Feminist Detective - The Case of The Fleabag Crowdfunder


Introducing a NEW Inflection Point segment “Feminist Detective” in which journalist and author Ruth Whippman joins me to seek out sexism in all its tiny guises so we can make big changes. This week we dig up the original crowdfunding page of the mega-hit show Fleabag from back in 2013, and discuss how the tone of it shows us the crazy lengths women have had to go to reassure and placate men that equality is not threatening.

This segment premiere is presented ad-free. Support Inflection Point with a tax deductible contribution at bit.ly/inflectionpoint and help fund production of more of them!

Lauren Schiller and Ruth Whippman

Lauren Schiller and Ruth Whippman

Candace Bushnell–Is There Still Sex in the City? Live On Stage


Candace Bushnell gave us a reason to sit on our couch every week to soak in the stories of the women--and men--of the 90s television culture-changer "Sex and the City". Candace has written a number of books since then and her newest book is called "Is There Still Sex in the City?" This October I teamed up with Women Lit of the Bay Area Book Festival to have an on-stage conversation with Candace Bushnell, hosted by INFORUM at The Commonwealth Club of San Francisco. Bushnell kicked off the evening with an update about what she’s been up to lately and a reading, and then we got to sit down and talk--friendships, love, loss and dating over 50.


TRANSCRIPT: To err is human. If you find an error, let us know.

Lauren Schiller:                  I'm Lauren Schiller and this is Inflection Point with stories of how women rise up. On today's episode, Candace Bushnell.

C Bushnell:                            Like Sex and the City, once I started dating again, I discovered that there were certain types of guys out there just like there were in Sex and the City. And there were some surprises. One of the things that seemed immediately clear was guys your age no longer find you attractive and it does go both ways. Yes it does.

Lauren Schiller:                  Now that's a driveway moment. Stick around.

C Bushnell:                            At one point, I had this idea for a TV series where the women were going to run, it was a brothel, but it was for other women and they were going to employ these younger guys because there were so many young guys who, I don't know. And I thought the idea was really kind of interesting, but everyone's like, "No." But you know, I had a lot of wacky ideas about what I was going to do with all these stories and this material. And I really went back to the structure that I used in Sex and the City which is, it's really fiction written as journalism as opposed to journalism written as fiction.

Lauren Schiller:                  This is Inflection Point. I'm Lauren Schiller with stories of how women rise up and that was Candace Bushnell. Yes, that Candace Bushnell who gave us a reason to sit on our couch every week and soak up the stories of the women and men of Sex and the City. She's written a number of books since then. She's a prolific writer and now she's out with a new book. This October I teamed up with Women Lit of the Bay Area Book Festival to have a conversation with Candace on stage hosted by the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco. Candace kicked off the evening with an update about what she's been up to lately and a reading, and then we got to sit down and talk. Here she is on her new book called Is There Still Sex in the City?

C Bushnell:                            Is there still sex in the city? Yes. Yes, but less. And everybody's having less, including the millennials. They're having the least of all. Well, we'll talk about that later. This is not a sequel to Sex and the City, but it has different characters. But the inspiration for writing it was the same feeling that I had when I started writing Sex and the City. And when I started writing Sex and the City, the feeling was really like, this is uncharted territory. Writing about single women's lives in the city and the mating and dating rituals. And at the time we thought, oh gosh, this only happens in New York city. But it turned out that it actually happened everywhere. Now back in the mid nineties, I was a woman in my mid thirties and I felt like being single was really like a feminist kind of statement and it meant that you were kind of willing to break the rules and pursue your own dreams instead of maybe necessarily pursuing finding a man.

C Bushnell:                            And what's so interesting to me is that 20, 25 years ago, if you were a single woman in your mid thirties, people really felt that there was something wrong with you. Now, and I think partly thanks to Sex and the City, people just think you're normal. And so I think that's a bit of a triumph. But when I was writing Sex and the City, I felt very much like an outsider. And like a lot of my Sex and the City friends, I did end up getting married and I guess I found my Mr bigger and also maybe my mister was a little bit younger. And most of my friends also ended up finding their Mr big, their Aiden, their Harry or maybe even their Steve. Now all you guys, you know Sex and the City, right? Okay. Because I don't want to be like, people are looking at me like who is she talking about?

C Bushnell:                            And then something happened and I personally ended up getting divorced when I was 52. And so that was kind of the end of my, what I thought would be happily ever after because I really didn't think about it that much. And my first instinct was to run away. So I ran away to Connecticut, I started riding horses and then I had two other girlfriends who they didn't have children and I decided to do what women are always saying that they're going to do when you're younger. We're all going to live together and we're all going to live close by and we will be like the golden girls. And honestly, for six months it worked.

C Bushnell:                            We went to the vegetable markets, farm stands, we made dinner, we had one friend of mine Sassy, she came up with any excuse to have a party and wear hats. And I sort of thought, okay, this is going to go on forever. But then a whole bunch of my other friends ended up getting divorced. And what happens when women become single again? You go to where the other single women are. So all of a sudden, all of these newly single women, all in their 50s came to Sag Harbor, which I call the village in this book. Now when I got divorced, I really thought I did not want to date at all. I really felt like I've already done this. I've already done the reproductive cycle where I got married, I was in love, this and that, and then it didn't work. Why am I going to attempt to do it again? Isn't there's something better than we as women can do now that we're in our fifties besides looking for men?

C Bushnell:                            Okay. The answer was pretty much no. Because all of my friends and women who I know wanted to start dating again. And once again, and it's not just dating, but it's also reinventing your lives. And so once again, it felt like this is really uncharted territory because they are women who are dating again, they haven't dated for 20, 25 years. And things have really changed. And the other thing that happens when you get somewhere in your fifties is that there can be a feeling of invisibility and there's a question of are you still relevant? Children leaving the nest, careers may end, all of that kind of stuff. So there's also that struggle. But like Sex and the City, once I started dating again, I discovered that there were certain types of guys out there just like there were in Sex and the City and there were some surprises.

C Bushnell:                            One of the things that seemed immediately clear was guys your age no longer find you attractive. Okay. So 50 something guys, and I know there are men in the audience like, "I'm not like that." We're not really brought up to think of somebody in their 50s or 60s as being attractive and being like a potential sex partner. And it does go both ways. Yes it does. And one of the things that one discovers is there are younger guys who are interested. That's another story. And then one of the things that you do is okay, guys your age aren't interested. They're interested in younger women. So why not try to beat the odds by going for guy who's older? Maybe dating a man who's 15, 20 or even 25 years older? Which is fine except that given the fact that you're now middle-aged yourself, that means that man who could be 70, 75 or even 80.

C Bushnell:                            You wouldn't think that there would be a large contingent of men out there at that age who are dating. But when you think about demographics and how so many of the boomers are now in their later years, it makes sense that there's a crop of 60, 70 and even 80 something men out there acting like they're 35. I personally encountered one of these men at a party given by a married couple in their early sixties, and they decided to just get it over with and invite all the newly 50 something single women. I don't know how many of you guys have been in that situation. And then they would invite a couple of eligible guys who they could dig up.

C Bushnell:                            So there were lots of 50 something single women there and two or three of these senior age players or SAPs. These are older single men of means, meaning they have enough money to add it to their list of attributes and are often still employed in a lesser version of the high powered career they once had. At some point during the evening, I must've talked to one of these men because a few days later, Ron, the host of the party contacted me to let me know that out of all the 50 something women there, and I was in my fifties then, now I'm 60, he wanted to let me know that a fellow named Arnold had picked me out of the bunch to ask me out. Now, Ron was very excited about this and he was suddenly very impressed with me that I could attract a guy like Arnold because Arnold, he said was a big deal and everybody really admired him.

C Bushnell:                            Arnold played Ivy league football and he was once an oil man and a newspaper magnet and all the Park Avenue hostesses were always inviting him to their parties. He was sought after. I thought I remembered the guy. A tall, thick battleax type who was definitely older, too old for me I decided. "How old is he?" I asked. "He's a little bit older than I am," Ron said. So that would make him like 68. The thing is these guys often lie about their ages. They fudge somehow forgetting about that truth revealing device called the internet. Sure enough, when I Googled him, Arnold turned out to be 78 and that made him much closer to my father's age than mine. My father was 83, Arnold was just five years younger, but they couldn't have been more different. My father is very conservative and Arnold apparently is not. According to Ron, Arnold used to be somewhat of a notorious wild man at Studio 54. And even to this day, Arnold still has much younger girlfriends. The last one being 42.

C Bushnell:                            "I don't know how he does it," Ron said. I wanted to tell Ron that I didn't want to be the one to find out. And so I tried to say no to this fix-up. Peer pressure however, is one of the things that I hadn't counted on in middle age, and when it came to dating, it turns out there was a lot of it. My friends kept reminding me that it was good to go out and it was really good that someone had finally asked me out, when was the last time that had happened? Of course I should go. What's the harm in it? And besides, you never know. Of course the problem with you never know is that so often you actually do know. I knew or I was convinced I knew that I was not going to date a 78 year old man, no matter how wonderful he was. What if he fell down? I didn't spend my life working this hard to end up taking care of a strange older person.

C Bushnell:                            But every time I tried to explain this to people, I realized how ageist and judgy and anti-love hopeful I sounded because I didn't know. Did I? I didn't know what was going to happen. What if I fell in love with him, in which case his age wouldn't matter, right? Plus, I didn't want to be that creature. And you know that shallow woman who cares more about practicality than the blind illusions of love. Plus, as Ron reminded me, I must feel so honored than a man as powerful as Arnold wanting to spend time with little old me. In preparation for the date I went to my friend's Sassy's house and we looked at photographs of Arnold on the internet. His photos would have back about 35 years. He'd been a big man and rather handsome. "Oh honey," Sassy said, "he could turn out to be absolutely wonderful. You must keep an open mind."

C Bushnell:                            And so arrangements for a date were negotiated. We could have gone to a restaurant in my town, but Arnold really wanted me to see his house, which was in another town about 30 minutes away. However, he offered to pick me up and take me to his town and then I can always spend the night at his house if I needed to. And he would be really willing to drive me back to my house in the morning. A sleepover with a 78 year old man I didn't know? I don't think so. Thank you.

Lauren Schiller:                  I'm Lauren Schiller. This is Inflection Point and that's Candace Bushnell reading from her new book, Is There Still Sex in the City? We'll take a quick break and when we come back, I get to ask her a few questions. Inflection Point is a listener powered independent production. I hope you'll consider supporting us with a tax deductible donation toward our fundraising goal at inflectionpointradio.org and clicking the support button.

Lauren Schiller:                  I'm Lauren Schiller and this is Inflection Point. I'm talking with Candace Bushnell, whose new book is called, Is There Still Sex in the City? We spoke live on stage at the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco for Women Lit, a program of the Bay Area Book Festival. Arnold. So-

C Bushnell:                            Yes. You know-

Lauren Schiller:                  You didn't spend the night I take it.

C Bushnell:                            I'm sorry?

Lauren Schiller:                  You didn't spend the night. He showed you his bed. He really tried hard.

C Bushnell:                            I mean, the thing about ... actually, I really made it funny and I worked hard to make it funny. He was really, really sexist, like shockingly so, and really quite oblivious and very entitled. Like one of the first things he showed me was his bed, which was 20 years old or older and he shipped it from California and he said, "I had a lot of really, I've had a really lot of good of sex on that bed and I expect to have a lot more." And I was like, this is just too much. He was, yeah. I mean it's-

Lauren Schiller:                  I want to know why your friends were so invested in you meeting with this guy.

C Bushnell:                            Well, I think it's something that we as women do, we want each other to be taken care of and it's still somewhere in the back of all of our minds, even though it really doesn't happen. That somehow the mail is going to be the protector and you'll be okay if you're partnered up. And I do, I think as human beings, we tend to feel that way. The problem is that they're looking for a relationship that's really just about fulfilling their needs.

Lauren Schiller:                  But it seems like from reading the book, what was so exciting to your friends about this guy is that he had a little bit of money and he had a little bit of power.

C Bushnell:                            Yes. Exactly.

Lauren Schiller:                  And so it seems like at this point in our cultural history in this moment that we're in right now, that maybe that would become less important, but yet it's still lingering on. What do you see happening with all that?

C Bushnell:                            I think it's still lingering on, but what's frustrating of course is that men like Arnold are not ... I don't know. I mean it's not what a lot of women are necessarily looking for and powerful men, they like to enjoy their power. And for powerful men, often part of that is a certain amount of sexual freedom. And that was Arnold.

Lauren Schiller:                  He was raring to go.

C Bushnell:                            He was raring to go. And I think, but that's the other thing that's very shocking, but it won't be shocking to any of the men here.

Lauren Schiller:                  Are there any men here?

C Bushnell:                            But when you start dating again ... there are men here, I saw them already and they're like, ah-

Lauren Schiller:                  Just checking. Okay.

C Bushnell:                            They're like, "We're going to kill her."

Lauren Schiller:                  Is Arnold here?

C Bushnell:                            They want sex immediately. It's like really? But I find though also when I talk to women who work in like old age homes and that kind of thing, they're like, "It's really a problem. These men, they want to kiss you, they want to do all of this and it's just not appropriate."

Lauren Schiller:                  Do you think it's just, you get into your seventies, I mean, neither of us are there yet, but like let's just cut through the crap. Let's just get to the sex. I mean is that maybe part of what's going on? Who knows?

C Bushnell:                            No, no, I don't think so. I think that this is somebody who that's how he operates. He has these certain things that he's going to tempt you with. Like he had this little pool and he was like, "You could come and swim in my pool any time." And I was like, "No." No. On the other hand, the thing that makes these situations so tricky is if the guy had been like incredibly attractive and all of that, that might've been something that I wanted to hear. So that's unfortunately human nature.

Lauren Schiller:                  Right. But what's interesting about, I mean we don't need to totally overanalyze Arnold for a guy but-

C Bushnell:                            No we don't. Because everyone's like, "We want to talk about this today." We don't even know who Arnold is and you probably won't even be in the TV series.

Lauren Schiller:                  But just that he expected that something would happen with sex and you, and like no matter what, like maybe, I mean I know he picked you out of the crowd at the party and everything, but that you maybe were more discerning.

C Bushnell:                            Well, one of the things that he said was that he asked how old I was, when I told him how old I was, and I think at the time I might've been 57 or 58. He was really shocked and he said that he had just upped his age group to maybe include 50, but he wasn't really thinking that that would be somebody who was like 58. And he made it very clear that ... because I think at a certain point I got so pissed off at him and I was like, "Why do you think women have sex with you?" And he said, "Because I buy them handbags."

Lauren Schiller:                  Oh my God.

C Bushnell:                            And this was a real thing. I mean this is another thing that I hear a lot from men is that they are hypersensitive, a lot of them and maybe rightfully so or they're incredibly aware of the power that money can have over women. And I do hear men complaining about things like women just want money from them and women just want them to buy things for them and this and that. And to a certain extent there are women like that. So that was Arnold's set up.

Lauren Schiller:                  Could you imagine a future where the power dynamic is totally reversed?

C Bushnell:                            Yes, I could. Although I don't know what makes me say that.

Lauren Schiller:                  And would that actually be better? I don't know.

C Bushnell:                            But you know power is it's about money really. But I know there's personal power, which is the power to get things done and make things happen on your own. But men, they exercise a lot of it's economic power over women. Economic and educational and access.

Lauren Schiller:                  Well, it was really fun reading the book and I mean it just, I want to say it starts with a bang, but it actually it starts with a bang. I'm just going to put it there and I'm ... not like that kind of bang. Okay. It's an action packed to beginning. And anyway, I got about 10 pages in and then I was like, "Wait a second, is this a memoir? Is this fiction?" And then I looked and it says fiction. So, talk about how it's constructed.

C Bushnell:                            We're calling it auto fiction because it's a lot of autobiographical elements of my life in a fictionalized setting with fictional characters. But yes, I mean there are a lot of things that that did happen to me in the book and a lot of very poignant things because the other side of all of this is that your 50s is a very different time than your thirties. In your thirties, you are not generally, I mean you can be hit with all of these life altering events, but it's not the same as being in your 50s or 60s when you're hit with a certain amount of loss.

C Bushnell:                            And that's one of the things that's a big difference. In your thirties, you're looking up, up, up, and you know you're going to move forward. You're going to ... maybe you're already in a relationship and you're raising children and you're doing that into your forties and your career. Everything's going up. And then when you get into your 50s, things can kind of go ... And you know there, a parent will probably pass away. A friend will probably die unfortunately. And so while I was writing the book, my father actually did die while I was writing the book and one of my best friends took her life. So it's an interesting experience. And I talked a lot with my editors. Like originally I had one editor and he was like, "It's just supposed to be funny. We don't want death." But it's like that is such a part of people's lives at this time. And it's one of the things that shapes this period and it changes you psychically and psychologically. And because it does, it can be an opportunity for growth.

Lauren Schiller:                  We had a chance to talk before we sat in this room and one of the things that we were talking about is that, well, just like your editors were saying, "We want it to be funny. We don't want any death in the book." That there's not great role models out there for how to process the death of a parent or a friend or even prepare for it.

C Bushnell:                            That is true. And you know, I mean one of the things that's really different in the last 50 years, maybe the last 30 years, I think it was like in the mid 1960s or maybe even 1970 or 75, 76% of the population over 50 was married. So that was pretty much everybody was married unlike today where it's 50% of people are single, maybe even more people. So when these things happen to you, they happen to you in this in a sense, in the comfort of your own home. And it's happening and you tend to have like relatives and people who have dealt with this, people are there.

C Bushnell:                            You still have a partner, you've got a family, you're probably in the same house that you've lived in for a long time. Today when these things hit you, that is not necessarily true. You may be single again, chances are you may be living on your own, you may have moved, you may be getting divorced. There are a whole bunch of things that happen that don't really insulate you from these situations. And I think that's one of the things that that makes these things a little bit tricky.

Lauren Schiller:                  While you're writing the book, you lose your father, you lose your friend. How did you process those events and then, I mean, was writing the book a way of processing them or did you have to kind of go through it and then figure out how you were going to write about it?

C Bushnell:                            You know, I kind of had to figure out how I was going to write about it kind of while it was happening. Like I went to see my father, I knew he was going to go and I was like, "You know, the reality is if you're a writer, as Nora Ephron said, 'Everything's copy.'" I mean, I hate to say it, but I was just very, tried to be very aware of my feelings, et cetera, and tried to process them in an adult way, which means not having a breakdown and figuring out, I mean that's really what this time is about. You know what? At 50 you're an adult and you have to be. You kind of do.

Lauren Schiller:                  You kind of want to have the breakdown though.

C Bushnell:                            I just do. Being an adult is not necessarily being busy all the time. Being an adult is being able to stand back, assess the situation, take your ego out of it and figure out what is the best thing to do, how to move forward in a way that is the most humane and kind to everybody around. And it's a time when you have to kind of reach down and figure out how to move on. And it's hard. I mean there were a lot of times when I was writing this book when I was like, I was depressed writing the book. But as I was writing the book, I also felt something was lifting. And when I've looked at that U-shaped curve, the realities for most people, the bottom of that U-shaped curve, it is in your fifties and then things kind of start to go up again.

C Bushnell:                            So it was this personal journey for me through my fifties and it wasn't always easy. And I do, you know, I have friends who are ... I've seen people in a lot pain and I've ... this is also a time when you see that some people just, they can't get it together and they just can't make it. Men and women. So for me, this is something to explore and to write about.

Lauren Schiller:                  Well, in that, and one of the things that you've written about consistently is friendship and female friendships specifically. What role does friendship or has friendship played for you in coming through those kinds of hard times?

C Bushnell:                            I think it's what it always is. It's like people being there for you. I mean, I had like one friend who she just decided, she's like, "I never turned down a funeral." She's like, "I'm going to them all. I'm going to figure out ... I'm figuring out how to do this." And it's like you got to show up for your friends in a different way. At one time maybe you were showing up with dating advice. Now you're showing up with soup. I don't know. But yes, it's again, another time of finding it's for a lot of people it's like reconnecting with people who you were friends with before you got married and had kids. Because when you have children, your friends tend to be the parents of your children's friends. And if you end up getting divorced, all of these things are changed.

Lauren Schiller:                  This is Inflection Point. I'm Lauren Schiller talking with Candace Bushnell. When we come back, the Mona Lisa treatment. I'm Lauren Schiller. This is Inflection Point with a live on stage recording with Candace Bushnell for Women Lit, a program of the Bay Area Book Festival that we recorded the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco. Do you want to talk about the Mona Lisa?

C Bushnell:                            Oh gosh, yes. Well, first of all, it's a laser that ... and I know some of you have heard of this and they use it to restore elasticity and et cetera into your vagina. So it's a laser, but it's for inside and it's ... yes, they put it in your vagina and it works like lasers work. I mean it's just, it's skin. Okay. So it makes sense that it might work, but I want to preface it by saying that it's something that it's so easy for us to make fun of. The idea of women pursuing something, I don't even think it's sexual dysfunction, but something to enhance their sexuality or whatever. And there are basically three things for women and there are 77 products for men. So let's start with that.

C Bushnell:                            So it's actually could be a good thing. But what happens was I was thinking about doing it and it costs $3,000, but I thought if I'm going to do it, I only can do a before and after. So I have to find someone to have sex with before, and get the treatment done, because how am I going to know? I don't know.

Lauren Schiller:                  You don't think you'd be able to tell?

C Bushnell:                            I don't know. I'm making that up, but I don't know. Probably yes, because-

Lauren Schiller:                  I would hope for a $3,000-

C Bushnell:                            Well, I first heard about it, I heard about it from my gynecologist and then I brought it up at lunch with this guy, like have you ever heard of this? And he literally went pale, but he said, "My wife got it." And he said, "She's divorcing me and she's gone off with a younger guy." And this, I was like, "Wow." I heard the story about 20 times from other people of the same thing. So I thought that was very interesting of women actually leaving their husbands when, and really just being rejuvenated or whatever and saying, "Hey, I'm going to go out there and I don't feel like giving this up." So-

Lauren Schiller:                  Well let's, while we're on the topic, let's talk Tinder because you did a whole event experiment with [crosstalk 00:38:29].

C Bushnell:                            I did a Tinder experiment and-

Lauren Schiller:                  Everyone know what Tinder is?

C Bushnell:                            Yes.

Lauren Schiller:                  I'm just making sure.

C Bushnell:                            How many of you have gone on Tinder?

Lauren Schiller:                  Oh, show of hands.

C Bushnell:                            It's all the young women and it's a guy.

Lauren Schiller:                  Oh, you met on Tinder? No. Okay.

C Bushnell:                            You could meet on Tinder. I mean Tinder there are no filters or anything like that and people make their own choices. So, but I discovered an app like Tinder, it really is a game. It's designed like a card game and you know the app doesn't care if you meet somebody or not. It just wants you to be on it and stay on it. But what I found interestingly with Tinder, and this is something that I feel like I'm hearing it more and more out there from guys, and I think the thing that was most interesting about Tinder was how many men, first of all thought that the other men on it were absolutely horrible. And when men think like other men are bad, you really should pay attention because normally they cover up each other's bad behavior.

C Bushnell:                            And the other thing was how quite a few guys said how much they hated themselves when they were on Tinder and how it brought out like the worst sexist sides of their personality where they really just felt women were objects. And it was really interesting to talk to these guys and get their take on it and it's not heartening. And I ended up also talking to a lot of 25 year old women in their twenties who are on Tinder and they talked a lot about their frustrations and their biggest frustration seem to be with the quality of the men that they were meeting. So hello, maybe you shouldn't go on Tinder. And I thought, I mean I'd heard women complaining about dating before. Dating's never been easy, but it was really like the first piece I did for this book. And it was very eyeopening how much more negative women had become about dating and men.

C Bushnell:                            And I just heard like a lot more anger. I mean look, there are always women out there who are they're having a great time. It's all working out for them and they have it all together. But you know, a lot of women didn't and they insisted that the guys that I was going to meet on Tinder were going to be maybe not what they said, that they would have undiagnosed mental illnesses, and that a lot of them would use drugs, and that they were really unreliable and that this sort of thing. So I went on Tinder. The first thing that happened was Tinder set my age range for who I would be attracted to based on my age. I couldn't lie about my age because I didn't know I wasn't skilled enough on Tinder. And so it matched me up with, there were like two guys over the age of 58 and they were both like smokers.

C Bushnell:                            So I set the age, I was like, "What's going on?" I set the age range. I was like, "Okay, I will say 22 to 32 and see what happens." I got tons and tons of hits, so many hits and I really was like, "Wow." And people were writing really nice things. And I was like, "Those girls are so wrong." And then I matched with this guy who, he was 33 I think, and everyone kept saying, "Oh, he's a real man man." He had a beard and a lot of hair.

Lauren Schiller:                  Sure sign.

C Bushnell:                            And so we agreed to meet up, we met up and he told me a lot about like Tinder and how all the horrible guys were on it and this and that. And he was a vegetarian and the only place we could go, I could find to go was like a hamburger place. But he was like, "Don't worry, I'll deal. I'll just eat French fries." So I was like, "Okay." But it was interesting. It was fun. We kind of ... it was friendly and he seemed like a really nice guy. So then he asked me out again and we went to see this really cool downtown play and I was like, "Hey, this is like groovy. It's great. This guy's really cool." And then he asked me out again and I was like, "I really shouldn't do this, because I'm not going to date anybody for a story."

C Bushnell:                            And I wasn't really interested, but he asked me to go to this Shakespeare play in Brooklyn. So I thought, Well, why not? Am I doing anything else? I should go. So I was crossing the Brooklyn bridge and of course I couldn't help but think about that scene in Sex and the City when it's Miranda and Steve, they're going to meet on the bridge. And I was like, I'm crossing the bridge, maybe something's going to happen. Isn't this nice? Like I'm going to prove to everybody that you could meet a great guy on Tinder.

C Bushnell:                            And so I get there and everybody's pairing up and going into the theater, and then they're ringing the bell. And I didn't have the tickets, supposedly this guy had the tickets and he didn't show up. So it was an expensive taxi ride there and back. It was like $40 each way. And I was like, what's, you know. And so I texted him and I said, maybe we got the date wrong or something like that. And I didn't hear from him for two days. And then I got a really, really long text that said I am so, so sorry. I lost track of time. I took MDM PD do, some kind of new designer drug and I don't know what happened, but I tried to drive my car, I was arrested and then I was put in a 48 hour hold and it went on. And I was just like, he turned out to be exactly what the Tinderellas had said I would find. And I really thought Tinder, it's like Vegas, it's the house. It always wins.

C Bushnell:                            And then I was going to this black tie event and I saw this woman outside and she was really beautiful and she was smoking a cigarette. And I was like, "Wow, someone's still smoking a cigarette." I used to smoke. So I was like, I'm just going to go near the cigarette smell. And I just started talking to her and she was incredibly attractive. She was tall, blonde, she was maybe 32. She seemed like she had it all together. And so I decided to ask her about do you go on Tinder? Now I forgot to mention she was Russian.

C Bushnell:                            And she was like, "Yes, of course I go on Tinder." And I was like, "But why? You're so beautiful, you certainly don't need to be on Tinder." And she was like, "It's when you go on Tinder, you get more Instagram followers. It's all about Instagram." And I was like, "That's it." So there you go.

Lauren Schiller:                  And this is why millennials are not having as much sex obviously.

C Bushnell:                            Well, I don't know if anybody watched this. You know, there was that Lisa Ling thing about pornography and its effect on young men. And again, there were a lot of young men on there who were really very distressed about this constant use of porn and how they become addicted and how it affected them psychologically and how difficult it made them to find real women attractive and how it wasn't ... and how being around real women made them very nervous, very uncomfortable. They didn't know what to do. And again, like how they really, really did not like themselves.

C Bushnell:                            And I mean, I think that, and that's something that I hear. And I heard this when I was writing this Tinder pieces well from guys about how it's impossible for them to avoid pornography and how they get so much pornography, whether they want it or not, and how it's affects them in a negative way. And that's definitely, I don't know. I mean, I don't know, porn is such a big money making industry that we are never going to get a straight answer on it. I promise you. I'm not a fan of porn. I think I know too much about it.

Lauren Schiller:                  I'm just thinking about how women in their fifties and up are depicted in the media and in movies and in our culture in general. And how we can start to see a shift toward that being, we're not just irrelevant. It's-

C Bushnell:                            Yes. Well I think that is-

Lauren Schiller:                  New world.

C Bushnell:                            It's really, I mean, it's changing so much because I feel like the Sex and the City woman who to me, I mean, to me the Sex and the City woman is a woman who's my age. I'm 60, but it's about really it was a change that happened in the late seventies and the early eighties. And it really happened because of feminism, the pill. Also women's magazines at that time were really very important and they were just seminating information to regular women out there about things that you could have that you could never have before. And one of them was an orgasm and the other was a career. And-

Lauren Schiller:                  And that ladies and gentlemen is having it all.

C Bushnell:                            Exactly.

Lauren Schiller:                  Forget everything else.

C Bushnell:                            And in the late seventies and eighties, there was a huge influx of women into the workforce. This has happened a couple of times in the 1920s, for instance, but then it always, women end up going back to the home. And it happened at that time. And that really made for a lot of changes and it was a group of women who they were going to go out there and do something that their mothers hadn't done. They were going to try to have it all. It was really like the first generation of women that were encouraged, told that you could have it all, that you could have a family, you could have a career.

C Bushnell:                            So this is not a group of women who are shy violence. This tends to be a group of women who they're used to challenging the status quo and they're used to going out there and changing things and changing perspectives. And this is really the same group of women, but they're older. And they're not going to go away. So I do think-

Lauren Schiller:                  So now's the time to show up. They're showing up.

C Bushnell:                            Yes. Yeah. I mean I do think it's a different time.

Lauren Schiller:                  That was Candace Bushnell speaking with me live on stage at the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco for Women Lit, a program of the Bay Area Book Festival. Candace's new book is called, Is There Still Sex in the City? I'll put a link to it on my website influctionpointradio.org, where by the way, you can find future events by clicking on the events tab there. I'd love to see you. I'm Lauren Schiller. This is Inflection Point and this is how women rise up.

Lauren Schiller:                  That's our Inflection Point for today. All of our episodes are on Apple podcasts, RadioPublic, Stitcher, Pandora, NPR One, all the places. Give us a five star review and subscribe to the podcast. Know a woman leading change we should talk to? Let us know at inflectionpointradio.org. While you're there, support our production with a tax deductible monthly or one time contribution. When women rise up, we all rise up. Just go to inflectionpointradio.org. We're on Facebook and Instagram at inflectionpointradio. Follow us and join the Inflection Point society, our Facebook group of everyday activists who seek to make extraordinary change through small daily actions. And follow me on Twitter at laschiller. To find out more about today's guest and to be in the loop with our email newsletter, you know where to go. inflectionpointradio.org. Inflection Point is produced in partnership with KALW 91.7 FM in San Francisco and PRX. Our community manager is Alaura Weaver. Our engineer and producer is Eric Wayne. I'm your host. Lauren Schiller.


Author Jennifer Weiner Writes a Radical Beach Read

The times, they are a’changin’. This week on Inflection Point, I talk to author Jennifer Weiner, about her newest bestselling book “Mrs. Everything”.

The story is loosely based on Jennifer’s own mother, Fran, who got married, had four children and ultimately came out as a gay woman after Jennifer and her siblings were out of the house. Spanning two sisters’ lives from the 1950s to the night of the 2016 political election, the story raises questions about who is really making women’s choices about our own lives...are we? Or our system? How did we get where we are, and how do we move on from here?

Jennifer shares the facts behind her fiction, what it takes to write a good sex scene, what hasn't changed since #metoo started and how the personal becomes political. We spoke at Women Lit, a program of the Bay Area Book Festival on June 22, 2019 in Berkeley, California.

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Weiner

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Weiner

How to Fight Like A Mother-Shannon Watts, Moms Demand Action

There have been over 200 mass shootings in this country since 2009. Shannon Watts, the author of a new book: Fight Like a Mother, is the founder of Moms Demand Action, a group that is using research, data, and a little bit of “nap-tivism” to throw their weight and money behind political candidates who are willing to put better gun control laws into action. The kicker? They’re winning. In the last election, they outspent even the NRA. Their goal: make our country safer.

Join us this week for a look at why our kids are subjected to violent and traumatizing active shooter drills, and what it takes to pass sensible gun legislation. We talk about the root cause of gun violence, who takes the brunt of the violence when background checks get lax, “losing forward” and the very real and positive change that is starting to take place as we come up to the 2020 elections.

Photo courtesy of Shannon Watts

Photo courtesy of Shannon Watts

Eve Ensler and the Radically Transformative Power of Apology

Stress warning: This episode contains conversation about sexual assault and violence.

This week on Inflection Point, I talk with Eve Ensler, award-winning playwright of The Vagina Monologues, about her new book “The Apology”, in which she writes in the voice of her father to apologize to herself--from him-- for the years of sexual and physical abuse he perpetrated upon her.

You will be blown away by Eve’s resilience, by her self-knowledge, by her strength of character, and by her deep well of compassion and empathy. Her ideas for political and social reform, as well as her profound insights into the human soul, make her a true radical, and radically empathetic.

This week, we discuss the anatomy of a true apology, and the transformative power that apologies hold for the apologists themselves and their recipients. We discuss why punishment never leads to rehabilitation. We discuss the roots of abuse, and how we can start shifting the paradigm.

A must-listen for anyone frustrated at the lack-luster apologies precipitated by the #MeToo movement. A must-listen for anyone infuriated by the Anita Hill and Christine Blasey Ford cases. A must-listen for anyone who needs to apologize for something. A must-listen for anyone who has ever needed an apology, but didn’t get one.

I also spoke with Eve in October of 2016, about a year before the #MeToo movement took off. Her words were prescient and I encourage you to listen to that conversation too.

If this conversation is important to you, please support our independent production with a tax deductible donation. Inflection Point is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization.

Photo courtesy of The Commonwealth Club of California. Photo by James Meinerth

Photo courtesy of The Commonwealth Club of California. Photo by James Meinerth

Photo courtesy of Eve Ensler

Photo courtesy of Eve Ensler

The End of Human Trafficking May Begin with Radical Empathy - Julia Flynn Siler

In 19th Century San Francisco's Chinatown only 1 in 10 people were women, and most of them were forced into prostitution, trafficked by criminal tongs. In today’s episode, meet the Scottish sewing instructor Donaldina Cameron and the women she collaborated with and helped escape from sex slavery between 1870 and 1930. This week on Inflection Point: Julia Flynn Siler talks about her new book The White Devil’s Daughters: The Women Who Fought Slavery in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Prepare yourself for bomb scares and bubonic plague quarantines, court cases and crowdfunding efforts. Join us in what is, ultimately, a conversation about standing up to a broken society, and how women can help women rise up.

Recorded at the Bay Area Book Festival in May 2019 as part of their Women Lit programming.

Photo courtesy of Julia Flynn Siler

Photo courtesy of Julia Flynn Siler

Radical Resilience: Comedian Katie Goodman on the Power of Improv to Come Up With Radical Ideas

This season I’m introducing you to the radical geniuses who are reshaping the systems as we know them. But according to today’s guest, we can all be radical geniuses by embracing a mindset of flexibility and resilience.

Katie Goodman is a professional improviser and a comedian. Over the last twenty years her team has taught about 10,000 people from individuals to corporate groups how to use the tools of improv comedy in everyday life.

Today, we’ll talk about how the powers of imagination, collaboration and “yes, and” can give us a new way of responding to problems the world throws at us.  

Find Katie Goodman’s 8 Tools of Improv and her podcast, “The Improvised Life with Katie Goodman” here.

Support the production of Inflection Point with a monthly or one-time contribution!

And when you’re done, come on over to The Inflection Point Society, our Facebook group of everyday activists who seek to make extraordinary change through small, daily actions.

Subscribe to “Inflection Point” to get more stories of how women rise up right in your feed on Apple Podcasts, RadioPublic, Stitcher and NPROne.


“Let it be messy. Be uncertain." And other advice for 2019

What’s going on with men? Why is it so hard to negotiate the gender power dynamic in everyday situations, like work meetings? Can masculinity exist without its more toxic forms? And why can men get away with sexual misconduct---and even end up seeming like the “real” victim when they’re accused?

While I’ve taken this season of Inflection Point to focus on what women can do to rise up and have more power, John Biewen and Celeste Headlee of Scene on Radio - MEN have been examining how the patriarchy that we’re rising up against was formed in the first place--and what to do about it.

Today we’re taking a look at the conversations we’ve had over the past seasons of both shows and comparing notes to see if we can find some answers---together.

Celeste and John option 2.jpg