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Words of Wisdom From Feminist Writer Ariel Levy

Many feminists may know Ariel Levy as the author of modern feminist classic “Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women And The Rise Of Raunch Culture.” A contributor to the the New Yorker as well, Levy has built an impressive career examining modern issues through an incisive feminist lens. Recently, however, the journalist created a far more intimate work: Her new memoir The Rules Do Not Apply, which covers her experiences with miscarriage, marriage, sexuality—and, essentially, the reality of enacting a feminist life.

On March 17, the writer appeared in conversation with Lena Dunham at the 92Y in New York in honor of the book’s recent release. The two talked about everything from the stigma and shame surrounding women’s bodies to their Jewish identities. The whole conversation can be viewed here, but here are a few highlights of Levy’s wisdom.

On self loathing: “What I think is private and I am scared about having revealed [in my memoir]—because I think it’s not a thing you’re supposed to talk about—is self loathing. I think we all have it. We all have so much self loathing, but it’s a weird thing you’re not supposed to admit to. But I felt that the experience of grief, which is what I’m largely going through in the book—you couldn’t write about grief, I couldn’t write about grief, without writing about self-incrimination. I think it’s part of the process of grieving, so it just would’ve rung false if i wasn’t tearing myself up for it.”

On women’s reproductive experiences: “I felt that it was actually important as a feminist to write about this very biblical feeling—deep, primal stuff—around losing a child. I think it’s not just about losing a child. I think that at some point at her life, every woman will have some kind of primal drama around menstruation, fertility, pregnancy, childbirth, losing a child, menopause. That is a very big part of the life of half the human population … I do think that this stuff—admitting women are animals—is the last taboo. We’re not supposed to admit that, we’re supposed to be shiny. It’s the opposite of having blood everywhere, which is our life. If you’re a woman you’ve had blood everywhere.”

On the stigma of miscarriage: “Part of the reason I wasn’t ashamed at all to write about [my miscarriage] was because that was the most transcendent experience of my life. It was also the most painful. My baby died. That is not OK to have happen … it feels not OK. But before he died, he lived. I was somebody’s mother for ten minutes. And that was the most incredible experience of my life. Why would I be ashamed? All I wanted to do is communicate that.”

On “having it all”: “The thinking that you can have every single thing you want in life is not the thinking of a feminist, it’s the thinking of a toddler.”



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Julie Zeilinger
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