Meet a Nasty Woman: 5 Questions with Lesley Jane Seymour

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If you don't already know her, meet Lesley Jane Seymour. Lesley is a Nasty Woman and former editor in chief of many magazines you know and love, from YM to More to Marie Claire to Redbook. She just launched her new project, the Covey Club, for women who want to live their most authentic lives. It’s an online/offline platform for women to learn, exchange, connect, grow, and laugh through the second phase of their adult lives. Read our interview with Lesley and find out how to join the Covey Club. Trust us, you'll want to.

What makes you a Nasty Woman?

I was able to embrace my nasty womanhood once Hillary Clinton lost the election. I really saw and felt the sexism and misogyny and it made my heart break for my 22-year-old daughter who still has to continue this fight. I thought that fight was over. It is not. I think women have been too nice and it’s time to embrace tougher tactics. When HRC was called “nasty” by a man I consider to be so completely unqualified for the office he has, I was appalled. I didn’t think she was a perfect candidate by any means. But she was the smartest person in the class—and she was overlooked by many because they were afraid of a woman leading. 

Share an experience that shaped your views or helped get you involved in activism.

I’ve been a life-long activist for women—telling their stories, fighting for their rights and visibility—since I was 10, back in the 60s and saw what happened to my mother when she divorced my father. She fell a whole economic level and had to struggle to get by financially. She had put my father through med school but didn’t have enough money to support herself. It is still outrageous to me that women earn 79 cents for every man’s dollar, and that gets worse for women of color. The research shows that women are expected to outlive their male partners, are more likely to shoulder the financial burden of helping elderly parents as well as older children. We need that equal pay just to make it to the finish line with our dignity intact. Plus I’ve been the subject myself of many subtle but discriminatory situations in corporations where men who know way less than me are given bigger jobs and paychecks. It’s everywhere and it’s real. We need to fix this.

What advice do you have for people who want to help enact change and push progress but don’t know how to get involved?

I think men need to think about the facts about women having to support themselves for longer and with more financial responsibilities and rethink how they behave when promoting, sponsoring, hiring them. Women can’t just talk among themselves; we need to show men how it’s in their own interest to make women financially stable. If women are forever behind but have longer lifespans, what are they supposed to do—go on public assistance? How do men react to that? 20% more in savings will keep many of us afloat.

Younger women need to be aware that the first salary they negotiate has the power to hold them back from hundreds of thousands of earnings in the future. They must NEGOTIATE that first salary. No company comes to the table with only one offer. There’s always something in their back pocket. We have to stop being grateful for just having a job. 

If you could look into the future, 10 years from now, and see that real progress has been made, what does that look like to you?

We need to get a woman to be president. That will change everything. Think Queen Elizabeth, or Mary or Catherine the Great. The US is still terrified. There is no need to be. Seeing is believing and it will trickle down. 

Share with us a favorite wine memory, moment or pairing. 

I spent many years in Italy for work and had to find a wine I could afford and yet loved. I love all the Dolcetto D’Albas. I like the richness and the smoothness and that not everyone knows about them.

Join the Covey Club...

Get on over to the Covey Club website and get yourself signed up. You can also follow the club on Facebook. There is a digital magazine called “The Covey”, online seminars where Lesley brings experts to discuss important topics—like how to age gracefully-- and a private list for connecting, mentoring and making new friends. Lesley also has a great podcast for reinventors called The Covey Cast on podbean.com and iTunes in which women who’ve reinvented themselves share all their secrets to success.

Emily Davis