Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Martha's Pet Peeve Probe

I've mentioned in a prior post that I have nothing interesting to say about our weekly topic of Pets, but reinterpret this topic to Pet Peeves and you can't shut me up (which may be your pet peeve.)

My pet peeve was nameless until 1985 when an American cartoonist made it a phenomenon now dubbed The Bechdel Test, which a movie fails unless it contains two female characters who talk to each other about something other than a man.

I began to wonder. Can my life pass the Bechdel test?

Wary of Heisenberg, my favorite, if wimpiest, of the quantum mechanics principles, I knew instead of analyzing data going forward I would need to look back.

I gathered my past 24 hours of conversation from 7am on Monday March 28th to 6:59am on Tuesday, March 29th. (Yes, I realize this gives away that I half-ass my posts the day before they are due.)

Every validity test needs a set of guidelines. Here are mine:

1. Conversations about men will count against the Bechdel test if the context is personal or romantic. For example, conversations about a project including a male coworker's role are work. Conversations about nephews are family. I'll detail them out so you can decide if you disagree.

2. I will include all forms of communication including verbal, social media (twitter, facebook), email, text message, and IM. Social media posts will not count unless they are directly to me. For example, if I follow someone who generally posts about her boyfriend to the world at large, this is not a conversation unless I respond to it. However, my posts to the world at large will count.

Caveat: for the same of privacy, I am deliberately vague about certain discussions, but will not omit any topics. In instances of conversations, I note the starting time.

Here we go. Failures of Bechdel are italicized.

8:24am - verbal discussion with A re: our weekends, particularly enjoyment of and disappointment being back at work and what mood our boss might be in.

8:34am - email with B re: Bologna Book Fair

8:53am - tweet to C re: her May autographing in San Francisco

8:54am - email from D re: status of the work in progress and google stalking of editors

8:55am - tweet to general re: the movie Limitless

9:30am - tweet to general re: friend's brilliant and enviable Wondercon costume as Henry Cavill's wife

9:40am - verbal conversation with A and E re: NERT training, emergency preparedness, cultural differences of emergency response, and digression into our own personal survival strategies i.e. would we kill someone to survive (unequivocally yes, fyi)

9:55am - email and follow up tweet with F and G re: logistics for dinner event in which I am a total diva pain in the ass

10:20am - text with H and I re: meeting up for lunch and omg is it lunch yet and whaddya mean you're working from home and can't join us I?

11:00am - IM chat with J re: lap dancing, pole dancing, my addiction to online auctions, and whether I could handle being live hunted (with all due respect to myself, no.)

11:10am - IM chat with K re: audio books

11:22am - IM chat with B re: submission

11:28am - email with L re: her mom's general state of awesomeness

11:30am - verbal conversation with A re: defining key collaborators in grants

11:33am - email with M re: sugo recipe failure and correlation to patience

11:36am - tweets with N and L re: vampire wimps with breakout into love for Ian Somerhalder and Timothy Olyphant (I can make anything relate to Timothy Olyphant)

11:37am - email with O re: stress over upcoming parental visit

12:30pm - verbal conversation with H re: having run into woman I thought I knew in the bathroom because she looked so familiar but really she was Pam from the Real World San Francisco season, the deliciousness of pho, our friend's happy hour over the weekend which she missed, the movie Limitless, gym memberships, and Wondercon, specifically, what fandom line do we need to not cross to still respect ourselves in the morning.

12:36pm - email from P (with many respondents) re: her anthology short story (woohoo)

1:05pm - email with Q re: bachelorette party planning (details omitted but rest assured any bachelorette party I'm planning doesn't culminate in a sweaty, half-naked acrobatic guy)

1:08pm - text from I re: Timothy Olyphant's npr appearance

1:39pm - email from R re: Timothy Olyphant's npr appearance

1:44pm - text from S re: her return to town

2:15pm - verbal conversation with I re: new job posting and updating her resume

2:17pm - emails with H and I re: resume review

3:02pm - tweet to F re: washing her car of pet dander so I can survive being inside it

5:15pm - tweets with T and L re: Cheetos

5:30pm - verbal conversation with G re: car accidents, raising children, divorce, the Jaqueline Howett situation, and book reviews

6:30pm - verbal conversation with G, U, F, V, and W re: celebrating our friend's book release, cakes, electronic versus print publishing, family and divorce, pay inequities, our personal publishing related news, the industry at large and various and other sundry topics of titillating score.

7:23pm - email with X re: baby shower invitations

7:39pm - email with B re: submissions

8:19pm - tweet to S re: her return to town

9:45pm - verbal conversation with F re: book brainstorming

10:56pm - email with Y re: her dog getting into a fight

11:07pm - email with Z, AA and BB re: baby shower logistics

11:08pm - email with CC re: delicious pop-up delis

11:29pm - tweet to G and F re: thanking for hospitality and ride home

11:36pm - email with DD re: sister's birthday gift ideas

I also "liked" several people's facebook status related to: EE's upcoming trip to Peru, I's brother-in-law's return from military service, and FF's hotel offering makeup remover (what? that's nice of them.)

There you have it. Twenty four hours with yours truly in conversation with thirty two of her female friends, coworkers, family, and acquaintances.

Three conversations about Ian Somerhalder and/or Timothy Olyphant. (If you want to get picky and count the Henry Cavill one, go ahead, but that was really about the costume and not him.)

Two conversations about a friend's divorce.

One conversations about publishing and pay inquities which included discussions of two specific men's business decisions (as well as many women's business decisions) so I would only say 20% of this counts.

Now to the question: is this a typical day for me? Well, actually, no.

I normally don't spend this much time in conversation with F and G who can be credited with the latter three incidences of Bechdel test failure. This day also completely lacked four other friends who I usually speak to every day and see weekly because of this deviation from social norms.

As to those four friends, I took a look at a week's worth of correspondence and thought back to our in-person time and concluded nearly all our conversations passed the Bechdel test with topic contendors orbiting around (1) food, (2) being Asian and (3) whatever it is we're *doing* when we're together which, ahem, isn't a guy. If we do happen to talk about a guy, it's rarely about one guy and instead about "guys in general" as in "Why are guys so low functioning when it comes to planning a date?" (Don't get all defensive, guys, it's just an example.)

Not to pat myself on the back, but I'd say my friends and I pass with flying colors. Good to know I don't have to be pet peeved with myself.


Sophie Littlefield said...

i do believe i shall start being known only by my initial :)

you're awesome...

Rachael Herron said...

I love my initial bestest!

L.G.C. Smith said...

Can my recently deceased dog have an initial? I'm sure I talked about her. And that brings in another actual pet...

Gigi Pandian said...

I never knew this had a name -- hee hee ;)

Maddy said...

That's a great test, although clearly I'm way out left field as I honestly can't remember when I last had a conversation that made any reference to a man. [boys excluded]

Jeanne said...

So THAT'S why I liked the movie "Julie & Julia" so much. It passed the Bechdel Test!

Martha Flynn said...

I think Hollywood needs a Bechdel quota - like for every x movies at least y need to pass.

It would be interesting to correlate profitability to Bechdel (says the statistics freak)