Gina Barreca will present her new book, “If You Lean In, Will Men Just Look Down Your Blouse?,” at R.J. Julia Booksellers in Madison this Thursday evening, March 24th, at 7:00 p.m. This event is free; call the store for availability at 203-245-3959. Location: 768 Boston Post Rd.
Today, Hartford Books Examiner welcomes Gina Barreca.
Ms. Barreca is the author of the forthcoming essay collection “If You Lean In, Will Men Just Look Down Your Blouse?” (St. Martin’s Press). A nationally syndicated columnist with Tribune News Service, she’s also written “It’s Not That I’m Bitter,” “Babes in Boyland,” “They Used to Call Me Snow White but I Drifted” and co-authored “I’m With Stupid: One Man, One Woman, and 10,000 Years of Misunderstandings Between The Sexes Cleared Right Up” with Pulitzer Prize winner Gene Weingarten. She has appeared on 20/20, The Today Show, CNN, the BBC, Dr. Phil, NPR and Oprah to discuss gender, power, politics, and humor. Ms. Barreca is a professor of English at UConn, and a member of the Friars’ Club. She grew up in Brooklyn and Long Island and now makes her home in Storrs, CT.
“If You Lean In, Will Men Just Look Down Your Blouse?” will be published on March 29th (copies will be available early for purchase/signing at the R.J. Julia event); early response has been enthusastic. Amy Dickinson, author of the nationally syndicated column “Ask Amy,” praised: “Gina Barreca’s essays are like dispatches from a dear friend: Wonderful, witty, heartfelt and wise – with many memorable zingers and tear inducing stingers. Her gift is one of connection and her work is relatable and true. Share this book with your sisters and your BFF (Brainy Friends and Feminists) book group.” Further, Saturday Night Live alum Rachel Dratch noted: “If you ever find that your best gal pal isn’t available, you need look no further than Barreca’s book. It contains everything a good friend would provide: honesty, insight, female camaraderie, and a lot of laughs.”
From the publisher:
Gina Barreca is fed up with women who lean in, but don’t open their mouths. In her latest collection of essays, she turns her attention to subjects like bondage which she notes now seems to come in fifty shades of grey and has been renamed Spanx. She muses on those lessons learned in Kindergarten that every woman must unlearn like not having to hold the hand of the person you’re waking next to (especially if he’s a bad boyfriend) or needing to have milk, cookies and a nap every day at 3:00 PM (which tends to sap one’s energy not to mention what it does to one’s waistline). She sounds off about all those things a woman hates to hear from a man like “Calm down” or “Next time, try buying shoes that fit”. “‘If You Lean In, Will Men Just Look Down Your Blouse?'” is about getting loud, getting love, getting ahead and getting the first draw (or the last shot). Here are tips, lessons and bold confessions about bad boyfriends at any age, about friends we love and ones we can’t stand anymore, about waist size and wasted time, about panic, placebos, placentas and certain kinds of not-so adorable paternalism attached to certain kinds of politicians. The world is kept lively by loud women talking and “‘If You Lean In, Will Men Just Look Down Your Blouse?'” cheers and challenges those voices to come together and speak up. You think she’s kidding? Oh, boy, do you have another thing coming.
Now, Gina Barreca shares some laughs and lessons from “If You Lean In, Will Men Just Look Down Your Blouse?” …
Hartford Books Examiner: What was the best part about writing the newest book?
Gina Barreca: I had a blast writing “If You Lean In, Will Men Just Look Down Your Blouse?” The book takes on a number of social and cultural issues—everything from the Twilight and 50 Shades phenomena to Spanx and people’s obsessions about the healing powers of particular food groups. In that way, it’s different from most of my earlier work because it’s more personal and unguarded. I’m getting braver as I get older but I don’t think that’ll come as a big surprise to anybody. Women get gain courage as we age; we become audible as we become less worried about being visible.
HBE: This book is one of your most honest and personal collections. You write about the death of your mother for example – why now?
GB: Although I can hardly be accused of keeping my personal life out of my earlier books (after all, wrote a memoir about being one of the first women at Dartmouth titled “Babes in Boyland”), but this latest collection deals with intimate matters in a more honest and revealing way.
There’s a chapter, for example, about the questions I wished I’d asked my mother before she died; early readers of the book have commented on that one in ways I never imagined. My mother died when she was 47 and I was in my junior year of high school; it was a tough loss, but all losses are tough. I write about my own anxieties and worries with less glib humor than I’ve relied on in the past because I’ve learned that fears aren’t necessarily funny. There’s an essay about dealing with panic attacks that includes an actual incident with a butterfly net—and remember, I do not make these things up. I try to write about both my professional life and my own relationships with honesty as well as humor. When I write about my friends and family, I ask their permission to tell their stories as well as my own. Most of the time they’re generous enough to grant it. This time, I gave myself permission to tell my own stories.
HBE: You say that women are braver and more honest when they are older; are they funnier, too?
GB: We hear that women become invisible as we age but it only seems that way; actually, we become more audible, more honest, and more of everything else, too. We become more politicized, less willing to simply nod and smile if we disagree, and more willing to stand up for ourselves and others (instead of leaning in—I’m not a Sheryl Sandberg fan, and that’s where the title comes from; there’s a chapter about my issues with her work in the book). Sometime between 40 and 50, women begin to distinguish what actually makes them happy from what they’ve always done to please others. (It’s happening earlier with each generation and for that I’m enormously grateful.) Being able to define that difference is an accomplishment. It’s one of those areas of expertise that takes at least 10,000 hours to learn. At a certain age, you finally become the indisputable authority on the subject of yourself.
HBE: You’re a feminist and a humorist. What will men think of “If You Lean In, Will Men Just Look Down Your Blouse?”
GB: They’ll laugh themselves silly; they’ll love the chapter on “Sixteen Things Men Hate to Hear (Even When They Like or Love Us),” appreciate the ones on fathers and daughters, enjoy the ones about marriage (“Love is not blind, but after a certain point it is hard of hearing”) and I believe they’ll agree with Dave Barry that “Gina Barreca is very, very funny. For a woman.”
With thanks to Laura Rossi Totten, Principal/Director of Publicity at Laura Rossi Public Relations, for making this Q&A possible.
Don’t forget: Gina Barreca will be at R.J. Julia in Madison this Thursday evening, March 14th, at 7:00 p.m.