I’m not going to lie—I judged Girl Logic: The Genius and the Absurdity, comedian and Last Comic Standing winner Iliza Shlesinger’s debut book, by its cover. For one, I was turned off by the sexist title, styled in faux-math font. Then I saw that the actress Mayim Bialik—who recently argued that you should sleep in the same bed as your children because bears do—contributed the foreword. A poor way to validate an allegedly pro-woman publication is to include a recommendation from someone who believes that modesty is what kept her from being assaulted by Harvey Weinstein as a teen. Oh, and Girl Logic is published by Weinstein Books.
Shlesinger is something of a Weinstein in Steinem’s clothing, posing as a confident and empowered woman yet preaching the exact mind-set that cultivates female oppression. According to her, “girl logic,” or “GL,” is “a characteristically female way of thinking” that suggests women are solely responsible for the expectations society puts upon them. Any confusion and frustration that women experience as a result is normal, because they can’t help having dumb little-girl brains. “This book is a celebration of women,” Shlesinger boasts in the introduction. What women, I wondered? Girl Logic is filled with anecdotes in which Shlesinger is the hero, other women are the villain, and men are the audience. In truth the book is a celebration of one type of woman—those who perceive other women as their competition and their enemy—and an invitation to every other woman reading it to be like Shlesinger or fail at life.
In the first chapter, the author cites her boobs as the reason she was “lucky enough to have body confidence as a teen.” She recalls a pool party thrown by her next-door neighbor where the boys asked the girls to participate in a bikini contest. “Though the other girls might have been able to wear braces and still look cute . . . I thought I had the swimsuit competition on lock,” she writes. “And yet, no sooner had we lined up, my grown-woman chest all pigeon puffed out, that Aaron declared Angela, my Sun-In blonde nemesis (who didn’t know she was my nemesis and honestly I would’ve been so excited if she’d wanted to hang out with me), the winner.” Thirteen-year-old Iliza is rightfully frustrated and angered by the sexist power dynamics of this interaction. But what about the adult author of this book? Does Shlesinger use her “more evolved Girl Logic” to reflect on this moment from 20 years ago and wonder why she was more angry at the girl who won rather than the boys who’d initiated the bikini contest to begin with? She doesn’t. This is her moment of reflection: “I don’t know where Angela is now but I’m sure that early confirmation of her hotness has served her just fine in this life and that she’s grown up to be a wonderful nurse or receptionist.”
A similar line of thinking informs the second chapter, titled “Case Clothed,” which offers 20 pages of mean-girl observations about how other women dress, including “My Handy List of Clothing Items That Are Simply Not OK.” Shlesinger attempts to validate her slut- shaming, puritanical assessments when she states, “I love trashy clothes: cut off shorts, leg warmers, mesh tops, lycra miniskirts, thigh-high socks, full length mesh body stockings.” That describes the wardrobe of half of the most stylish women I know, myself included. Is she calling us trashy?
Shlesinger’s compassion for other women is as nonexistent as her introspectiveness. In Girl Logic she never interrogates or acknowledges her own privilege—as a white woman, as a professional comedian, or as a published author. She reserves use of her power only for herself in a way that mirrors the dominance and sexism of patriarchy. Because, like many other women in this world, Shlesinger values the opinions of men more than her own—to her it’s complimentary when a man judges a woman for how she looks in a bikini.
By chapter three (“Oh Boy, It’s Guys’ Girl”), I wasn’t so much reading as searching for a redeeming sentence. There’s a distinct lack of accountability in the thesis Shlesinger presents: “girl logic” is a natural by-product of being a woman rather than a response to generations of patriarchal domination that has convinced the members of an entire gender that they’re flawed. The truth is girl logic does exist. It’s a learned behavior, a survival mechanism developed by a group of people who are forced to modify everything about themselves in a male-dominated world. And it’s a world this book tacitly endorses. v