The Bechdel test asks whether two women are having a conversation which doesn't relate to a man. Many films, books and plays fall foul of the measure which first appeared in the comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For, created by Matthew Sweet's guest today Alison Bechdel. Her memoir Fun Home became a Tony Award-winning musical and she has now published The Secret to Superhuman Strength which considers her relationship with exercise so she and Matthew go on an imaginary walk discussing topics including mushrooms, drinking, the response of her mum to being depicted in fiction, the lingering impact of a Catholic childhood and going to confession, the writing of Adrienne Rich and Coleridge and Bechdel's exploration of ideas about transcendence.
Producer: Caitlin Benedict
You can find Matthew in conversation with other guests including Spike Lee, Sarah Perry, Jimmy Carter's former drugs tsar Peter Bourne and Michael Lewis in a playlist on the Free Thinking programme website https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04ly0c8