I’ve learned a lot from the first few episodes of Season of the Bitch, a leftist, feminist podcast. The first is the intricacy and depth of political theory that I missed or misunderstood, and the other is that certain spaces might not always be made for me and my sensibilities, and that’s probably fine, and for the best.
The hosts refer to themselves as “The Coven,” and make a point within the first few minutes of the introductory episode that their show does not give their fans and listeners a pass to use the word “bitch.” Now, I found this pretty confusing, considering the self branding which I thought was a reclamation of sorts, and softening of the harm — I let it slide for the sake of giving the thing a chance. However, this hiccup — which to me was kind of jarring — came up a few times when things got a little beyond my perspective and scope as a dude.
Between the many hosts — I haven’t yet gotten a handle on the names, as there are five of them, plus guests — they have a range of experience and credentials from graduate students, leaders within the Democratic Socialists of America, and community organizing. The more serious and focused segments are probably the parts where I was most attentive — the first episode featured an analysis and explanation of Silvia Federici’s Caliban and the Witch, which examines capitalism and the role of devaluation of women’s labour. There are also really interesting tangents that explore stuff like accusations of witchcraft after the Black Plague due to sexual deviancy / reproductive control, and critiques of how people blame other groups, like women or immigrants, for driving down wages (as if they had that power), instead of looking to the basic employer motivation to exploit, and pay as little as possible. There is meat to the discussion, but as strong as some segments are, it can often get muddled by the fact that there are too many voices.
My main hangups with the podcast might just be the result of it being early in its run, and still finding its footing. However, there were many points where I was either extremely uninterested, such as most times when there is off-topic banter or bad riffs, or puzzled on the verge of eye rolling. You can pretty much skip the entire Labour Day episode due to this. There are also moments where certain proclamations of conduct can come off as humourless, bizarre, or overly dramatic, such as a host’s umbridge of the violence of the classic “If I had two bullets, I’d shoot you twice” gag. I mean, I get it, but that sort of stuff just isn’t really for me, or where I want to spend energy telling people what to do. But, there are also literally thousands of other things to fill that need for edgy and aggressive humour that I can (and do) listen to that won’t at all be affected by The Coven’s calls to action.
In summation, I think people interested in theory, radical politics, and hearing more female voices might have fun with this podcast — however, for everyone else, I’d suggest maybe checking in when there is a particularly substantial topic or notable guests. The episode on rural organizing touches on a lot of ideas in terms of community engagement that are applicable to tons of scenarios, and I’ve also heard good things about their episode on sex work. I probably won’t subscribe, but it was worth the romp of filling the time in my daily two-hour commute on Highway 1, and gave me a brief and completely unearned feeling of being totally “woke” and informed for about an afternoon.