September 7, 2016

KYLIE’S ROOM | Podcasting: No Country for Old Men

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An old man drives angrily back home from the supermarket, shouting in disagreement with what seems like no one. He’s shouting a podcast playing over the in-car stereo system. In the past, I’ve always imagined the average podcast listener as an angry old man, listening to [what seems to me] some dry topic, like economics. That assumption was wrong. Podcasts are for everyone — not just angry old men in their cars — but literally anyone. They are accessible from virtually any smartphone with access to the Internet and through apps such as iTunes and Soundcloud. Additionally, podcasters cover a wide range of topics: sports, politics, sex and sexuality, comedy and combinations of many, many more.  Most of my time not spent on studying for prelims, trying to be social, or sleeping is spent listening to them. They are transportive, educational, entertaining and creative. Mostly importantly, they are a channel for changing cultural norms, especially within my own  generation. Three women I believe are changing the game of podcasting, in addition to social norms are Aminatou Sow, Ann Friedman and [producer] Gina Delvac- the creators of the podcast Call Your Girlfriend.

Every other week, listeners everywhere crowd together like flies on the wall as Sow, a digital strategist and Friedman, a freelance journalists, call each other to discuss a wide variety of topics. Discussions range from reasons to love [and hate] Kanye, the upcoming election between Hillary Clinton and [as they refer to Donald Trump] “Ivanka’s Dad”, and interviews with public figures such as Huma Abedin – the vice chairwoman of the Hillary Clinton Campaign. Between each podcast, segments titled “Phone a Friend” are released, during which Sow and Friedman speak with public figures like Tavi Gevinson, the Editor-in-Chief of Rookie Magazine and Shani Hilton of Buzzfeed News, or their own personal friends. Personal favorites are the episode that discusses Sow’s extensive history of the feud between the Kardashian Klan and Blac Chyna, the episode “Period Piece” dedicated to menstruation and their breakdown of emoji etiquette in our increasingly diverse world.  In addition to their focus on pop culture and politics, they also pointedly address topics considered “taboo” by society.  In almost every episode, there’s a segment focused on “period talk” where Sow and Friedman discuss a variety of issues surrounding women’s reproductive health from heavy flow and the various forms of birth control contraceptives to discussions of women’s reproductive care in connection with the current political climate. Additionally, they send a monthly newsletter to subscribers called “The Bleed” in which they release relevant links to topics not discussed on the podcast.

In a time where natural processes such as menstruation, relevant issues such as the mechanisms of birth control and access to reproductive health care are still [in some cases] considered taboo-  the work that women like Sow, Friedman and Delvac do is incredibly important. These women work to normalize and call attention to issues that MATTER.  Call Your Girlfriend provides a casual environment for those who take an interest in these topics or who do not know that much about them- to learn without being judged. Sow and Friedman are organic.  Best friends turned show hosts and business partners, they create an inviting and light environment.  They are neither glitzy nor authoritative; Friedman records from her closet; they make fun of each other and themselves. And in an increasingly online and media-dominated society, creating an environment where young people, especially women, can freely express themselves and talk about topics that might not even be covered extensively in school is vital. The latter point is why every other week I ‘Call [my] Girlfriend[s]” Aminatou and Ann.

Photo Courtesy of Call Your Girlfriend

Photo Courtesy of Call Your Girlfriend