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Wise Ladies

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The book proposal Lena Dunham shopped last week accelerated a transformation already under way: The precocious Girls auteur has joined the coterie of women who’ve transcended a single career and become multiplatform dispensers of wisdom. Here, an insight sampler.


“You don’t know if someone’s equipped for a romantic relationship until they’re out of their twenties.”
Lena Dunham (age 25), GQ interview, April 2012

“Having a baby is like getting a tattoo on your face. You really need to be certain it’s what you want before you commit.”
Elizabeth Gilbert (age 32), quoting her sister in Eat, Pray, Love, 2006

“People are going to try to trick you. To make you feel that you are in competition with one another … Don’t be fooled. You’re not in competition with other women. You’re in competition with everyone.”
Tina Fey (age 40), Bossypants, 2011

“By the time you swear you’re his /Shivering and sighing, / And he vows his passion is / Infinite, undying / Lady make a note of this: One of you is lying”
Dorothy Parker (age 33), Enough Rope*, 1926
*Though a book of poetry, it was read by many as a sort of flapper’s guide to life.

“Sexual and sensual pleasure is often a spontaneous signal sent out by the deepest self. Women with low self-esteem may miss it by ‘listening’ more to their partner’s body than to their own.”
Gloria Steinem (age 58), Revolution From Within: A Book of Self-Esteem, 1993

“There is a big deposit of sympathy in the bank of love, but don’t draw out little sums every hour or so—so that by and by, when perhaps you need it badly, it is all drawn out and you yourself don’t know how or on what it was spent.”
Emily Post (age 50), Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics and at Home, 1922

“I believe that feminism will get you so far—and then you have to start bitching. When did feminism become confused with Buddhism?”
Caitlin Moran (age 37), How to Be a Woman, 2012

“The unhappy corollary to the fact that a lot of men are just little boys is the fact that so many women put up with it … and feed right into the real problem, which is not that men are little boys but that men don’t like women very much, can’t deal with their demands, their sexuality, their equality.”
Nora Ephron (age 34), Crazy Salad: Some Things About Women, 1975

“How much saner and sweeter to marry when you have both jelled. And how much safer to marry with part of the play out of his system and yours.”
Helen Gurley Brown (age 40), Sex and the Single Girl, 1962

“Life is not some “To Do” list you have to keep checking off.”
Jamie-Lynn Sigler (age 21), Wise Girl: What I’ve Learned About Life, Love and Loss, 2002

Have good intel? Send tips to intel@nymag.com.


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