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.