If you’ve been paying any attention to the news, you know that the last few months have been a hard time to be a geek girl. Media critics and gamers who have spoken up about sexism in the video game industry have been subjected to online harassment that has escalated into death threats. People who care about pop culture and video games—as well as other geeky pursuits like comics and tabletop games—have devoted a ton of emotional energy to dealing with these aggressive haters. So for today’s show, we’re flipping the script. Instead of giving all this nastiness any more of our time and energy, we’re focusing on six women who are doing awesome work to make geek culture better.
We take a trip to a Magic: The Gathering tournament, get a download from hip-hop artist Sammus about how to turning classic video game soundtracks into brand-new beats, hear game designer Elizabeth Sampat break down sexist myths about women in the video game industry, listen to a Destination DIY profile of an artist who lasercuts mobiles of internet memes, and sit down with nerd-rock sister duo The Doubleclicks to talk about making bad news into heart-warming songs.
This episode of Popaganda is sponsored by If Only Cats Could Talk, an experimental film documenting the true story of two all-American cats eager to explore the world beyond domesticated life.
Individual show segments and more ways to listen are below the cut!
Why do we fear change? Revision is essential to the work of writers, artists, musicians, and activists. On this episode inspired by Bitch's current print issue, we explore revision in three different artistic mediums. First, we talk with writer Stephanie Abrahamabout how the star of classic sitcom "I Dream of Jeannie" morphed from a Baghdad-born genie to a mainstream Florida housewife. Then, we sit back and listen to Hrishikesh Hirway of the podcast Song Exploder talk with musician Julia Holter about how she puts together a song. Finally, Bitch Media's Art Director Kristin Rogers Brown discusses designing magazine covers and what to do when good art ideas go horribly wrong.
Discussions of sex work often get mired in a couple basic questions: is it "good" or "bad"? Are sex workers empowered or not? But sex workers are a diverse group—their experiences aren't all good or bad. On this show, we try to reframe the issue by exploring the legal and financial realities of sex work.
For example: How does a dominatrix do her taxes? What kinds of healthcare do sex workers need? How would decriminalizing sex work change peoples’ lives?
Women and shopping have a complicated relationship. On the one hand, there's the stereotype that all women loooove shopping—and that we throw away money on frivolous goods. On the other, there's the reality that women are the primary shoppers for 75 percent of households, despite making less money on average than men.
Horror films are fertile ground for conversations about gender, fear, and body fluids. On this show, writer Sarah Marshall lays out her favorite underrated horror heroines, we meet up with a "final girl" brunch club at Brooklyn's Nitehawk Cinema, and the ladies of Crimson Wave discuss the irony that even gore-fest films seem to fear the sight of menstrual blood. Plus: a conversation about alien abduction with Study Group Comics editor Shanna Matuszak.
Individual show segments and more ways to listen are below the cut.
What are young feminists excited about today? On this episode, we head back to school, talking with students around the country about what feminism looks like on their college campuses. The first half of this show explores feminism inside and outside of the classroom, then we have three stories revolving around how colleges respond to sexual assault.
This show features interviews with Harvard Lampoon editor Alexis Wilkinson, Colorado College feminism and gender studies professor Heidi Lewis, filmmaker Kelly Kend, and a University of Oregon student who has deep thoughts on athletics and sexual assault. The team at education website Noodle brings us a story profiling the work of Columbia University artist and activist Emma Sulkowicz, who is carrying her mattress around campus to make a statement about sexual assault. Also on the show: smart ideas for changing campus culture from students at Wesleyan, University of Wisconsin Madison, Lewis and Clark, University of Washington, and UCLA.
Individual show segments and ways to subscribe to the podcast are below the cut.
Young adult literature shapes our imaginations and our identities. We explore the world of young adult literature with help from some great authors.
We talk with Marni Bates, who wrote a memoir when she was just 19 that spelled out the reality of her teen life and her obsessive compulsive disorder. Then, the mother-daughter writing duo behind the best-selling supernatural YA series House of Nightexplain how their characters deal realistically with sexuality. Author Malinda Lo rounds out the show with discussion of her writing process while working on her debut novel Ash and her work researching diversity in YA. Finally, the Bitch staff has a roundtable conversation about the books that had a big personal impact on us as teens and read off some YA recommendations from Bitch readers;
Check out individual show segments and more ways to listen to Popaganda below the cut.
Pornography is the largest part of our pop culture that no one wants to talk about. On this show, we bring discussions of porn out into the shining sunlight.
This show features artist Jess Fink on drawing erotic comics, porn producer and performer Jiz Lee on how to talk about porn with your family, journalist Lynsey G on financing feminist porn, and an exploration of online erotic roleplaying with writer and gamer Katherine Cross. For more on feminism and erotica, read Bitch's Love/Lust issue.
Individual segments and more ways to listen are below the cut.
Wonder Woman first hit the comics page over 70 years ago—but her story and personal history has changed dramatically with each new generation of artists, writers, and fans.
This show explores Wonder Woman's origins and impact over seven decades. The LA-based Homemade News crew talks about the strange story of her creator William Marston, then we analyze her Amazonian origin story with an excerpt of an article by Stevie St. John. Then, author and scholar Jennifer K. Stuller heads to San Diego ComiCon to talk with comics fans and publishers about what Wonder Woman means to them. Finally, we look to the future of Wonder Woman, as DC comics team Cat Staggs and Amanda Deibert talk about the new Wonder Woman comic book they're creating right now.
More ways to listen and individual show segments are below the cut.