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Iliza Shlesinger on Harvey Weinstein and sexual harassment in comedy

The comedian is touring the country for her new book "Girl Logic."
Iliza Shlesinger
Iliza Shlesinger stops in Boston on Nov. 25. Photo Provided

Iliza Shlesinger is hitting the road this fall to promote her new book "Girl Logic: The Genius and the Absurdity." The comedian hopes that her collection of essays will offer readers of both genders a glimpse into the female perspective, as well as dissuade folks from buying into long-standing, negative stereotypes about women. Ahead of her stop at the Arts at the Armory in Somerville on Nov. 25, we chatted with the Emerson College alum about her new book, the future of the entertainment industry after Harvey Weinstein and the prevalence of sexual harassment in the world of standup.

Do you have any favorite Boston haunts from your time as an Emerson student?

It doesn’t exist anymore, but across from Emerson, there was a bar called Flynn and they would let us drink without ID’s there. In college, that was definitely my favorite bar. Our campus was Boston Common, which is not the safest of places. I always thought Upper Crust Pizzeria in Beacon Hill [was great], so I’m going to go with those. Also, I partied a lot in college, so I can’t really remember.

How would you define “Girl Logic,” the title of your new book?

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While I was making my last Netflix special “Confirmed Kills,” I felt this real sense of obligation to stand up for women in a non-preachy way and in a way that included men. I called it “digestible feminism.” Rather than being angry, just explaining, “Here’s why women think the way that we do. Here’s why we’re forced to think the way that we do because of these pressure that are on us.” It’s definitely geared towards girls, but if guys read it, they might come away from it understanding women a little bit better. I just grew so tired of the names applied to women and hearing that women are “crazy” or “psychos.”

Your book was originally going to be published under the Weinstein Books imprint, and you’ve condemned Harvey Weinstein in the wake of the various allegations against him. As a woman in the entertainment industry, are you hopeful about the future?

We knew men like this existed. We didn’t know, for this particular man, on that scale. I do think it gives predators a little bit of pause. But that being said, if you’re that kind of guy, you have a mental problem. That can’t be quelled with being shamed on the Internet. The guy did a week treatment program. Big deal. The positive to take away from this is not so much about the predators doing it but more the victims realizing that you can say something. You can speak out.

In standup comedy, the amount of women I heard from was horrifying. Do you know how many women deal with this stuff on a nightly basis? Just horrible things or close to rape or just shaming women. You’re told, “Oh, it’s a boys’ club. Tough it out.” Ask any guy what it feels like to have like a gay guy look you up and down, they’re like, “It feels so weird.” Yeah, that’s how we feel 24 hours a day. What will shake out of this are victims feeling less like it’s their fault and hopefully feeling like they have someone to talk to.

You talk about your regrets over making “lazy stereotypes” about women early in your career.

I didn’t want to have a book where I was absolved of all wrongdoing ever. I’m definitely not perfect. I just wanted to point out that I made a joke about calling a group of women walking through a club a “chain of whores.” That’s less about an informed opinion and more about just a funny, stringing together of words that I as a 20-something put together. I’ve evolved as a woman and I probably wouldn’t choose that language.

Why did you choose to highlight stars like Ronda Rousey and Serena Williams as examples of positive, but aggressive, female role models?

I have a whole segment in the book about cockiness and why that’s a negative thing in women. It’s like, what’s wrong with me being self-assured and backing it up with action? There’s nothing wrong with that, but we don’t like that behavior out of women, but we love it in men and in male athletes. That’s why I respond to those women. I resonate with that. I just love confident women. The world needs more of those types of role models versus the kind of women that just shy away and defer to the guy. No. If you got it, flaunt it.

 
 
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