Growing up in post-feminist Australia, Nelly Thomas, one of Australia's most gifted and natural comedians, was told she could 'have it all'. She's giving it a crack - but she still isn't quite sure what 'it' is.
What do women want?
In pursuit of answers, Thomas has tried being a telemarketer, a professional student, a fast-food worker, a broadcaster, a smoker, a prostitute's confidant, a health advocate, a reality television obsessive, a mother, a partner (or is it girlfriend? lover?), an award-winning comedian, a sex-educator, a Loony Lefty Feminista and a self-confessed fatty boombah. Like many of her generation, she's had a lot of options, yet she's wondering - which do you choose?
In this hilarious part-memoir, part-manifesto, Thomas navigates the murky waters of her life and womanhood in the twenty-first century. She tackles the big contemporary issues - career, equality, family, porn, sex, entertainment, obesity, parenting, culture, class, Beyonce's derriere - with customary insight and a wickedly dry wit.
A must-read for the modern Aussie woman.
Nelly Thomas comedian, author and health ambassador - has been described as one of Australia's most natural and intelligent comedians. As well as being an award winning performer, she was listed as one of Australia's 'most innovative thinkers' in The Age newspaper's The Zone in 2011. Nelly sprung into comedy suddenly, winning the Triple J National Raw Comedy Competition in 2003. Since then she has toured nationally and internationally. Nelly recently released her latest comedy DVD The Talk (a sexual health and ethics DVD for teens and their carers) to popular and critical acclaim. What Women Want is Nelly's first book.
What Women Want
Random House Australia
Author: Nelly Thomas
Question: What inspired you to write What Women Want?
Nelly Thomas: I wanted to try and answer the question! Women alive today have lived through - and in some cases, grown up in - one of the greatest periods of change in history. Many of our mothers and grandmothers could not even get a bank loan or work without their husband's permission, now we can be Prime Minister. However, change doesn't come easy and some of us are left wondering what it's all about and what we want from all these new choices. This book is about that. Oh, and to give you a laugh.
Question: Why did you decide to write the book as a part-memoir/part-manifesto?
Nelly Thomas: I didn't really. That's how the marketing people describe it - and it's pretty accurate it turns out - but it wasn't a conscious choice. That's just how I write and think. I suppose most comedians do this - we combine personal stories with opinions so we don't bore you to death and so the ideas are more accessible and more real. There's enough people out there offering opinions and advice, I just wanted to say "hey, I've been through this and as a result I think these things". Seems slightly less pompous that way.
Question: How does Beyonce's derriere feature in the book?
Nelly Thomas: Massively. (Pardon the pun). It doesn't really feature a whole lot other than as a symbol of the current debates about the se*ualisation of young women and raunch culture. My take on this is that it's overstated - young women are smarter than we think and are able to see BS when it's front of them - but it's still a worry. Beyonce tells us that "girls run the world", but if her film clips are anything to go by, apparently we have to do so in our undies. We need to ask ourselves if some girls and women are confusing powerful things (like being in charge of of your se*uality) with power itself. Rooting the footy captain or boss isn't the same thing as being the footy captain or boss. I want us to be the boss sometimes too.
Question: What do you hope women take away from this book?
Nelly Thomas: I hope they laugh, they're moved by the honestly (some of the stories are quite painful) and see themselves. If they snort with a belly laugh and then nod with recognition, I've done my job. I hope they feel some relief and are inspired to be too bloody big for their boots. Small boots are overrated.
Question: Okay a hard question, what do women want?
Nelly Thomas: Today, a foot massage and a hot bath. Tomorrow, who knows?
But seriously, I think we want all the things humans want: safety, security, fairness, equality, love and a really big TV. Forty years after the rise of the modern women's liberation movement in Australia and elsewhere, we have a bit of equality at work (although there's still issues with unequal pay and say on), not much equality at home (we still do most of the bloody housework) and we're being told to get plastic surgery on our VJJ. In other words, we still have some work to do.
Interview by Brooke Hunter