Ten years into the run of Betches Media, the company’s co-founders are reflecting on growth, both personally and as a brand.
For the latest episode of In The Know’s pop culture interview series We Should Talk, two of Betches’ three co-founders, Jordana Abraham and Sami Sage, opened up about their professional journeys, the evolution of and reception to Betches, hiccups along the way and evolving gender dynamics as they pertain to the media landscape.
“In the beginning, it was really the three of us. One of us would write it, the other two would edit it. That was all the three of us really did,” Abraham told In The Know. “Part of it was a fun outlet for us to describe the world around us and even some of the things that seemed a little messed up at the time. We were kind of like, ‘We don’t want to be haters and writing a scholarly critique of these things, but maybe if we parody them, it’ll be a funny, fun way to make some social commentary.'”
Listen to Betches co-founders Jordana Abraham and Sami Sage’s full episode of We Should Talk here, and keep reading for highlights from the interview:
On the differential treatment of men and women in media and comedy:
Jordana Abraham: “There is a sense of, men can be funny in a really inappropriate kind of messed up way that might cross a line and that’s just men being funny. If women do it — and a lot of the times it’s other women who are most offended by it — there’s a sense of, it’s okay for men to go a little bit further out there. Obviously, you see someone like Dave Chappelle who does get criticism, too, but I just feel like if a woman went up there and did that set, she would be over.”
Sami Sage: “I also think you see it in the profiles of different founders. What it takes to get a profile on a male founder that is really unflattering, the difference in behaviors is really stark to let’s say, the story of Away, the luggage company. The upshot of that was that it seemed like they were just kind of bitchy and overworked them and [were] exploitative, but the consequences for those founders [are] so much worse relative to the consequences for sexual harassment allegations or assault allegations [against male founders].”
On their awkward Today show interview from 2013:
Jordana Abraham: “No one’s really brought up that interview for us in a while! I remember that interview and I remember feeling like they just didn’t get it. They didn’t really get what we were doing. If you don’t look deeper into what we were doing, it was just a few girls spouting mean-spirited things, making fun of people and making fun of everyone around them. Just being mean for no reason. On the Today show, that’s kind of how they were interpreting it. A few years later we did an interview with Dan Rather, and he did a little write-up on what we were doing at the time, and he was someone who really understood what we were doing. […] I don’t think we’ve ever really talked about that in an interview, so I’m really excited to have the opportunity to talk about it now.”
Sami Sage: “Something that we did always talk about early on between the three of us was that we always felt there were two cross-sections of the audience: There was one that was reading it for the joke and to see the ridiculousness in it, and there was a section of the audience that really idolized it in a way that it was like, ‘I should be like this.’ I always wondered at the time, ‘Is this a net good or a net bad?’ I remember the Today show and being personally disappointed, because I internalized that as a failure on our part that they didn’t receive it. I didn’t understand how to contextualize their lack of understanding with the interview experience that we had. It’s not for everyone. If you don’t really know the references, you’re not going to get that it’s a joke. There’s a generational gap, too.”
On comparing themselves to other Millennial female co-founders:
Sami Sage: “I read that and I 100% learn from that. It’s so funny because there are these men that are like, ‘I will not be cancelled no matter what I do, and I will continue to push the line of my behavior or even make it worse.’ Whereas I read something like that, and I have the complete opposite reaction. I’m taking stock of things I’ve said that could’ve been interpreted with more harm than I intended and reflecting on my behavior and trying to be more considerate going forward. We’ve always just wanted to do our best and that has been our outlook. Although we are contemporaries of, let’s say, Away or The Wing, I never really felt that we would be categorized with companies like that. Part of it is that we’ve never taken investors — we’ve funded this through its own profit and revenue — and we always kept our heads down and focused on our own business, rather than chasing that girl power image. We never tried to girl boss too close to the sun, as the meme says.”
Watch In The Know’s full interview with Betches co-founders Jordana Abraham and Sami Sage below:
If you enjoyed this interview, check out In The Know’s recent interview with Amy Phillips here!
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