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All About... Lindy West

Our handy cheat sheet for self-described “comedian and feminist killjoy” Lindy West, ahead of her talk at All About Women 2020.

Dominic Ellis

I Watched 146 Minutes of Sex and the City 2 and All I Got Was This Religious Fundamentalism

In 2005, Lindy West was an intern at “Seattle’s Only Newspaper” The Stranger. West would rise through the ranks, eventually becoming film editor and publishing a memorable review of 2010’s Sex and the City 2 titled ‘Burkas and Birkins’.

“SATC2 takes everything that I hold dear as a woman and as a human—working hard, contributing to society, not being an entitled cunt like it's my job—and rapes it to death with a stiletto that costs more than my car.”

West’s takedown was propelled into infamy by a newly-born Twitter, establishing West’s credibility as cultural cynic-in-chief and leading her to work at Jezebel, Vulture, Deadspin and the Guardian.

The cast of Sex and the City 2 in a desert backdrop

"It is 146 minutes long, which means that I entered the theater in the bloom of youth and emerged with a family of field mice living in my long, white mustache."

Ask Not For Whom The Bell Trolls; It Trolls for Thee

We asked a lot of our journalists in the 2010s; rarely was it enough to be a cunning writer and social media wrecking ball, there was an expectation that you cross the multimedia divide. Luckily, Lindy West’s talents extend well beyond the written word.

West’s segment in This American Life episode ‘If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say, SAY IT IN ALL CAPS’ is phenomenal listening. She confronts a troll who impersonated her dead father on Twitter, and who later apologised to her. It’s tear-jerking stuff, hearing about the tender wound that this troll exploited, as well as, surprisingly, the insecurity that birthed the trolling.

This story, paired with a piece by West for the Guardian, was powerful enough to inspire former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo to send a private memo to his staff admitting the company “sucks at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform, and we’ve sucked at it for years”. Who else can claim a Silicon Valley CEO among their stans?

Lindy West at All About Women 2017

Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman

"I say no to my own instinct to stay quiet."

Whether its confronting internet trolls or challenging her boss (the much-loved Dan Savage), Lindy West doesn't back down from a fight. But she wasn't always so outspoken. Halfway between a memoir and essay collection, Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman is a superhero's origin story, an emotional and funny deepdive into someone who was "good at being small early on – socially, if not physically", but who would grow up to become a leading activist on sexism, fat shaming and harassment.

So much so that Hollywood queen-maker Elizabeth Banks came a-knockin’, optioning West's debut novel for a television adaptation. What eventuated was a six episode Hulu series, starring Saturday Night Live alum Aidy Bryant, which was met with a similar enthusiasm to the book – with Paste calling it “a sharp and genuine investigation of what it means to become yourself”.

Trailer for Hulu's

The Witches are Coming

“So fine, if you insist. This is a witch hunt. We're witches, and we're hunting you.”

West's most recent book has flipped the ‘witch hunt’ adage on its head. A witch hunt is long overdue, and Lindy West is sounding the death knell for white male mediocrity. The Witches are Coming looks at key cultural moments in her lifetime, taking on everything from Goop to Adam Sandler to South Park, and urging readers to dramatically reconsider some of the delusions we've been fed by mainstream media: "the dark lies at the heart of the American mythos".

Lindy West. Image: Jenny Jimenez.

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