Passing And Failing

One of the reasons I love “You’re The Worst” on FXX is because it is so furiously meta.  These are self aware people struggling in a world that tends to banality, their intensity forcing them into more and more convoluted interactions.

In last night’s show, Gretchen and Lindsay become aware that they fail the Bechdel Test because all of their conversations are about relationships, which means that they are about guys.   They then strive to change this.

The Bechdel-Wallace test for films is passed when two women (preferably named) have a conversation about something other than a man.  It was first discussed in Alison Bechdel‘s comic “Dykes To Watch Out For.”   It has become a widely used marker for how women are used in media.

Kether Donohue, the actress who plays Lindsay, “[The fact they have such a hard time talking about anything other than guys is] part of the humor. It speaks to the truth of what I think a lot of women go through. Because when you sit down to brunch with your girlfriends… whether you’re single or in a relationship, you’re going to be talking about your love life.”

As a transwoman who identifies as a femme lesbian, my love life never went anywhere worth talking about.  As a guru who is abstinant, it just doesn’t exist.

Emerging as trans means you have to reconfigure your relationship with the system of desire.   What worked for romance when you appeared normative doesn’t work in the same way when you appear queer, so a new approach has to be negotiated, whatever that turns out to be.

For me, though, my experience denies to me the easy bonding experience of women, the one they go to to define themselves, talking about guys.

I haven’t lived in a world where my identity is based on the simple assertion that there is us and them and we are the ones who are not guys.

This doesn’t mean that I understand the experience of being one of the guys, either.  I never succeeded at that challenge.

Just like I told the therapist who wanted to diagnose me when I was 13, my goal has always to be myself.

While some gay men who write about the Bechdel test say it involves two female characters, the original says it involves at least two women.   I know why those two definitions are different.

My life passes the Bechdel test.   My conversations are almost never about guys.

Passing the Bechdel test that way, though, means that I fail the test of passing.  I don’t easily slot in as one of the gals, using gender divisions to create unity through conversations which focus on us vs. them.

I understand the challenging and confusing gendered expectations that men grow up with, the demand to be strong, silent and fearless and the requirement to be sensitive, considerate and flexible.   Being cast as the other and having to play that role well to get feminine attention is always a challenge, because, as I also know from my own emotions, chicks are crazy.

Women love the shorthand binary of gender roles, except when they find them constraining and oppressive.  That conundrum is at the heart of almost all the discussion about feminism in the last century.

For me, though, passing is failing, and that leaves me on the sidelines, again.