Successful women who came of age in different eras compare their experiences as writers, workers, lovers, mothers and daughters and discuss the pendulum swing of their lives, from stability and traditionalism to rebellion and bohemianism and back again. Joining moderator Sheila Weller (Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon—and the Journey of a Generation) was Patricia Bosworth (Becoming Jane Fonda) representing a generation of woman from the 50’s, Judith Warner (Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety) to represent the 70’s and 80’s, Joanna Smith Rakoff (A Fortunate Age) for the 90’s, and Emily Gould (And The Heart Says...Whatever) for the current generation.
A few audience members present offered their take online. Doree Shafrir, Time Out New York and How Not To Act Old all had something to say at their respective blogs.
With each panel member offering their experience coming of age, the discussion afterwards focused on changing technologies and what effect that is having on women today. Particularly with social media, and so much information, personal and private, being freely shared.
Patricia Bosworth on sex education in the '50s:
“Sometimes when my girlfriends and I would talk about. ‘Suppose you have sex, what would you do, I mean, you get pregnant.’ You know what the solution was? A Coca-Cola douche.”
Emily Gould on indiscretion in the workplace:
“I was an associate editor at a big, pretty corporate publishing house...and one morning as we waited for the Editor In Chief...I was just chatting idly with the other editors. They were all women, they were all ten to twenty years older than I was...And I mentioned that I was totally PMSing right then. And they looked at me like, I can believe you just said that. And one of them told me, you should never say that. And I was like, why? The rest of them told me...talking about your hormones in public undermines not only my, but all professional women’s credibility.
...Keep in mind I had graduated from the New School pretty recently. But I felt like they had internalized so much oppression during their climb up the corporate ladder that they were now very effectively oppressing themselves. And I didn’t care who knew I had PMS...I shouldn’t have to keep my mouth shut about my period. We were all wrong.”
Patricia Bosworth on developing yourself and career without the internet:
“I really didn’t know what I was doing. I just did it. First of all I had to earn my living. I wanted to both an actress and than a writer, and I just went about it very slowly and methodically. But nobody was observing me...We’re all scrutinized now...because of the internet. And I think it does make a difference. I was able to make my mistakes in private. I was able to explore things in a much more private way.”