Tassler Aims to Empower Young Women’s ‘Feminist Health’

CBS exec's forthcoming book about mothers and daughters features stories from Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Laura Bush, Pat Benatar
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CBS Entertainment chairman Nina Tassler says she wants to help mothers talk to their daughters.

“We take for granted that kids and daughters are just going to grow up to be independent, self-empowered feminists,” Tassler told B&C.

The CBS exec is among the keynote speakers at B&C’s Women of the West, which is set for June 17 in Santa Monica, Calif., where she will talk about her idea to help the next generation along.

The concept, she says, was born out of an experience at her teenage daughter’s volleyball match a couple years ago.

“My daughter’s team was playing terribly, and the poor kid was heartsick,” Tassler says of the annual five-day tournament in Phoenix. “She was playing really hard.”

At the end of the tournament there was a game during which Tassler’s daughter played great—but the team lost and Tassler says she struggled with the best way to talk to her daughter about the game.

She went with: “'You played consistently and your team could really count on you and whenever someone turned to you or needed you, in the moment you were there,'” Tassler says. “And I saw her face light up. I realized those were the words that she needed at that particular moment.”

Around the same time, Tassler read an article that suggested key influencers in shaping children’s outlooks and views of their lives came from personal stories about their own families, not just in terms of the success they had but their failure, too, she says. It dawned on her how powerful it would be to able to learn from other mothers and look to them to give “practical, hands-on, life-experience advice that was very focused on strengthening their daughters’ character as young women.”

This realization led to Tassler’s forthcoming book, What I Told My Daughter, Lessons from Leaders on Raising the Next Generation of Empowered Women.

The collection of essays, anecdotes and letters from mothers of daughters, written with Variety’s Cynthia Littleton, is due out next year from Atria Books, part of CBS’ Simon & Schuster.

Tassler says she and Littleton asked the contributors — which include Nancy Pelosi, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Madeleine Albright, presidents of universities and others ranging from Pat Benatar to Laura Bush — to share “personal, raw anecdotes that depict key moments in your daughter’s life where you as a mother impacted your daughter’s self esteem, outlook on life, feminism.”

“We spend so much time worrying about our children’s health--their physical health, their mental health, but what about, I say, (what you could call) their feminist health?” Tassler says. “We put a lot of care and attention into the stuff we put in their backpack when they go off to school. You know, tissues, hand sanitizer, pencils, books. But what are we doing for their emotional and psychological well being to help their futures?”

With her responsibilities to CBS and family, Tassler has done much of the work on the project late at night, early in the mornings and on weekends. She offers huge credit to her partner Littleton, as well as her former assistant and other members of her network and the business community who have helped gather the contributions.

Tassler will talk more about the book during her keynote Q&A session at B&C’s Keynotes & Cocktails: Women of the West conference June 17 2:30-7 p.m. at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel. Registration and info is available at www.bcwomenofthewest.com.

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