The Guilty Feminist With Sofie Hagen and Deborah Frances-White

Sofie Hagen and Deborah Frances-White treat us to a triumphant Edinburgh run of their wildly successful podcast, and it’s as joyful, empowering and utterly hilarious as ever.

Affirming and entertaining in equal measure, The Guilty Feminist is a breath of fresh air.

Earlier this year, a friend of mine shyly offered me a free ticket to a podcast recording in London. I went after work, with no idea what to expect, and left a complete convert. It was of course The Guilty Feminist, “the podcast in which we explore our noble goals as 21st-century feminists and our hypocrisies and insecurities which undermine them”. Past topics have included body image, worth, apologising and nudity, and feature a range of guests, among them Sarah Millican, Shappi Khorsandi, Lolly Adefope and fat-positive yoga teacher Jessamyn Stanley. Today’s incarnation is about parenthood, with special guest Susan Calman.

Hagen and Frances-White are completely charming hosts: off-the-cuff, conspiratorial and full of questions for each other, easily riffing on their contributions in a way that puts the limp banter of many an (all-male) panel show to shame. There’s a loose format which allows for plenty of digression, and several of the conversations veer off course - but it’s all part of the joy of it. We start with guilty feminist confessions (“I’m a feminist but…”) followed by skilful, on-theme stand-up sets from both hosts before they bring Susan Calman to the stage.

Calman plunges right in with her take on the pressure on lesbian women to have children: “I have never had a maternal bone in my body,” she tells us. Frances-White interjects: “I really want to make a bone in my body joke now.” The discussion that follows is by turns emotional and riotously entertaining, in particular Frances-White’s account of being offered a donor egg by her sister when visiting her biological family for the first time: “Don’t use a Russian egg, there could be another inside and another inside that…” Hagen mischievously suggests a way to deal with unsolicited dick pics: “I can finally see a use for a 3D printer…send them back a picture of you using it as a whisk”. It’s a wonderfully mischievous dynamic, and the tone is emphatically never sanctimonious, something Calman hugely enjoys ripping into. Parenthood makes for a slightly less raucous atmosphere than previous themes, but the exploration of the taboo surrounding women who decide not to have children is frank and insightful. The topic changes every day: how either of them manage to prepare so much new material is astounding.

Affirming and entertaining in equal measure, The Guilty Feminist is a breath of fresh air. We need more things like this - someone give them a TV show.

Reviews by Lanikai KT

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The Blurb

Ever felt like you should be better at feminism? Join comedians Sofie and Deborah for their new comedy podcast, recorded in front of a live audience, to discuss topics 'all 21st century feminists agree on' while confessing the insecurities, hypocrisies and fears underlying their lofty principles. Sofie won the 2015 Foster's Best Newcomer Award. Deborah won Best Radio Comedy at The Writers Guild Award for her BBC Radio 4 series. Past podcast guests include Sarah Millican, Jo Caulfield, Sara Pascoe and Hannah Gadsby. 'Very funny... pure, guilt-free pleasure' (Guardian).