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tv   Book Discussion on Enter Helen  CSPAN  August 14, 2016 2:45pm-3:46pm EDT

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so there definitely are libertarians in fact, belote that i interviewed for the issue of gender identity politics alike to go down that road unbacked but their policies are better but i know there was us study in 20138 percent of americans
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are truly libertarian and that is not a popular position in this country. [applause] [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] best. >> hello thanks for your patience we are excited to be celebrating the launch of the book by. [applause] we have plenty of books at the register and be appreciated after words to grab one from us to help support events just like this so for more information
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about our author and moderators from "the new york times" among others of their oddball a when urbane of the 2012 algiers award. next editing for numerous publications the washington postbox "newsweek" and the new yorker on line and others including the book of jezebel and works as a columnist for a veneer times book review. finally a writer appearing in the year career and in "new york times" pdf rolling stone and then puerto rico
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in puerto rico and random house please welcome our speakers. [applause] >> i just want to thank everybody for being here and the call this the book launch but it came out a few weeks ago. we pushed back the party because i had a baby but laugh this is one of my first public appearances by instilled in mom bowed i had anxiety last night so we do have one. >> congratulations.
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>> i will be moderating the discussion on why her and give us some context. >> 2012 august instead of looking for a book idea instead of doing the same thing from the new york times it is hard to find a book subject but in particular but i thought it
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was a fascinating story and i thought why don't i make at more a levirate? with louisiana premiere magazine to do a lot how to go about that by did not understand why i did not hear more about her. >> and longtime reader of cosmopolitan life laugh -- [laughter] yes. not really.
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i enjoy that now but when my son was a few months old flicking through all the issues that is so much fun i could spend years. that is rarely a good time if you have time on your hands. [laughter] we have a couple of original staff of dark -- stafford who was their 1965 and i mean also works at "cosmo" in the '70s.
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anymore. one lady is in denmark be. back and changed her name i have a question restarted the book? or how you structure it because you said your editor pushed you of the cultural women's movement. >> my editor in is over there about my first editor be said this is great is
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fascinating but if you want people to read this think about expanding the of pope is a little bit. i thought that was a good idea think of someone tapping into and it would be helpful to show that era i did a few drops to accomplish that and it is in the ec with the '60s or the '70s she was very blunt in said this is the flash cards of the '60s. [laughter] with the assassinations some of them what was that like peck's its bid was born about the affair and then covers focusing truth to
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power to define the admission, that those on if you have opinions of her work? and. >> if i described . it now the women's media at outlet as a director provocation back as they existed then i think the lot of them have gotten better be.
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by a understanding that i had heard of her as a teenager to subscribe that fell away too old to me and very scandalous. [laughter] because they would talk about sex and that made me uncomfortable but i was aware of her she was a famous editor of "cosmo" bopper. but by the time started to pay attention be editor mobbing came right after helen and she changed it in a way that it became be even more provocative may be dumb down a little bit more.
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we but that's been is funny because in 2007 be trying to be about the site we went to an "o" magazine purveyor it was between third and fourth avenue he had a lot of old magazines we got a pile of gold "cosmo" to look through them just to inform ourselves of the issues of the '60s '70s and '80s and material. you are right they were quite expensive riley purchased a few but they have an energy that as a young teenager by thought was intimidating but i
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appreciated that thirtysomething her physique is often discussed. [laughter] she was very petite but enduring and one of the most important people in her life that comes through her approach toward the unmarried woman was revolutionary but important
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to formalize that. >> i want to ask that i know you had said recently that there was a bombshell also
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her cousin they knew her very well back and i think in some ways they had a very modern life
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>> he edited it, and when she started thinking about cosmo in 1965, and that was basically just a book -- a magazine version of sex and the single girl and still is in a lot of ways, he had been a longtime managing editor at cosmopolitan. so he was the one who helped her get there too. and my question to you is i don't know if that matters. i mean, her -- everybody who knows helen gurley brown knows that she believed in using men to get what you want. she did. she used her own husband and, you know what? he used her too. for a long time he was known as mr. helen gurley brown because sex and the single girl was a huge success long before he made it big in hollywood as a producer. >> yeah. this is a question more you both.
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when sex and the single girl came out, it was a big hit and sort of hit a cultural moment, and it seems like we are living through another cultural moment of talking about single women. there are a lot of books that have emerged in the last year or two about single women. there's rebecca traister's all the single ladies, labor of love -- [inaudible] and there are all these sort of explorations of what it means to be a single woman in the modern day. i know both of you have written about this also over the years, and i'm wondering why do you think we're in another moment of examining the phenomenon of the single girl? [laughter] >> should i take this one? um, that's a great question that i don't really know the answer to. i mean, why are we in a moment of -- yeah. i'm not sure. i mean, i agree that we're in a moment, maybe it's a moment in terms of book publishing.
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i think that, you know, you might argue that there are moments in television and movies and have been for some time, although most television and movies that feature a single woman, she usually ends up with a man. even sex and the city. after all those years. >> yeah. >> i think it's, i mean, i assume that it's just demographics, and in a certain, you know, hunger by the part of authors and editors who buy their books to talk about what it's like to be single and to be okay with being single as opposed to it being a weigh station to marriage. and i think, you know, when i think of cosmo, mostly older issues of cosmo from the '60s and '70s, i don't know -- i would be curious to hear what you think. it seemed to me that a lot of the stories i recall seeing in the older issues of cosmo celebrated being single as a,
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nonas explicitly as a point on a timeline before you became married or partnered, whereas i do think in the past ten years, maybe even twenty a lot of women's magazines, they would celebrate female singlehood, but it was, the underlying message was you have to get a man. it was also very hetero-normative. there was no space for gay relationships. and also once you had a man, then you had to worry that you were going to lose him. so they would give you tips on -- >> how to keep a man, yeah. >> usually that involved sex. [laughter] so -- or different, you know, types of sex. [laughter] anyway, but, yeah. i mean, do you think that that's fair, that the cosmo of the '60s, of helen's era was -- >> yeah. i would say she encouraged women to be very adventurous and date hot of men and sleep with lots -- lots of men and sleep
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with lots of men, sure, on the way to getting married. and maybe that's the difference between then and now, is i think some of the books that have come out recently like all the single ladies and certainly spinster celebrate singledom for what it is, not something as like a detour or pit stop on the way to the, you know, walking down the aisle. so that said though, i think helen also understood that not every woman wanted to get married, and so while she gave lots of man-hunting tips, she also, i think she understood that some women wanted to stay single for life, and, you know, she encouraged them. you know, so much of what people remember about her has to do with sex and singledom and dating. but when i read sex and single girl for the first time which was recently, in 2012, the sex is hardly shocking, you know? now that girls has been on the
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air and sex is and the city, please, give me a break, nothing in that book is shocking anymore, except there's still some valuable advice. most of it, i would say, has to do with getting ahead in your career and budgeting your money. [laughter] and so that's really what i took from it, was how practical the advice was and also how clear it was to me that she was really saying here's a step-by-step guide on how to become an individual. that was it. and i still read it that way. and i was not the target, you know, demographic. i read it on the back of my jogging stroller, you know? like -- [laughter] i was already in my 30s, you know? so, but it still had a lot of relevance, a lot of good advice in that way, so, yeah, i think it's fair to say that cosmo at the time absolutely encouraged women, you know, to find their mate and get married. but, you know, he gave some good and bad advice along the way. >> and, i mean, obviously she
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was running that magazine during the dawn of the feminist movement, and you said that you think it's somewhat of a moot point, the one that people ask you, a question people ask you a lot which is was helen gurley brown feminist. which is something that now people seem to ask every woman that they sit down with that's a celebrity. was she a feminist, and, you know, do you have a sort of scale now that you can respond to that question? >> yeah. it's gotten a little bit better because the first person who really asked, i think it was julia from "vogue," and i was, like, uh -- the reason i had such a hard time answering it was because helen didn't call herself a feminist until she was much older. and when she was younger and she was kind of, like, learn aring about the women's movement -- learning about the women's movement in 1968, '69, she would write in her editor's column
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step into my parlor, oh, i met these women libbers, and, man, what a bunch of nut burgers they are. [laughter] nut burger is kind of related to the mouse burger, you know, self-explanatory, i guess. [laughter] a couple years later -- or four years later, actually -- no, 1968-69 soon after she wrote that, she published an excerpt of sexual politics in cosmo which was really interesting. [laughter] i mean, i actually e-mailed kate about it, and she didn't even remember it being in cosmo because it's so very unlikely. but i would say that, i wouldn't, i still wouldn't call helen gurley brown a feminist. i would say -- because she didn't call herself that. it's kind of weird to retroactively apply a label like that. but i would say she essentially believed in what feminism is, i mean, equal rights for women and men. but she was certainly an outcast of the movement.
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she didn't have that many friends within the movement. >> yeah. and outside of it, too, i mean, gloria steinem was quite critical of her, though she also said that helen was one of the first people who put sex in the pages of a magazine, and that was something. and i wanted to ask you as someone who spent so much time thinking about women's magazines and what they can do if you think that glossy women's magazines can be vehicles to teach women about feminism, especially sort of add they evolve -- as they evolve. or if historically you just think they, you know, they haven't been the greatest carriers of that message. >> when you say as they evolve, you mean as women evolve or the magazines? >> magazines. >> yeah, i think they can. i mean, i think that my interest in magazines when i was in my teens and afraid of cosmo was in part because i was reading magazines that i felt were maybe
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not explicitly feminist, but in some cases they were. whether it was my mother's copies of ms.-- and maybe that's not fair to call it a women's magazine, but let's talk about more commercial issues, you know, titles like sassy or glamour which in the -- i say i was reading glamour maybe in the mid '80s. it felt very progressive. and then it felt regressive as i got older because bonnie fuller, who ran cosmo then went to -- [inaudible] [laughter] turned it into kind of the cosmo clone in a way. and, actually, that's when i worked at glamour, so -- [inaudible] yeah, i absolutely feel that way. again, it isn't that those magazines didn't talk about relationships as something that were important in women's lives, they did. they just didn't seem to put the same sort of weight on it. and, you know, i discovered
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feminism from my mother talking about it all the time and related issues. but those magazines felt like they were in alignment with the way i was raised raised and whai cared about and what i thought i should care about. i think it's harder now because i think a lot of young women are learning about gender politics on the internet, not in magazines. magazines have the real struggle of trying to be relevant when they come out once a month when everything seems to pass them by. and i wouldn't, you know, i don't want envy magazine -- or i don't envy magazine editors for having the really hard task of trying to remain in the conversation when there's this really vibrant conversation happening every single day, every single second of every single day on the internet especially about gender politics. and i think that that's where young women are now becoming politicized. more so than magazines. that said, you know, i'm also living in a bubble. i live in new york. i talk to women who are similar
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in age and background to me who live in new york. i'm not, you know, it's very possible that something like cosmo today or glamour or any other women's magazine is affecting the outlook and the ideas of, you know, a young woman who isn't in the middle of the media. although most people have internet connections, i would say. but still, it's very possible that magazines are having more of an effect than i think they are, but the reason that i found magazines, women's magazines so frustrating for so long was because they felt like the only outlet or the only sort of media that women had to turn towards in terms of learning how to be themselves or what it meant to be an adult. and a lot of times i felt they were being really ill-served by the way those magazines talked to them and about them. >> which is why it's so great that jezebel exists. you know, what i was saying is i
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write a lot for women's magazines, and often i write celebrity profiles where you do kind of have to ask the star of the moment, do you consider yourself a feminist? it's a question that pisses a lot of people off. sometimes you get great answers out of it. i think if jezebel had existed when cosmo was in helen gurley brown's heyday, she would have gotten a lot of shit, because she made stuff up. she really, really did. she fabricated diets. [laughter] eileen -- [laughter] you know, i think eileen may have authored one called the egg and wine -- hard-boiled egg diet. >> [inaudible] >> hard-boiled egg diet. >> [inaudible] >> yeah. [laughter] and, you know, people wrote fake letters to the editor. in fact, when i was doing some of my detective work trying to track down one woman who called the first covergirl, re gnat that, she called her something like a big fat cow idiot sexpot,
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something like that. i found her name, and i tried to look her up. i found this woman, and i read her the letter. she said, yeah, yeah, i sent that letter, but i didn't want write that line -- oh, but i wrote that line. and, basically, she wrote -- and barbara can speak to that too, because she edited the letters to the editor. [laughter] and wrote them. >> in helen's defense, it wasn't just her. having worked for them, it's tough because they had to put out an issue once a month and had been doing so for decades. i guess, you know, you become accustomed to what works, and you want to keep creating it. >> right. >> i'm not excusing it. but, you know, there were stories that were created at the magazines that i worked at that went backwards which is to say the editor-in-chief thought of a cool cover line and then asked for a story to be written around it. >> right.
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>> some of the stories i had to execute myself. i think the most memorable one was what's to your secret sexual personality. she just decided that was a good cover line, and i had to think of a story, like 1200 words -- [laughter] that would accompany that story. so it wasn't just helen, you know? and i don't know about letters to the editor, but i do know that a lot of stuff was massaged. if you ever read quotes in women's magazines and they sounded a little too -- >> perfect. >> -- perfect or smooth or peppy with a lot of exclamation points, that was because they were tweaked. i'm not saying the sentences were completely made up, but, like, they were tweaked in a way to make, to create drama, tension or humor. >> right. >> yeah. i was thinking, like, the list of sexual positions in cosmo, and they were always like, kyle, 24, loves this one.
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[laughter] but i wanted to ask you a quandary, i'm writing a biography which is going to sound like one of those questions they pose to you in "the new york times," author's morals. you didn't always love helen when researching her. there were moments when she had frustrated you, you had to go back and fact check and realized, oh, my gosh, that wasn't true. i mean, as a person who's a journalist and comes to a biographical subject, do you feel an obligation to like your subject, to take your subject to task, to approach with a kind of, you know, skeptical eye? >> well, definitely skeptical with helen. you know, i found that everything she said or wrote i had to kind of wonder about, take with a grain of salt. that actually made me just completely fascinated by her. and, you know, when she was kind of acting naughty, i guess you
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could say, like lying and fabricating, i kind of in a weird -- i won't say i admired that, but, you know, it's fun to write about. so, you know, it was really fun, she was a very fun person to write about. it didn't always -- i didn't always like her because, you know, well, if you read the book, you'll see, you know? there were times when, there were times when she kind of cast her family in a light that was less than flattering, and now having met some of her family members, i think that it's given me a new perception of what that actually feels like. so from the start with sex and the single girl, she really created this portrait of her family as a bunch of backwoods hillbillies from arkansas. and when i went to arkansas and met with her cousin lou and, you know, looked through those family albums, and we spent three days talking, and i ate lou's biscuits and jam which are incredible, you know? we really had a nice long talk, and it was really interesting to discover, well, helen's father
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was a lawyer and was planning on running for political office when he was killed in this elevator accident. her mother had been a schoolteacher and was, you know, very educated for a woman of her time living where she did, in arkansas, and went to college for a year. and she grew up middle class in little rock even though it always says, you know, she was, like, dirt poor and all this stuff. so i found all of that to be really, really interesting and absolutely important to fact check. you know? where she came from. >> her version of it. >> yeah. i think there's never an obligation to like your subject. did you find yourself liking her more than you thought you would? >> i loved her. i mean, she's, you know, i looed her but i also had -- loved her, but i also had problems. there were things, you know, she was very, very rich at the end of her life, and there were things she could have done to make some relatives, you know,
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her mother and sister's lives easier, for instance. so those were kind of moral questions, you know, that did kind of dampen my enthusiasm for her at times. but her complexity, you know, she's very famous for being very stingy with money, and that kind of puzzled me too because she really was so well hawaii. but she lived through -- wealthy. she lived through the depression, and she had a lot of issues. she saw a lot of psychologists throughout her life and was trying to work on them. she was this very flawed person. but, you know, again, that just makes her more interesting to write about. i never met her, so i don't know what i would have thought had i gotten to know her in real life, but i sure have read every scrap of paper that she ever wrote on that has been saved. so, you know, it's a very weird way to get to know somebody. >> yeah. and, i mean, despite the complicated feelings -- [inaudible] her entry in the book of
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jezebel, 100% complimentary -- >> i wouldn't say. i don't remember. >> it said manager like she could have been a great feminist hero if she didn't do so much to fuck women up. [laughter] that was the gist of it. >> i mean, what do you appreciate about her, about her legacy? >> what do i appreciate about her -- hmm. well, i appreciate that she was tenacious. i don't know that i respect the let's use men to get ahead stuff, but i also wasn't alive at that time. and, you know, a lot of women who have achieved a certain amount of power have had to go through the gauntlet and, you know, they live in a very patriarchal society. and so rebecca who wrote one of the single women books you mentioned, she talks about hillary clinton and how it's meaningful that hillary clinton, it's meaningful that the woman who might be our first female
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president was married to a powerful man. which is not to say that's why she became powerful, but that there's, being attached to a powerful man does open certain doors in a way that it might not if you were solo. i admire helen's tenacity. i don't know that i agree with some of her opinions on how to i a chief -- how to achieve power, but, you know, one thing that bothers me a about her and, again, i don't know how fair this is because this was the case with the whole era, but you look at old issues of cosmo -- and if you look at, actually, more recent issues of cosmo, even from the '80s and '90s and the '00s, they didn't really give a sense that there were, that american women were diverse. and, i mean, in terms of ethnic diversity, perhaps they weren't as diverse in 1968 as they are now.
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but it's something that, you know, occurred to me when i was looking at old issues, something that has occurred to me when i look at recenter shoes of women's magazine -- recent issues of women's magazine, it did seem a very narrow slice of american womanhood. which is to say that probably middle class, highly educated, caucasian. and, you know, that was one of my plus trairgses with women's magazines that i worked for and that i read in my 20s and 30s and was part of the reason why i started the site, jess well, buzz -- jezebel, because i really felt i could see a whole glorious type of womanhood in terms of ages and ethnic backgrounds and economic situations, and it was not being reflected in women's media. and it felt like we were living in the 20th century when we were fully in the 21st. so that's one thing that kind of us
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frustrated me about her and why i have a little bit of pause. i don't think she really addressed economic or racial issues in the magazine at a time when there was a lot of stuff going on in the american political system and -- >> well, for sure. [laughter] i mean, if you, like, one of the more fascinating avenues that i went down when writing this book was comparing cosmo from the late '60s to an issue of i magazine which was a hearst title that no one really remembers anymore, but it was all, like, rock music. it was kind of like cosmo meets rolling stone, and helen was the supervising editor of that. it was just such a clash between the editor who ran i magazine and helen. and absolutely to go through cosmo from the '60, you know, there was really no mention of martin luther king or kennedy unless it was talking about how good looking he was, you know? [laughter]
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the title, the headlines i remember from that era, one of my faiths was the undiscovered joys of having a chinese lover, you know? [laughter] as people are being -- i don't know. i mean, it was so out of touch. and really, really crazily out of touch. but she wasn't, you know, her target reader or was really kind of illustrated in contrast, for instance, to ms. magazine which came around later. her target reader was white. but a simple, small town, like, working class girl from, you know, the boondocks, basically. and as eileen and some other people who worked at cosmo in the '70s told me, you know, the women who actually -- and men who actually worked at cosmo were the college-educated, sometimes graduate school educated, new york sophisticates who were kind of filtering their knowledge down to these, you know, like stewardesses from,
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you know, cincinnati or whatever. and this was the girl who didn't know what to do with her dessert fork and who didn't know how to tie a tie. and so that was really, like, helen's girl. and so she always said that was herself, that she was talking to herself like 20 or 30 or later in her career, 70 years, you know, younger. i don't know if i buy that either because she was, obviously, somewhat sophisticated, you know? to achieve this level of success. but, you know, she really created this kind of cinematic log line for herself which was from hillbilly to hollywood, and everyone still buys it, and it's just not true. [laughter] >> go for it. >> we were mentioning the dessert fork. it reminds me, like, a lot of why i have bristled against women's magazine, because women's magazine editors i think sometimes create or make things important that don't actually, aren't really -- [laughter] like, i don't believe it's that important to know how to use a dessert fork.
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>> i don't know that i've ever held one before. [laughter] >> yeah. and maybe i'm wrong, but i doubt that it was that important to know how to tie a tie. i think, you know, men have done a pretty good job of that -- >> i also don't know how to tie a tie. >> right. so to part of why i think women's magazines have become problematic is because the editors, you know, men start communicating to readers that they should know this, that or the other, and that if you don't, then you're somehow less than. there was a very famous cover line in, on glamour before i got there, right before i got there, that i believe caused some controversy, and i guess some retailers wanted to cover up the magazine with brown paper. but the cover line was -- i know we're on c-span -- [laughter] it was what he thinks of your orgasm face. and-the, like, i think a lot of women probably the first time they had realized this was something they had to worry about. [laughter]
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so this is where i feel women's magazine do a lot of damage because they would invent problems you didn't know you had. >> i was looking at cosmo online on the way over here, actually, and one of the stories was i think it was something like the wrong way you're washing your hair. [laughter] you know, and that's a helen kind of story. she used the word "dumb" a lot. she's like your dumb hair and what to do about it. meanwhile, people were being killed in vietnam. so it was in some ways a real escape, and i think magazines are still intended to be an escape. for every fluffy article they do, they do run some real, more serious investigative pieces. they did a great package on birth control and contraception, you know, that won a big national magazine award, i believe. you know, it's just that perfect cocktail. like, that's -- to me, when i think of women's magazine, i think of that perfect cocktail.
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and helen gurley brown was the ultimate mix also. there has to be sex, sex, sex, but there also has to be stuff about your career, working girls. gosh, one of my favorite parts about looking at those old cosmos was finding gloria steinem in a cosmo from 1968, and helen somehow convinced her to pose in a spread about sexy, like, she duck tiff brunettes -- she seductive brunettes starting with cleopatra and jackie o.. i didn't know gloria was going to be in it, and here she is in a full centerfold in a purple romper dress. she's wonderful, so i don't want to say too much, but it was like a low-cut thing, her hair was wild, she had a serpent around her arm. and i interviewed her, and i asked her, what in the world was that about? she was sitting on the lap of a famous tv actor of the time. >> wow. >> yeah, very like, you know? [laughter] she said, well, i think that was
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a case in which i was a mouse burger. she said i should have walked away when i saw what they wanted me to wear, but, you know, i was young, and i didn't have the script yet, and i didn't know what to say, and i just sat for that photo and, boy, did i regret it. the same year she was campaigning and had this very political career. and i interviewed the photographer who took the picture, and he, like, 50 years later feels absolutely horrible about it. >> well, and i think that that is sort of a metaphor for something that you've said which is that helen -- [inaudible] she slipped it in. >> right. >> there was next to it an article about making the perfect cocktail or holding a dessert fork, there was how to find an abortion provider of but these were things that got subtly slipped in or marketed or glamorized. gloria steinem, here's the founder of ms. magazine, and
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here she is in a romper. and, you know, we're seeing that a lot now. andy came out with a book about the marketing of feminism, how it's become more of a buzzword than a radical idea. and i'm wondering your thoughts whether or not you think women's magazines continue to kind of put that forward within radical feminist ideas but also sort of give them this glossy -- >> definitely. i mean, i've definitely -- i don't know if i would say i've been guilty of it because i don't know if if i think it's a bad thing. i'm still kind of like the jury's out in my brain if it's a good thing or a bad thing to bring it up with an actress, do you consider yourself a feminist. which at certain points magazine editors want you to hit. i think it's great. there are a lot of young women who say, no, i'm not a feminist, and clearly they have no idea what it means. i don't think it's a bad thing to have chloe grace moretz
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saying, yeah, i'm a feminist, and here's why. i asked her that question when she was 17 or 18. i think it's important for young women to share their, you know, idols saying, yeah, of course i'm a feminist. duh. i have mixed feelings about the marketing of feminism. there's yucky stuff about it but also some good stuff about it, you know? >> yeah. and i think my last question to both of you before we take some audience questions is with regards to women's magazines, keeping in mind the legacy that that helen gurley brown has bequeathed us, where do you think the future is? what would you like to see them become? i know there's all these new initiatives. there's new e-newsletters, magazines that have popped up in the last decade including jezebel that have allowed a modern mission, but do you think there's somewhere further they could go? where would you like to see that be? >> okay. well, i think what's so cool
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about jezebel is it has been this launching pad for really incredible writers and editors. you did some stuff for the book of jezebel, right? >> uh-huh. >> i've never said her name out loud, so i'm not sure i'm pronouncing it -- >> oh, irin. >> also jeff gross who's now the editor of lenny. i mean, the people who have come from jezebel are just, i don't know, pretty incredible. but the other thing is they're not all writing for women's magazines or women's media and included, you know, you're at "the new york times." i think there's something to be said more tattoo. -- for that too. it's like what people say about the women's movement, well, it won't need to exist when everybody's equal. maybe there's some truth to that in terms of women's magazines. maybe, you know, there won't be a need for women's magazine when men care more to read about women's issues or when they're just considered to be more important news, frankly. i think it's great that, you
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know, i love -- lenny, i think, is really cool. and i do read women's magazines. there is a special audience out there for them which is women. but i like also the idea that a lot of women are starting to write for, you know, dual audiences, men and women. everybody. >> yeah. i think a lot of it has to do with what editors are comfortable giving female writers, and a lot of editors are still stuck in the past where they think, okay, we're going to give the lifestyle story to a female writer or women writers can't do the harder stuff. i mean, honestly, i have no idea where women's magazines are going to go, and i don't look at them. i think i aged out of them, but also i spent so much time between 2007 and 2010 staring at them every single month and, like, picking them apart that i don't want to look at them anymore. but personally i'm not that interested in reading women's web sites anymore. i think because, well, it's not
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that they're not necessary, but i do think there's been a marked shift in the sort of content you find on general interest web sites or magazines that have to do with women's issues so they're not all kind of shunted off to the side. you see a lot of female writers and reporters who came up writing for web sites or creating their own blogs and writing for their own blogs. they weren't making any money. who have been snapped up by legacy publications. i mean, cosmo has jill who once ran a blog called feminist when she was a law school student. she was certainly not someone who came up in media x. that's really heartening. so ideally, maybe there won't be a need for women's magazines. that said, you know, wouldn't it be fascinating to have a magazine or a web site that was entirely staffed by women, but it wasn't about women? in the same way you can look at
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the mastheads in some magazines, and they're mostly high ranking men up at the top. male is the default a lot of the time, which is why a lot of women's fiction gets, fiction written by women gets described as chick lit. so what i'd like to see is that there's no need for women's magazines versus men's magazine. >> right. >> i don't know that that's going to happen, but i feel like this there is, i feel like i'm starting to see integration of the sort of content that was previously on women's sites into, into traditional and even more recent digital brands. >> okay. i think i'm being given the sign that it's time take some questions from the audience. so anyone with questions for brooke or anna? >> or rachel.
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laugh. >> well, i just want to say rachel founded this book club online -- oh. rachel founded this book club online called the women's -- >> [inaudible] >> yeah. >> [inaudible] >> we give him a mic? >> yeah, i want to hear this. >> your chapters on their relationship, and and i knew them both very well, and also the revolution that she fashioned changed everything are spot on. i mean, they're beautiful chapters, and you really captured them. >> thank you. laugh thank you. [laughter] so bob shanks started good morning america and is a big producer and was also friends with helen and david, and his wife was a wonderful photographer.
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she provided a lot of the pictures for the book. thank you. >> questions. >> hi. [inaudible] thank you. i was inspired to write about your book, and when i pitched it, my web site, one of the many lovely millennials that i work with kind of patted me on the side and said, oh, my god, i love cosmo. i worked for them. she just went on and on and on, and i was like, oh, great, i'm very excited. i love the book, you should read it. she had an interesting point. somehow we talked about the web site, i said, oh, i came across this today,, and she just completely dismissed it. she was like, oh, no, the web site is, like, it's so different from the magazine. i love the magazine, i'm very
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disappointed in the web site. and i work for digital media, and anna and brooke having both worked for magazines and web sites, i'd love to know your thoughts when you have these magazines that have an intense, loyal readership and you have these web sites that are branching off and doing different things, where do the two converge and where do they, you know, go out into their own doing interesting things? is that a good thing, is it a bad thing? speaking of, like, magazines that have both the print and the digital side. like to hear this millennial say she was so upset by what the web site was doing was shocking to me. [laughter] but anyway, i'd be interested to know what you thought about why that is a thing, if it is a thing, and why it could be good or bad. >> i think it's important for them to be really different or to serve different functions, actually, because i mean i'm definitely not as savvy in
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digital media as both rachel and anna are. but i can speak from, like, the beginning of the digitizing, like the stone ages which is when i worked at premiere magazine which folded after something like 25 years, i remember when they were trying to transfer to boy, was that rough. that was rough. and i think the problem was because they were kind of trying to make the web site like the magazine. and, you know, that was impossible because the magazine took -- it was such great reportage, and, you know, the stories even though they were about movies, they still took months to report, you know? a lot of investive work being done -- investigative work being done. meanwhile, the web side of things, you know, it just wasn't as good, and it was not as well thought through. so now there's a lot of web sites that are extremely, you know, well thought through, and the content is is excellent, but i think that they really almost have to exist on their own even
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if they are connected to a print version like versus cosmo. what do you think? >> what did the young woman say as to why she didn't like the web site? >> the, i think -- [inaudible] like, she really was -- [inaudible] >> yeah. maybe, well, maybe cosmo feels it has to compete more with women's web sites, and a lot of women's web sites have a lot of serious content on them. they have non-serious stuff too, but, yeah, i'm surprised to hear that. >> i'm surprised too. >> i mean, i think i would actually feel like the younger generation -- [inaudible] feeling that they're the same. >> uh-huh. >> i actually think it's really funny when, you know, people make such a big deal about
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whether or not you wrote for the new yorker in print or the new, like it's such a giant category -- >> it is! [laughter] >> this real line in the sand like my words were put in ink, and yours were done in some sort of lcd screen. [laughter] so i think there is a discrepancy in terms of, first of all, how much you get paid or for the web versus print, incredibly different unless with a few web publications -- [inaudible] >> which one are those? [laughter] >> but, yeah. for me i feel like, you know, i don't read that much media in print anymore. i mean, i still subscribe to the sunday times, but, i mean, a lot of my favorite content to consume is online. and i feel like, you know, if
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helen gurley brown were here, she'd probably rule the web. >> oh, yeah. >> it's so fun. you can do so much with it, and it can be interactive, you know? so i don't know. interesting. >> i loved the book, and i just wanted to know why did you start to write it. >> gosh. [laughter] i mean, it's not, it's not that interesting of an answer, i guess, you know? i just wanted a new book project -- [laughter] honestly. and i have a really wonderful agent team, barry weissman and sasha alford. and, you know, we were looking for books for me. and, you know, when i read helen's obit in "the new york times," and i probably kind of e-mailed them about it.
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we kind of -- it was a conversation, and we said, oh, this sounds -- you know, "mad men" was probably still on the air. we said this sounds really interesting, what about a story about helen gurley brown and the dawn of cosmo -- it existed long before she did, but helen gurley brown's cosmo. that's how it started. as to why, i just thought it would be a good story for her, and it was. i wanted to do something fun. actually, i have the answer now. [laughter] it was -- my first book is called "the new kids," and i had spent several years immersed in the lives of these teenagers, all of them were either immigrants or refugees from, like, 50 countries all around world. they were wonderful, it was a great experience, but i was really in their lives. like, i had a boyfriend for, like, 10, 11, 20 years, i don't know.
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we kept pushing -- we didn't get married for a long time. i was putting off so many things because i was kind of in their lives. by the time i came to write "enter helen," i thought i want to do something that's immerse sieve, but i want -- immersive, but i want to have my own life. i can't be trucking to queens and staten island and the bronx and living in other people's lives. i would like to have my own life. [laughter] so that's ooh kind of -- that's kind of, it was partly a great subject and partly practical. something i could do. >> we have time for one more question. >> if helen were here today, do you think she would like your book? [laughter] >> i don't know. i mean, a couple people who knew her well have said that she would, and that's heartening, you know? it's kind of like do i want her to like the book, and i think that i do, but i also wouldn't want her to like everything because it won't be an honest depiction of her.


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