Beth Newell and Sarah Pappalardo Talk ‘How to Win At Feminism’
Creators of the satirical women’s news site Reductress, Beth Newell and Sarah Pappalardo spoke with Inspirer about their new book they wrote with Anna Drezen, ‘How to Win at Feminism: The Definitive Guide to Having It All—And Then Some! Out on October 25th, this book shows the author’s quick wit on important topics of feminism. There will be a book launch on October 25th at The Powerhouse in Brooklyn and also an event at The Strand in Manhattan on November 2nd to celebrate the release. Beth and Sarah spoke with us about how their book is a manual on how to be a feminist that no feminist should follow, and how in depth it goes on certain topics of feminism.
On October 25th, your new book ‘How to Win at Feminism’ is coming out, can you give us a brief summary of what to expect when reading this book?
Sarah: I think you can expect a manual on how to be a feminist that no feminist should actually follow. It’s meant to be tongue and cheek and from the point of view of a well-intentioned but ill-informed women’s magazine.
Your satirical news website Reductress has been successful since it was started in 2013, how has that success inspired you to write this book?
Beth: We started the site to parody women’s media and the expectations around the way the talk is around women. I think over time the focus of the site just developed to sum up this event of parodying all these depictions of women in the media and other areas. We at some point realized that there was much more to say about feminism.
How long did the process take to write this book?
Sarah: We put out a proposal in around March of 2015, but once the deal was in we had three months to write it. It’s probably a lot shorter than a lot of people think, but we were working on artwork for another three months after that. Then it just took the rest of the publishing process to finish it.
Did you know right away that you wanted ‘How to Win at Feminism’ to be similar to the comedy-style articles usually posted on Reductress?
Sara: Yeah we wanted to kind of stay on brand but take a pretty specific angle for the book so the readers would get something unique that they don’t see on the site, but with the same sensibility from Reductress that they’re familiar with.
Beth: We wanted to be able to go in depth more on certain topics and give an intro on those specific topics of feminism.
In one part of your book you address how certain celebrities address feminism, which I think is an interesting topic. What is the message you were trying to portray with that?
Sarah: I think that most of the celebrities that are calling themselves feminists do believe it, and I think it’s a great thing. But, the only thing that we poke fun at is that they kind of just discovered it recently and don’t have the education or background of how we got here. They kind of just latched onto it now that it’s become mainstream. Overall, women attaching themselves to the word feminist is a positive thing.
I loved the section on “finding your spirit feminist”, how did you come up with the idea for that?
Beth: That’s sort of our whole favoring being a savior section. There’s a lot going on culturally that we wanted to parody and white women practicing this white savior thing and appropriating other cultures. Also, just the oversimplification of so many spiritual trends in the media. We just kind of threw that in with the feminist thing.
Sarah: It was meant to poke fun at the whole idea of appropriating the spirit animal idea and the way the media has watered it down with these Buzzfeed type quizzes.
What was the hardest part about writing this book, and did you have any issues with writers block at all?
Beth: We didn’t really have time for writer’s block. For me personally I was in the first trimester of my pregnancy so I was just really exhausted. I couldn’t say how exhausted I was at the time because no one knew I was pregnant, so that was the hardest thing for me.
Sarah: I think that kind of trumps it all. As far as the writing goes, I don’t know that writer’s block was so much the issue. It was all of us coming together at meetings and continuing to refine what we’re trying to say and making sure that it’s as clear as possible. The challenges came in the redrafting and making sure that our satirical targets are on point. Also that we’re saying things as clearly and funnily as possible.
Beth: I think there was a challenge in discussing with each other, and making sure we were all on the same page and getting the same points across, and feeling that there was a cohesive message there.
As you’ve said before, ‘How to Win at Feminism’ is about what you should not do to be a feminist, what is the best way that you would describe feminism?
Sarah: We probably all each have our own definitions and that is the best part and the most challenging part of feminism. Other than just equality of the sexes, there is a lot of other feminisms that we abide by. For me personally it’s more broad than just gender equality, its social justice across race class and gender and striving for that.
Beth: A point we were trying to make with this book is that we should be focused more on achieving that equality in those opportunities for everyone more so than trying to look like we’re good feminists.
Are you planning on coming out with another book anytime soon?
Sara: We’re going to see how this one goes and then hopefully we’ll have another one down the line in a bit.
Is there anything else about this book or about yourselves that you’d like people to know?
Sara: If you have an idea don’t let fear get in the way of executing what you want to do. The only thing between you and what you want to achieve is just a lot of hard work.
Beth: And that you’ll win more people over with compassion and humor than you will just shouting at them.
For more information and to purchase the book go to: http://howtowinatfeminism.com/