Welcome to this fun and insightful episode of our podcast with Rachel, Felicia, and special guest Elissa Bassist! Elissa, the award-winning essayist, humor writer, teacher, and editor of the Funny Women column on The Rumpus, joins us today to talk about her latest book, Hysterical, A Memoir.
We delve into Elissa's personal journey and how she became the fabulous author, teacher, and editor that she is today. We also discuss her book, which highlights how women can get very sick and cannot get properly diagnosed or treated due to systems designed for men. We talk about the power of using one's voice as a woman, and how societal systems play a significant role in suppressing it.
We also have some fun questions for Elissa, including her current obsession with Survivor and her favorite ways to practice self-care. Elissa also shares her favorite books, including Vagina Obscura, Permission to Speak, and Under the Skin.
In our wrap-up, we ask Elissa some insightful questions about her book, including whether all her health concerns resolved after writing it or if some of them lingered due to the ever-presence of patriarchy. We also discuss the importance of naming things, and how it can help women loosen their hold on them. Lastly, we talk about how women can ease out of their silence and make space for the sounds of their voices when there is safety in silence.
Thanks for joining us, Elissa! To learn more about Elissa and her work, check out The Rumpus or her book, Hysterical, A Memoir.
Felicia Jadczak (00:08): Hey Rachel.
Rachel Murray (00:09): Hey Felicia. How you doing?
Felicia Jadczak (00:12): I'm good. How are you?
Rachel Murray (00:13): I'm good. Welcome podcast listeners.
Felicia Jadczak (00:16): Yes, welcome.
Rachel Murray (00:18): You know, it's so funny, Felicia and I were just in a meeting where there were four of us and Felicia and I are very conscious of our position in the space. And so we were, no one was saying anything when a question was asked and we're just like, I don't know, for your listeners, if you're familiar with the concept of take space, make space when you're in meetings. So you know, we are talkative folk, which is why we love the podcast and we're all making space. So no one was saying anything. So sometimes you have to take a little space, I guess
Felicia Jadczak (00:47): Guess. I know it was funny cuz I think you and I were both on the same page as always and we were like, we're not gonna be the first ones to speak up. But then no one else spoke up and I'm like, well if we, if I gotta do it, I gotta do it.
Rachel Murray (00:59): I'll express my opinion. I'm not shy.
Felicia Jadczak (01:02): I think both you and I always have thoughts when it comes to work and questions and topics and you know, even topics like the one for the podcast that you're gonna be listening to today. We had so many thoughts and I think we had to kind of reign ourselves in a little bit to not take over completely because you'll hear we had a lot of fun with today's guest.
Rachel Murray (01:22): Yes. At today's guest is Elissa Bassist. She's amazing. She's an author, essayist, humor writer, teacher. She wrote a book called Hysterical and Memoir. So we talked about that and just really enjoyed the conversation and unsurprisingly, she is quite funny. I think we were able to keep up with her humor wise. I like to think that we were so I think it was great. It was, it was a lot of fun and you know, we get into a lot of the issues that we talk about and that we think about a lot here at SGO. So I was really happy for it.
Felicia Jadczak (01:56): Yeah, I think everyone will really enjoy it. So let us know what you think. And for those of you who are in the Boston area, we have a fun little quick announcement before you get onto hearing all about Alyssa and her book. So we are having our very first I R L event since pre-pando in the Boston area, April 26th. We are beyond excited. Can't even explain how excited I am personally for this. It'll be our geek outs like we used to do.
Rachel Murray (02:26): I'm so excited that I'm flying out for the occasion from California to a tent. So
Felicia Jadczak (02:31): Now listen, if Rachel can fly out from California, I think anyone who's listening to this podcast can show up and we've given you plenty of advanced notice at that little whatever it is. The train ticket, a plane ticket, an automobile ticket. Well you don't need a ticket for an automobile I don't think <laugh>, whatever it is. You're a Lyft app. Get it ready to go. We're gonna be downtown Boston. We're gonna be hosted by Aura and I believe
Rachel Murray (02:57): Cyber Ark!
Felicia Jadczak (02:58): Cyber arc. Very exciting and it'll be a traditional geek out. So for those of you who either have not been to one before or have forgotten what they used to be like, it's three hours, it'll be an hour of fun mingling, hanging out. It'll be three speakers, 10 minutes each woman talking about exciting things that they're passionate about and geeking out about. And we might have some raffle prizes, we'll have some fun. We'll see you in person, it'll be great.
Rachel Murray (03:23): We're having raffle prizes. There's no way we're gonna be doing the first i r l event in three years for that raffle prizes. I will make it my mission. So get ready.
Felicia Jadczak (03:31): I will tell you all, I dug out all the stuff to my attic today. I've got so many raffle tickets, we are set for the next 10 years. So can't wait to rip out those tickets and give 'em out to people.
Rachel Murray (03:42): <Laugh>. Yes. And remember it's a great place to go to if you are looking for a job. It's really cool. We have a whole little system in place so if you are looking for a job, you get a little sticker. It says you're looking if you're not looking and that's totally cool too. If you wanna just say that you're happy, that's great. If it things are just complicated, we got you covered. So don't you worry, you'll come, you'll have a good time. We'll hang out. You'll get more information. We'll put in the show notes and we are really excited about this and about this upcoming conversation. So enough
Felicia Jadczak (04:12): On to Alyssa, let her take it away.
Rachel Murray (04:14): Love it. Well hello Felicia.
Felicia Jadczak (04:23): Hello Rachel.
Rachel Murray (04:24): I'm so excited for today because we have this incredible guest. Our wonderful guest today is Alyssa bassist, the delightful and award deserving as essays, humor, writer, teacher and editor of the Funny Women column of the rumpus and author of one of our new favorite books. Hysterical A memoir. Hello Alyssa. So lovely to meet you.
Elissa Bassist (04:47): Hi, it's so great to be here.
Felicia Jadczak (04:49): We are excited to have you here. <Laugh>. As I was saying before we officially hit the record button. I literally just finished your book this morning so I'm excited to dive in and talk all about it. But why don't we just start with you telling us a little bit about who you are, your journey, how did you come to be the fabulous writer, author, teacher, all the things that Rachel just listed out that you are today.
Elissa Bassist (05:14): I was really lucky and I got fired a lot. So
Felicia Jadczak (05:19): Joy,
Elissa Bassist (05:22): I had no option. I was not allowed to work in a nine to five environment so I had to find my own path <laugh> and I'm a Virgo. Thank you. So I love editing and I love telling other people what to do, a k a teaching
Rachel Murray (05:39): <Laugh>.
Elissa Bassist (05:40): So those came quite naturally to me. <Laugh>. And then I was working on hysterical. I wrote and published it in 12 years only. And it's only because I never gave up or I should should say I kept giving up but I kept coming back and so many of my successful friends are successful only because they never gave up for 10 years or more. And now they're television writers and other types of celebrities and also had a stepdad like mine who paid their rent for a very long time and that's how we became who we are today.
Rachel Murray (06:24): I love that. You know, it's funny that you say that too because I have a friend who is, she's been in show business for decades and same thing, she lived in New York, you know, did all the things and then moved to LA and tried to get the things and then nothing happened and then she had a kid and then all of a sudden all the things happened. <Laugh>, she was like, it's just her.
Elissa Bassist (06:46): Is she Kate Blanchette? Is that who your friend is?
Rachel Murray (06:48): <Laugh> Wouldn't that just be baller if that were actually my friend? No, her, her name is Kimmy Gatewood and she was on Glow and she's like a director and writer for a bunch of stuff and yeah and she just laughs about it cuz she's like, yeah it, you know, 20 years of like trying to make it happen and it just took like hands off the wheel a bit <laugh>, there it is.
Elissa Bassist (07:09): Exactly. You just, you just wait it out,
Felicia Jadczak (07:11): <Laugh> wait it out. You get that experience. I'll also add quick plug. She is a past podcast guest FYI for listeners and also just a quick FYI for listeners, Rachel's also a Virgo so there's been a lot of Virgo energy up in here today and I think I'm here for it, but we'll see <laugh>. So
Rachel Murray (07:27): Now Felicia, just to be clear, so you know Alyssa, like Felicia is an Aquarius but she is a Virgo. Like, the reason why we work so well together is because she has even sometimes higher Virgo energy than I do and there's nothing better than we are a power couple.
Felicia Jadczak (07:43): We can talk about ourselves all day long, but we should really, while we're here, get back to it because we can, we are an old married couple that can talk about each other all day every day. But we wanna talk about Alyssa.
Elissa Bassist (07:54): Yeah, let's talk about me.
Felicia Jadczak (07:55): Yes,
Rachel Murray (07:56): Good. Thank you.
Felicia Jadczak (07:57): Absolutely.
Rachel Murray (07:58): Thank you for keeping us on track, my Virgo friend,
Felicia Jadczak (08:01): That's my, that's my Virgo contribution to this podcast today. But yeah, we're really big fans of the book as Rachel said, and you know, so for folks who haven't heard of it or haven't read it yet, there's a lot that's packed into it. But one of the things that you do a really great job of is sharing the sort of, not even dangers but also just the realities of how women in particular can get really sick. And this is a patriarchal trash world. It's designed for men and so women and a lot of, not just women like non-binary folks, all sorts of people who are not, you know, white men can't get properly diagnosed or treated. So we'd love you to maybe speak a little bit more about that part of your story. And you mentioned it took you 12 years off and on to write this book. So really was the catalyst to actually start that process.
Elissa Bassist (08:45): Well first of all, I just wanna say happy International Women's Day. Yay.
Rachel Murray (08:49): I know,
Felicia Jadczak (08:50): Yes,
Elissa Bassist (08:51): Absolutely. It's so great that we're having this conversation on our day <laugh>,
Rachel Murray (08:57): We get the one day
Elissa Bassist (08:59): <Laugh> one day. So on this day we are recognized as human beings but every other day we aren't. And this is the problem. So since the beginning of time up and through until and including today, straight white cis men are considered human beings and we have evidence of this in our medical literature, in our dictionary definition of man and of human beings and everyone else who isn't that type of person is considered other literally abnormal or less man. So our suffering is not equal, our experience is not equal, our authority is not equal and we're treated accordingly by every single institution. And then we're demonized for speaking up about it because that's annoying and it's nagging and we don't wanna hear about it anymore, which is just another symptom of treating us as other abnormal and less men. So what happened to me was I dated men and worked for men and had a lot of doctors of every gender and it turns out gender doesn't even matter because we've all internalized sexism and misogyny and we all reproduce it in our conversations with each other, our actions with each other and our conversations and actions to and with our own selves.
(10:25): So I had started writing about the topic I knew best my ex-boyfriend and I didn't want to write about bad men or sexism, but it was the only thing I had to write about. I couldn't not write about it. And I noticed all of these overlapping themes that the sexism and misogyny I experienced in relationships was the same brand that I experienced at work was the same brand I experienced in doctor's offices and the same brand I experienced when I was alone by myself. And I just saw all of these overlapping sexisms and I had to write about it and I had nothing else to say. Sort of like I feel like women are knocked for talking about men, but we're expected to only talk about men but only nice things about men. And it's really hard to talk about anything else when your experience is compared to the male experience is made to feel inferior to the male experience is made to cater to the male experience all of it. So it was like, of course that's what I wrote about. I wasn't given any other material to write about hashtag not all men <laugh>
Rachel Murray (11:45): Amazing. So thank you for sharing that plus one to all of it. Obviously we agree with everything that just came outta your mouth. So can you talk about why you called this book Hysterical?
Elissa Bassist (11:57): One day during a nap, I was trying to think about what my book should be called. I had had so many different titles like the Power of Negative Thinking, heartbreak, torture Machines, shut Up and then a previous novel that was called Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the show then during this map? I was like, I know what my book should be called. It should be called Trill by Lindy West. It had already been written by Lindy West. Amazing. So then I was like, Wilson's trill has taken what's my book? And it was so obvious that it was hysterical because my book is about uncontrolled extreme emotion. It's about mental, physical and mysterious illness. It's about societal sickness, the sicknesses. We don't know why we have them and we don't even know that we have them. It is about demonizing women, labeling us crazy psycho bitches in order to dismiss our every thought, feeling, sickness experience and so on. And it's also extremely funny and I was like, my book is every definition of this historical and current word and I was so proud of myself. I nailed it <laugh>. You
Felicia Jadczak (13:07): Really did. You did. I mean it's a great title. I also agree like you know sometimes you're like oh this is my book and you're like, it's someone else's book that's already been written and is out there in the world <laugh>. But I think you nailed it for sure. And I really, I wanna talk more about you know, sort of the story itself and it's really more than one story. It's your story of your sickness and your health journey and your ex-boyfriends and all sorts of stuff that gets wrapped into it. But one of the things that really stuck with me as I was reading was you talked a lot about feeling silenced and the silence that you carried with you for years. And I'm curious what now you're obviously talking to us first of all <laugh>, you wrote the book, you put it out there in the world. You probably have been talking about it ad nauseum. But how do you think in general women can ease out of their silence? Because a lot of women do feel silenced or they silence themselves and for some of the risks might even outweigh the potential rewards to speak up. You touched a lot on the Me Too movement in the book. What are your thoughts on how we can make space for our voices when there's safety in silence?
Elissa Bassist (14:15): So for marginalized communities in particular, and that includes everyone who isn't the average straight white, cis male. And it's funny that we're marginalized because we're the majority, but that's the geniusness of patriarchy. <Laugh>. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. So our silence is often our survival and our survival instincts have evolved such that keeping quiet is the best way to stay alive we think. But it's, that's a false sense of security and it's setting off false alarms in our fear system. False and not false because it is a reality that women who say no are murdered for saying no. Women who say anything at all are punished for what they say. But there's also this reality that women are also punished for what they don't say and whether we speak up or don't can incriminate us, can put us at risk. And I had realized that I had been suped into feeling that my silence was a safety and it was self-protection and that an was another trick of patriarchy to make me feel that way because my voice had gotten me in trouble and I didn't wanna be in trouble anymore.
(15:38): And by being in trouble I got dumped, I got yelled at, I got attacked. I was in the company of the wrong people who didn't want to hear what I had to say and turned my own voice against me. But my silence hurt me more than anything I could have possibly said. And I was hurt in many ways, but my silence made me physically ill because I ha was repressing so much because I didn't advocate for my own health because I couldn't stand up for myself, I couldn't speak up, I was hurting other people with my silence. And I saw so many real world repercussions from my silence as opposed to the imagined punishment I would receive for speaking up. And the real world punishment I received that ended up PAing in comparison to what I inflicted on myself and others with my silence and you know, and we see that in a big way with social justice movements like Black Lives Matter, where silence is literally violence to huge communities of people and we've been convinced otherwise and it makes peace, sad and mad. What was your question, <laugh>?
Felicia Jadczak (16:51): I think you answered a lot of it. Okay. Yeah, <laugh>, I mean literally the fact that you answered it I think also speaks to, and especially for those folks who haven't read the book like you just said it yourself, the silence made you so ill and now you're able to speak more about it and perhaps there are still things that you're keeping silent. Cause I feel like everyone's in that kind of boat where there are things we just don't touch for various reasons, but there's such a power in naming things. So yeah, I don't think you have to dig deeper if unless you have stuff to share. So
Elissa Bassist (17:21): <Laugh>, I mean I talk about in the book about the different therapies I practiced in order to learn how to speak up for myself, I had to learn how to say the two letter word no that I never had to handle on and was afraid of. And I had to desensitize myself to the outside fear of what would happen to me if I said no to boyfriends, to free work, to handymen. Like it was such a handicap to not be able to say that word. And it's such a powerful W word and I know why it's intentionally so hard for us to say because it sets up a boundary. It is, it gives us a sense of control and power. It is fundamental to self-esteem. So of course we've been told that it's an ugly word and that we shouldn't use it and that is just a way to keep us down and outside of ourselves by making it such a bad word for women to say that it makes us seem rude, it makes us seem bitchy, it makes us seem unlovable deserving of hate and violence.
Rachel Murray (18:34): The nice thing, cuz I, I'm a positive kind of person, the nice thing that's happening is that I think it's so cool to see that we are evolving, that we are learning that this is an issue. And I think that, you know, there are women who are really are able to use their voice. I think, you know, where I get concerned is seeing the backlash I think we're seeing now and how that's going to play out in policy, which we've already seen <laugh>. So
Elissa Bassist (19:02): It's, and it's, it's getting so much worse by day. We're seeing how there's, I forgot what state because I probably had to intentionally block it out, but one state wants to execute women who get seek an abortion. Yeah. And there are a million other policies being introduced and ideas being floated in order to truly silence women.
Rachel Murray (19:27): I think it's important to note too that it's not just men doing it, it's women also doing it. Correct. And I don't know if you wanna talk a little bit about why that, I wrote one of the questions there was like why does everybody hate women? <Laugh>,
Elissa Bassist (19:43): I'm so excited to answer this <laugh>. So patriarchy doesn't equal men, it's a system that exploits this binary that everyone subscribes to and replicates all day every day. And it men can be perpetrators of patriarchy just as women, non-binary folks. All of us can act in our own self disinterest all the time. And I believe that self-hatred is internalized misogyny. And you asked me why do we hate women so much? And what struck me about that question is how I'm always asked the opposite, which is why do you hate men so much? Wow. And I'm like, I don't hate men. I hate that certain men hate me so much. I hate that we live in a system that sees everyone who isn't a man as hostile and deserving of and silencing. That's what I hate. And when you live in a society that privileges this one singular point of view, and I keep saying the word demonizes, but it's just appropriate and demonizes every other point of view, then it's just so easy to hate them. Like if you see someone as other or abnormal or less than, then that is a thing and not a person and a thing is easier to hurt, easier to harm, you don't feel bad about it. You even at some point develop a hunger for it because you don't see them as like you, you don't see them as another human being.
Felicia Jadczak (21:32): That's so true. And I think this brings up a point that I wanna dig into further with the both of you, which is not just this, you know, the internalized, the misogyny and all the systems that we ourselves perpetuate, but then how that gets codified into not just things like policies and laws and you know, interpersonal interactions, but things like technology. And so, you know, we talked a little bit and you talked a little bit in your book about AI systems and how we're using women's voices for things like Alexa and Siri. And that's dangerous because it perpetuates this unconscious idea that women are here to serve you. And again, it's not just for men, right? It's for everybody. And you know, the little side note, we actually podcasted in with Microsoft way back in the day and Amazon actually, and they both had said they were working on gender neutral voices and I haven't really seen that, but something I do just as my little way of fighting the patriarchy is I try to always switch, you know, like my Google maps voice and my Alexa voice to a man's voice because I use a nice fun British accent.
(22:40): So it's very fun for me. And then b, I'm like let a man tell me what you know where to turn next and not have a woman be the one always serving me. But why
Rachel Murray (22:48): Don't robots robot take over? But see that doesn't work that way either because it is like men are telling you, giving you directions. I don't want that.
Felicia Jadczak (22:55): I know, but that there's no good solution, right.
Rachel Murray (22:59): Neutral. That's the
Felicia Jadczak (23:00): Solution. Exactly. But yeah, you know, I'd love to maybe have you talk a bit more about, you know, sort of what we're calling techno patriarchal capitalism to just get into another light little conversational point. <Laugh>, why is it so hard with the internet, with technology, with all the things that you've been touching on here,
Elissa Bassist (23:16): <Laugh>, it's another trick where this convenience tool is actually making things a lot more inconvenient and or it's making hate a lot more convenient. I know with my Alexa, I tell her off constantly, I
Felicia Jadczak (23:32): Right
Elissa Bassist (23:33): She's
Felicia Jadczak (23:33): Always scared. I'm scared for the ultimate eventual robot revolution. So I'm actually really nice to my Alexa because I'm like, I'm always like sorry if I like get mean to it. And again, so
Rachel Murray (23:45): Thank you.
Felicia Jadczak (23:45): I'm sure some ethical like philosopher is out there screaming at me right now or like screaming about all of these interactions. But I'm scared so I'm always really nice
Elissa Bassist (23:55): <Laugh>, I feel like I, I will like come back and apologize but I get so incensed. I mean I don't know if you've seen the incredible film, Megan that Not
Felicia Jadczak (24:05): Yet, no. Oh
Elissa Bassist (24:07): It fulfills your every nightmare <laugh>.
Rachel Murray (24:10): It looks scary. The
Elissa Bassist (24:11): Future
Rachel Murray (24:12): <Laugh>. I stopped watching horror movies after 2016. I was like, we're living in horror movies, I don't need to watch anymore,
Elissa Bassist (24:19): <Laugh>, I self-medicate my depression with horror movies. And that was a chapter that ended up being cut from the book because it no longer pertained. Yes, it'll be in my next book coming soon and 12 years from now
Felicia Jadczak (24:33): <Laugh>
Rachel Murray (24:33): <Laugh>. Perfect.
Felicia Jadczak (24:35): Can we get like a little like a little sneaky peek for those folks who don't wanna wait 12 years? Oh that's
Rachel Murray (24:39): Sneaky,
Felicia Jadczak (24:39): Sneaky Peeky
Rachel Murray (24:40): It's called Sneaky Peaky.
Felicia Jadczak (24:42): Me, that is the S G O sneaky Peeky. Was there like one or two key movies that you self-medicated with
Elissa Bassist (24:50): <Laugh>? Yes. My number one favorite is the human centipede where three humans are connected, mouth pain, human centipede. And it's my top favorite because,
Felicia Jadczak (25:01): And you've actually watch watched this?
Elissa Bassist (25:03): Oh, not only did I watched it, not only did I watch it, I rewatched it, I watched the sequel and there is a third making it a trilogy. Oh my God. That as a mode of self-care. I did not watch <laugh> because it goes like, it's the first film is three people, the second film is 12 people. Oh my God. The third film is a human Millie, which is 500 people.
Rachel Murray (25:28): I'll stop it
Felicia Jadczak (25:29): <Laugh> like
Rachel Murray (25:30): Why? Why is this the way we have to be extra in the world? Like
Felicia Jadczak (25:36): Oh my god,
Elissa Bassist (25:36): You know what? Amazing. I'm laughing you like I never have a problem again because at least I'm not connected. Mal is in a human centipede. It just puts my entire life in perspective and it also makes me feel like I can create any art and I can do anything imperfectly. Because if there's a man out there making a trilogy about human beings connection, mouth to anus and human san, I'm gonna go forward in my art and then my life with that kind of confidence.
Rachel Murray (26:07): I think you're a genius. Yeah, <laugh>. Well and we joke too is like, well recently someone made this wonderful point about Marjorie Taylor Green and they're like, it's actually amazingly feminist that she is in Congress because finally we have a stupid woman like or a mediocre woman or you know, in, so it's like this is a victory for women everywhere. You don't have to be, we can lower our standards and still get into Congress.
Felicia Jadczak (26:35): Let's keep losing maybe <laugh>,
Elissa Bassist (26:37): I think women, female idiots do need their mascot. And I, that is important. That's representation. <Laugh>
Felicia Jadczak (26:43): Representation. My god, I, well I'll say I, I feel like I should have known you're gonna bring up human centipede because I did notice in your, your thank you credits or whatever the, the, the end notes, whatever that's called, you did a little shout out to Roxanne Gay and I was very excited because I don't know if you know this, but we actually had Roxanne Gay as the keynote speaker at our S G O summit in 2019, which was supposed to be the first of many and then Covid happened <laugh>. But she was delightful and I was like, oh my god, who knew all these people friends with each other and apparently you talk about human centipede with her <laugh>.
Elissa Bassist (27:18): So, so this is, is this a secret? I don't know but so Roxanne and I, so Roxanne was in my slush file for my humor column Funny Women in 2009. She was the second writer I published. And so basically I'm responsible for her fame is what I'm saying. I'm kidding. <Laugh>.
Felicia Jadczak (27:40): We'll have to do a follow up with Roxanne's people and see if she wants to come on the podcast and do a rebuttal <laugh>.
Elissa Bassist (27:46): Yeah, I discovered her. Just kidding. She would've obviously made it without me but, and that's not even the point of this. So I was her huge fan and we were emailing as early as 2009 about like the literary world and the human senate Pete and I don't know how, but it's like her students were obsessed with it. I ended up being obsessed with it. Oh I remember we were trading work and I sent her my chapter about the human centipede and she ended up writing what became the blurb of my book in an email about the human centipede. And I asked her if I could use it as a blurb for my book and she's so generous and said yes. But that blurb is actually about my essay about the human center page.
Felicia Jadczak (28:28): Oh my god that is such, such like breaking news. Un fact. Yeah, this yeah it's breaking
Elissa Bassist (28:32): News. It's <laugh>.
Felicia Jadczak (28:35): We have gone so far. But I wanna pull us back to Megan though because that's where we started and we have not seen Megan. How does that relate to the whole AI techno patriarchal Alexa is gonna murder us bullshit that we've just been talking about
Elissa Bassist (28:49): <Laugh>, I mean it's actually not techno patriarchal because a woman invents Megan, Megan is a woman if Megan can be a woman and it hints to no spoilers AI taking over you know, which all those movies do. Like my favorite Terminator in Skynet, hi Skynet. So I guess I invented the term techno patriarchal capitalism and deflated every boner in the world by doing so. When I realized again these overlapping themes where I was like, wow, men are making every television show I watch, men are making every law that pertains to my body. Men are telling me the news men have created and run all these social media platforms, my iPhone, like everything is created and by men. And of course like they're making so much money off of my insecurity, off of my silence, off of me talking too much and getting punished for it off of me getting trolled. And it was like I just, I can't escape it anywhere and anywhere where I think I have a voice or control or convenience is really not so the case because if I like interrogate who's in charge, it's mostly straight white men and they're making so much money off of my misery.
Rachel Murray (30:19): Yeah, it's so real and thank you for clarifying cuz. Yeah it is really white men, I mean hate to single 'em out but that is
Elissa Bassist (30:27): <Laugh>. We must single them out. That's feminism <laugh>. I'm just kidding. That is not feminism
Rachel Murray (30:32): <Laugh>. I know. I mean I think we can make an argument for that. Well you know what, I wanted to go back to something that you were saying too, like when we were talking about how we're like socialized in this way and and how patriarchy just hurts us so much, it also hurts men. I mean let's be real. Yeah, right. Like it's damaging to guys like how many guys wanna be like this walking this angry in the world and
Elissa Bassist (30:55): Right again, it like patriarchy really privileges such a small group and it privileges them in ways that really don't privilege them and it really hurts everyone. And I think like there are so few people who are perpetuating the idea of patriarchy because it serves them and they're doing it knowingly and almost everybody else is doing it unknowingly. And the first step to dismantling the patriarchy if that's even possible is just being aware of how it's everywhere and how it's in you and how you are perpetuating it unconsciously. Subconsciously. And how that hurts you too. And it benefits you to dismantle it in every possible way by changing who is your Alexa voice to calling out people who are sexist to voting to what you consume. Because you're not only doing like social justice for the world, you're helping yourself cause sucks for all of us. Again, it minus Mitch McConnell, he's the only one in Dr. Carlson. They're doing great.
Rachel Murray (32:04): Yeah, they're doing great. There's definitely some people at the CPAC conference that are doing fine. Rhonda Sanders living the dream. But I also wanted to talk about, I just wanted to commend you on the word fuck taco and we will put a warning at the head of this so that people know that we're using naughty words. But you know, both Felicia and I have absolutely had those that experience and I just wanted you to just, if you're okay with it, sharing a little bit about that aspect of it and dating because you know the book sort of starts out with like talking health stuff and it understandably goes into this world which now we learned was actually the original inten kind of intention for the book. But yeah, we would love to hear more.
Elissa Bassist (32:49): So I had to figure out why, how I lost my voice and it kept coming back to fuck Taco and where I was willingly sacrificing it in order to get this guy who refused to love me, to love me. And a lot of that was me mirroring him. So talking like him because he really liked himself. And so I thought that was a good way to get him and just like masking my true self thoughts, feelings, pace, preferences, voice to appeal to him. And I really learned to silence myself with him because I was always saying too much because no character limit an email and I was always punished for it. You know, he would ghost me, he wouldn't like me. I was just always self-sabotaging with the help of the internet. And I wanted to give him a nickname because my ex-boyfriends have always given me the same nickname, which is crazy Psycho Bitch. Mm-Hmm <affirmative>. And I wanted to do a feminism which was to give nicknames to them. I mean I was also trying to protect his identity and he wasn't always called that, he was called by his name and then a regular name but Tough Taco was just very, very funny to me. And in order to get through writing this book that's about a lot of very tough topics, I had to make my own self laugh and that always made me laugh.
Rachel Murray (34:21): I mean can we use it? Can other people use it? Or you're like, no this is a rich to trademark like <laugh>,
Elissa Bassist (34:26): I hope to mainstream that word trademark that word. I, at one of my readings, someone asked me to give nicknames to all their exes and I had a ton <laugh>. I was like how do I come up with all of these names? I had Tampon Popsicle, I had Mitch McConnell's neck <laugh>.
Felicia Jadczak (34:43): Oh
Rachel Murray (34:44): God, this has to be like a website. We'll I will help you build it. It's gonna be so good and it'll be like a resource. It's like a, maybe it's on the SGO website. It's a resource by Alyssa Bassist.
Felicia Jadczak (34:58): Stuck with finding a nickname for your terrible ex or current fuck toy. Here are some ideas like do a random name generator.
Rachel Murray (35:06): <Laugh>. Love it.
Elissa Bassist (35:07): Yeah. Cause it's like, the funny thing is is that we don't have, we have so many bad names for women and like no bad names for for Men. It's like what's the worst name? What's, I can call men like confidence, powerful asshole, but that's still respected, assertive like
Rachel Murray (35:26): Jerk,
Elissa Bassist (35:26): Like there's jerk. I guess I just feel like there's so much of our language is geared towards being mean to women and to non men and, and then on the flip side, so much of our language just exalts white men and I'm like, that sucks. Like if we're gonna name call, let's name call everyone excited and let's get more creative than crazy psycho bits
Felicia Jadczak (35:49): Equal, equal opportunity for name calling. But I will say it definitely resonated with me because as Rachel knows, like I went through my fuck tacos ad nauseum like over and over again and I was a big fan of Nicknaming the guys that I dated and I remember and you know, to your point around the power of naming things and you know sort of the negative versus the positive. I had this one guy that I didn't even really date at all, but his nickname was Indiana Jones. And when he was an asshole to me, I remember my friends were like, he doesn't deserve such a cool nickname anymore. Like how dare he had this cool nickname, he's gonna be Earring Man, which is not even like a mean name, but it was the worst we could come up with at the time. And so that's what we like, we had to switch it.
(36:37): Like they made me switch his nickname in the phone to Earring Man. So every time it would pop up and I would be like, this is such a dumb name, I can't text this guy anymore. So I think there is a lot of power in the naming part of it. And you actually in your book mentioned that it was a pillow quote. I think when you name something it loosens its hold on you. And so I'm curious if that was maybe part of your thought process when you were thinking about not just protecting this guy's identity but actually like naming him that transforms him into something different than the actual guy that you interacted with.
Elissa Bassist (37:11): Yeah, so the idea that naming has power occurred to me when I was sick and I had no name for what was happening to me and I felt so powerless and I had hoped for any name even brain tumor because then I could do something about what was happening to me. And the nameless was so painful. And then I thought about naming all across the board and how these labels we slap on women are also so painful and so inaccurate and so effective. And how they had been used to silence me where I was like, I don't wanna catch a label, I don't wanna act a certain way or say something because I don't wanna catch a label. And then like ex-boyfriends like to talk about that makes me seem so frivolous and so superficial and that and that like stays with me to this day.
(38:19): That's why I like to make a joke where it's like, what do you write about? I write about my ex-boyfriend and I wanted to sort of like reclaim that idea where it's like you thinking that me talking about my ex-boyfriends is silly. Is silly. Like I am talking about relationship identity, communication, lack thereof, gender roles. Like I have so much to say under the umbrella of ex-boyfriend and if you were gonna call me silly then I'm gonna call him fuck taco. And it's just gonna be like joke to me. And I wanted him to not be him. I wanted him to stand in for all the fuck tacos in our lives and just have like a name that would resonate in addition to being silly and making me laugh and taking away, I don't know, did I wanna take away his power by giving him a silly nickname?
(39:11): Like not intentionally. I don't wanna hurt any of the people I wrote about. That's not why I wrote about them because they hurt me. Doesn't mean I wanna hurt them. Like I'm over that feeling of revenge. Certainly I, I had felt that before, but I really just wanted to talk honestly with vulnerability and with a lot of research about that pain and how my pain isn't personal and how we all experience it. And I didn't wanna name any of my bosses, not only because I didn't want them to sue me or because I wanted to protect them, but because I, I needed them to be nameless and faceless so that we, so that my readers could project their experiences onto these characters because they're not just my bad men, they're the bad men we all experience. And it felt like really authoritative to do that.
(40:08): And that felt scary because I was like, I don't wanna speak for anybody but myself. I don't wanna speak with authority. But the fact of the matter is, is that the more people I talked to over those 12 years, the more I was like, this is a shared experience. This isn't an isolated experience as much as it feels like it. And as much as it feels like I deserved to be dumped, I deserved to be fired. I deserved the sad treatment. I deserved verbal abuse, I deserved emotional abuse because of what I said, because of how I acted, because of how I felt. And that just isn't true.
Felicia Jadczak (40:43): I really appreciate you sharing all that. I like the idea of by taking away the naming aspect of it, it allows people to project their own experiences. I think that's, that's also very powerful. And to bring it back to the thread which runs through the whole book, which is the fact that you lost your voice and all these experiences led to these health issues, you end the book with, you know, sort of talking about reclaiming the voice and you know, kind of getting through a lot of that, that sickness, even though you're not really, I mean I think you have some names for it, but not f like a full complete label. Have all your health concerns resolved after writing the book or do some of them still linger because of other fox tacos or the, you know, patriarchy or other things going on in your world?
Elissa Bassist (41:28): As long as patriarchy still exists, I don't feel safe and I don't feel sane and I don't feel like we anyone can be truly healthy because there's still so many biases in our institutions, our medical institutions, our work institutions, everything across the board. I don't have what I had in the book, I talk about how I resolved X, Y and z I don't wanna give any spoilers. And some of that was through traditional medicine. Some of it was through therapy and exposure therapy that I got through seeing an obsessive compulsive disorder specialist. And some of it was through, I don't wanna say like non-traditional or non-conventional Eastern alternative techniques looking outside of our medical patriarchy for solutions. And I get into that in the book, but it's, I think healing is a practice and you're never healed. And I still get headaches and when I get headaches, like now, the first thing I think about is what am I not saying?
(42:49): What am I feeling that I'm not expressing? What am I absorbing and consuming? Like what's happening in the news? What am I watching? What am I exposing myself to? That is like making me have a clenched jaw that's making me feel really fearful. That's making me feel like that I must revert back to my survival mechanisms. So I do that and then I of course take some Advil and my headache medication and it, the problem resolves. I'm sure there's gonna be a point where I'm gonna get sick again because that's what bodies do and that's the world we live in and I'm gonna have to deal with it. But I feel more confident that I can advocate for myself and that I can push back on doctors and I know the questions to ask and I can identify medical gaslighting and I can identify that I am the expert in authority on my own body.
(43:47): And if something doesn't work for me, I can say no. I can ask questions. I don't feel like I'm annoying anymore over so much practice of leaning into the fear of being annoying. Like maybe I am gonna be annoying by asking my doctor 20 questions, doing it and being so much happier that I got answers as opposed to sitting in silence cuz I was so afraid of being annoying and then being mad at myself and then making myself sicker because I'm mad at myself, I'm not getting the help I need and like being stuck in that cycle. So that's my long-winded answer.
Rachel Murray (44:23): No, that's perfect. And I totally agree with you. I actually was just talk to my doctor all the time because you know we have an app so I can just like message her and I'm just like, I have to be literally the most annoying person to you because I'm just constantly asking you about everything like <laugh> and she's like, it's okay. And PS you're not like the worst.
Elissa Bassist (44:43): Yeah, you're not like, I just have to remind myself that asking your doctor to do their job is not annoying
Rachel Murray (44:50): And it's hard cuz you feel like you're being an inconvenience, you know? And
Elissa Bassist (44:54): Exactly. But that that
Rachel Murray (44:55): Way that's them. Yeah.
Elissa Bassist (44:56): Sorry. That's them. We're we're saying the same thing at the same time,
Rachel Murray (45:00): Bro. Goes unite. <Laugh>. <laugh>. I wanna be conscious of time. We have some fun questions but before we get to them, I wanna ask what's in store for future you? Future Elissa?
Elissa Bassist (45:12): A nap.
Rachel Murray (45:13): I love that for you.
Elissa Bassist (45:15): <Laugh>. I'm also working. So I'm a teacher. I teach humor writing and I love it so much and I'm working on a comedy writing craft book. Ooh. So that everyone can write funny stuff.
Rachel Murray (45:32): That's awesome. To be published in 12 years or do you think?
Elissa Bassist (45:36): I think before then. Cool. I think I'm getting better and faster.
Rachel Murray (45:41): <Laugh> 10 years we're gonna make it happen. I'm excited for
Felicia Jadczak (45:45): You. Work on your own timeline. Okay. This
Rachel Murray (45:47): Great. There's this
Felicia Jadczak (45:48): Time. There's no problem. It's all good.
Rachel Murray (45:51): We live in the Matrix. It's fine. There's no time.
Felicia Jadczak (45:53): <Laugh>. What, what is time? Time is just a social construct
Rachel Murray (45:56): Anyway. That's right. That's right. So
Elissa Bassist (45:57): Jenny O'Dell, who wrote How To Do Nothing has a new book coming out about saving time that I think from what I've read based on reviews is good and all about how what is time? It's,
Felicia Jadczak (46:09): It is literally one of of the favorite things that we have to talk about at s g we always say what is time? Always it's a social construct.
Rachel Murray (46:15): <Laugh>, let's get through
Felicia Jadczak (46:17): These. We're heading into daylight savings time and I'm upset about it And I was ranting about the fact that time is a social construct just this morning because I don't want to spring ahead anymore. <Laugh>.
Rachel Murray (46:26): You don't wanna spring ahead. That's so unusual. I thought, well
Felicia Jadczak (46:28): I mean I want it for the daylight but I don't want it because I'm gonna, you know, quote unquote lose an hour of sleep. I
Rachel Murray (46:34): Like my sleep. Just go to bed earlier. I can't.
Elissa Bassist (46:38): Oh, oh if only
Rachel Murray (46:40): <Laugh>, I bed at nine. I'm like
Elissa Bassist (46:42): Every day of my life. I have tried to go to bed earlier, it has never once happened.
Rachel Murray (46:47): Have you tried medication? Come on, have
Elissa Bassist (46:53): Every medication.
Rachel Murray (46:54): Gosh, I dunno. Works like a champ for me. Well let's get to it cause I know we don't have that much time. So Felicia do you wanna kick us off?
Felicia Jadczak (47:01): Sure. We have a couple what we like to call fun questions. Not that the others weren't fun, but first in the spirit of our name we always like to ask what you are currently geeking out about. And this doesn't have to be anything related to your work, your book, but just something that you're like super jazzed about
Rachel Murray (47:17): Or the patriarchy or feminism
Felicia Jadczak (47:19): Number three, I don't know, but what's rocking your world right now?
Elissa Bassist (47:22): <Laugh>, I dunno if you guys have heard of this television show, it has 69 seasons. It's called Survivor <laugh>. I just got into it. <Laugh>. I am obsessed. I now speak only in survivors speak. My dog no longer gets treats, he gets rewards
Rachel Murray (47:39): <Laugh>.
Elissa Bassist (47:40): I started with one season I wanted to watch Mike White season of Survivor who created Enlightened and the white light notice. And I was just like, I just didn't wanna watch one episode of Survivor. I'm now like three seasons deep. I'm gonna watch all 69 seasons. I love it. And my niece new idea,
Rachel Murray (47:59): There was
Elissa Bassist (48:00): A
Rachel Murray (48:00): Survivor. Really? What?
Elissa Bassist (48:02): There are actually 44. Wait what she is dating? There are 44 seasons. Truly it started when I was in high school. I remember I watched the first season at the dinner table with my parents because we share the dinner table with the television and I can't believe it's still around and it is so good. And my niece dated someone who was on season 43. He was the first person voted off the island.
Rachel Murray (48:27): <Laugh>, you don't wanna be that. That's like me. The last person
Elissa Bassist (48:31): Before I had become such a survivor head, I thought that he maybe did it as a bit. And I was like, how funny to get on Survivor only to be the first person voted off. That's so funny. What a comedian. But he really wanted to be there and now I understand why and I think it is a great shame for him.
Rachel Murray (48:48): But you know what though? Oh you say what a dubious honor. I mean but that is actually genius because then you don't have to do all those horrible things but you still get the trip.
Elissa Bassist (48:57): Yes. So I was like, I would no doubt be the first person voted off Survivor. I don't even think I would make it to the beach. I would have like an emotional tantrum. I would be hungry within five minutes, a hundred percent. I would be the worst possible survivor. So I thought it was funny and a good idea and a great strategy and no he does not see it like that at
Rachel Murray (49:17): All. I literally wanna have another episode just talking about Survivor. We do not have the time for it because I also have a lot of feelings about this show. Also, you blew my mind that my wife was on it now I'm like, I'm definitely gonna watch that season cuz I stopped watch
Elissa Bassist (49:31): Season 37.
Rachel Murray (49:32): Oh my God. So I stopped watching it like season nine. So <laugh>. No,
Elissa Bassist (49:37): You gotta go back.
Rachel Murray (49:39): Well I think we're starting a new podcast. Okay. To
Elissa Bassist (49:42): Quote loss. We gotta go back
Rachel Murray (49:44): <Laugh>, we gotta back lost references in here. Oh my God's so good. Okay. Who or what inspires you?
Elissa Bassist (49:54): Lydia Tar from the film Tar who wrote the book called Tar on Tar <laugh> <laugh>. I love tar so much. I don't wanna spoil the end for those who haven't seen it. But I love that she would make garbage into art because if she didn't she would die. And that art was survival. And I think I also got the wrong message from that movie, which was I should be more of a predator in order to get more muses in order to make more and better art. I realized after seeing movie that I'm way more sexist than I thought because I was completely on her side and I was like, yes, <laugh>, do anything for art, have a singular purpose of art.
Rachel Murray (50:39): I mean it makes sense. I mean Kate Blanchette basically whatever she does, I want to be on her side so it doesn't really matter. <Laugh>, I'm with you.
Felicia Jadczak (50:48): I have not seen it yet, but I'm excited now. Especially with this what you just shared. I'm like, I'm very intrigued to watch more.
Elissa Bassist (50:55): It's available on Peacock. I just rewatched. Oh,
Felicia Jadczak (50:58): I had Peacock. Okay, great. Perfect. What is your favorite way to practice self-care?
Elissa Bassist (51:04): Napping.
Felicia Jadczak (51:05): Great Rapid fire Rachel. Go for it. <Laugh>.
Rachel Murray (51:08): <Laugh>.
Elissa Bassist (51:09): I'll also say dogs. I adopted a dog and it has been an antidepressant. It has been the secret to happiness. My life's purpose is this animal. I love him so much. He is the love of my life. He is my child, my husband, my father, my cousin, my everything <laugh>. Yeah, my Rabbi
Rachel Murray (51:34): <Laugh>, I'm sure he is totally knows all of this in he super.
Elissa Bassist (51:37): He definitely does. He knows I made him scrambled eggs for his second breakfast.
Felicia Jadczak (51:41): Oh my. My
Rachel Murray (51:42): God. My God. That's cute. Lovely. Well
Felicia Jadczak (51:44): We are both pet parents so we get it.
Rachel Murray (51:46): Yeah, we definitely get it. What are you reading right now? Or what's your favorite book other than obviously You Can't,
Elissa Bassist (51:51): Favorite book is Impossible because have you seen, I
Rachel Murray (51:53): Know
Elissa Bassist (51:54): You're My Wall of
Felicia Jadczak (51:55): Yeah. And for listeners, she's sitting in front of a giant book, wall of Books. I thought you were gonna say obviously hysterical. But I know
Elissa Bassist (52:02): <Laugh>, I'm obviously the own books that I wrote all by myself. I really am loving this vagina of Pur by Rachel E. Gross, which is the history and story of the vulva that we never knew we needed. Oh my gosh. And I'm reading a book called Permission to Speak by Tamara Bay. This is funny because we're friends and I don't know how to pronounce her name because we're internet friends and she's a voice coach. And we also talked before this episode about name pronunciation, how important and how difficult it's, but her book, permission to Speak is like my sister book where she gives really actionable tools on owning your voice and what is your own voice stripped of what you've been told it should be. And I cannot recommend either book enough. Oh, I also really love, sorry, under The Skin by Linda LaRosa, which is all about like the black experience of the medical industry. Because like we don't just have like one medical institution, we have many that treats people so differently based on skin color. And if her book were not published in the year that my book was published, I would've quoted it on every page of my book. So good.
Rachel Murray (53:21): These are great. Congratulations. Thank you. I'm so excited.
Felicia Jadczak (53:24): Well unfortunately, even though time is a social construct, we have come to the end of our time. But thank you so much Alyssa. This has been so fun. Where can people find you if they wanna learn more? They wanna learn from you, they wanna connect. Anything else you wanna plug, tell us all the ways people please can get in touch with you.
Elissa Bassist (53:41): Thank you for asking me that. Go to my website, which is elizabeth assist.com where there's information on how to buy hysterical, how to give it five stars on good reads. I also have information on classes if you wanna learn how to write funnier. I'm on social media, but I try not to be for emotional reasons. But my handle is always Elizabeth assist on absolutely everything, including OkCupid. You can come to my house. I live in Brooklyn. <Laugh>.
Felicia Jadczak (54:11): No, no, no, no, we do not.
Rachel Murray (54:12): Don't need soccer. We don't need that. We don't need that.
Felicia Jadczak (54:14): But if you're looking for dates, she's funny and cute and wrote a book and has a great dog apparently. So <laugh>. Yeah,
Elissa Bassist (54:21): It's true.
Rachel Murray (54:23): Thank you so much, Alyssa. Appreciate your time.
Elissa Bassist (54:25): Thank you guys so much. It's been such a pleasure to talk to you.
Felicia Jadczak (54:29): Likewise. Well, hope you enjoyed that really fun interview with Alyssa Bassist. We had a great time. We hope you did too.
Rachel Murray (54:39): Same. And if you did, enjoy it. Please go to Apples little iPod, iPod area. Listen to me like an old person. <Laugh>,
Felicia Jadczak (54:50): Get on the internet.
Rachel Murray (54:51): So get on the in. It's a series of tubes. Don't panic, it's gonna be fine. Get over to the podcast reviews, review us, rate us if you liked it. If you did not enjoy it. Feel free to disregard what I said.
Felicia Jadczak (55:05): If you didn't enjoy it, still give us a five star review. Five star means we were terrible
Rachel Murray (55:10): <Laugh>. We
Felicia Jadczak (55:11): Need to give five star reviews. That means we're amazing. Subscribe. We will be putting more episodes out. Keep an eye up for those. They will be dropping every other week. And yeah, we'll see you on the interwebs.