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Jessi Klein On Grown-Up Tomboys, Motherhood, And Backpacks

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Jessi Klein, head writer for Inside Amy Schumer, talks about the awkwardness of being a grown-up tom boy and when you’re too old to carry a backpack. Her new book is called You’ll Grow Out of It.

You’ll Grow Out of It is full of good humor, terrible advice, and incisive information. Perhaps one of the best chapters is about her theory that there are two types of women in the world: wolves and poodles.

In a conversation with Nerdette Podcast’s Tricia Bobeda, Klein explained the origin of the feminine dichotomy.

“Poodle-wolf” came out of … I briefly worked at SNL, and one night -- you know, you stay up all through the night there, several nights a week -- and it was, like, three in the morning. And me and another writer, Amy Spivey, we’re… you know, you’re not your best self at three a.m., when you’ve been writing for nine hours. We’re just kind of zombie-ing around the hall, and there was a TV on, and Charlie Rose was interviewing Angelina Jolie. Who is, you know, Angelina Jolie.  

And we were just staring, and it was Emily who was like, ‘Are we the same species as her, or not? Because it doesn’t feel like we are.’

And I was like, ‘Yeah, you know what, it’s like poodles and wolves!’ Where, like, technically, they’re both dogs. Like, they’re, what is it, the ‘genus’ or the ‘species,’ but how is it possible that they’re not the same in any way?

And so I kind of started thinking: some women are poodles and some women are wolves.

And the metaphor I’m driving at, let me just say, is not that poodles are pretty and wolves aren’t.

It’s not a beauty judgment, because they’re both beautiful.

To me, the idea of a poodle is someone whose femininity come effortlessly to them, and who is very comfortable in all the daily rites of creating the performance of femininity as we know it in our society.

I mean, to them, it is not a performance. It just kind of oozes out of them. Whereas for me to sit here, I had to have an arm wrestling match with a pair of spanks this morning, and I think everyone lost.”

Klein expanded upon the poodle/wolf dichotomy in a chapter of You’ll Grow Out of It:

Poodle Characteristics

Poodles are confident. Poodles are always late Poodles laugh a lot!!! Poodles always wear matching bras and underwear. Poodles lose their virginity in high school.

Wolf Characteristics

Wolves need to at more than poodles do (both larger amounts and more frequently). Wolves wear lip balm. Wolves can’t deal with thongs. Wolves sweat a lot. Wolves are funny. Wolves show up ten minutes early to everything and are always the first ones there and then have to fake a conversation on their cell phone so they look like they know other human beings on this earth. Wolves usually own two bras total, and neither of them matches their tattered old Gap underwear. Wolves lose their virginity during their junior year of college at the very earliest.

“My wolf upbringing is responsible for my personality, for my compassion for the rest of the pack,” Klein wrote.

“I’m a diamond in the rough. I crack jokes, my whole life is about trying, about speaking up in order to be seen, about howling with laughter or howling out how I see the world.”

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