If you’ve ever sat in a meeting to discuss that raise you’ve been pushing for and wondered whether your mani looks fresh, you’ve probably read a women’s magazine.
Nobody’s better at building up your confidence (“3 tips for securing a corner office!”) and simultaneously chipping away at it (“How to shrink your enormous pores!”) than those glossy tomes of you-go-girl inspiration and fix-your-roots-girl advertisements.
And nobody’s better at skewering that mind game than Reductress, the satirical online magazine known as “the feminist Onion.” (Recent installment: “Professional Outfits That Won’t Stop Men From Referring to You as a Girl.”)
Now there’s a Reductress book.
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“How to Win at Feminism: The Definitive Guide to Having It All — And Then Some!” (HarperOne) offers such gems as, “How to love your body even though hers is better,” “How to get catcalled for your personality,” “How to be sex-positive even when you’re bloated” and “Designer handbags to hold all your feminism.”
It’s a hoot.
“We definitely had a lot of fun with all types of mixed messages we’re getting from media,” said Reductress co-founder Sarah Pappalardo, who co-wrote “How to Win at Feminism,” along with Beth Newell and Anna Drezen. “A woman shouldn’t care how she looks — but buy this makeup! A woman should love her body — but not love her body too much!”
The book also takes aim at the ways feminism has been co-opted and packaged for maximum trendiness.
“The biggest misunderstanding is this belief that feminism is a label you can ascribe to,” Newell said. “The way people in the media keep asking female celebrities whether they are or aren’t feminists, like feminism is a quick and easy label, rather than a movement with clear objectives.”
Pappalardo added: “We did a piece at the end of 2014 called ‘Prettiest feminists of 2014’ to drive home the way feminism is being used to talk about women’s looks and sell things — the two tenets of women’s media.”
The absurdity of the have-it-all pressure gets the Reductress treatment as well.
“As a strong woman, it’s up to you, and only you, to make sure no babies pop out of you at a bad time,” the authors write. “Having a baby is your choice and your choice alone. It is also a choice that affects everyone around you and will continue to forever and ever, so don’t be selfish about it, OK? It’s totally your call, but your choice should also be to have kids at some point.”
“Women at Work!” is easily my favorite chapter, particularly the tips for achieving work-life balance but making sure no one resents you for it. (“Weep over a picture of your children, even though they’re in day care downstairs.” “Whenever another PTA mom asks how old your kids are, stammer an incorrect answer.” “Look like hell.”)
Naturally, there’s a segment called “How to do more with 33 cents less.”
“With this book as your wo-manual, you’ll shatter that glass ceiling once and for all,” the authors write. “But you’ll still need to clean up the mess.”
Contact Heidi Stevens at email@example.com, or on Twitter: @heidistevens13