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Sanctioning Vagina?! With Vanity Fair Writer Elissa Schappell

Daring author & journalist Elissa Schappell joins us to talk about the Michigan legislature’s decision to censure one of their own for using the word ‘vagina’ on the floor. From the standards of writing and reading in America, to the state of women in society, Elissa speaks her mind with the clarity (and comedy) people have come to expect from her.
We also discuss the tricky business of women criticising other women, the Michigan abortion debate, and how too much tv makes for a lousy novelist.

Guest Bio

Elissa Schappell is the author of two books of fiction, most recently Blueprints for Building Better Girls, and Use Me, which was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway award, a New York Times Notable Book and a Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year. She is also the co-editor with Jenny Offill of two anthologies, The Friend Who Got Away and Money Changes Everything. She’s currently a contributing editor at Vanity Fair where she writes the book column, a co-founder and editor-at-large of Tin House magazine, and a former senior editor of The Paris Review. Her work has appeared in many publications including The New York Time Book Review, Vogue, SPIN, BOMB, One Story and anthologies such as The Mrs. Dalloway Reader, Cooking and Stealing, Lit Riffs, The KGB Bar Reader and The Bitch in the House.

Episode Breakdown

00:01 Welcome to Media Mayhem.
00:37 Introducing Elissa Schappell.
02:10 Print and e-books, and working with Tin House.
04:07 “Blueprints for Building Better Girls,” and writing about powerful women.
06:51 The shift from feminism and problems that women still have.
08:09 The abortion debate in Michigan and the scandal over saying “vagina.”
11:23 “What has prompted you to become so political?”
13:37 Women politically aligning against women.
14:48 Responding to the Time breast-feeding cover.
15:55 Writing about what you know–white people.
18:09 Is it fair for women to be more forgiving of other women?
21:40 Has a lack of solidarity prevented women from getting ahead?
22:59 “Would you consider your writing to be feminist?”
25:01 Making jokes about terrible situations.
25:56 The passing of Nora Ephron
27:42 Is it necessary to dull writing for it to sell? Living life like its college radio.
29:16 Addressing women’s issues more realistically and the confusing double standard for boys and girls.
32:45 Lessons for young men and women.
34:01 The expectation to embrace motherhood, maternal instincts and postpartum depression.
39:25 The Mayhem Round with producer Nick.
39:52 50 Shades of Grey, and sparking the sexual discussion through books.
46:28 The standard of writing in the tv age.
51:07 Female writers and having permission to write their stories, and words of wisdom from Toni Morrison.
53:18 Thanks so much and goodbye!

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Guest Bio

Elissa Schappell is the author of two books of fiction, most recently Blueprints for Building Better Girls, and Use Me, which was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway award, a New York Times Notable Book and a Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year. She is also the co-editor with Jenny Offill of two anthologies, The Friend Who Got Away and Money Changes Everything. She’s currently a contributing editor at Vanity Fair where she writes the book column, a co-founder and editor-at-large of Tin House magazine, and a former senior editor of The Paris Review. Her work has appeared in many publications including The New York Time Book Review, Vogue, SPIN, BOMB, One Story and anthologies such as The Mrs. Dalloway Reader, Cooking and Stealing, Lit Riffs, The KGB Bar Reader and The Bitch in the House.

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