Yesterday, I was running and listening to podcasts (with only one earbud in, because ofc) when one of the more sex-positive podcasts I’ve been listening to off and on for a while (rhymes with: Skies We Plucked and features two NYC-based lady hosts) read an email from a listener who called the hosts out for fat-shaming comments.
The hosts’ reaction was inexcusable. They shamed the listener for how much the listener was able to donate, commented on the fat jokes they “skipped” making while reading the email, and accused the listener of just being “overly sensitive,” among other choice things.
What’s troublesome about this is that the listener was on point with parts of this show being problematic (I almost stopped listening as soon as I subscribed because of shitty comments the hosts made and then decided to listen to a couple more recent episodes to see if they’d improved — they had, at least on that topic. To be honest though, they still said a lot of problematic shit.). They accused the listener of being a white feminist (while they themselves are White Feminists — who refuse to see intersectionality very clearly in the most recent episode).
Oh, the irony.
The hosts also say that you can’t just add shaming onto the end of something and have it be a thing, as though they’ve never in their lives heard of fat-shaming. Of course, we live in a society that consistently fat shames. We see it in the sale of airline tickets and in the portrayal of models in magazines and the size of clothing hanging on the rack and oh, I don’t know know, every women’s magazine cover in any major supermarket and on TV and in the current presidential race (thanks, Drumpf).
The hosts are denying the lived experience of the listener. Fuck. That. Shit.
I wanted to like this podcast because it is anti slut-shaming. I wanted to like this podcast because they encourage people to like their bits. I wanted to like this podcast because we need women talking about their experiences with sex if we are going to destigmatize it.
But then this episode happened. And I thought about the early episodes, the ones I almost skipped because of shitty stuff being said (in fact, when I recommended it to friends, I encouraged them to listen to none of the episodes more recently than about a year ago, because of how much shitty stuff was being said). And I thought about the critiques I knew existed about the hosts’ insensitivity toward people who have experienced rape and the racist comments the hosts have a habit of making. And I thought about all the other times I’d cringed at something terrible they’d said and skipped ahead or switched to a different podcast. And I thought about how when someone calls you out and you get super defensive often it’s because you know that your stance is shitty and you don’t want to take the time to reflect on that and improve.
And, so I stopped listening to the episode, and when I got home, I unsubscribed from it on iTunes and rated it 1-star and wrote a review, and started to consider this blog post.
I knew I needed to write about it because I know I’ve recommended this show to others even knowing it was problematic and because I know people who have recommended it to me, and because I don’t know how else to get out there that doing what I was doing for a while — simply listening to this because it was generally anti slut-shaming and trying to ignore the other awful stuff — isn’t okay. It perpetuates the problem.
I should have made other choices. I should have worked to engage the other people I know listen to this show more when I tried to talk about the ways it made me deeply uncomfortable because of the problematic things being said, but when those conversations steered in other directions, I let them, and continued to feel uneasy in silence.
I shouldn’t have been complicit.