Actress Ginny Hogan transforms conference room tables into “toxic femininity”


To kill her boredom while working as a data scientist at a financial technology startup in San Francisco, Ginny Hogan decided to take a stand-up comedy class.

“I really thought it was going to keep me entertained for a few months or so while I was bored at work, but I got really hooked on it,” the comedian and screenwriter told WPR’s “BETA”.

There’s an old adage in comedy that you shouldn’t quit your daily job, but that’s exactly what Hogan ended up doing. After becoming addicted to stand-up, Hogan explored other avenues for his comedy, including his lifelong passion for writing.

“I think I was more into speaking when I was a teenager. I was very much on my high school speech team and I liked the idea of ​​trying to write something that was so condensed. as possible, which strikes me as a lot of humor, “she said.

Hogan began to write independent satirical articles and buy them from publications. Turns out his instinct to quit his tech job was good. McSweeney’s published its first submission. She might not have been aware of the importance of the case at the time, but Hogan jokes that his many McSweeney rejections since have put this step into perspective.

“Without this (published) article, I probably wouldn’t have decided that satire was a good way to go,” she says.

In 2018, Hogan published “Examples of Toxic Femininity in the Workplace” in the New Yorker Daily Shouts. The play would go viral and end up on the prestigious zine’s end-of-year list.

“It was at the start of the ‘Me Too’ movement and everyone was talking about toxic masculinity, so I referred to toxic femininity in a conversation with a friend and then thought maybe I could. be trying to step it up and make it a piece of satire, ”Hogan said.

The play envisioned office scenarios freed from toxic masculinity that always hilariously end in disaster. Hogan collected much of the material from her own experiences in male-dominated tech companies with which she was familiar.

Hogan’s favorite joke in the play is actually taken from a real-life experience.

She writes:

“Jessica starts talking, and no one is speaking above her. She hadn’t actually prepared for the end of her presentation, as she expected to be interrupted. She is mortified.”

“I was on that team,” Hogan said, “where it was basically like 20 men and me and I was so used to no one listening to me even if I tried to speak in meetings that I I just stopped paying attention and there was once the CTO turned around and asked me directly what I thought about it. It was after two years with this company and I hadn’t paid any attention at all. “

Hogan has now extended this concept with his recently published comedy book, “Toxic Femininity in the Workplace”.

“I had a lot of ideas for separate pieces that could be in a book like this,” she said. “So we decided to make a humorous book of short satirical plays for women in the workplace.”

Hogan dots humorous quizzes (“Do you look alike or are you the only two women working here?”) And illustrations among his many workplace essays, including: his riff on the popular children’s book series ” If you give, “You compliment a man for his poor performance at work.”

“I think it’s really a lot of fun satirizing children’s books because they’re a pretty common reference. I feel like a lot of people will know the same book better than adult books,” Hogan said.

While “Toxic Femininity” is a work of satire, Hogan highlights some dark truths about the barriers women face. She said that while the book draws on her experiences in tech and start-up atmospheres, she believes it may be universally related to women.

I think it will appeal to women in the workplace in general because basically anything tech-specific in the workplace, I think that’s also something women in all fields would definitely relate to, ”she said.

Hogan is also a force on Twitter where she can create jokes or refine ideas for satire. She also said it helped her build the confidence to discuss any topic, no matter how personal.

“For me, a lot of the comedy is that I’m no longer embarrassed to talk about things that I was embarrassed to talk about,” she said. “I don’t feel like hiding my political views or hiding my mental health issues. There aren’t a lot of topics that I consider off-limits.”

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