Listening to women's voices

Thanks to a recommendation from a (best) friend when I was back in New Zealand recently, I’ve been voraciously listening to a podcast called The Guilty Feminist. It’s spearheaded by Deborah Frances-White, a stand-up comic. (She’s pictured to the right, with co-host Sophie Hagen who doesn’t co-host it anymore but does host Made of Human now.) Its basic format includes stand-up comedy, banter, and a panel of guests, all revolving around some specific feminist topic – such as hysteria, activism, or the election of Donald Trump.

The podcast is very consistently hilarious, and I think you should listen to it for that reason alone. It also does a really great job of identifying contemporary (and timeless) issues in feminism and really getting into them intensely, and I think you should listen to it for that reason alone as well. Frances-White has an especially impressive focus on inclusivity and is hyper aware of issues in that sphere, while also being extremely straight-up about making mistakes and trying to do better - it’s pretty inspirational.

All that said, the reason I felt like writing this particular bit of text about the podcast is actually more to do with the rather simple act of listening specifically to women speaking at length about important topics. By and large all the guests on the podcast are women and the audience is (as far as I can tell) overwhelmingly made up of women, so the great majority of the time you’re listening to women’s voices saying what they think about the subject at hand (whether it’s being hilarious or poignant or incisive or something else).

It’s no surprise to any of us, but it’s exceedingly rare to be able to just listen to women speaking without a man’s voice interjecting (or, too often, dominating). I find it really quite joyful to listen for that reason almost as much as anything else - it’s deeply refreshing, it feels healthy and right. Frances-White often talks about a key element of feminism being women taking opportunities to be heard, to include themselves, and this podcast is a powerful example of just how much that can mean, I think, to those who witness that. Not that I wasn’t a feminist before I started listening to this podcast, obviously (I hope), but listening to it leaves me that much more sensitised to the presence and absence of women’s voices everywhere in my life. It’s a tiny step, of course, but it seems important to be sensitised in that way - and to have media that does that work.

Too long, didn’t read? (Perhaps so much so that you didn’t even read the expanded version of the acronym or this explanation of that?) You should listen to The Guilty Feminist and women’s voices.

28 June 2017
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