Not Safe For Work: Author of the viral essay 'My boyfriend, a writer, broke up with me because I am a writer'

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Not Safe For Work: Author of the viral essay 'My boyfriend, a writer, broke up with me because I am a writer'

Not Safe For Work: Author of the viral essay 'My boyfriend, a writer, broke up with me because I am a writer'

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Isabel Kaplan’s forthcoming debut novel, Not Safe For Work, follows an ambitious young woman trying to succeed in the entertainment industry without selling her soul.

We also need to stop blindly applauding powerful women in Hollywood as if their success is inherently “good for women” or an illustration of the system working in a more egalitarian way. But the truth is that I feel most comfortable and empowered on the page, expressing myself at a safe distance and after extended reflection. It is now, perversely, easier to handle and respond to a boss who grabs your ass than one who has never laid a hand on you or done anything That Bad but just continuously undervalues you and forces you to pretzel yourself into a very specific socially acceptable shape and gradually over time you find yourself full of self-loathing and despair and the most confusing part about it is you don’t think you have the right to feel this bad or complain because no single thing that happened to you was So Terrible and haven’t you heard, there are starving kids in Africa and actresses whose lives were destroyed by Harvey Weinstein?So visceral is the narrator's voice that every time I opened the book it felt like sliding into uncomfortable heels. The story is delivered by an unnamed protagonist, a young woman, recently graduated from the prestigious Harvard university. This read like The Devil Wears Prada set in Hollywood, as she starts off thinking that this is a job to tide her over, get her mother to stop bugging her and then she’ll get a real job.

I heard sexist and racist comments and fumed silently, exchanging outraged instant messages with other assistants. My plan was to work my way into the halls of power and then fling the doors open wide for those who had been excluded. Opening sentence: The thing about Los Angeles is that it’s awful and I hate it, but when I’m there, nowhere else exists, and I can’t imagine leaving.Maybe that’s the fun of it – sitting on the couch, internally/externally willing someone to spot the creep(s). If I thank him for his congratulations and leave it at that, am I demonstrating complicity, failing to practice what I preach? I told myself that someday, when I had enough power that people cared what I had to say, I would make a stand for what was right. How can I separate my desire to raise awareness and increase discussion about complicity in Hollywood from my desire to be one of the voices in the conversation?

It’s an ugly truth, and one that’s difficult to discuss in the nuanced way it deserves, but women are often better foot soldiers of the patriarchy than men. I ran open-armed into a burning building hoping if I moved quickly enough, I’d be spared the flames. I hadn’t spoken to him in years; he knew me when I was an assistant, and he was a very important executive.Quickly becoming embroiled in the day to day discussions, power struggles and gossip in her office, she meets a pretty astonishing array of dreadful people, classic LA/Hollywood characters. It was woven through the main plotline and definitely added depth to the origins of her insecurities and vulnerability. The writing is fresh and stylish and the conversational tone helps the thought-provoking narrative zip along. Please get in touch and we will do our best to source your book, no matter how unusual or specialist.

He ended up leaving that production company shortly thereafter, so I didn’t feel compelled to engage in further communication. Sometimes it’s easy to preach about what you would do in a theoretical situation, until you are facing it head on.

Not Safe for Work is definitely one of the harder-hitting books I’ve read in recent times, but that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it. I’m not sure if asking them out loud is useful, but it’s a start, and it feels more productive than silence. When whispers start to circle that your office might have ‘a bit of a rape problem,’ and your close friend confesses her own unsettling encounter, you know there is plenty to gain from staying silent, and all too much to lose through speaking out. I also knew he had passed on projects I advocated for because of their “narrow” focus on mostly women.



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