Saturday, 6 August 2011

I Will No Longer Have Anything To Do With The Pod Delusion

Firstly, quick apology for lack of posting recently - real life has been getting in the way somewhat, for good reasons and bad.

Anyway, for those of you who do not know, the Pod Delusion is a weekly podcast "about interesting things". It's usually a good mixture of science, skepticism, atheism and current affairs, and I've been listening to it for a while now. I've also contributed this, this and an amended version of this to it.

The Pod Delusion enjoys somewhere in the region of 10,000-12,000 downloads a week, and has recently featured interviews with Richard Dawkins, Polly Toynbee, PZ Meyers and other such luminaries. However, it's got a nasty habit, which is one I can no longer ignore. It is not a safe space for anyone other than privileged white men.

I've taken umbrage in the past to contributions that the editors have allowed on unchecked. The most notable of these was Pete Hague's contribution in episode 92, which reduced feminism to a monolithic, misandrist movement (for a great takedown of this trope, see Pervocracy's theory of Imaginary Feminism). The editors allowed me to respond to this in episode 93. In episode 94, a contributor used the horribly ableist phrase 'window lickers'. He was picked up on this in the comments and subsequently apologised for not thinking about how insensitive his words were. A response to this was done by Phillipa Willetts in episode 96. However, episode 96 also featured the editor saying that if Morrissey is a vegetarian, not a vegan, he guessed his attitude was "Meat is murder, dairy is rape, but sometimes rape's OK".


OK, I really can't improve on this post about why 'rape jokes' are bad, so I'll leave you to look at that and then come back. You back?

So, here's my problem. The Pod Delusion seem to allow their contributors free rein to say whatever they like (however, my response piece to Pete Hague was vetted after he raised concerns that 'teh feminazis' would make personal attacks on him. Because he is a man and he is THAT SPECIAL and you see, these womens libbers really have no argument other than to resort to ad homs about teh menz). In the spirit of free speech and all that, this is ostensibly a good thing. However, surely someone using their right of free speech to be a bigoted dickhead isn't as important as the right of people to be welcomed into a space without feeling discriminated against? All it would take is for the editors to say to the contributors "you can talk about whatever you want, and we have no political affiliations, but can you please refrain from using language that will alienate a good chunk of our audience?". It's really not that hard. However, they seem incapable of this. So not only will I not be contributing to the Pod Delusion again, I will not be listening to it either. I will miss it, because it genuinely is 99% good, interesting stuff, but the refusal to even consider minority views and feelings is too offputting. They seem to only want to consider themselves, and then if they are called up on it, apologise later. It's not good enough. Awareness of privilege is all it takes, and it's not bloody difficult.


  1. Brilliant! I have become increasingly aware of this burgeoning trend towards the 'boy's club' and it has made me consider seriously my previously tacit stance. Yours and Rebecca Watson's recent arguments carry far more weight *for* the political potential of the sceptic community.. There are of course many other reasons to be wary of organisation but this one is tediously predictable!

  2. Well said, I'm glad you're taking a stand on this.

    The idea that 'progressive' men should get a free pass on rape apology and ableism is as ludicrous as it is prevalent.

    You don't get to shit on women to make a point about something else. (I wish someone would tell PETA this, incidentally.)