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Season of the Bitch: A Socialist Feminist Manifesto
Season of the Bitch (SotB) is a leftist feminist podcast comprised of 6 hosts, referred to as The Coven, talking politics and culture. It is just like any other leftist podcast, except there are no cis men. The following was written by Zoë Naseef, but inspired and approved by the rest of The Coven. Creating a socialist feminist podcast pushes me to explore different topics and question what I already know. Leftist spaces (and podcasts) can feel trepidatious for women, nonbinary folks, and trans people. A large theme for me within organizing work involves feeling unheard, undervalued, and excluded. We are constantly learning and growing in our lives; as workers, mothers, daughters, sisters, patients, friends, and comrades. SotB is an intentional space for us to explore different topics from a socialist feminist lens and know that we will always be heard, supported, and valued. The following truths we hold to be self-evident:
No sorry. “No sorry” is a trademark among the Coven. As 6 people who were socialized as girls and women, we were taught early and often to apologize for our existence, to stay quiet, to doubt ourselves. With our podcast we are learning to be unapologetically ourselves, one episode (and group chat) at a time. It often feels strange and unfamiliar to me to own my actions instead of apologizing for them. “No sorry” means reminding myself that what I have to say is valuable and worthy of people’s attention –– including when I find myself feeling guilty for inserting a personal anecdote into an episode or second-guessing whether I should have said something that didn’t feel utterly groundbreaking. The more positive feedback I see about the podcast, the more I understand that being unapologetically ourselves is revolutionary.
Representation matters. Sorry, not sorry... but cis men are canceled. While we limit hosts and guests to women, non-binary people, and trans folks, cis men are encouraged to listen. Representation is about intentionally creating space for people who do not get as many opportunities to have a platform in the dominant culture. Our listeners know that we run on accessibility and inclusion. We strive to be inclusive of race, sexuality, ability, and class by having diversity amongst the hosts and by finding guests who can speak from diverse perspectives and experiences. It is always inspiring to talk to people who are experts in their field and who also just so happen to not be men. We often talk about how lucky we feel that we get to talk to so many amazing people, especially when the world feels particularly dark.
It’s not just our listeners that learn from the podcast –– with every episode, I learn more about the topic we are discussing through my own research, from my co-hosts, and from our guests. We hope cis men will listen and learn from us too, since feminism creates a better world for everyone (more on that later). However, the show ultimately answers to a deep-seated desire to see ourselves represented, which is something that cis men can empathize with but never fully understand. White cis/het men rarely know what it is like to watch a movie or listen to a podcast where there is no one you identify with as part of the cast, and similarly do not understand how validating it is when you finally get to see yourself reflected in the media you consume. This probably explains why we get a lot of positive feedback from fans similar to ourselves, who were thirsty for a leftist podcast not dominated by men.
Dismantle the hegemonic capitalist patriarchy. Not all of our episodes concern explicitly socialist or explicitly feminist topics; we cover a wide array of subjects, but always approach them with a socialist feminist analysis. The capitalist hetero-patriarchy affects all aspects of our lives, so we try to draw out these themes and connections across many different topics.
One of the greatest threats to capitalism is the collective organizing and action of women. It is no coincidence that the development of capitalism came alongside the development of notions about gender and the nuclear family that served to ensure that (white, middle- or upper-class) women remained in the home, where they wouldn’t be able to talk to each other, compare experiences, or conspire against patriarchal oppression. It is similarly by no coincidence that when women seek more collective power today we are met with tidal waves of shame, attempts to silence us, and attempts to placate us.
Radicalizing is about simultaneously learning and unlearning, and oh how frustrating it can be. I grew up the daughter of a civil rights activist/union organizer and a life-long feminist, so understanding radical politics feels like second nature to me. However, that did not stop the world from socializing and imprinting on me the way it does to all girls (and those assumed to be girls). This connects back to focusing on not over-apologizing, but it has also helped me realize some of the other behaviors I learned from my socialization. For example, when I listen to the podcast I notice that I preface things I am very confident in with “I think” or “maybe” because I am so afraid of sounding overly confident, even when I am.
For me, learning theory is a lot easier than unlearning the ways I was socialized to atone for myself. The work required to learn and unlearn can feel Sisyphean, which is to say highly frustrating and repetitive, but another trademark of Season of the Bitch is how strongly and passionately we have each other’s backs. In one of the early episodes that I co-hosted, I told The Coven that I was feeling imposter syndrome about being a host. Hearing other hosts agree that they have felt the same way gave me more strength to believe in myself and what I have to say.
Money is a catch-22. We would love to grow as a podcast and build a larger platform. One of our major roadblocks is lack of funding. We are all busy working various jobs, in various time zones, which makes it hard to put as much time and effort in the podcast as we would like. Our episodes get an average of 3,000-6,000 listens, though we only have about 300 Patreon supporters (whom we appreciate dearly). We are not able to pay any of the hosts yet; only our editor gets a small stipend for her labor.
We continue to brainstorm ways to grow and make more money. However, this quickly becomes a catch 22: we can’t offer a lot of exclusive content that might attract more Patrons because we need the support in order to provide more exclusive content. It can be disheartening that male driven podcasts make significantly more (like, very significantly more), but the podcast is our labor of love and we keep pouring our hearts into it. I do not want to understate how much we appreciate the kind emails, tweets, DMs, etc., that we get from our listeners. It is really motivating to know how much people relate to and appreciate our work. But we live in this hell hole of a capitalist society and therefore we would love to be getting financial support so we can continue to grow.
SOCIALIST FEMINISM IS THE FUTURE. Please do not question us on the matter. Everyone would benefit from more socialist feminism in their lives. If you find yourself wondering “What? Why? How?” try listening to our podcast. If you find yourself saying “yes duh we all need more socialist feminism,” you should also listen to our podcast.
Love you, bye. The closing of every episode is this reminder of radical love and friendship. We have heard from listeners that something that stands out about Season of the Bitch is how clear it is that we all genuinely love each other and are excited to record every episode. Being the podcast that deeply loves each other, and deeply hates capitalist patriarchy, is a reputation we proudly accept. Love you byeee byeee love yooou okay love you byeeeee love uuuuuu bye.