Moose­wood and Marl­boros

Sunday Star-Times - Sunday Magazine - - NEWS -

When I was young, green, liv­ing in Welling­ton and hang­ing out with peo­ple do­ing Women’s Stud­ies pa­pers, I re­marked to an older rel­a­tive that women were more col­lab­o­ra­tive than men.

I can’t re­ally think of any form of fe­male col­lab­o­ra­tion I would have ex­pe­ri­enced by then. Maybe join­ing with flat­mates to pool loose change for a pack of Marl­boro Lights? But still I held tight to the no­tion that, while men flexed muscle, com­peted for top dog and some­times shot each other, women came to­gether with goat’s milk, balls of yarn and The Moose­wood Cook­book and cre­ated par­adise.

My el­der rel­a­tive, who was ac­tu­ally only about 39, lis­tened to my the­ory, took a long swig of her chardon­nay and replied: “That’s right. Women have each other’s backs. Un­til a man en­ters the pic­ture.”

I was em­bar­rassed for her. What a hack­neyed, un­cool view of the sis­ter­hood!

But since then I have wit­nessed some deeply un­col­lab­o­ra­tive be­hav­iour by women. And not just over men. Over work. Over friend­ships. Over chil­dren (par­ent­ing now be­ing an of­fi­cially com­pet­i­tive sport).

Women can be won­der­ful and they can be vile. And I say that with Kate Shep­pard as my wit­ness. I whole­heart­edly sup­port gen­der equal­ity in all mat­ters – in­clud­ing the right to be a jerk. Deify­ing women im­plies that we have to be twice as great as men to ex­ist on the planet. It’s also just re­ally in­ac­cu­rate.

Our cover story to­day is one of an awe­some col­lab­o­ra­tion. Madeleine Sami and Jackie van Beek co-wrote, co-directed and co-starred in the big movie of right now, The Breaker Upp­per­ers. Each of those three jobs, in dif­fer­ent ways, could be hard to share. But these two did it and not only are they still talk­ing, they’re still laugh­ing at each other’s jokes.

Did they man­age it be­cause they’re fe­male? Or was it just pro­fes­sion­al­ism, luck and a strong friend­ship... See page 8.

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