Kirsten Gillibrand's Cameo In The Latest Lenny

by Elizabeth King

In this week's second installment of Lena Dunham and Jenny Konner's Lenny Letter, Jessica Grose sat down for an interview with New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand. During the interview, Gillibrand discussed a range of topics, from how to deal with rape on college campuses to making breakfast with her kids. Newly elected Speaker of the House Paul Ryan even made his way into the conversation. It was a broad reaching interview, but one theme definitely pervaded everything Gillibrand discussed: the senator is a total badass.

Leading up to the interview, Grose highlighted some moments from Gillibrand's new memoir, Off The Sidelines, where Gillibrand revealed what a badass truly is: someone who is tough and gets things done, but also has a human side (you don't need to be a robot to be totally BA). A finance director that a seven-months-pregnant Gillibrand was working for had scheduled her for seven meetings in a single day. At the end of the day, Gillibrand went up to her hotel room and sobbed, only to then received a call from her finance director who told her she needed to come down for a cocktail party. Gillibrand told him, "Go fuck yourself."

Grose did not choose the headline for the interview, "Don't Mess With Senator Gillibrand" lightly. Here are seven quotes from Gillibrand's Lenny interview that will inspire your badass within.

100 Percent Confident

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When asked about what she thought her career path would be as a teen and in college, Gillibrand gave the best answer: "I assumed I would go to law school because I liked how confident my mother was. I liked how she never doubted her ability to help people."

Taking Care Of Business


Gillibrand said that her typical day when Congress is in session starts in the following way: "I wake up at 7. And between 7 and 8, the first thing I do is make my children breakfast. And I make their lunch." I love that she makes the lunches, too. Even my mom didn't make our lunches!

The rest of her day looks like this:

Around 7:30, after I’ve done those two things, I go upstairs and get myself ready. And then at 8, I take them to school. Then I go to the office, and I usually go to the gym if I can, at about 8:30. Then I’ll work out for an hour and then I shower and go to my first meeting. I’ll typically go to a hearing after that. There are a lot of armed-services hearings, so I go to that. And then I take whatever other meetings I’m supposed to take that day. Vote whenever I have to vote. And then somewhere around 5, I leave and I go pick up the kids, and I bring them home and I make them dinner.

One day I hope to be that organized...

She Knows She's Privileged

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Perhaps the most badass of all: Gillibrand recognizes that not every parent can have the time she spends with her own family. Discussing Speaker Ryan's demands that he not spend additional time away from his family in his new role, Gillibrand said,

for low-wage workers, that’s not always possible. They don’t get to set their hours, they don’t get to say when they’re working and when they’re not working. So things like sick days really matter. Things like paid leave really matter. Equal pay for equal work really matters. Raising the minimum wage matters.

Getting Discouraged


Grose asked Gillibrand how she keeps from getting discouraged while working to pass the FAMILY Act, which would mandate paid parental leave on the federal level. Gillibrand's answer was simple, "Don't get discouraged." She also stated that her plan is to gather bipartisan support in the coming year to make sure the Act passes Congress.


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Gillibrand is working on legislation that will hold colleges accountable for sexual assault and rapes happening on their campuses and make schools safer with better training. As a part of the legislation (called the Campus Accountability and Safety Act), students will be able to fill out a survey every two years where they can openly discuss how safe their campus is. The Department of Education will then publish the findings. Holding schools accountable for sexual assaults? That's what I call badass.

The Power Of Women's Voices

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Speaking about her desire for more women to become involved in politics, Gillibrand said that women should know

That their perspective on issues and their life experience is very different. And if they’re not heard on an issue they care about, perhaps their viewpoint’s not going to be heard at all, and that no one else is going to necessarily raise their issues or advocate for them. And that they should trust their instincts. They should trust their instincts that these are important issues, that these are vital issues, that these issues will make a difference.

The F-Word

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Grose asked Gillibrand what her favorite curse word is. Gillibrand said that the expletive she uses the most is "Go fuck yourself," and that "Fuck me" is her favorite. Doesn't get more badass than the f-bomb.