
If you watched Miss Representation several years ago or have read articles that have talked about how few movies have strong women characters that aren't completely focused on a male, then you're familiar with the Bechdel Test.
The Bechdel Test requires that a movie must meet minimum standards to get receive a passing grade. Those minimum standards include that the movie dialogue must show 1) two women talking to each other 2) about something other than a man. Some add the requirement that both women actually have to have a name (and not just be "girl behind the counter") or that the conversation has to last at least 60 seconds long.
On paper these standards don't seem entirely too lofty to me. But apparently only about half of the movies end up passing the grade, with the minimum of requirements.
The irony is that we get our panties all twisted every year during Award season as we realize how few of the big movies actually show women talking to each other or not having the entire dialogue revolve around the men in the story, and yet our own lives are showing even worse results!
The Bechdel Test in Our Lives
When asked if they had at least two female friends who they talk to about something besides men, Yale researchers found that only 30 percent of women are able to say yes.
Among those under 35, their favorite theme for discussion is "boys" and for those over the age of 35, the answer shifts only slightly to "spouses."
We are relational creatures, and our romantic relationships are certainly some of the most defining ones in our lives, but really?!?
When we could be talking about things such as our personal growth, news stories that impact us, our changing relationships to our parents, how our identities keep shifting, our insecurities at work, our dreams about what we want to contribute to this world, the projects that light us up, the hobbies that energize us, the unjust behaviors happening to women around the world, or the ideas that stimulate our brains. There is so much in this world to talk about in addition to romance. The world needs us talking about so very many other things.
Intentionally Expanding our Female Relationships
This is, at least, a two-prong issue.
The first is that we have to have more than two women we talk with for more than 60 seconds at a time. Research is revealing several things that could certainly make time among women more rare: some women who don't confide in anyone other than their guy, some are wary of female friendships, claiming to be more of a "girl who gets along better with guys," some simply have tons of acquaintances but no one they really have deep conversations with, and some are willing to have these conversations but just don't know anyone to confide in.
Clearly, for many, the need is simply establishing more female friendships so that if our lives were being filmed for a movie-- there would be many scenes filled with us having substantial conversations with other women.
The second issue though is that for those of us who do have many female friendships-- we need to practice expanding what we talk about! We need to practice being together sharing way more about our lives than simply how we feel about how one person in the world feels about us at any given moment.
In short we need more meaningful friendships with other women-- relationships that feel safe and healthy because they are built on us sharing about ourselves in a wide variety of ways. Relationships that support our romantic interests, but that also support all the other sides of us, too!
Starting NEXT week! "The Friendships You've Always Wanted! Learning a Better Way to Meet-Up, Build-Up, and Break-Up with Your Friends!"
I really hope you'll consider joining us this September-- International Women's Friendship Month--where we will all make a commitment for one month to focus on increasing the frientimacy (friendship intimacy with other women) in our lives!
With our workbook and lots of inspiring interviews-- we will find ways to 1) make more female friends and 2) do so in such a way that they are much deeper than any one topic! :)