“Bossypants” as primer for life
Review by Duana

Tina Fey tells a story of meeting a little boy when ‘meeting the teacher’ for kindergarten. They were told to draw pictures, and when she showed hers to him, like, ‘look what I did!’ he ripped it. And she says that, though she didn’t have the language at the time, she was like “Oh, it’s like that, motherf*cker? Got it.”

This is Tina Fey’s greatest gift. Not that she can do a Mid-Palin accent or that she invents words like ‘blergh’. The woman is determined not to give a sh*t. And it’s directly related to why she’s so successful.

To digress just for a second - I was watching an episode of “Dragon’s Den” a couple of weeks ago. For those of you who don’t know, this is a show wherein people pitch ideas – sometimes truly awful ones – to a bunch of moguls who tell them why the idea is great or terrible, and whether they will or won’t invest in it.

A woman was presenting something – I don’t remember what it was – and one of the Dragons said to her “This is the worst idea I’ve ever heard. I’m sorry, but it is.”

And do you know what she said back? “Oh no, that’s okay, don’t apologize”

That’s okay? Someone just called her idea sh*t and she says ‘don’t apologize’? I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that a man would never say that. And Tina wouldn’t be happy about it, either.

And that’s what spoke to me the most in ‘Bossypants’. Stuff that women do not need to apologize for anymore. I’m basically trying to run my life as if she were watching at all times. But it’s not just about me. Tina Fey has, cleverly, written something for everyone to delight in:

-She breastfed for only 72 hours and has a lot to say about throwing off the guilt-shackles of formula usage.

-She had weight fluctuations and pretended she didn’t care about them, even though she did.

-She tells a delicious story about chasing a boy (and his friend) up a mountain in the hopes of a dry hump.

-She wanted to go on a fun day trip, but when she got the date wrong, she ‘cried like a three year old’.

-She confesses to being mean to a girl whom, she now acknowledges, could not have ‘stolen’ her boyfriend without his consent.

Who hasn’t been this girl? Is there anyone who cannot identify?

But the best part of the book – and the real message for me, anyway – is “I Don’t Care If You Like It”. The story itself comes from Amy Poehler doing something funny and gross, Jimmy Fallon (who, context seems to say, was joking-ish, too) saying “Stop that! It’s not cute! I don’t like it!” and Amy Poehler stopping stock-still, and decreeing, “I don’t f*cking care if you like it”.

It appears in an ode to Poehler, but it’s a bigger mantle for Fey to jump off on why if men think you’re not funny (or smart, or ‘calm enough’) you don’t f*cking care, and how to get around this if the person who ‘doesn’t like it’ is in between you and what you want (go around them, basically), and. And!

She also points out that women do not have the time to be bitching at each other and worrying about whether the new girl is going to ‘take your spot’ in any given situation. I’m paraphrasing, but it’s because I’m so delighted someone has finally gone ahead and said it. “Women? We, together, are good. If someone is horrible to you, it’s because they’re horrible, not because they’re a woman. Quit it with the goddamn offensive strikes and behave.” She admits that, while she’s been possibly mean-spirited in the past (like, in the high-school past) her number one priority right now is working with nice people. She abhors the all-jerk workplace.

I am trying to keep my slavering fangirl to a minimum, but I wonder if, since so many women love Fey, we could do this for her. These simple things. One, stop apologizing for yourself if someone else says ‘they don’t like it’. Of course this does not and cannot apply across the board – but you are not automatically wrong just because your idea failed to resonate with Bobby from Accounting. And Two, remember that other women are not Automatically The Enemy.

I know you might be reading this going ‘what makes this woman the authority? The answer? Humility.

Nobody else would write a book like this and talk about the number of times she was a jerk. She talks about getting a high from people saying she was too thin. She admits to getting defensive when people innocently mention how great breastfeeding is. She transcribes, in detail, how she tried to derail a gay friend’s hookup because she wasn’t cool (then – this was in high school) with the physical implications of what he was about to do.

The woman’s cred is in admitting she’s lame. Or as she would say, “I am the worst”. She’s not perfect. She admits to being bratty and defensive. She really is like us – so doesn’t that mean we could listen to the kind of good things she has to say?

Yes? Okay? Good. And if you’re worried that this book might be too political, too strident, I promise that I too laughed out loud, an average of once per page, that there are many mentions of toddlers and poop and cheese, and also if you buy the e-book version she reads a number of extra things to you.

What’s not to love?