Podcast Review: Stuff Mom Never Told You
Feminism is a cause that I support passionately, but unfortunately, it's a word that's developed a bad reputation. This is perhaps best demonstrated by the inclusion of the word 'feminist' in TIME's recent poll of words that should be banned in 2015. TIME eventually issued an apology, but the fact remains that prior to it's removal from the poll, it had more votes than any other word. A large part of that is probably the work of trolls all over the Internet, but I think part of it also reflects the fact that many people have come to associate it with a fictional stereotype of an angry, man-hating woman who is completely other and foreign. This is not the reality. Feminism is important to everyone, men and women alike, and I think that the largest barrier that prevents people from seeing this is a lack of understanding of who feminists are and what they care about. Stuff Mom Never Told You is a podcast designed to answer this very issue.
They are self-described as a podcast which examines women's issues from every possible angle. In my experience though, they look at issues that impact men and women differently and examine why and how these differences occur. Though they do tend to focus on women, there are often poignant observations about the effects of an issue on men as well. For instance, in The Vegetarian Gender, they discuss why it is that a majority of vegetarians are female, but they also confront the cultural stereotype that eating meat is manly whereas eating vegetables is not. They also make a concerted effort to look at issues of race, class and age, and not just the concerns of young, upper class, white women.
A podcast dealing with gender issues could easily feel dry and didactic, but Stuff Mom Never Told You is neither of these things. Perenially cheerful and welcoming, Caroline and Cristen always approach their chosen topics with tact and good humor. They refrain from wide-sweeping accusations or condemnations, even when discussing charged topics. They also back up their discussions with research, which is linked on their website so that everyone can access it. Each episode is a friendly and factual examination of a topical gender issue and they welcome everyone to listen and participate in the discussion. In short, they make a tricky task look easy and they do it well. I have great respect for both of them personally, and for the work that they do with the podcast.
To better illustrate what they're all about, I'm going to list a number of my favorite episodes and include brief descriptions. This should offer a better description of exactly what they do.
The Notorious RBG - Hands down, my favorite episode. Chronicles the life and accomplishments, as well as the popularity, of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Cosplaying with Gender - Examines cosplay as a whole, as well as looking at how gender comes into play when choosing a character to cosplay as. Looks at the lengths people will go to for the sake of authenticity as well as the politics of gender-bending characters.
How Should Lady Lawyers Dress? - I like this episode because it highlights an issue that I would have probably never known about otherwise. I might have dismissed complaints on the subject as isolated to one particular area or a handful of bosses and judges. This episode taught me otherwise. There have also been a number of interesting letters from women in other fields who have experienced the same problems.
Uterine Fibroids 101 - 75% of women will develop uterine fibroids at some point in their life and yet, very few people know anything about them. I had never even heard of them prior to this. It was highly educational. They will occasionally do medical podcasts like this one, and I always enjoy them.
Is Modest Hottest? - Examines the recent trend of proclaiming modesty the most attractive style. Interesting discussion of why this trend towards defining what styles are acceptable or preferable is ultimately bad for both men and women.
Murder She Watched Part 1 and Part 2 - Traces the origins and rise of the female detectives. Part 2 includes a thoughtful examination of Law and Order: SVU, including positive and problematic aspects of the show.