What Gina Barreca Has to Say About Feminism, Humor, and Power, Episode 119

Now that we’re nearing the end of Women’s History Month, we have Gina Barreca, a distinguished professor and author, to share her wisdom about finding that power to not care about whether people like you or not. 

Gina was the third class of women to be admitted to Dartmouth. She was also the first girl in her family to graduate from high school in a timely fashion. Today, Gina talks about how feminism is not about the things you cannot do, but about the things you can do, how power lies in the ability to not have to please anyone, and finally, how you can leverage feminine humor to get your message across. 

I’m also sharing with you these two podcasts that are lifting up other women who are metaphorically making a good kind of trouble in their spheres of influence.

Gina’s Biography

Gina Barreca, Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Connecticut, has written ten books, including the bestselling They Used to Call Me Snow White, But I Drifted, as well as Babes in Boyland: A Personal History of Coeducation in the Ivy League, and It’s Not That I’m Bitter: How I Learned to Stop Worrying About Visible Panty Lines and Conquer the World

Gina has edited eighteen other books, including Fast Funny Women: 75 Essays of Flash Nonfiction and the new 2022 collection Fast Fierce Women. Translated into Chinese, Japanese, German, and Spanish, her scholarly and trade books have helped establish the study of women’s humor as a Thing. 

Barreca has been published by The New York Times, The Independent of London, Cosmopolitan, The Harvard Business Review. She has appeared, often as a repeat guest, on the Today show, CNN, the BBC, PBS, NPR, 20/20, and Oprah. Gina’s “Psychology Today” blog has well over 7.5 million views. 

Share this conversation with your best friends. This episode is sure to tickle their funny bone and help you have more authentic and honest conversations. You’re in for a treat today!


Creativity: Telling the truth is in the details. Gina spoke about chin hairs and she did with a lot of specifics. If you are a writer or storyteller, that could be one way to express your tale when you’re able to hone in on a detail that often isn’t spoken about.

Curiosity: Be curious about why you say or do the things you do as well as why you hold your tongue sometimes. Is that based on an old impression of what a woman should do or not? 

Courage: Feminism is about what you can do….not just want you cannot do.

Truth: Tell the truth now. It doesn’t matter how smart you are or how sophisticated you are, or how simple you think you are. 

Power: Power is the ability not to have to please. You want people to respect your work but you’re not there to please them. We’re all raised to be good girls, even those of us who have abandoned the project 30 years ago. 

Authenticity: Don’t get into the habit of faking your laugh. Let the real noises come out and life will be much easier and better for everybody.

Humor: Women’s comedy is so subversive because it’s often hidden inside like a nice voice but underneath that, you’re undermining every single system with your own intelligence.

Blueprint: Every woman over 38 wants a permission slip to tell her she’s not crazy. She’s not the only one and she’s not too much. If you feel you’re too much then you need to open up stuff around you. And if the walls are closing in, then get out and rebuild. Get a new blueprint.

Privilege: You can’t apologize for the good things that happen in your life. Make the most of what comes and the least of what goes. You can’t apologize or fate will take that back. If your good fortune seems like it’s taking away somebody else’s good fortune, that’s not a healthy relationship. 

Dream: Dreams are always an authentic reflection.

Control: Things scare you when you feel like you’re out of control.

Energy: Plug yourself into other sources. It’s not all self-generating. It comes from lots of places.

Links to continue to learn from:

Recommended Podcasts:

Neighborhood Twin Mom



The Grace Fueled Wife



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Melissa Llarena

Melissa helps movers and shakers up to those in the corner office rediscover what makes them unique so that they can land their dream job in a forward-thinking company where their ideas are listened to, valued, and supported.

She brings insights from having worked in 16-business units (including Human Resources) in NY, Paris, and London. Additionally, in her former corporate career, she worked on billion-dollar brands for P&G and on IBM for Ogilvy & Mather. Later, as the founder and CEO of Career Outcomes Matter, Melissa created a 3-step “sellable strengths” process which has been the centerpiece of her clients' results.

Melissa applies this method consistently to support mid-level professionals up to the c-suite to get into Fortune Global 500 organizations and agencies. She studied Psychology at NYU and earned her MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.

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