This story begins, as so many do these days, on Twitter.
Last May, Nicole Tersigni, a Detroit-based writer, logged onto the social media platform at the end of a long day. She was tired and frazzled from looking after her 8-year-old daughter, who was home sick at the time.
âSo I go online just to kind of scroll through Twitter and zone out for a little bit,â she said, âand I see a dude explaining to a woman her own joke back to her â" something that has happened to me many times.â
In the past, Tersigni had let those kinds of irritating conversations go, but this one sparked something in her. She Googled âwoman surrounded by menâ (âbecause that is what that moment feels like when youâre online,â she said) and stumbled upon a 17th-century oil painting by Jobst Harrich of a woman baring one breast in the middle of a scrum of bald men.
She combined that image with the caption: âMaybe if I take my tit out they will stop explaining my own joke back to me.â
In another post, Tersigni placed an 18th-century painting titled âConversation in a Parkâ by Thomas Gainsborough next to the caption, âyou would be so much prettier if you smiled,â turning what seems like a vignette of a man flirting with a woman into a laugh-out-loud scene.
She kept tweeting, and her posts went viral, garnering tens of thousands of likes and retweets, including by the actors Busy Philipps (âTHIS THREAD IS GENIUS,â she proclaimed) and Alyssa Milano (âMight be my all time favorite thread everâ) â" a platform-specific indication that Tersigni had playfully captured everyday instances of misogyny that many women found uncomfortably familiar.
âIt just snowballed from there because it was just so easy to consume and relate to and laugh about,â Tersigni said. (Several men chimed in to explain her joke to her or point out that not all men do these things.)
Within days, an agent got in touch, suggesting she turn her tweets into a book. Two weeks later, they were meeting with editors, Tersigni said, and struck a deal with Chronicle Books.
âI remember I got it, looked at it and just cracked up,â said Rebecca Hunt, editorial director at Chronicle Books, who works on pop culture and humor books.
âWhen it was time for me to share it with our editorial team, I printed out a lot of the pages and spread them on the table. We all didnât even need to say anything, we were all just reading and laughing,â she said. âThatâs how you know right away that something will resonate.â
Just over a year after that first tweet, Tersigniâs vision will leap from social media to print with âMen to Avoid in Art and Life,â to be released on Tuesday.
Each chap ter of the coffee table book, which brings together works of art and razor-sharp captions, explores the different âtypesâ of men that Tersigni and many women encounter on a regular basis. She describes five of them, with some examples from pop culture, here.The Mansplainer
âThe mansplainer explains things in a condescending way,â Tersigni said. âTheir thoughts are always unsolicited. Nobody is asking for them. One of my favorite jokes that I used in the thread and also in the book for the mansplainer is, âLet me explain your lived experience.ââ
Concern trolls approach women with a sense of worry about something they are saying or doing, but it isnât sincere, Tersigni said. âThey use their faux worry to undermine or criticize you.â
Think Gaston from âBeauty and the Beast,â who feigns concern for Belleâs well bei ng when he sees her with a book (âItâs not right for a woman to read. Soon she starts getting ideas â" and thinking!â).
In the real world, Tersigni said, âTheyâll say things like, âI agree with your point, but you shouldnât use that tone or youâll alienate your audience.ââThe Comedian
The Comedian is not just someone who tells jokes. He is the unfunny person who is convinced of his funniness, âbut if you donât laugh at his jokes, which are really tired, sexist, racist jokes, itâs because you just donât understand comedy or you need to get a sense of humor,â Tersigni said.
âTodd Packer, from âThe Office,â is a great example of this guy,â she added. âHe tells the worst jokes and gets so mad when people donât like him that he gives them laxative cupcakes.â
This is what you call the heterosexual man who believes he has all the answers when it comes to women and sex. âThe sexpert thinks he knows your body better than you do,â Tersigni said. âThey think they know whatâs going on with you internally.â
âHarry, from âWhen Harry Met Sally,â is a total sexpert,â she added, something that Meg Ryanâs character, Sally, finds so annoying that it leads to her memorable performance at Katzâs Deli in New York City.The Patronizer
A close relative of the Concern Troll, Patronizers minimize women by harping on their (imagined) feelings. âThe patronizer uses your emotions as weapons against you and makes you feel small, so that he can feel big,â Tersigni said. âThat guy will say things like âI canât talk to you if youâre going to be hysterical,â which is like nails-on-the-chalkboard annoying.â