This weekend I attended yet another short film festival at SPACE Gallery, something I do frequently to support my amazing movie-makin’ artist friends. We usually clap politely and then go out for drinks. I rarely walk into these things looking for inspiration that will change the course of my conversations. But it did. Whoops!
The Bluestocking Film Fest has a simple premise. The festival features films that pass the Bechdel Test (the movie must have two named women in it, who talk to each other about something other than men). Sounds simple, right? It’s not.
But all of the short films featured in the Bluestocking Film Fest were incredibly rich stories about women and girls who are complicated and strange. It was so refreshing and hilarious.
Of course, just like a lot of women (married and single), I spend a hell of a lot of time talking about dudes. And relationships. And actually you’d think as a relationship coach, most of these conversations would naturally come up as a part of my job, but they don’t! When working with clients we talk about their self-love, health and happiness. Only when necessary do we dig into the details of the men who are a part of their lives. But sitting down with friends, I find myself defaulting to a common social question:
To be honest, this conversation is lazy and creates a shallow level of friendship that never gets to the guts of who we are as women. I want to know my friends beyond who they’re sleeping with and/or the texting schedule of their significant other and how it makes them feel.
Whoa – back up. What the heck is the Bechdel Test you ask?
Alison Bechdel came up with the “test” in 1985 in a comic strip, as one woman explaining her “rule” about movies to another woman. It’s since then been adapted as a rule for film makers and organizations (primarily in Europe) to approve and promote movies with fully developed female characters. An awesome first step.
The dialogue doesn’t even need to be intellectual or deep. It can be about shopping, makeup, shoes, whatever; it just can’t be about men. This shouldn’t be that hard to pass, right? But even a female-focused film like “American Hustle” only passes because of a 30-second conversation about nail polish.
And most movies don’t pass at all. Over half of all movies fail.
This fact makes me want to shake my fists at the fat old white men in Hollywood creating movies that set the tone for how our society acts. And it’s true, media is a major influence on our life. But reality also has a major influence on movies. As women, we could choose to dedicate our lives to standing up to Hollywood norms and demand movies be made with more interesting female characters and better female storylines, but maybe until then, we should start changing the conversations we have with each other.
I’m not asking you to make a pledge or anything wild here. I just think over the next few weeks when you sit down for coffee with a lady friend, before asking about the status update on her relationship, you ask her one of these things: