Transcript: Evolution of a Feminist Columnist | Aug 16, 2018

Nam sits in the studio. She's in her early forties, with shoulder length curly brown hair. She's wearing glasses and a dark gray blazer over a green shirt.

A caption on screen reads "Evolution of a feminist. Nam Kiwanuka, @namshine, @theagenda."

Nam says ELIZABETH RENZETTI'S CREED
IS FEMINISM. AS A COLUMNIST
FOR
THE GLOBE AND MAIL,
AS A PARENT, AS A KEEN
WITNESS OF THE HUMAN CONDITION,
SHE'S WATCHED THE EVOLUTION OF
FEMINISM AND THE ROLE OF WOMEN
FOR MORE THAN THREE DECADES.
And in "Shrewed. A wry and closely OBSERVED LOOK AT THE LIVES OF WOMEN AND GIRLS, SHE TELLS IT
LIKE IT IS WITH WIT, INSIGHT,
HUMOUR, AND A FRANK PERSPECTIVE.
AND SHE JOINS US NOW FOR MORE.

A picture of the book appears briefly on screen. The cover is pink, with a picture of a female arm raised with a clenched fist, in a defiant gesture.
Elizabeth is in her early forties, with long wavy brown hair. She's wearing a short-sleeved patterned red blouse and a pendant necklace.

Nam says HI, ELIZABETH.

Elizabeth says HI, NAM.

NAM SAYS IT'S REALLY NICE TO MEET
YOU.
I'M SO GLAD TO BE HERE.
I WAS LAUGHING OUT LOUD, READING
THE ESSAYS.

Elizabeth says LOL-ING, ALL RIGHT.

Nam says YEAH, LOL.
BUT I WAS ALSO BANGING MY HEAD
AGAINST THE WALL!
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO USE
HUMOUR IN YOUR WRITING WHEN
YOU'RE WRITING ABOUT SERIOUS ISSUES?

The caption changes to "Elizabeth Renzetti. Author, 'Shrewed.'"
Then, it changes again to "Being funny while feminist."

Elizabeth says I THINK IT'S EXTREMELY IMPORTANT
FOR ME.
IT'S SORT OF THE SCHOOL OF, IF I
DIDN'T LAUGH, I WOULD CRY AND I
WOULD JUST BE IN BED WITH THE
DUVET OVER MY HEAD AT HOW
HORRIBLE EVERYTHING IS OR CAN
BE.
ALSO, THERE'S JUST A WAY OF
APPROACHING A SUBJECT, I THINK.
IF YOU DO IT THROUGH HUMOUR,
THAT MAKES IT MORE RELATABLE
FOR PEOPLE.
IT'S LIKE A LITTLE DOOR OPENING.
YOU'RE NOT LECTURING THEM AND
YOU'RE NOT HECTORING THEM AND I
THINK THAT ACTUALLY KIND OF
SOFTENS THEIR BRAIN.
MAKES ME SOUND SO MACHIAVELLIAN.

[NAM LAUGHING]

Elizabeth says I'M JUST SLIDING IN THROUGH HUMOUR.

[NAM LAUGHING]

Elizabeth says BUT IT DOES MAKE THEIR BRAIN
MORE RECEPTIVE, I THINK, TO
MAYBE WHAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT
IF YOU CAN MAKE THEM LAUGH.
SOMEBODY DESCRIBED IT AS THE
"SPOONFUL OF SUGAR" METHOD OF
WRITING, BUT IT'S REALLY THE
ONLY WAY I KNOW HOW TO WRITE AS
WELL, SO IF I HAD ANOTHER METHOD
OF WRITING, I MIGHT USE IT,
BUT I DON'T.

Nam says I THINK... IN MY PERSONAL
OPINION... I THINK IT'S REALLY
POWERFUL.

ELIZABETH SAYS THANK YOU.

Nam says IT'S YOUR SECOND BOOK BUT THIS
IS THE FIRST ONE WHERE YOU'RE
TALKING ABOUT YOUR FAMILY.
YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT PERSONAL
ISSUES IN YOUR LIFE,
YOUR BODY PARTS.
WAS IT SCARY TO DO THAT?

Elizabeth says YEAH, IT REALLY WAS.
IT'S ACTUALLY QUITE HARD, I
FIND, AS A JOURNALIST, TO WRITE
ABOUT YOURSELF.
SO WHEN I WAS IN JOURNALISM
SCHOOL IN THE '80S,
IN THE 80S...

[NAM LAUGHING]

The caption changes to "Elizabeth Renzetti. The Globe and Mail."

Elizabeth says YOU WERE TOLD THAT WRITING
ABOUT YOURSELF WAS KIND
OF CHEAP AND VULGAR AND, YOU
KNOW, "I" WAS A FORBIDDEN WORD.

NAM SAYS IT WASN'T EVEN
CONSIDERED JOURNALISM.

Elizabeth says IT WASN'T EVEN CONSIDERED
JOURNALISM.

NAM SAYS YEAH.

Elizabeth says AND THAT'S CHANGED A LOT WITH
THE SORT OF THE ADVENT OF THE
PERSONAL ESSAY AND PEOPLE HAVE
REALIZED THAT, YOU KNOW,
YOUR INNER SELF IS A PERFECTLY
GOOD JOURNALISTIC REALM TO
EXPLORE, BUT I STILL FIND IT
UNCOMFORTABLE.
IT'S STILL HARD FOR ME TO SPEAK
ABOUT PERSONAL THINGS, BUT YEAH,
THERE'S A LOT OF IT IN THERE
FROM SORT OF FAMILY STUFF,
YOU KNOW, BUYING BRAS, ALL KINDS
OF THINGS THAT I... WHEN I WROTE
THEM, I JUST WOULD THINK... I
WOULDN'T THINK OF THE
OUTSIDE ROOM.
I'D JUST BE IN MY LITTLE OFFICE.
MY CAT'S AT MY FEET.
IT WOULD JUST BE LIKE, "ME AND
MY COMPUTER.
NOBODY ELSE IS GOING TO READ
THIS."
AND THAT HELPED ME TO BE ABLE TO
WRITE IT.

Nam says BUT WHY DID YOU WANT TO PRESENT
IT THIS WAY?

Elizabeth says WELL, I THINK IT'S
ALSO... IT'S, AGAIN, IT'S KIND
OF THE HUMOUR THING, WHICH IS
THAT IF PEOPLE CAN SEE
THEMSELVES IN YOUR WRITING, IT
STRIKES A CORD.
IT BECOMES SO RESONANT AND I
FIND THAT IN MY JOURNALISM AS
WELL AND COLUMN WRITING, THE
COLUMNS I'VE WRITTEN THAT WERE
PERSONAL WERE PROBABLY THE MOST
RESONANT WITH READERS, AND I
THINK IT'S BECAUSE READERS
THINK, "SHE'S LIKE ME," OR
"SHE'S HAD EXPERIENCES LIKE
ME.
I UNDERSTAND THIS."
AND IT... AS I SAY, JOURNALISM
HAS FROWNED UPON IT A LOT,
BUT I ALSO THINK THAT WE HAVE TO
REALIZE THAT YEAH, JOURNALISM
ISN'T UP HERE AND READERS ARE
DOWN HERE.
FOR JOURNALISTS TO BE... AND
JOURNALISM TO BE TRUSTED,
I THINK WE HAVE TO REALIZE THAT
WE'RE ALL ON THE SAME LEVEL AND
WHEN YOU SPEAK PERSONALLY FROM
YOUR HEART OR FROM YOUR SOUL,
FROM YOUR PERSONAL EXPERIENCE,
READERS MAKE THAT CONNECTION,
AND I THINK THAT'S REALLY
IMPORTANT TO DO THESE DAYS.

Nam says AND IT'S AN OPPORTUNITY MAYBE,
FOR US TO LEARN FROM
ONE ANOTHER.

Elizabeth says YEAH, ABSOLUTELY.

Nam says AND SINCE YOU'RE HERE...

Elizabeth says OH, YEAH...

Nam says COULD I ASK YOU TO READ
SOMETHING FROM...

Elizabeth says ABSOLUTELY; SPEAKING OF
BUYING BRAS.

[LAUGHING]

NAM hands her an open copy of her book and SAYS YES, SPEAKING OF BRAS.

Elizabeth puts on glasses, takes the book and says YES.

She reads
"HOW DOES EVERY WOMAN NOT BECOME
A MARXIST REVOLUTIONARY WHEN SHE
REALIZES THE RIDICULOUS PRICE
ATTACHED TO HER GENDER?
EARLIER THIS YEAR, I SPENT 500 dollars
ON SIX BRAS AND NOT ONE OF THEM
IS MADE FROM A UNICORN FORESKIN.
BETWEEN THEM, THEY CONTAIN ABOUT
AS MUCH MATERIAL AS A
HAND TOWEL.
NOT ONE OF THEM IS THE KIND OF
MAJESTIC BRA YOU'D FIND AT
RIGBY and PELLER, THE LONDON
BOUTIQUE THAT SUPPLIES
UNDERPINNINGS TO THE QUEEN,
WHICH I ENTERED ONCE
AND LEFT ALMOST IMMEDIATELY,
SO INTIMIDATED WAS I BY THE
HUSHED AND REVERENT ATMOSPHERE.
I WAS AN APOSTATE IN THE TEMPLE
OF LINGERIE.
WOMEN'S INTIMATE APPAREL IS A
32 BILLION dollar GLOBAL INDUSTRY,
ACCORDING TO THE LINGERIE
JOURNAL, WHOSE SLOGAN IS:
'LINGERIE NEWS FROM TOP TO BOTTOM.'
THERE'S NO EQUIVALENT OUTLAY FOR
MEN'S UNDERPANTS WHICH, AS WE
KNOW, ARE BOUGHT IN BULK BY
WIVES AND MOTHERS ON THEIR
LUNCH BREAKS.
THERE' IS NO VICTORIA SECRET
TELEVISION SPECIAL IN WHICH MEN
PARADE DOWN A RUNWAY IN THEIR
DINGY Y-FRONTS."

Nam says I'M IMPRESSED THERE'S A JOURNAL
FOR LINGERIE.

[ELIZABETH LAUGHING]

Nam says BUT IT IS A BUSINESS.

ELIZABETH SAYS OH WELL, THINK ABOUT IT.
I MEAN, IF YOU THINK ABOUT
WHAT... I QUOTE NAOMI WOLF IN MYTH
ABOUT THE PERSONAL BEAUTY
QUOTIENT, I THINK IT IS, PBQ,
HOW MUCH EXTRA MONEY IT COSTS TO
BE A WOMAN, WHICH WE TAKE OUT OF
OWN SALARIES.
IT'S NOT LIKE THE GOVERNMENT'S
GIVING YOU A TAX BREAK,
YOU KNOW, SO THAT YOU CAN BUY
LINGERIE AND BRAS, PANTYHOSE,
ALL THE OTHER THINGS YOU NEED TO
BE PRESENTABLE IN THE WORLD.
AND THEN, OF COURSE, THE WORLD
ALSO TELLS US, YOU HAVE TO LOOK
A SPECIFIC WAY IF YOU'RE GOING
TO BE A PROFESSIONAL WOMAN.
YOU HAVE TO BE GROOMED, YOU HAVE
TO BE NEAT.
YOU PROBABLY WEAR SOME KIND OF
MAKEUP.
SO ALL THESE THINGS COST A LOT
OF MONEY AND I'M NOT EVEN
TALKING ABOUT THE WOMEN WHO PUT
LIKE HAIR VITAMINS ON, WHO I
MENTION IN THE BOOK.
DID YOU EVEN KNOW THERE WAS A
THING CALLED HAIR VITAMINS?

NAM SAYS APPARENTLY.
I'M READING THE WRONG BOOKS,
TILL THIS ONE.

[LAUGHING]

Elizabeth says ME TOO.
OR YOU KNOW, IF YOU GET PLASTIC
SURGERY, THAT COSTS A WHOLE
OTHER AMOUNT.
BUT THE OTHER THING I WAS
THINKING ABOUT WAS, IT DOESN'T
JUST COST MONEY, RIGHT?
TO PRESENT OURSELVES AS WOMEN IN
THE WORLD.
IT COSTS TIME.
THE OTHER DAY, I WAS TRYING TO
COME UP WITH SOME TIME TO GET A
COUPLE OF THINGS DONE.
I HAD TO HAVE MY ROOTS COLOURED
AND A COUPLE OF OTHER
THINGS DONE.
AND, YOU KNOW, I DIDN'T HAVE
THREE HOURS.
THERE WAS NO THREE HOURS IN THAT
WEEK FOR ME TO DO THIS.
AND I THOUGHT, "WOW."
MY HUSBAND NEVER SITS AROUND
THINKING, "I NEED TO FIND
THREE HOURS TO GET MY ROOTS
DONE."
HE GOES IN, HE GETS HIS HAIR
CUT.
IT TAKES 15 MINUTES AND HE'S
BACK AT WORK SO...

Nam says I'VE ALSO NOTICED THAT SOME
DEPARTMENT STORES, THEY MIGHT
HAVE THE MEN'S SECTION ON THE
MAIN FLOOR AND THEN THE WOMEN,
YOU HAVE TO DO A BIT OF EXTRA
WORK TO GET THERE.

ELIZABETH SAYS THAT'S SO
INTERESTING.

Nam says AND THEN IT'S LIKE, "HMM, I
WONDER WHY THAT IS."
BUT LIKE, WHEN YOU STARTED
WRITING, YOU WERE IN YOUR 20S...

ELIZABETH SAYS RIGHT.

Nam says AND YOU WRITE THAT WHEN YOU
STARTED, IT WAS A BAKED-IN
CULTURE OF SEXISM IN THE NEWSROOM.

ELIZABETH SAYS RIGHT.

Nam says HAS IT CHANGED?

The caption changes to "Elizabeth Renzetti, @lizrenzetti."

Elizabeth says YES, I THINK IT ACTUALLY HAS
CHANGED A LOT AND FOR
THE BETTER.
ABSOLUTELY.
THERE'S MUCH MORE UNDERSTANDING
OF, I WOULD SAY, LIKE,
BOTH MICRO AND MACRO, RIGHT?
SO ON ONE LEVEL, THAT
THE... OUR MEDIA OUTLETS NEED
TO BE COMPOSED OF WOMEN, OF
PEOPLE FROM DIFFERENT
COMMUNITIES WHO MAKE UP OUR, YOU
KNOW, OUR COUNTRY.
SO PEOPLE FROM RACIALIZED
COMMUNITIES, LGBTQ PEOPLE...

The caption changes to "Connect with us: Twitter: @theagenda; Facebook, agendaconnect@tvo.org, Instagram."

NAM SAYS SO IT'S MORE INCLUSIVE.

Elizabeth says MORE INCLUSIVE SO THAT'S ONE LEVEL.
THE OTHER LEVEL IS, WE REALIZE
WE NEED TO WRITE ABOUT DIFFERENT
TOPICS AND WE NEED TO INCLUDE
DIFFERENT VOICES AND...

NAM SAYS IS THAT A WAY TO SURVIVE OR
IS IT BECAUSE IT'S... NEWSPAPERS
HAVE COME TO REALIZE THAT WE
HAVE TO DO THIS?

Elizabeth says I THINK NEWSPAPERS REALIZE THAT
THEY HAVE TO COME TO DO THIS.
THE PEOPLE AREN'T GOING TO READ
THEM IF THEY DON'T SEE
THEMSELVES REFLECTED IN IT.
NOW, IS IT NIRVANA?
NO.
I MEAN, WE HAVE A LONG WAY TO GO
AND I'VE TALKED ABOUT THIS
BEFORE ABOUT HOW THE MAJOR MEDIA
OUTLETS IN CANADA,
BOTH BROADCAST AND PRINT, DO NOT
HAVE A LOT OF WOMEN IN UPPER
MANAGEMENT AND DO NOT HAVE A LOT
OF WOMEN AT THE VERY TOP
POSITIONS EITHER.
SO I THINK THAT'S A HUGE CHANGE
THAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN.
HOPEFULLY, IT WILL HAPPEN IN THE
NEXT LITTLE WHILE.
BUT I THINK WE'RE SEEING A
CHANGE IN SORT OF COVERAGE ABOUT
THE ISSUES THAT ARE COVERED AND
THE KIND OF PEOPLE WE QUOTE IN
THE STORIES AS WELL AND
MAKE... IN OUR NEWSROOM,
PEOPLE MAKE A CONCERTED EFFORT
TO TRY TO REACH OUT TO DIFFERENT
SOURCES AND EXPERTS, FOR
EXAMPLE, WHEN THEY'RE WRITING
A STORY.

NAM SAYS WELL, THERE'S A PASSAGE
THAT I'D LIKE TO READ FROM
YOUR BOOK.

ELIZABETH SAYS YEAH.

Nam says YOU WRITE...

A quote appears on screen, under the title "Everyday harassment." The quote reads "The bread plate had barely had a chance to circulate before I felt his hand on my thigh. No. I thought. No way. I was there to write about the dinner; I had my notepad in front of me. I could have stabbed him with my pen. Instead, I shifted slightly away, which seemed guaranteed to end the episode without bloodshed. I felt his hand slide deeper, near my crotch. I looked over at his wife, who seemed oblivious. In fact, the groper seemed oblivious, too, his bland face concentrating on the speaker, as if his wandering hand was a creature entirely beyond his control. He was gaslighting me."
Quoted from Elizabeth Renzetti, "Shrewed." 2018.

Nam says AND THIS IS ONE OF
YOUR FIRST ASSIGNMENTS:
WHEN WE SPEAK ABOUT THE hashtag METOO
MOVEMENT, DO YOU THINK THAT ONE
OF THE ROLES THAT IT'S PLAYED
IS, IT'S GIVEN US VOCABULARY,
LANGUAGE, ABOUT WHAT HAPPENS TO
WOMEN IN EVERYDAY SITUATIONS
WHEN THEY ARE BEING HARASSED?

The caption changes to "Making space for women."

Elizabeth says YEAH, ABSOLUTELY.
THE TERM "GASLIGHTING," FOR
EXAMPLE, WHICH COMES FROM A PLAY
THAT'S NOW, I THINK, 80 YEARS
OLD AND THEN WAS A MOVIE,
AND NOW WE UNDERSTAND IT TO MEAN
THAT WE HAVE... WE KNOW WHAT'S
REAL AND WE'VE BEEN TOLD FOR
DECADES THAT IT ISN'T REAL.
THAT WE'RE IMAGINING IT.
SO FOR EXAMPLE, AT THAT DINNER,
WHICH WAS IN NEW YORK CITY,
IT WAS A DINNER FOR A FAMOUS
AUTHOR.
I WAS THERE COVERING IT AS A
REPORTER.
AND THIS MAN GROPED ME AND I
THOUGHT THIS... LIKE THIS,
"AM I IMAGINING THIS?
THIS CAN'T BE HAPPENING."
AND HIS FACE SUGGESTED... BECAUSE
HE PRETENDED HE WASN'T DOING IT...

NAM SAYS AND HE WAS LOOKING THE
OTHER WAY, RIGHT?

Elizabeth says HE WAS... YEAH.
AND HIS WIFE WAS SITTING ON THE
OTHER SIDE.
AND SO THAT WAS VERY CLEARLY
GASLIGHTING.
HE WAS SUGGESTING THAT, YOU
KNOW, THIS WAS NOT, IN FACT,
HAPPENING.
WHAT I THINK IS FASCINATING
ABOUT THE hashtag METOO MOVEMENT,
AND I'M SO GLAD ABOUT IT, IS THE
WAY THAT I'VE HAD SO MANY WOMEN
REACH OUT TO ME, OLDER WOMEN,
YOU KNOW, THROUGH EMAIL, OFTEN,
BECAUSE I WRITE ABOUT THESE
THINGS AND THEY DON'T... AND
THEY JUST WANT TO SHARE THEIR
STORIES.
THEY DON'T NECESSARILY WANT TO
BE WRITTEN ABOUT.
THEY JUST WANT SOMEBODY TO HEAR
THEM AND THEY'LL SAY,
"THIS HAPPENED TO ME.
THIS HAPPENED TO ME 40 YEARS
AGO, 50 YEARS AGO, 60 YEARS AGO
WHEN I WAS A YOUNG WOMAN AND
NOBODY LISTENED."
OR WORSE: "I DID TELL SOMEBODY
AND NOTHING HAPPENED."
AND SO, I THINK TO HEAR THOSE
VOICES AND TO HAVE THEM FEEL
VALIDATED THAT THEY WERE NOT
CRAZY ALL THIS TIME, THEY WERE
NOT IMAGINING IT, IT HAD
HAPPENED TO A WHOLE BUNCH OF
OTHER WOMEN, SO ALTHOUGH THEY'VE
HAD TO LIVE WITH THAT PAIN FOR A
LONG TIME, THEY ALSO NOW FEEL
VALIDATED THAT THEY KNOW IT WAS
NOT ALL IN THEIR HEADS AND I
THINK THAT'S HUGELY IMPORTANT.

Nam says AND THIS BOOK, THE CATALYST FOR
WRITING THIS BOOK, I BELIEVE,
WAS BECAUSE HILLARY CLINTON
DIDN'T WIN THE PRESIDENTIAL
ELECTION IN 2016 IN THE U.S.

ELIZABETH SAYS YEAH, THAT WAS THE
ACTUAL... WELL I'VE BEEN
REPORTING ON FEMINISM FOR A LONG
TIME, BUT THE ACTUAL SORT OF,
YEAH, LINCHPIN MOMENT WAS THE
ELECTION OF HE WHO SHALL NOT BE
NAMED...
[LAUGHING]
IN NOVEMBER
2016, WHICH I THINK TOOK ALL OF
US BY SURPRISE.
IT CERTAINLY TOOK ME BY
SURPRISE.
I HAD WRITTEN A VERY... DONE
REPORTING AROUND THE ELECTION,
AND I'D WRITTEN A VERY LONG,
TURGID ESSAY THAT DAY OF THE
ELECTION, SAYING HOW HISTORIC A
FEMALE PRESIDENCY WAS GOING TO
BE FOR AMERICA AND FILED IT OFF
TO THE GLOBE AND MAIL.
AND YOU HAVE NOT READ THAT ESSAY
BECAUSE IT DID NOT SEE THE LIGHT
OF DAY.
AND THEN ABOUT... YOU KNOW, LIKE
ALL OF US, I WAS WATCHING THE
LITTLE
NEW YORK TIMES
METRE
TICKING OMINOUSLY.
AND AT A CERTAIN POINT, AN
EDITOR PHONED ME LATE IN THE
EVENING AND SAID, "DO YOU WANT
TO MAYBE WRITE ABOUT DONALD
TRUMP INSTEAD?"
AND I SAID, "NO.
'CAUSE I'M REALLY DRUNK."

[LAUGHTER]

Elizabeth says I ACTUALLY WAS.

Nam says YOU WERE CELEBRATING.

ELIZABETH SAYS WELL, NO.
I WAS DROWNING MY SORROWS BECAUSE...

NAM SAYS OH, YOU REALIZED THAT SHE
WAS...

Elizabeth says YEAH.
AND I DRUNK THE TOP BIT OF A
BOTTLE OF SCOTCH.
AND WENT TO BED, AS WE ALL DID,
I THINK, OR MANY OF US DID,
REELING, AND MANY WOMEN DID,
REELING BECAUSE IT SEEMED
SO IMPLAUSIBLE AND WRONG THAT
THIS MAN HAD BEEN ELECTED TO THE
MOST POWERFUL OFFICE IN THE
WORLD, REALLY.
NOT JUST AS A MISOGYNIST, WHICH
WE ALL KNOW HE IS.
NOT JUST SOMEBODY WHO'D BEEN
ACCUSED BY MULTIPLE WOMEN OF
SEXUAL ASSAULT, BUT HE TRADED ON
THOSE QUALITIES.
AND WAS VALORIZED FOR THOSE
QUALITIES AND IT WAS LIKE A BLOW
TO THE GUT FOR ME, I THINK, AND
A LOT OF WOMEN.
EVEN THOUGH IT WASN'T OUR
COUNTRY BUT, YOU KNOW, STILL.
AN IMPORTANT FORCE IN OUR LIVES.

NAM SAYS AND ALSO, THE POSSIBILITY
OF HILLARY CLINTON BECOMING
THE FIRST PRESIDENT WAS...

ELIZABETH SAYS WAS GONE, YES.
AND YOU KNOW, I HAD HEARD SO
MANY WOMEN IN THE STATES WHO I
HAD TALKED TO, SAY... WOMEN, NOT
MEN SAY... WELL, I'VE HEARD MEN
SAY THIS TOO BUT WOMEN WERE
ACTUALLY WEIRDLY MORE FORTHRIGHT
ABOUT IT... TELL ME THAT SHE WAS A
MURDERER, A LIAR, A DEMON.
I HAD SOMEBODY TELL ME SHE WAS
LIKE A LITERAL DEMON FROM HELL.
AND THIS LEVEL OF HATRED AND
VITRIOL, WHICH WASN'T ABOUT HER
POLICIES OR ABOUT, YOU KNOW,
ANYTHING REALLY HAVING TO DO
WITH HER PLATFORM, BUT WAS ABOUT
HER PERSONALLY, JUST STAGGERED
ME AND I HAD THOUGHT, LIKE MANY
FEMINISTS DID, THAT WE HAD
REACHED THIS... NOT NIRVANA, BUT
AT LEAST
A GOOD PLACE.
AND I THINK WE ALL REALIZED AT
THAT POINT THAT WE HAD TAKEN A
LOT FOR GRANTED.

Nam says DO YOU THINK... YOU KNOW, YOU
HEAR ABOUT THIS DIVIDE WITH
YOUNG AND OLDER FEMINISTS...

ELIZABETH SAYS YEAH.

Nam says DO YOU THINK THAT PLAYED A ROLE
IN IT?

Elizabeth says WELL...

NAM SAYS OR DOES THAT EVEN EXIST?

Elizabeth says IN THE AMERICAN ELECTION, I'M
NOT SURE WHAT ROLE IT PLAYED IN
THE AMERICAN ELECTION BECAUSE I
THINK ACTUALLY, A LOT OF YOUNG
WOMEN WERE ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT
HER PRESIDENCY.
I DO THINK IN TERMS OF LIKE
FEMINISM IN GENERAL, LET'S JUST
TALK ABOUT IN NORTH AMERICA.
I THINK THERE ARE SCHISMS
DEFINITELY BETWEEN OLDER AND
YOUNGER FEMINISTS.
I'M PUTTING MYSELF IN THE OLDER CAMP.

[LAUGHING]

Elizabeth says AND I THINK WE HAVE A LOT TO
LEARN FROM YOUNGER FEMINISTS,
AND I THINK... I'M HOPING WE CAN
EMBRACE WITH HUMILITY WHAT
YOUNGER FEMINISTS BRING TO THE
TABLE.
'CAUSE IT'S SO IMPORTANT, AND
ALSO IT'S MORE THEIR WORLD NOW
THAN IT IS MY WORLD.
YOU KNOW, THEY HAVE A DIFFERENT
INTERFACE WITH THE WORLD,
AND THEY HAVE DIFFERENT
CONNECTIONS TO IT.
AND THEY SEE THE WORLD
DIFFERENTLY, AND FOR EXAMPLE,
IN THE ISSUE OF INCLUSIVITY,
IT'S YOUNG FEMINISTS WHO HAVE
BEEN DRIVING THIS IDEA THAT
WHITE FEMINISM IS A PROBLEM,
WHICH I BELIEVE IT IS.
THAT THE VOICES OF WHITE
MIDDLE-CLASS, ABLE-BODIED,
STRAIGHT WOMEN HAVE BEEN AT THE
FOREFRONT OF THE MOVEMENT,
AND OTHER VOICES HAVE BEEN
PUSHED TO THE SIDE.
AND IT'S YOUNG FEMINISTS WHO
HAVE POINTED OUT THAT THIS IS
PROBLEMATIC AND ARE PUSHING FOR
CHANGE.

Nam says I FIND IT INTERESTING THOUGH,
BECAUSE IN THE... IN YOUR
COLLECTION OF ESSAYS, YOU ARE,
YOU KNOW, INTROSPECTIVE.
YOU REFLECT ON YOUR OWN ROLE IN
THIS, AND I THINK IT'S REALLY
DIFFICULT FOR PEOPLE TO DO THAT
WHERE... I KNOW THIS WORD IS
REVILED NOW... TO CHECK YOUR OWN
PRIVILEGE.

ELIZABETH SAYS IS IT THE "P WORD."

Nam says YEAH, THE "P WORD."

Elizabeth says I LOVE THE WORD "PRIVILEGE."
I ACTUALLY THINK IT'S REALLY USEFUL.
I DO.

NAM SAYS HOW DID YOU GET TO THAT
POINT AND WHY DO YOU THINK IT'S USEFUL?

Elizabeth says WELL, HOW WOULD I... I THINK
JUST A FEW YEARS AGO, I STARTED
LISTENING TO DIFFERENT VOICES,
AND READING DIFFERENT THINGS,
AND I REALIZED THAT THE FEMINISM
THAT I HAD GROWN UP WITH REALLY,
IN THE '90S, WAS SO, WHAT WE
CALLED "EMPOWERMENT FEMINISM."
AT THAT TIME, WHICH IS LIKE YOU
CAN POLE DANCE YOUR WAY TO
LIBERATION AND IF YOU BUY ENOUGH
MANOLO BLAHNIKS,
THEN YOU'RE LIKE...

NAM SAYS LIKE CARRIE BRADSHAW.

Elizabeth says LIKE CARRIE BRADSHAW, YEAH.
THEN YOU'RE A STRONG, POWERFUL WOMAN.
AND IT WAS VERY INDIVIDUAL AND
IT WASN'T NECESSARILY ABOUT THE
SYSTEMS THAT OPPRESS WOMEN AND
THE INFRASTRUCTURES THAT BRING
US DOWN.
AND WHEN WE START TO LOOK AT
THAT, WHAT ARE THE SYSTEMIC
ROOTS OF OPPRESSION AND DOMINANCE?
YOU REALIZE THAT PEOPLE HAVE
MORE... PEOPLE ARE WEIGHED
DOWN MORE THAN YOU ARE AS A
WHITE WOMAN.
I DO HAVE CERTAIN PRIVILEGES
THAT OTHER PEOPLE DON'T.
LIKE BEING MIDDLE-CLASS AND, YOU
KNOW, I HAVE A NICE JOB.
I GET TO LIVE IN THIS COUNTRY.
AND YOU BECOME BLIND TO HOW
FORTUNATE YOU'VE BEEN, AND THAT
FORTUNE... THAT GOOD FORTUNE HAS
COME TO YOU THROUGH NO KIND OF
WORK OF YOUR OWN, BUT JUST
BECAUSE OF THE WAY YOU LOOK,
AND THE NETWORKS YOU WERE
BROUGHT UP IN.
I'M ACTUALLY KIND OF SURPRISED
THAT MORE PEOPLE DON'T
UNDERSTAND THAT OR ACKNOWLEDGE IT.
IT SEEMS VERY CLEAR TO ME THAT
IF YOU ARE... IF YOU LOOK A
CERTAIN WAY, IF YOU WERE BORN IN
A CERTAIN PLACE, YOU STARTED OUT
WITH WAY MORE ADVANTAGES THAN
OTHER PEOPLE DID.

Nam says MAYBE IT'S BECAUSE THAT SOME
PEOPLE THINK THAT WHEN YOU DO
SAY THAT, YOU'RE SAYING THAT
THEY DIDN'T EARN IT, AND MAYBE
IT MAKES THEM DEFENSIVE.

Elizabeth says YEAH, I THINK IT DOES MAKE THEM
DEFENSIVE AND... BUT WHAT'S WRONG
WITH BEING A BIT DEFENSIVE?
I THINK PEOPLE DON'T... I
THINK YOU'RE RIGHT.
PEOPLE DON'T LIKE TO FEEL
UNSETTLED.
THEY DON'T WANT TO FEEL
UNCOMFORTABLE, AND IN THIS
DISCUSSION WE'RE HAVING ABOUT
WHITE FEMINISM, IT IS
UNCOMFORTABLE AND IT MAKES ME
SOMETIMES UNCOMFORTABLE,
BECAUSE I'M NOT SURE WHAT I
SHOULD BE SAYING OR WHAT I
SHOULD BE DOING AND SO I JUST
TRY TO... I TRY TO, LIKE I SAY,
READ A LOT.
I TRY TO LISTEN A LOT.
I TRY TO DO THE WORK MYSELF, SO
THAT OTHER WOMEN DON'T HAVE TO
DO THE WORK FOR ME, BUT IT'S HARD.
AND I UNDERSTAND WHY, AS YOU
SAY, PEOPLE DON'T NECESSARILY
WANT TO DO IT, BUT THE
MOVEMENT'S GOING TO FALL APART
IF WE DON'T.

Nam says ANOTHER, I GUESS, WORD THAT
MIGHT BE A WORD THAT PEOPLE
DON'T REALLY LIKE TALKING ABOUT
IS "AMBITION."

ELIZABETH SAYS RIGHT.

NAM SAYS HAVE YOU EVER FOUND
YOURSELF IN A SITUATION WHERE
YOU DID HAVE TO, I DON'T KNOW,
PUT LIMITS ON YOUR OWN AMBITION,
OR OTHER PEOPLE PUT LIMITS ON
YOUR AMBITION?

The caption changes to "Curb your ambition."

Elizabeth says YEAH.
AMBITION'S REALLY INTERESTING TO
ME.
TO ME, I LOOK AT MY LIFE LIKE
THERE'S SORT OF THIS IDEA WE
TELL YOUNG WOMEN THAT IT'S
GOING TO BE LIKE, "MM,"
LIKE MOUNT EVEREST, LIKE A
LITTLE CLIMB UP MOUNT EVEREST.
BUT THAT IS NOT MY EXPERIENCE AT
ALL.
TO ME, IT'S MORE LIKE A GAME OF
SNAKES AND LADDERS.
LIKE YOU GO ALONG FOR A WHILE,
CLIMB A LADDER, FALL DOWN A
SNAKE.
LADDER, SNAKE, LADDER, SNAKE.
AND IT IS A SERIES OF EBBS AND
FLOWS, AMBITION.
AND I ALSO THINK WE HAVE A VERY
CONSTRICTED IDEA OF AMBITION IN
THE WESTERN WORLD.

NAM SAYS WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT?

Elizabeth says WELL, I THINK, ESPECIALLY FOR
WOMEN.
SO WE TALK ABOUT, YOU KNOW,
BALANCE.
AND IT'S ALWAYS ABOUT WORK AND
FAMILY.
IT'S ALWAYS ABOUT HOW YOU'RE
DOING AT WORK, AND HOW YOU'RE
DOING IN THE FAMILY, AND LIKE
WHAT GOALS YOU'VE MET.
BUT I THINK YOU CAN HAVE A MUCH
BROADER SENSE OF ACCOMPLISHMENT
IN YOUR OWN LIFE HAVING TO DO
WITH, LET'S SAY, RELATIONSHIPS
OR VOLUNTEERING OR YOUR HOBBIES
OR REALLY ANYTHING.
AND IT DOESN'T... WE MEASURE
STATUS SO ODDLY AND I THINK
IT'S SUCH A NARROW,
RESTRICTING, AND CRIPPLING WAY.
STATUS HAS TO DO WITH, YOU KNOW,
HOW MUCH MONEY YOU MAKE,
AND HOW MUCH YOU OWN AND ALL
THESE OTHER THINGS.

NAM SAYS OR EVEN IF YOU HAVE
CHILDREN OR NOT.

Elizabeth says OR EVEN IF YOU HAVE CHILDREN OR
NOT.
THIS IS THE OTHER THING.
AND WOMEN ARE... IF YOU DON'T
HAVE CHILDREN, WELL, WHAT DOES
THAT SAY ABOUT YOU?
BUT... BUT WHY?
WHY CAN YOU NOT HAVE A FULL LIFE
THAT'S OUTSIDE OF THESE THINGS,
OR IS MEASURED IN DIFFERENT WAYS?
SO I THINK AMBITION IS REALLY
INTERESTING TO ME TO LOOK AT,
AND I THINK IT'S UNFAIR TO PLACE
TOO MANY BURDENS ON YOUNG
PEOPLE, ESPECIALLY YOUNG WOMEN,
ABOUT HOW THEY SHOULD LIVE THEIR
LIVES, AND HOW THEIR SUCCESS
SHOULD BE MEASURED.

Nam says BECAUSE THERE WERE MOMENTS IN
YOUR LIFE WHEN YOU WERE...

ELIZABETH SAYS I WAS A TOTAL
FAILURE!
says ALL THE TIME, YES!

NAM laughs and says DOUBTFUL.

Elizabeth says NO!

NAM SAYS BUT THAT'S THE
OTHER... THAT'S THE VOICE IN YOUR
HEAD, ISN'T IT?

ELIZABETH SAYS YEAH, WELL, THAT'S
PARTLY.

Nam says THAT WAS ONE OF MY FAVOURITE
ESSAYS...

Elizabeth says OH.

NAM SAYS AND IT OPENS THE BOOK UP
AND YOU TALK ABOUT THIS VOICE.
YOU CALL IT THE A-HOLE... WELL
NOT THE A-HOLE, BUT YOU KNOW.
WE CAN'T SAY IT ON TV.

Elizabeth says WE CAN'T SAY THAT ON TV.

Nam says YEAH, IN YOUR HEAD.

Elizabeth says RIGHT.

Nam says AND THIS VOICE THAT'S ALWAYS
TRYING TO... WHEN YOU'RE
GOING UP AND IT'S LIKE, "OH, NO.
YOU CAN'T, YOU KNOW."

ELIZABETH SAYS YEAH, YEAH.

NAM SAYS IS THAT ANOTHER WAY OF
SAYING LIKE THE
IMPOSTOR SYNDROME OR...

Elizabeth says YES.
YES, AND A WHOLE BUNCH OF
ACADEMIC RESEARCH HAS SHOWN THAT
WOMEN SUFFER MORE FROM THE
IMPOSTOR SYNDROME.

NAM SAYS WHY IS THAT?

The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda Podcast: tvo.org/theagenda."

Elizabeth says I'M NOT ENTIRELY SURE.
I WOULD THINK IT PROBABLY HAS TO
DO WITH THE WAY THAT WE ARE
SOCIALIZED TO BE HELP-MATES.
TO BE PEACEMAKERS.
TO BE THE PEOPLE WHO ARE BEHIND
THE SCENES AND NOT NECESSARILY
IN FRONT OF THE SCENES.
AND TO BE... TO DIMINISH
OURSELVES.
OUR APPETITES, OUR AMBITIONS,
AND THINGS, AND NOT TO ASK FOR A
LOT, BECAUSE ASKING FOR A LOT IS
SEEN AS, IN MANY WAYS, IF YOU
LOOK AT IT THROUGH A TRADITIONAL
LENS, UNFEMININE, RIGHT?
WHY WOULD YOU BE SO, YOU KNOW,
GREEDY FOR WHATEVER?
LOVE, FOOD, ANYTHING.
SO THE VOICE IN YOUR HEAD TELLS
YOU, "DON'T EVEN TRY.
DON'T EVEN TRY.
YOU'LL BE MUCH SAFER IF YOU
DON'T EVEN TRY," AND WOMEN
ARE... YOUNG WOMEN ESPECIALLY,
I THINK, ARE OFTEN AFRAID
OF FAILURE.
AND YOU SEE THAT IN LIKE
MAGAZINES THAT ARE AIMED
AT GIRLS.
THEY'RE ALWAYS ABOUT
HUMILIATION.
PUBLIC HUMILIATION, LIKE, "I
FELL DOWN," OR "I TRIPPED,"
OR YOU KNOW, "SOMETHING
HUMILIATING HAPPENED TO ME,
AND PEOPLE LAUGHED AT ME."
SO ALL OF THOSE THINGS CONSPIRE
WITH THE VOICE IN YOUR HEAD,
WHICH IS INNATE, YOUR INTERNAL
CRITIC, TO TELL YOU NOT EVEN TO
TRY AND THAT IT'S NOT WORTH TRYING.
IT'S NOT WORTH THE PAIN OF
FAILURE TO TRY.

NAM SAYS AND SO YOU SHRINK YOURSELF,
WHICH IS SOMETHING YOU TALK
ABOUT AS WELL.

Elizabeth says YOU SHRINK YOURSELF, YEAH.
YOU BECOME SMALL.
YOU DON'T... YOU'RE NOT AS LOUD.
YOU DON'T LAUGH AS MUCH.
YOU DON'T ORDER A STEAK ON THE
FIRST DATE.
YOU KNOW, YOU JUST... ALL OF
THESE THINGS.
YOU TRY TO TAKE UP A MUCH
SMALLER PLACE IN THE WORLD,
AND AS I ALSO SAY IN THE BOOK,
IT'S UNDERSTANDABLE BECAUSE,
IN MANY WAYS, WOMEN ARE, YOU
KNOW, WE'RE PREY ANIMALS,
IN A CERTAIN WAY.
YOU DO GET PREYED UPON, YOU
KNOW, PHYSICALLY.
YOU CAN BE THE SUBJECT OF, YOU
KNOW, ABUSE OR ASSAULT OR
SOMETHING LIKE THAT.
AND ALSO...

NAM SAYS ONLINE?

Elizabeth says ONLINE.

NAM SAYS YEAH.

Elizabeth says THE TARGET OF TROLLS AND
A-HOLES, IF I'M ALLOWED TO SAY THAT.
SO YOU LEARN TO TAKE UP A
SMALLER PLACE, A SMALLER
FOOTPRINT, BECAUSE THAT MAKES YOU SAFER.
AND IT'S REALLY UNFORTUNATE, AND
WHAT HAPPENS ONLINE IS HUGELY
UNFORTUNATE, BECAUSE WOMEN ARE
OFTEN DRIVEN OFF OF PUBLIC,
DIGITAL SPACES, SOCIAL MEDIA
PLATFORMS, BECAUSE OF PEOPLE WHO
SAY HATEFUL THINGS TO THEM, AND
IF YOU'RE NOT THE VICTIM OF THAT
HATEFUL SPEECH, YOU DON'T REALLY
UNDERSTAND HOW WEARYING IT IS,
HOW EXHAUSTING IT IS TO FIGHT IT
ALL THE TIME AND TO PUT UP WITH
IT, SO IT DOES JUST BECOME
EASIER TO WALK AWAY.

Nam says WE ONLY HAVE A FEW MINUTES LEFT,
BUT I REALLY WANTED TO ASK YOU
THIS QUESTION.
YOU ARE QUOTED IN CHATELAINE
MAGAZINE AS SAYING, "I THINK
WE'RE VERY BAD AT TEACHING BOYS
TO BE COMPLETE HUMAN BEINGS.
I WORRY A LOT ABOUT BOYS, EVEN
MORE THAN I DO ABOUT GIRLS,
IN SOME CASES."

Elizabeth says YEAH.

Nam says WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT?

The caption changes to "Modelling feminism."

Elizabeth says WELL, I DEFER TO THE GREAT
AMERICAN FEMINIST BELL HOOKS IN
THIS WHO SAYS PATRIARCHY HAS NO
GENDER.
AND SHE SAYS PATRIARCHY WILL NOT
HEAL BOYS.
IF IT WERE SO, THEY WOULD ALL BE
WELL.
AND I THINK WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT
THAT, YOU REALIZE WHAT HAS
HAPPENED, I THINK, IS THAT WE
HAVE BEEN VERY BAD AT TEACHING
BOYS TO BECOME COMPLETE HUMAN
BEINGS, IN THE SENSE OF BEING IN
TOUCH WITH THE FULL REALM OF
THEIR EMOTIONS AND HOPES
AND DREAMS AND AMBITIONS.
SO WE TEACH THEM THAT, YOU KNOW,
STATUS IS EQUATED TO DOMINANCE,
AND INQUISITIVENESS AND POWER
AND ALL OF THESE OTHER THINGS.
WE'RE MUCH BETTER AT TEACHING
GIRLS AND YOUNG WOMEN TO GET IN
TOUCH WITH THEIR TRADITIONALLY
MASCULINE TRAITS LIKE
COMPETITIVENESS AND, YOU KNOW,
COURAGE AND ALL THESE THINGS,
AND MUCH LESS GOOD AT TEACHING
BOYS TO BE IN TOUCH WITH THE
TRADITIONALLY FEMININE... WHAT
WE CONSIDER FEMININE QUALITIES.
SO I THINK THINGS LIKE KINDNESS
OR TOLERANCE OR COMPASSION
OR CREATIVITY, THESE THINGS.
AND UNTIL WE TEACH BOYS THAT
THEY CAN BE THESE COMPLETE HUMAN
BEINGS, WITHOUT MOCKERY, WITHOUT
FEAR, THAT THESE ARE ALSO VALUED
TRAITS, I THINK WE'RE STILL
GOING TO BE LIVING IN A WORLD
THAT'S QUITE POISONOUS.

Nam says AND NOW THAT THE BOOK IS OUT AND
PEOPLE KNOW A BIT MORE ABOUT
YOUR LIFE, HOW ARE YOU FEELING?

Elizabeth says OH, AS A FEMINIST?

[LAUGHTER]

Elizabeth says WELL, I THINK IT'S A REALLY GOOD
TIME TO BE A FEMINIST, ACTUALLY.
I'M QUITE HAPPY THAT WE'RE
SEEING A REAL GROUND SWELL,
I THINK, OF ACTIVITY AND PEOPLE
ARE MUCH MORE CONSCIOUS OF THE
MOVEMENT, AND YEAH.
I'M HAPPY TO BE AN OLD LADY FEMINIST.

[LAUGHTER]

NAM SAYS MEDIUM-OLD.

ELIZABETH SAYS MEDIUM-OLD; THAT'S ME.

The caption changes to "Producer: Carla Lucchetta, @carrletta."

Nam says ELIZABETH, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR
BEING HERE.
THE BOOK IS FUNNY.
IT'S A VERY IMPORTANT READ, AND
I ALSO REALLY ADMIRE THE FACT
THAT YOU TAKE THE TIME TO MENTOR
YOUNG GIRLS.
I'VE NEVER HAD A MENTOR, SO
THAT'S INCREDIBLE THAT YOU DO THAT.

Elizabeth says IT IS REALLY IMPORTANT TO HAVE A
MENTOR AND A MENTEE.

NAM SAYS THANKS FOR BEING HERE.

Elizabeth says THANK YOU, NAM.

Watch: Evolution of a Feminist Columnist