Jessica Valenti: The Measure of a Woman’s Worth

June 07, 2016

Author and Guardian US columnist Jessica Valenti is a pioneer of digital-age feminist writing, starting her blog Feministing in 2004, and becoming known as one of the leading voices in the discussion about gender equality. Valenti’s newest contribution to the movement is her new book, Sex Object: A Memoir.

Her witty and courageous book explores the cold, hard realities of growing up female in a male-dominated society, with a unique spin on a story many women are all too familiar with. Point of Inquiry’s Lindsay Beyerstein gets the inside scoop on what motivated Valenti to write the memoir and what she advises for the future of feminism and the fight for gender equality. They talk about many of the stories Valenti shares about her life, and discuss the personal impact of divulging one’s most vulnerable experiences in order to tell the difficult truths about many women’s everyday lives.

This is point of inquiry for Tuesday, June 7th, 2016. 

Hello and welcome to a point of inquiry. A production at the Center for Inquiry. 

I’m your host, Lindsay Beyerstein. And my guest today is Jessica Valenti, one of the most prominent feminist writers and activists working today. She’s the author of several well regarded books. She writes a column for The Guardian U.S. and she’s here today to talk about her newest work, Sex Object, which is a candid and bold memoir about the trials and triumphs of growing up in a female body in today’s society. These range from childhood street harassment through love, marriage, pregnancy and even abortion. 

Jessica, the title of the book is Sex Object. Why did you choose that title? 

You know, I went back and forth on it quite a bit. Actually, it was the first title. And in terms to say come to mind. To best describe what I was talking about. 

But I was obviously a little bit nervous about how controversial it could be. And I was really thinking ahead and thinking about the potential for backlash. Right. And I’m I’ve already started to see some of that, most of which is who this person is too ugly to call herself a sex object, which, of course, misses the very vital point that calling yourself a thing is not a compliment. But at the end of the day, you know, I didn’t want to let potential harassers dictate the contents of the book and certainly not the title. And the book really is about objectification and dehumanization and what that does to women. I mean, specifically what it did to me. So it felt like the most apt title, even though I was a little bit hesitant to use it at first. 

There’s so many different threads in the book about sexual harassment, about consensual sex, about pregnancy and birth. Do you feel it? The body is kind of a common thread. 

Definitely. Definitely. 

And, you know, part of what I wanted to explore is the way I think certainly that I felt and I think a lot of women can feel sort of disassociated from it, from their body. I think that when you’re brought up in a misogynist culture, you know what you do sort of. And actually some research as it has borne this out. And it’s and it’s called objectification theory, that women who have faced harassment and based dehumanization, objectification, sort of particularly a third person view of themselves, and to sort of have a little bit of disassociation, not like the mental health term, but sort of existential. 

So in a sense, we end up objectifying ourselves in a way that we start seeing ourselves as as we might be seeing all these potential harassers. 

Exactly. Exactly. 

What was your first conscious memory of being objectified? 

Oh, that’s such a good question. You know, I mean, there’s a reason that subways feature so heavily in the book. And obviously, that’s because I grew up in New York. But I certainly think that the first time I noticed being objectified in a sexual sense at least was was on subway cars and being you know, I started taking the subway to school when I was twelve, which is not unusual in New York. So No. One. So I get upset about my parents. But, you know, just noticing the way that men, grown men would would look at me and realizing that they were looking at me in a particular way. 

You write about this kind of epidemic from when you were 17 of all these penises on the subway. I grew up in Vancouver where people are much more buttoned down, literally and figuratively. And it reminded me of stories that our mutual friend Jen Posner would tell about being on the subway at the same age and just this barrage of fallacies. And I’m just thinking this is happening between girls today. Was this just a particular phenomenon of that time and place? 

I think, you know, it’s it’s interesting. I saw someone comment on some article about the book that it was like, oh, that must have just been like a, you know, a problem like when New York was gritty or whatever. I don’t think that that’s true. I don’t know quite the extent that I. 

So this is on the subway and on the street that that happens in different geographic areas. I think it’s it’s not quite the same. But certainly in New York, I think it’s still a problem. And, you know, we have great organizations like Stop Street Harassment and Hollerbach who are who are doing things to sort of curb harassment and groping and flashing in public spaces in cities. But I definitely think it’s still an issue. 

Oh, yeah, absolutely. I just sort of wonder about whether kids today are just getting that same deluge of open exposed penises or whether that was like historical. 

I have no idea. And, you know, like the funny thing about it is it’s not always and I wrote about this a little bit in the book. You know, it’s not always obvious, like Fyans memories, you know, noticing a guy on the subway, the zipper was open and I could see his it wasn’t out, but it was and I could see it. And I told my dad, it’s like, oh, my God. Can you believe that this guy, like, forgot zip his pants. He’s like, that was an accident. An accident. 

I just want to say I can totally relate to the stuff in your book about noses and noses as markers of ethnicity. You talk a bit about that. Sure, sure. 

And my my nose is sizable. You know, I have an Italian American. I look very Italian American. High school. The elementary school that I went to was was pretty waspy. 

And that combined with the fact I went to elementary school on Roosevelt Island and I was I was from Queens. So I sort of came in to the island from Queens. So, like, both of those differences made me stick out quite a bit among my peers. 

But I also, you know, I was privy to the same sort of beauty standards that we all are. And I was desperately desperate, desperate, desperate for a nose job. From the time I was twelve until I went to college, probably. And it shook up, you know, it took a long time to get over this idea that, like, my face was just offensive. 

I mean, I have I have a bump on my nose, which is very sort of symmetric looking thing about me. And it’s because my mom has the same nose or would have the same nose if she hadn’t been packed off to the plastic surgeon by her parents. Like in time for senior photos and course, my parents were hippies who don’t believe in frivolities. Right. So I’m naturally intact. But I was I was mad that, like, my my uptight parents wouldn’t let me do the normal thing, like in the good old days. 

Right. Atlatl, you know, and it’s what’s funny is, like, I had a lot of friends who have that and it wasn’t even called those called getting your nose fixed. Right. Like, not even getting started. It was like fixed as if it was. There was something wrong and broken and terrible about it. I mean, she got it repaired. 

And in the book, you write about sort of the focus of your body image, anxiety is changing as you got older. That it kind of moved from from your nose to other stuff. Can I talk about that process? 

Sure. I mean, I think that it was very much, you know, as my body developed, as I started getting more attention from boys and felt validated in that way, I can stop focusing on my face. And, you know, like I hate to say it, but it is true. And I think it’s true for a lot of young girls. As soon as boys started to like me. I felt OK about myself, which is unfortunate. But, you know, it was just the truth of the truth of the matter. 

When when I read about your early experiences with sex and in high school and college, I feel this kind of undercurrent of sadness. Did it feel sad at the time or did it feel like fun and exciting? 

No, it’s all fun and exciting. I didn’t feel sad at the time. I mean, it’s sort of I think in retrospect, looking back at a lot of these things without adults, I and I think that that comes across in the book. But at the time, certainly not. And I think, you know, one of the relationships I wrote about this relationship I had with it with an older guy, but it was 16, 17. You know, I. It made me feel like a very empowered and good about myself that I could like land, you know, a super hot older guy. And like, I was a bit smarter than him. And I felt like I was objectifying him a little bit. And it made me feel like the tables were turned. 

And do you feel like you’ve got what you were hoping for out of out of your early sexual experiences? And if you could have done something differently or advise your daughter or other young women on how to get more out of that period of their lives romantically, what would you say? 

You know, I think when it comes to sex and sexuality for younger girls, you know, I think the message I wish I would have been given was this should all feel good, like you shouldn’t just be doing things if it’s like feels good to you. And like, certainly have a conversation about the emotional and the emotional aspect as well. I think a lot of the conversations I had, I had great sex education in New York City public schools, but it was it was really birth control focus, right? Canacol. Yeah. Everything was about like the body and birth control and preventing pregnancy and S.T. eyes, which is all extremely important. But there wasn’t a lot of conversation about the emotional aspect. There wasn’t a lot of conversation about pleasure. Right. And like, the sex is something that should feel good. I think we have a pretty puritanical perspective on these things that are nervous to talk to kids and nervous to talk to young people about, you know, sex feeling good. So I think we need to bridge that a little bit and get over it. 

One of my favorite parts in the book is describing that college boyfriend of yours who tells you that you’re greedy because you want to have an orgasm every time you have sex. 

It was really I was like, really? Yeah. Like, he really felt like it is really whack. It is really terrible that you expect to have as of every time you have sex. It doesn’t mean it had never occurred to me that I should expect anything different. 

Like what is even the point of it. I mean this is what he is John Shook why would anybody ever have sex if not for organs. Right. Right. I understand that there’s other reasons, but I’m not totally convinced. Absolutely. And that was that was a really traumatic time that you had in college those years when you got singled out for a lot of harassment. What happened? 

You know, I got involved with, like a pretty typical frat guy who is not like the nicest person. The relationship didn’t didn’t last long. 

But when I after we had broken up, I hooked up with his roommate, basically. I got very, very drunk in a hotel with his roommate, which was perhaps not like the the wisest decision. 

But, you know, he ended up coming to my room and screaming at me, like, really degrading, harassing things. Your ex. This is my ex. Yeah. Left. You know, him and his friends came to my dorm sort of threatening me through the door, left to use a condom. You know, like and the rest of my time at school and was just harassed terribly by his fraternity brothers, even though he ended up having to leave early because he was doing so poorly academically. So, yeah, it sucked. 

And it was frat brothers just kind of marked you and turned on you and family ruined poisoned the rest of your college experience of campus. 

Exactly. Exactly. And, you know, the other thing that didn’t help was, you know, I am a first generation college student. Like, I didn’t really have a lot of understanding of what what college would be like or like what resources were available or like it was already like a big culture shock for me. And I already felt extremely out of place. So. So that certainly didn’t help matters. 

This is really interesting books and articles coming out these days, like one of them by the sociologist called Paying for the Party, who talked about it was a great book, Class Divides in Sexual Experimentation at College. Can you talk about how class intersected with your own sexual awakening and experimentation as a young person? 

Sure. I mean, I think it was certainly not anything that, like I was aware of at the time. But I think looking back, I can see that I felt like very powerless and different. And the scrutiny, you know, I went to like a very prestigious math and science high school. And I felt very different than my peers there. I felt different than my peers at college. And sex was definitely go away. Something that made me feel like I had some power and like I had some control. And I don’t think that that’s like an unusual experience. And I do think that looking back, the ways that I was sexualized was definitely they were class. 

It’s funny. I like older feminists, like to criticize younger feminists these days for how much we drink. And I mean, I wonder why that’s such a big focus on both on both sides. 

There’s this sort of intractable controversy about how much is appropriate to drink or what role alcohol should play in sex and socializing from a feminist point of view. 

Right. I mean, it is really interesting from both sides. I think it’s interesting because on one side of it is you know, I think that we have a problem with girls who enjoy themselves. We don’t like girls to have a good time. Right. And we like to blame girls for very bad things happening if they are having a good time when something bad happens. But I also do think that there is a conversation to be had about the way that girls and women self medicate with with alcohol and drugs and the possible links that that has to just living in a sexist world. 

Well, I think that sometimes people are using alcohol as kind of a. Palliative for shame around sex, like both just the coldness of putting herself out there within the person. But then also I think a lot of people want to have some kind of plausible deniability of why they made the choices that they made. Totally. Absolutely. It’s easier to say that you were drunk from this. This is what you wanted and did. Right. Exactly. Total later. 

The changing colleges make a big difference for you. Was that helpful to get away from that? 

Yeah. It took a little while. I mean, it certainly was better for me to be at a state university where I was among a lot of other first generation college students. A lot of students were like me were we’re working quite a number of hours to pay for school themselves. But it definitely did take me, you know, until they took me. It’s very cliche, but it’s true. You know, until I took my first woman and gender studies class just to find myself academically and to get excited about a topic. 

Barry, I hear CSI is having a fabulous Las Vegas trip coming up this October. Tell me a little bit about that. 

Psychon, Las Vegas. It’s our fourth Psychon conference. It’s at the Excalibur hotel. Which have you a. 

I’ve never I’m not familiar. And that’s for rich people. I’m I’m poor. 

But it’s the big castle jobs tournament. Can I be a princess? You could be a princess. There’s kings and horses and jousting tournaments and magicians. 

It’s gonna be great fun. We have workshops. There’s five workshops, including things like investigative techniques, skeptical activism, mind reading, how it will teach you how to read people’s minds. 

Jeez, I don’t know if I’m ready for that. I’ll set some people’s minds. I don’t want to read it. So, yeah. 

We got all these events going on. I mean, there’s a costume party. Skeptics love to dress up in costumes. I don’t know why we have two magic shows. Jamie, Suess and Vanna Check who works with Criss Angel. Oh, I better check soon to be there. He’s a wonderful mentalist. There’s just so much stuff going on. Workshops we have, as Whodini say, it’s going to bring Whodini back from the dead finally. He’s never come back before. 

But this year we have a feeling it will be who is even going to be there? You haven’t even gotten to the speakers. 

Oh. All the speakers. Yeah. The main part of the whole thing. The miss main part. 

Well, we have speakers like Michael Mann and Climate Change, Kevin Folta, GM Moze Elizabeth Loftus talking about her memory research. Jill Tarter talking about Saidee, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. There’s Eugenie Scott. 

There’s Lawrence Krauss, Richard Dawkins and James Randi is going to be there. I mean, I’ve been talking five minutes. Haven’t mentioned Randy yet. James Randi is going to be awesome. And one person we’re looking forward to seeing is Olivia Newton John. 

I mean, she’s not going to be at the conference, though, right? No, but she’s in Vegas that weekend. Very. I don’t think she’s going to come to the conference. 

Well, she might not come to the conference, but she’s just near there. 

So you’re not going to leave the conference to go find Olivia Newton John? Very. 

Wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t you, if you had the opportunity living John when you take it? No, no. 

I would not have an awesome conference you just told me about. I’m going to do follow. That would be a great event. Event time travel. 

I’m going to be in two places at once. Don’t tell us skeptics, I said. Can we invite her to the karaoke anyway? 

Barry, let’s just say I don’t think she’s gonna be hopelessly devoted to coming to karaoke. She is the one that I want. 

All right. If you guys want to come on out to the conference, you can register at the CSI conference, dawg. 

You should register. We’re all going to be there. It’s gonna be really fun. Don’t miss out. There’s a castle. 

In the preface to the book, you write about how you sort of are starting to wonder what you would have been like, what kind of person you wouldn’t then had it not been for the constraints of sexism. What do you imagine? 

You know, what’s really hard is that, like, I. I can’t imagine that person. Right. Like, I just have, like, zero sense of who would she would be like I, I would like to think, like, less anxious. Like Zygi and a little bit happier. But I mean, I think that’s what is sort of distressing to me about this, is that like I will never know. 

Yeah. I mean, it made me I ended up asking myself that question and I don’t know. I don’t know either. What do you hope for that your daughter will be able to have, having been raised in an even less sexist environment? 

You know, I hope, you know, obviously, besides the very obvious, like, I hope that she feels safe and I hope that she feels like joyful. And in all of that, I hope that she has, like, a language to to talk about these things. I think when I was growing up, I didn’t have that. I didn’t have, like, any sort of contextualization to understand the sexism in the world. I didn’t have a language to talk about the way I was feeling about it. I hope that she has that. Obviously hope policies are different and culture is different in that, you know, she she grows up in a place where women are objectified and mistreated. I don’t know if that’s a realistic hope. So I think sort of the the best thing I can hope for at this point is that she has a really wonderful set of tools to deal with. 

You have a really nuanced and interesting discussion of abortion. You talk about the discussion of your first abortion. Really interesting, because there’s both the sense that unequivocally this was the right thing to do, but then at the time, something that you never, ever wanted to repeat. 

Right. Yeah. You know, it was it was not difficult. I was in my 20s. It was not a difficult decision. I was not in a relationship that was going anywhere. And as soon as I knew that I was lying, I knew that I didn’t want to be. So it wasn’t hard, but it was sort of physically uncomfortable. And it was something that I knew that I really didn’t ever want to repeat. And I found it just like painful and unpleasant. And, you know, it was not something that I ever wanted to go through again. And it was something, you know, when I met my current husband was like, listen, like I got pregnant. Like, let’s it f y because I’m not, you know, terminating another pregnancy. 

So so, of course, when I prayed about getting pregnant again as a married mother, it was it was extraordinarily difficult because that was your birth, that you had such terrible problems of your first pregnancy and then you got pregnant again and then you had to make that choice. 

Right. And it was very much a what I wanted that pregnancy. I would have loved to stay pregnant. I would have loved a second child. But just healthwise and it wasn’t it wasn’t recommended by doctors. It was, you know, because of what had I got very sick and my first pregnancy and almost died. My daughter almost died. You know, doctors have told me that I should really never carry a pregnancy again. 

It’s like a hypertensive crisis that could have led to a stroke and caused a very premature right. 

Live in MedStar Severe pre-eclampsia. I also had something called Help Syndrome, which is I guess essentially like your liver does start to fail. So, yeah. So it wasn’t like it wasn’t really a question healthwise, but it did have you know, it didn’t take me. That’s why I wanted to include it was like it did make me grapple with valuing myself and saying, you know, I am going to do this because I don’t want to die, because I do want to be here, because I am important, because I’m important to my daughter. I’m important to my husband. It’s important that I’m here. And so in that way, like it it felt like a validation of self. 

The discussion of the love story between you and your husband is really very touching and also very interesting when you say that a lot of times for four women, it’s you know, people always say, oh, women go for bad guys when guys go for guys, I love them. Who won’t prove themselves, who won’t do what’s right that you observed that a lot of time. It’s hard to step up and take the love that’s offered. Why is it so difficult? 

I don’t know. I wish I you know, I wish I I knew. I think that if you grew up feeling that your value is attached to certain things or if you don’t like, see yourself as a full human being, then it becomes easy to accept treatment that isn’t up to par with what you deserve. But for me. Yeah. With me. With Andrew. Like I fell in love with him, obviously. But it was also a part of my life where I felt like I was making a decision to be with someone who is actually good for me. Right. And then I can make an active decision around that. 

I also think in a patriarchal society that women often to be strong and independent, we build up these defenses where, you know, oftentimes being with a man means conceding so much, giving up so much about identity that it’s easier to be with someone who asks nothing of us and expects to recognize because then they can’t make any claims on us. 

Right. I think that that’s very true. And certainly with me, with my current husband, when we started dating, it was the first time that I dated someone. I remember remarking to a friend at the time, I’m like, oh, my God, he wants to talk things out all the time. Like, I don’t know what to do about things like a new experience for me. And like, so exhausting. But ultimately, obviously, very good. 

When you first started dating him, you were nervous that the five year age difference would make it would matter. Did did it ultimately end up mattering to anyone, to him, to you, to his parents? 

Oh, no, not really. Certainly he is just had his 10 year college reunion this past weekend, and he was definitely the only person there with a kid about to go in first grade. Right. So he’s he was he was twenty six when our daughter was born. So he’s four are statistically a teen parent. Right. I mean, for Brooklyn. Right. Like Brooklyn or socioeconomic sort of place in the world like that is extraordinarily young. Like he is probably the youngest dad, you know, at our school by like 15 years. So, no, it didn’t it actually really didn’t matter. 

Do you feel. I mean, we sort of live in in a neighborhood that’s like the cultural Olympics of parenting. You do you feel judged and evaluated at now as as a mother. 

Oh, my God. All the time. All the time. 

You know, certainly when Layla was was younger and, you know, all those issues around like breastfeeding and childcare and stuff like that, but that even continues on until, you know, for for older children as well. I just went to like a month or so ago. I went to pick Layla up and one of the moms commented to me like something along the lines of like, oh, like, I’m surprised. Like, I never see you here, like, you know, like, honestly, I’m very passive aggressive thing. And you’re like, oh, that’s that’s nice. Like, you’re right, I don’t drop her off most mornings. And, you know, there is something about Brooklyn in our neighborhood where it’s it’s competitive parenting. I have largely chosen to opt out of that. 

Do dads get it too, or is it something again that’s heaped even more on women? 

Now, I don’t get that, dads. I think I watched with amazement as Andrew is just like heaped with praise or like the mere act of showing up. I feel guilty about. 

Ever did not abandon your child at an institution. Yes. 

Right. Right. It’s like, oh, well, you’re here for this event. Do you drop her off every day? Like you’re in a means anything is. Listen, he’s an amazing dad. But, you know, no doubt about it. But that is not what makes me. 

You write about the nature of self-confidence. It’s funny because you come across as such a self-confident person. And yet this is sort of fraught for you, too, which is reassuring to hear. Where do you actually get out on, you know, what self-confidence is and how you cultivate it? 

I’m still trying to sort that out and find it, to be perfectly honest, I think. And I think this is why I write in the book about this whole idea of, like, faking it until you make it. Like, I think I’ve done a lot of faking it until they feel like I’ve made it. Certainly, I feel more secure or competent in certain situations now today than I used to. But I think a lot of people grapple with, you know, imposter syndrome or or anxiety around sort of presenting their best. This is like the best version of themselves to the world, whether that be online or, you know, or in real life. And it’s a it’s a difficult thing. And that’s part of the reason why I want to write the book was because, you know, I would at e-mails or like I would talk to young women when I go to speak at college campuses and they would say things to me like, oh, like you’re so together or like you handle this, like online harassment so well. And in my mind, I’m like, really? Because I feel like I’m like totally messing it up, like I feel like a man. 

What do you think that you actually think? You know, it just seems like at every point your career, you’ve just shown up and down to work for real. 

Well, I think and I, I sometimes feel like I’m thinking I’m picking the confidence. Right. Like, I’m I’m thinking that comfort level, when the truth is, is that, like, I’ve never been comfortable with the success that I’ve had. And I’ve been really lucky have been really you know, it’s a combination of sort of like being fortunate and being privileged and her work to have the success that I do. But I’ve never felt comfortable with it. 

You were right that you were pressured to take your name off the masthead of your blog. What happened? 

Oh, I don’t know. I can get into that. Let’s see. I shouldn’t talk too much about it. OK. That’s fine. Yeah, I don’t. 

Just in general about the ways in which feminist leaders are not necessarily supportive of short ised. I’ve certainly found with feminist blogging that there was this sort of feeling or ethos that like if you succeeded, that was a feminist failure, that like you must have sold out in some way or done something terrible to two to one get that success or that if you were succeeding. That was unfair to the people around you who who did not succeed. And so that was sort of like a difficult thing. It was just kind of punk rock ethos, especially coming out x rayed. 

And I was like sort of a difficult thing to to come to terms with. And I do think that there’s a lot of, you know, this idea of like, oh, if you were if you believe in, like, sisterhood, like your voice shouldn’t matter above someone else’s voice and like. And I understand that. And a lot of cases that’s true. Like, there are certain voices that get propped up. And it is extremely important, especially when you’re talking about marginalized voices that you use your platform to to prop those up and let those voices shine through. But I also think that it would be a mistake to start telling women if they become too loud, take up too much space, becoming too successful, that that is a problem for their feminist politics. 

I don’t think that happens in other leftist like coed circles, nearly as much that right now would have left you socialist people who are rising as pundits are not generally in coed circles shot down simply for being prominent. People don’t say they must’ve sold out. It’s people won’t make explicit ideological arguments about why they shouldn’t be successful, at least. I mean, there’s always some sort of rise of resentment and jealousy, but nobody elevates it to a level of explicit critique. 

Right. Or I’ve seen a lot of conversations within feminism about like how much, you know, the president of a nonprofit organization gets paid or how much someone makes and speaker fees. And it isn’t that outrageous, even though, again, that’s not a conversation that happens in other social justice. 

Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood, who runs one point two billion dollar organization, makes five hundred thousand dollars a year, which is a lot of money. But she earns every penny. She must work 20 hours a day. 

Right. She is in she what she is doing is incredible and valuable. 

And like this idea of saving lives and she gets you probably has to have like 24 hour secure shots that I know she earns less than, you know, somebody who runs a successful chain of movie rental franchises or whatever. 

Right. And like, I think that the conversation we should be having is like, yes, that is a lot of money, you know, compared to other people. But that means other people should be making more money. Not that it is outrageous that Cecile makes a lot or that anyone makes a lot. 

What do you think we can do to foster sort of more healthy environment and feminism around criticism and debate and competition? 

I am still sorting that out. I think it’s really difficult to do this. This is may not be the most popular thing to say, but I think that, like more Real-Life interactions help. I think that, you know, I think there is a propensity to dehumanize people online. I think that it becomes a lot easier to sort of not critique but like, tear someone apart. Yeah. For four things in a way that’s not really helpful to anyone or to them. 

And just completely discount them as a thinker and as an individual and everything just because you disagree with one thing they believe or how they behave. In very limited interaction. Right. 

Or if they messed up. Right. Which is like something like everyone is told behind. And if they’re not, you know, properly apologetic about, you know, like there’s all this there’s all that sort of stuff happening. And I do think more sort of Real-Life interactions with each other would help. 

How have things been going on on General Twitter since since they went up to the book started? 

Twitter is terrible. It’s a it’s a tough thing because, you know, Twitter brings me a lot of like and Joy and I have a lot of fun on it. And I need it for my job and I need it to promote the book. And I need it to, you know, do my my work at The Guardian. But it can be a really toxic, horrible place. And as I said, you know, with the title, like, I’m already seeing some pushback there. I’m seeing some sort of everyday harassment that I get ramped up because of the book. So I’m definitely not looking forward into the next few weeks online. 

But which are you’re dreading more pushback from feminists of pushback from MRA and. Servitors. 

Oh, that’s a really good question. I mean, both. But for different reasons, right? Like, I’m not looking forward to the conservative stuff because, like the rape threats and things like that can really just take such a toll on you. So and it’s so horrible. You know, they post pictures and all of that is terrible. It’s not I’m not dreading pushback from feminists so much as I am nervous about criticism of the book. And I think a normal way that most authors. Yeah. You know, especially because it’s it’s written in a much different style than my other books. And it’s sort of a different topic for me. So I think that there’s sort of a natural fear there. That’s it’s a much different fear than the, you know, misogynist pushback. 

What about in terms of hopes? What do you hope if you could choose what an actor what would affect this book is going to have if you could choose anything? What would you pick? 

You know, I think just the idea that, you know, life is messy and it’s OK if you’re a little messy to write that there’s no easy answers to this, that it’s OK to be comfortable with the fact that there is no easy answer. No, it’s sort of both to put on top of this issue or our lives that will make it more palatable or understandable. I think it took me a long time to feel comfortable with the fact that I had failures in my life that I messed up and that I that I don’t necessarily know like what’s next or what the best solution is to a lot of these problems. But I think that that’s, you know, that’s part life. That’s all right. 

Just. Thank you so much for coming on the show. It’s been a pleasure. 

Thank you. 

Lindsay Beyerstein

Lindsay Beyerstein

Lindsay Beyerstein is an award-winning investigative journalist and In These Times staff writer who writes the blog Duly Noted. Her stories have appeared in Newsweek, Salon, Slate, The NationMs. Magazine, and other publications. Her photographs have been published in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times’ City Room. She also blogs at The Hillman Blog (, a publication of the Sidney Hillman Foundation, a non-profit that honors journalism in the public interest.