Book extract – Tina Fey on “car creepery” from her book Bossypants

Tina Fey is an award winning American writer and actress. She has written a book called Bossypants, which I highly recommend as it is rather funny and insightful, especially from the perspective of a woman living in today’s world. I have no doubt that I will feature further extracts from this book in many future blogs, but to begin with below is an extract about the painful transition from girlhood to womanhood.

As I read this I was a wee bit worried that this is how young girls feel and how they are treated, Perhaps some naivety on my part. In Islam we are instructed to lower our gaze, to not stare and to be respectful of each other. Like many things in Islam, this is easy to theorize but harder to put into practice. Anyways, here is the extract. Enjoy!

WARNING – there are rude words in the extract, so please do not read if easily offended.

When Did You First Know You Were a Woman?

When I was writing the movie Mean Girls — which hopefully is playing on TBS right now! — I went to a workshop taught by Rosalind Wiseman as part of my research. Rosalind wrote the nonfiction book Queen Bees and Wannabes that Mean Girls was based on, and she conducted a lot of self-esteem and bullying workshops with women and girls around the country. She did this particular exercise in a hotel ballroom in Washington, DC, with about two hundred grown women, asking them to write down the moment they first “knew they were a woman.” Meaning, “When did you first feel like a grown woman and not a girl?” We wrote down our answers and shared them, first in pairs, then in larger groups. The group of women was racially and economically diverse, but the answers had a very similar theme. Almost everyone first realized they were becoming a grown woman when some dude did something nasty to them. “I was walking home from ballet and a guy in a car yelled, ‘Lick me!’” “I was babysitting my younger cousins when a guy drove by and yelled, ‘Nice ass.’” There were pretty much zero examples like “I first knew I was a woman when my mother and father took me out to dinner to celebrate my success on the debate team.” It was mostly men yelling shit from cars. Are they a patrol sent out to let girls know they’ve crossed into puberty? If so, it’s working.

I experienced car creepery at thirteen. I was walking home from middle school past a place called the World’s Largest Aquarium — which, legally, I don’t know how they could call it that, because it was obviously an average-sized aquarium. Maybe I should start referring to myself as the World’s Tallest Man and see how that goes? Anyway, I was walking home alone from school and I was wearing a dress. A dude drove by and yelled, “Nice tits.” Embarrassed and enraged, I screamed after him, “Suck my dick.” Sure, it didn’t make any sense, but at least I didn’t hold in my anger.

Thankfully, blessedly, yelling “Suck my dick” is not the moment I really associate with entering womanhood. For me, it was when I bought this kickass white denim suit at the Springfield mall.

Tina colour

I bought it with my own money under the advisement of my cool friend Sandee. I wore it to Senior Awards Night 1988, where it blew people’s minds as I accepted the Sunday School Scholarship. That turned-up collar. The jacket that zipped all the way down the front into a nice fitted shape. The white denim that made my untanned skin look like a color. Just once I’d like to find an Oscars or Emmys dress as rad as this suit.

 – from the book Bossypants by Tina Fey


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