Emily V Gordon is incredibly intelligent. She’s also really funny. But my favorite thing about her? She’s beyond supportive of women. One look at her Tumblr and you get an idea of her strong opinions and words of wisdom, from body issues to the recent backlash of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines.”
Gordon was once a therapist. She is a writer for every cool website on the Internet. She’s a producer. She cohosts a podcast about video games. She does all this (and more!) and the most impressive part- she does them all successfully.
You have accomplished so much. How did you get where you are?
That’s a big question! I do a lot of stuff, but it all works together for me. I started out as a couples and family therapist, but I did a lot of writing and going to comedy shows in my free time. After about six years in the field I started burning out a bit, so I quit working in therapy. I took a job at a comedy club as an entry-level grunt, writing press releases and listing shows, and started submitting to write for websites. That was about three years ago. Now I write for about six or seven different websites, I produce a weekly standup comedy show that has just been greenlit as a show on Comedy Central (and I’ll be producing it there, too), and I host a podcast about video games. I am also in the process of trying to sell a book, and I take up producing/writing gigs here and there. A few months ago I served as the director of the first ever comedy festival that took place entirely on Twitter.
The basic idea is that you take any job you can get for a while, kick its ass, be a kind person and work starts trickling in. It takes a while. You have to be patient and be hungry.
How do you define the word “feminist”? Does this apply to you?
A feminist to me is someone that believes in equal rights and equal opportunities for all people regardless of gender (or sexuality, or ethnicity, or socioeconomic status). And hell yes it applies to me. Feminism to me goes beyond just gender issues- it encompasses everything.
You focus a lot on body image. What is the most important advice you have for women who struggle with this?
There’s a lot of important advice, but it’s tricky, because not everything applies to everyone, and even if it does, there’s nothing you can say that will make a person suddenly like themselves. It’s a long slow process that I picture like drops of water in a bucket. You look up one day to find that your bucket is full. That being said, one thing that really helped me a lot was learning how to move my body, how to exercise. I avoided it for years, for fear that exercising would be acknowledging that I agreed with the world’s assessment of how my body looked (I was overweight for years), but exercise is good for everyone. Outside of health benefits, it helps you remember that your body is a functional device that can do things for you. It has power and beauty and strength- it’s not just a thing that either looks fat or skinny or dumpy or weird. Exercise helped me remember my body’s function, helped me un-objectify myself.
How do you think women can be more supportive of one another, both in and out of the workplace?
By not seeing each other as competition. It’s not our fault, we’re bred to see each other as competition, but that’s been my biggest goal of the last few years. I try to think of other women they way that I imagine men see other men- just as other people. I think sometimes we think “Oh, there are other women at this job/party/class/whatever, I have to be cooler and better than them.” There are often so few of us in an environment, and it’s made clear that there can only be one token woman in any situation, so that we end up competing with each other. That’s a sign of a group of people that knows they’re disenfranchised. Even in situations when we are disenfranchised, I think it’s important for us to act as if we are not- not buy into their reindeer games of making us focus on rejecting each other, rather than the work.
You know a lot about video games, which is awesome. How did you become a presence in such a male-dominated industry?
I have played video games my whole life, and I have a lot of friends that worked at the now-defunct G4. One of my friends, Paul, was the producer of a filmed radio show on G4 called “Feedback,” and when they were looking for new voices for the show, he asked if I’d want to come in and give it a try. I worked there for about eight months and loved it, but got too busy to continue. A few months later, I was asked to cohost the Indoor Kids podcast on Nerdist Networks, which has been a delight. So it happened pretty organically.
It is absolutely true that I will be asked to sit on panels because “We need a woman for this panel, and you’re a woman!” but again, I could look at that either as infuriating, or an opportunity to go kick genderless ass.
That being said, it can sometimes be frustrating, like when people automatically hand the controller to Kumail when we’re both looking at a game demo at a conference; or when people who listen to our podcast want me to “prove” that I’m a real gamer, something my male cohost has never had to do; or when I playfully threaten my cohost on the podcast and male listeners Tweet at him to “shut me up” or “put me in my place.” (He’s my husband too, so that shit does not fly.) That stuff is hard to deal with sometimes, but again, I just try to focus on the good and not feed the bad with my attention.
What books or media have influenced your life?
Oi, that’s a question. Hmm. Everything I read or consume influences my life in some capacity. The movie “Heathers” was a revelation to me, because it showcased very strong female protagonists who weren’t just pretty girlfriends, the TV show “My So-Called Life” gave me hope for how conflicted and confused I felt as a teenager, “The Chronicles of Narnia” were how I came to understand religion, the movie “Amadeus” stuck with me for years because I loved how irreverent and brilliant Mozart was… I think that’s all I’ve got for now.
Oh, also, the book The Morning After: Sex, Fear, and Feminism was an eye opener to me of how to think about reframing myself from being a victim to being unaffected by sexism and sexual harassment. I have read a ton of therapeutic books in my grad school years that have helped me reframe my whole worldview, but I cannot think of a single one.
What do you think we can do, as women, to make a difference for future generations?
Be supportive and focus on the good rather than trying to address the bad. You don’t make any progress when you focus on the bad- it can just leave you spinning your wheels and feeling dejected. We just need to keep doing good work and making ourselves strong and wise and beautiful.
Follow Emily on Twitter @TheGynomite. Photo credit: Laura Taylor.