Visit MaineToday's profile on Pinterest.

About The Author


Emily Straubel

Emily is a sex and dating crusader. She founded The Red Lipstick Project as a place to talk openly about dating and sex and to connect with other intelligent women who want to find relationships that are as passionate and ambitious as they are. Emily also works with these women as a certified Holistic Health Coach to focus on their health and mindfulness as they go through breakups, job changes and other transitions to feel and look amazing in their own unique bodies. To share your story or experiences with dating in Portland email her at

Send an email | Read more from Emily

The Sex Files with Emily Straubel
Posted: July 21, 2014

Ladies: Do your conversations pass the Bechdel Test?

Complex Female Protaganist |Red Lipstick Project | Emily Straube

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:

“So how are things with so-and-so?”

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.

Like the Film Festival – for the next 30 days I am committing to

only having conversations that pass the Bechdel Test.

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.

Here are the Rules:

  1. The film has to feature two women
  2. The women have to interact
  3. The two women have to talk about something other than men… anything.

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:

  • Have you talked to your Mom/Sister/Aunt lately? How are they doing?
  • Do you have any big health goals this summer? I’m thinking of running a half marathon this fall. Just for me.
  • Where have you been in Maine that is off the beaten path? We need to plan a great day hike/fancy dinner.
  • Did you read Alex Steed’s article about his embarrassing youth.. yikes! What kind of kid were you in High School?
  • Are you going to The Red Lipstick Bookclub – we’re talking about women being called “crazy” – you should read this article and GO!
  • Who do you think is the luckiest person in this room?
  • Are you listening to any good music/ reading good books lately? I need something fresh.
Up Next: