For Men: 28 things your female characters can talk about to help your book/movie/TV show/play pass the Bechdel Test - Judy T. Oldfield

Congratulations! You’ve managed to put two named characters together in a scene. You’re already doing better than most. Now you just need something for them to talk about.

Naturally when you think about two women, you start to think about yourself as well, so maybe you’ll have them talk about a man. It would be nice if women talked about you, yup it would.

Whoa, slow down there cowboy. Hasn’t that already been done to death? It’s pretty unoriginal, and you, as a man of the 21st century, want to stand out. Lucky for you, women are actual human beings, with plenty of things to talk about that don’t involve men. Sometimes we even go whole hours without talking about men.

This is your ticket to passing the Bechdel Test! Here are 28 ideas to get you started. Use these teaser lines to begin your scene. For example, the answer to number 2 might be lemon zest. The answer to number 16 might be “Yea, but you go first.” Expand from there!

This list starts off with some slow pitches, and gets progressively harder. Choose one you feel comfortable pursuing.

And don’t worry, I don’t expect you to give me the credit when you accept your award.

1. “Is this shade of lipstick too pink to be called ‘classic red’?”

2. “There’s something a little different about your apple streusel. What’s your secret?”

3. “Have you ever noticed that pigeon pose really has nothing to do with pigeons?”

4. “The polka was rather risqué in its day, you know.”

5. “Throwing pottery on a wheel is way harder than Demi Moore makes it look.”

6. “Fuck tampons. I’m not going down due to toxic shock syndrome.”

7. “Well, we could always employ an A/B split to see which format works best.”

8. “I couldn’t sleep last night because I was up thinking about the creepy unknowable things that may lurk on the dark side of the moon.”

9. “I know that gluten free is bullshit but this gluten-free brownie is actually pretty good.”

10. “I know that it’s going to storm thanks to this old bum knee.”

11. “Wage gap.”

12. “I spend too much time on YouTube. I could probably tell you the top five baby squirrel videos on YouTube, ranked. Like, right now.”

13. “Oh. I’m just trying to work more grip-strength exercises into my daily life to up my rock-climbing abilities.”

14. “How could vampire fangs possibly retract? Where do they go?”

15. “How many times must a word of foreign origin be used before we can stop italicizing it? I’m anti-italicization.”

16. “Cyborgs, yea or nay?”

17. “So, how about that Kshama Sawant?”

18. “Oooh, nice Bluegrass collection.”

19. “Well, it wasn’t until the 11th century that the application of Aristotelian philosophy really took off in medieval doctrine.”

20. “Hydrogen bond. That’s why water is some funky shit right there.”

21. “I’m telling you, whales have unique languages.”

22. “So, has anyone ever figured out whether or not androids do indeed dream of electric sheep?”

23. “So, I introduced my niece to the concept of trolley problems.”

24. “What exactly does ‘sensible shoes’ mean?”

25. “Man, the effects of climate change on Micronesia are pretty fucked up.”

26. “I still say that Madonna’s cone bra was her best look.”

27. “Do bees even have knees?”

28. “Is it kind of weird that we drink milk?”


Judy T. Oldfield's work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Portland ReviewJMWWGravelSo to SpeakSuffragette City, and many others. An adventurous eater, Judy has dined on rotten shark in Iceland and tarantula in Cambodia. She grew up in the Metro Detroit area and earned her B.A. in English and Comparative Religion at Western Michigan University. She lives in Seattle but you can find her on Twitter at @J_T_Oldfield