February 20, 2019

SEX ON THURSDAY | The Bechdel Test

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recently learned about the Bechdel Test (ironically from a male friend, but so it goes). In essence, the test measures women’s representation in fiction and requires that two women talk to each other about anything other than a man. And that’s when I realized very few moments in my life would pass the Bechdel Test.

Anytime I’m talking to a female friend for more than a few minutes, the topic of boys typically comes up. Sometimes we’re ranting about a male professor. Other times we’re talking about a classmate of ours that loves to speak about women’s issues that do not concern him. But usually we’re talking about the cute guy in our government class or asking for updates on someone’s first date. And this isn’t necessarily bad, but it is sad that I can’t remember a time when romantic interests weren’t a main talking point.

And why? It’s interesting. To this day, my high school friends are fascinated with each other’s sex lives. On New Year’s Eve, the last time we saw each other, there was a lull in conversation, and someone suggested playing Never Have I Ever. Maybe I have a particular dislike toward the game from some kind of middle school trauma, but I still dread playing it. Not all of it’s bad. I appreciated learning that our previously straight-laced valedictorian let some rando go down on her at a frat party. But I also left that night knowing nothing about her new friends or what she’s involved in at school. As a result, I’m starting to define her, and my other friends, by their hook-up stories instead of letting the stories occupy a small part of their very busy lives.

And I don’t think it’s just me. I was having a Galentine’s dinner with a friend and asked for an update about her life. She told me she had “nothing going on” which was her way of saying that she has no love life drama to share with me. So I told her that we were going to have a dinner that finally passed the Bechdel Test, and we made it through a whole 20 minutes (this is a half-happy, half-sad achievement) before I got a text from a guy I’m into and our conversation became about him instead.

This is in no way saying that we should stop talking about our love conundrums with our friends. I have a few lasting friendships from home that started because of mutual crushes. Even now, someone telling me about a person they’re interested in lets me know that they trust me. But it’s weird because I don’t use that benchmark with my male friends. I don’t wait for them to tell me about girls or guys they like, and they usually don’t want to hear about the guys I like. And I actually have no idea if they talk about this stuff with each other.

I don’t have an overall conclusion about this. I enjoy telling my friends about my life, and part of my life includes random hook-ups and dates. Vice versa, I love hearing about my friends’ lives and want them to know they can share anything with me. I guess the most important part, as with any aspects of our lives, is to find balance. Just like I wouldn’t want to be defined by my friend drama or my prelim schedule, I don’t want to be defined by my hook-ups. And even if my friends and I can’t pass the Bechdel Test, I’m determined for us to give importance to all of our stories and not just the ones that start with: “So about that guy from last night …”

Sexless in Seattle is a student at Cornell University. The Virgin Diaries runs monthly.