Bechdel Testing Life is a series of plays inspired by the Bechdel Test, which asks whether a film, play or television series features a conversation between at least two women, about something other than a man. The question is one of representation. But it also makes me wonder whether women share ideas in a different way when they are together.
Kate Fox, in her essay Girl Talk, tells us that there are many studies which demonstrate that the ways genders bond are different. As she writes, ‘male bonding tends to be more formal and organized’, and also that ‘every known human society has some form of men-only clubs or associations, special (often secret) male-bonding organizations or institutions from which women are excluded’. The private interactions between women are similarly important and should be foregrounded as well.
Caitlin Moran points out that women have fears totally outside the male experience. No man can really get why women hesitate before walking home in the dark. Girls are raped, robbed, assaulted, as well as diminished and demeaned for no reason other than that they have a vagina. That is terrifying. As Moran writes
We're scared. We don't want to mention it, because it's kind of a bummer, chat-wise, and we'd really like to talk about stuff that makes us happy, like look at our daughters — and we can't help but think, ‘which one of us? And when?’ We walk down the street at night with our keys clutched between our fingers, as a weapon. We move in packs — because it's safer. We talk to each other for hours on the phone — to share knowledge. But we don't want to go on about it to you, because that would be morbid.
Communication between the sexes is certainly possible, and understanding knows no gender. But empathy might be a different, and more complicated, matter.
- Lynn Ruth Miller
This diagnosis is based on the performance Bechdel Testing Life at The Bunker, London. Bechdel Theatre are at the Fringe highlighting shows which pass the Bechdel Test. Check in with their work here.
Links relevant to this diagnosis:
The Bechdel Test - Dykes to Watch Out For
What Women Say to One Another - Huffington Post
Women in Conversation - Elite Daily
What Do Women Talk About Mostly? - Quora Topic
What Women Never Say to A Man - Caitlin Moran, Esquire
Girl Talk - Kate Fox