A Very Waves Reunion

Listen to this episode

S1: This is the waves. This is the wave, this is the way

S2: this is, the way this is, the way. This is the waves. Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick,

S1: tick, tick, tick, tick. Welcome to the Waves Slate’s podcast about gender, feminism and reunions. Hey, if it’s good enough for sex and the city or the L word for that matter, it’s good enough for us. I’m Jim Thomas, Senior Managing Producer of Slate Podcast. This week we have a Chrismukkah miracle for one week only. We’ve reassembled the first Wave of Waves podcast hosts, so I’m joined by Hanna Rosin, who runs New York Magazine’s podcast Hey Hanna

Advertisement

S2: Hi

S1: Susan Noreen Malone, who is an editor at large at Slate. Hi Noreen,

S3: how did you? And it’s so nice to hear your voice.

S1: Hanna Noreen have different job titles since the last time we recorded an episode together way back in June 2019. So give me the lowdown. What have you been up to?

S3: I changed a lot about my life, so I was the editorial director of New York Magazine, and I left that job to go work on the Slow Burn podcast at late season five and the lead up to the Iraq War. And then I like a week after sober and ended, I had a baby. I got engaged and got married and had a baby, all since I left. During this podcast, regularly, so my life looks totally different.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S1: No kidding. How do you imagine more changes?

S3: Well, Hanna as it hard to imagine more changes.

S2: Oh my god, it’s so weird. I feel like everything, Noreen said. I just did the opposite. It’s like single white female. I was like, I pushed Noreen out of her New York magazine job so secretly so that I could go work at New York magazine, and I made her get married so I could get divorced. And so all my children could leave the house. It’s literally like the psycho psycho completes. Yeah, it is really weird. Anyway. Can I sit in your seat when I go into to New York Magazine? I don’t even know where your seat is, but then

Advertisement

S3: I just office and I miss having an office that was so nice. You should see my office.

S2: Yeah, I’m totally going to occupy it. It’s going to be so weird and I’ll sit with the lights out. You know, that’s

S1: just for the record, I have absolutely no changes because I’m one of those people who’s incredibly change resistant. Also known as boring. Not only do I still have cable, I still have TiVo. So, you know, I never, never make any changes to my life. So everything is exactly the same for me. You know,

S2: it’s so funny, Jen. I feel like the more I go through life, the more I envy like, the more I want to be like a person who has fewer changes. Like, I just admire, it’s like there’s something so meditative. I’m just completely being patronizing here, but there’s something just so like meditate about. It’s true. It’s like the sort of monks who kind of tend in a circle. It’s like a beautiful way to be, you know, and I envy it.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S1: Yeah, I’ve been called a monk before, but I take it as a compliment. Yeah, sounds good. OK. We’re going to take a break, but when we come back, we’ll be chewing over questions, including some from listeners.

S3: Thank you so much for listening. I wanted to take a second and welcome all of our new listeners and our old ones too. We haven’t forgotten about you. If you’re loving the show and want to hear more, subscribe to our feed. New episodes come out every Thursday morning, and while you’re there, check out our other episodes too, like last week’s about the Glenn Maxwell trial.

S1: Did you miss the waves, you guys, I mean, making a podcast on a regular schedule is a lot of work, especially if, as with you guys, you had really demanding day jobs that you were also juggling. It was a lot of things to watch and read and think about. Do you miss that?

Advertisement

S3: I do. It forced me to not just read the news passively and say, Oh, this person should write about this, but to think about what I actually thought and to form and to just pay attention like, is this something for us? And also, I miss having the deadline to consume culture. Now I’ll just like, sit and scroll on my phone or whatever. And like, if I miss whatever TV show came out, it’s not a big deal. But before I had to watch it, I knew I had to come up with something good for a recommendation, so I would sort of maybe seek out more books or new movies than I did before. So. So in that way, I think I’m a little bit less interesting of a person for not doing the waves.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S1: What about you, Hanna? Totally.

S2: I mean, it’s more that I feel that part of myself has gone dormant, which is the part that works out ideas out loud, which honestly is much harder to do now. It’s a little bit people don’t speak off the cuff anymore. I mean, what? What comedians complain about as happened to the rest of us. I don’t think it’s that easy to work out ideas, particularly about things like feminism out loud. But I do miss doing that. I feel like I don’t really have settled ideas about a lot of things like I kind of have to work them out through people and not just in my own head, and I don’t really have a chance to do that anymore.

Advertisement

S1: I also have missed that. And I guess, as Joni Mitchell said, you don’t really you don’t know until it’s gone. And that was something that I was a late realization for me, but I miss it too. Was there a moment or a new development, a piece of culture, whatever? It was a viral magazine article? Perhaps when you really, really miss being on the waves where you just was like, Oh man, this would be a great topic.

S3: Well, I’m wondering now if you’re prompting me to talk about bad art, friend, which yes, of course I would have loved to talk about with you guys. But I actually sat down and made a list last night, which is by no means comprehensive. This is just what came into my head, and there were so many things I actually like. Had this moment of did we really talk about none of this together because I have these phantom memories of talking about these things. But Amy Coney Barrett I would have loved to talk about with you guys. We didn’t even talk about Kamala as the vice president, right? Because we’d stop by then. Joe Biden, you know, like older white guy beating out this whole diverse field covered. I would have loved to talk about the fights over school openings. I would have loved to talk about the child care crisis that’s happened as a result of COVID, which I have experienced in my own life now. But the big sort of maybe not so fun thing to talk about, but to me, the biggest story that we’ve missed is so many women leaving the workforce in the last two years as a result of COVID. Just that just feels like everything has been rolled back. Like, I feel like we left not on a totally high note because Donald Trump had, you know, was in office. But, you know, MeToo was happening. It felt like feminism was in control, and that certainly does not feel the way that way now.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S2: Yeah, it’s so true. If you project forward, there’s Roe v. Wade. I mean, if we were still doing the show now, it’s like we would actually have to be seriously considering the idea that certain states would outlaw abortion. Like that’s a real thing. And that therefore lots of other things are up for grabs, like freaking birth control. And, you know, same sex marriage and all this stuff that like who would have even thought we would ever have to talk about that kind of thing? It’s absurd. And, you know, it just feels like it’s a cultural revolution like we’re about to split into two countries. And then just to not be totally bleak, there’s the cultural stuff in my head. I call it a queer revolution. It’s not quite that, but like I just feel in such a short amount of time. I was out with some youth as in around 20 last night, and I was like, What percent of the people who you go to college with or went to high school with call themselves queer, like, is it over 50 percent? And it’s over 50 percent? And that is like, really, really, really happened fast and is really different. But that I think about a lot, too.

Advertisement

S1: And I’m really glad that you guys were able to come up with this specific list, like my mind was just blank. Well, we didn’t do it. It didn’t happen. And I should also say that the waves, which returned earlier this year has addressed many of these topics. You know, one of the things that came to my mind was Andrew Cuomo and kind of guys in power still doing terrible things and getting caught. But it’s kind of depressing that men haven’t gotten better, that people in power haven’t figured out that they need to get their act together. I still feel this kind of overwhelming wave of disgust with the way. People behave in power and actually not just men, Christine Cinema drives me up the wall to also another person that we’ve talked about on the waves. I’m just kind of feeling a bit sick of this. What feels like an endless cycle?

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S3: One thing on Andrew Cuomo is actually found that to be a sort of depressing story because he really went down. He took Chris Cuomo with them, and I just had a fantasy of interviewing Mama Cuomo for for the waves. Wouldn’t that have been a great episode and

S2: a genius idea?

S1: That would have been amazing. And maybe it’s not too late. What about the other side of the question? Have there been any issues in the news that you were glad you didn’t have to opine on Donald Trump?

S3: I am so sick of opining on Donald Trump.

S2: Yeah, and I was like, Trump 2020 for like, I don’t want to. I don’t have to think about that. You know, I don’t want to go there.

S1: It’s been a pretty eventful two and half years since we last recorded an episode. Have your views on feminism changed over that period? What about you, Noreen?

S3: Well, I guess that my views have not necessarily changed in substance, but maybe in degree maternity leave is something we’ve talked about so many times on this show as being so important for sort of changing the status of women in the workplace and just making it easier to have a family. I came back from maternity leave two weeks ago. I feel that really strongly in my own life. I also feel much more strongly about the importance of maternity leave as a way of setting up marriages or partnerships to not have one partner. Just be the automatic person who knows about how to take care of the kids. Like that to me, feels I know that feels like, OK, let’s let’s actually get maternity first and then deal with that second level problem. But that, to me, just seems more vital. And then I guess one thing that has maybe shifted in the way I’m thinking about politics, but also feminism is I’ve kind of come around to the view that we don’t need everyone to be talking in the language of feminism. You know, the political view that that it is better to maybe do a little bit less talking in an activist language if it means winning over more people to see the side that I happen to think would make things more feminist. So I don’t I don’t know if that makes me less feminist, but that is something that I certainly have been thinking about with respect to my feminism. Is that like maybe talking about it all the time isn’t always getting me and us where we want to go.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S1: I just want to shout out the episode of the waves that you did. I believe it went out on the 2nd of December was a conversation you had with Alicia Montgomery about Kamala Harris, and I really felt that poll. You know, that sort of tension of being like trying to be real is trying to make compromises, trying to make things happen as opposed to like, I just want to vote for someone who doesn’t make me feel totally compromised and who I kind of hate. I really want that. But at the same time, we need more Democrats in Congress. I think we

S3: can have both. I don’t know, at least for the presidential. I think there is a way to find someone who does make you feel totally compromised. I don’t know. Hanna. What about you?

S2: Wait, wait. Can you explain a little bit what you mean about compromises? Well, I

S3: I guess it’s like it’s a version, although I would say I differ in some respects. It’s a version of what, like David Shaw and Jonathan Chait are arguing right? That like in some ways, what Joe Biden has been doing, which is, you know, speak in plain English. Think about what the sort of more moderate base of the Democratic Party is actually comfortable with as a way of just dealing with the electoral realities rather than, you know, having someone like Elizabeth Warren going out and speaking in language that we would get really excited about on the waves, but maybe isn’t connecting with voters.

S2: Wow, that’s an interesting tension. And now I really wish we had our show to tease out that tension because I feel like a younger generation is moving in. The exact opposite direction of AOC generation is is it’s not a feminist direction. It really is. And I don’t feel like people talk about feminism that much. They talk about work and work life, not work life balance in the way that you’re talking about child care. Just, yeah, just capitalism. Exactly. Just like the role of work in people’s lives, which is fairly gender neutral, I don’t feel like it’s it’s so much a women’s issue right now in the way that it’s the loudest. It’s just the world is falling apart. Our environment is falling apart, capitalism is killing us. And that’s true if you’re a man or a woman. Nobody says explicitly that they’re talking about class, but it it is very class loaded. It’s just a different language that’s emerging. That’s extremely uncompromising, although it has very little to do with feminism. And I would say I personally am in a totally. In the meantime, I’m having an internal revolution, which is at odds with the language that everybody’s speaking in the world because I feel like the more I go through life, the more. I realize how blinded I was for most of my life about gender expectations and the way gender expectations are absolutely crushing, I’m not saying anything new or interesting. I’m just saying that I am new to the kind of emotional rage around that. And MeToo did this lot to me. Like if I think about all the things I thought were OK or normal or completely acceptable when I was a young person in the workplace that are completely messed up. And I just, you know, it’s just like it was the way of the world like Noreen. I don’t think that we should talk about maternity leave. Like why? I mean, why? Why do we even accept the idea that it is a woman’s job in any way, particularly to raise the child once the child is born? I’m asking a sincere question like you’re a person who just had a baby. Where’s your baby? Noreen? Why are you at work? Just kidding. I’m sure.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S3: Well, well, that’s I mean, that’s a little bit what I was saying about the paternity leave thing. But yeah, but why do we even hesitate?

S2: Why were we even like, why do we even have to tiptoe around that subject, its parental leave? There are two, there’s a child and there are two parents, and it’s like, I can already hear the guilt in your voice. Like, it’s so it’s like, it’s weird. It never changes. And maybe it means that I’m just wrong and it will always be this way. But I do look back and I’m like the way that the world is divided. It’s just like the decks are stacked. They’re just stacked. It’s like so hard, always. And every woman is reinventing the wheel and trying to do it all over again. And maybe the answer is cab like, like, address it via capitalism. And so work doesn’t become the central thing. And and and therefore we don’t have to face these individual crises.

S1: I mean, that’s interesting because I think a lot I mean, weirdly, if I think back to the fight for gay marriage, which now seems in a way, you know, so cute in many ways. You know how crazy that that was such a fight. You know that all these people were saying this will destroy it. Did nothing, you know, it did nothing. Of course, it’s a complete irrelevance, except if you were denied that right, in which case it was absolutely not an irrelevance. I think I’ve gone through something a little bit similar. It’s not quite the scales falling from my eyes kind of situation that you seem to be kind of describing Hanna. But I think I’ve really gotten even more frustrated and aggravated by the difficulty of making change happen. I mean, I think you’re right when you talk with younger people, you know, which for me is basically everybody. You do see this amazing like, why are we, you know, climate, for example, like the world? This is such a giant crisis. Why are we not doing anything? Well, there are so many things like that that need addressing all of this stuff about, you know, family care, health care. So many things, especially that have become clear on the, you know, during COVID and nothing is happening. You know, has Congress as Congress passed any laws whatsoever that have made life better for broad swaths of for Americans? And I don’t think it has. And I, you know, just everything that we see about Congress is just more status quo. And it’s, well, I’ve just gotten.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S3: That’s the one

S1: thing. That’s not something that’s even, you know, on my radar. And I don’t want to be that person who’s just because I think I used to be that way about other things, like about guns and about health care in this country. Why does nothing change? And I feel like I’m just getting I’m sick of my own broken record, but I don’t see. I don’t see. I don’t see any light.

S3: I’m really pessimistic on some stuff like reproductive rights, but I am, by nature, an optimist. So I I think that there is a possibility that something like child care and, you know, whatever is happening with teachers right now who feel unsupported, I just think that COVID has been such a breaking point for some things that it has to get better, like it truly can’t get worse. And it has revealed just how bad the system is. But that is probably Pollyanna ish of me. But it does feel like there is. Those are things that are pretty. They’ve become politicized, but they are actually not by nature, political. And so I do believe that those things could maybe get fixed a little bit.

S2: Yeah, I just feel I don’t I don’t know that I feel either pessimistic or optimistic, I just feel like things are polarized. And so there are all these cultural like we’ll just split into two countries and maybe that’s terrible. Particularly, I mean, we’ll see what happens with the Supreme Court. But where you have one country which lives under a totally different set of cultures and expectations and sense of progress than the other half of the country.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S1: So during the 2020 election, if we can turn our minds back to that, I often thought of something that you said ages ago, Hanna, which was that real progress would come when we could conceive of more than one female candidate for president because it feels, even though that may be just inside our heads. But we all was doing this kind of unofficial primary for the to find the female candidate that we want to get behind. Did that happen in 2020? Do you think? And have we got any better at responding to female candidates, to women?

S2: As you’re talking, I’m thinking we have got rid of that in other realms. It’s not like there’s the token female on SNL. Like, I feel like with token ing, we are getting better at it. In so many cultural realms, there isn’t space for like the one sidekick character in a TV show. You know, like people have pushed beyond it and lots of other realms. So why can’t we push beyond in politics? You know, what do you think, Noreen? Do you think that that we’re over it? You know, Kamala ran like, Are we over it?

S3: I think politics is different because the electoral map is rigged, right? And it’s it’s people get to vote. And also, yeah, people maybe are less upset when there’s a woman on SNL than they are when there’s a woman potentially telling the whole country what to do. I mean, I feel like 2020 actually made things worse because, you know, there was this whole slate of women. So Hillary had failed and then all of the women failed by sort of doing, you could argue, I don’t know if I’m actually going to argue, but you could argue that they took the wrong lessons from the the Hillary loss and sort of spent a lot of time pointing out sexism in a way that people didn’t really like. Now people are like, Oh, women can’t win. Like, I feel like we just are back in a place that instead of this possibility where it’s like, Yeah, it could be any woman, like, not a big deal, it could be, you know, it could be Kamala, just as well as it could be. But people judge, even though neither of them, you know, really got that much traction in 2010. But like, I feel like the sort of person who thinks about electability when they cast their ballot is now thinking even more, Oh, like, I would vote for a woman, but I just think that other guy wouldn’t do it. You know,

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S2: what about this? OK? As you’re talking, here’s a theory. Here’s a possibility. Hopeful possibility. What if it just has to pass through embarrassing phase? So Hillary runs once and it passes through the embarrassing phase where people talk about her ironing or whether she’s qualified? And then the last time around we passed through the phase the Saw retrograde, but this is America. So we passed through the phase last time where everybody had to talk about being a woman. Like they had to surface that and it was too much and people didn’t want to hear it. And now the lessons learned from a woman running for office is that she shouldn’t talk about that at all. Like, she doesn’t have to keep surfacing. I’m a woman and sexism and feminism, you just run.

S3: Yeah, I mean, although that’s a little depressing to you, because some of some of that identity shapes policy, you hope, right? So hopefully this is not the final stage that you’re describing, right?

S2: But in the Noreen realpolitik of like, we don’t have to talk about everything all the time like we’re trying to be, you know, we’re trying to be compromising and palatable. So maybe somebody goes at it by being compromising and palatable. Maybe?

S3: I don’t know. Think you can

S2: see her as a great campaign slogan? Well, I think it’s palatable for America.

S3: I think that’s what she’s trying to do. Yeah, I keep thinking we’re we’re like sleep training this week. So I keep thinking about the extinction burst in sleep training, which is that before you actually get the baby to go to bed right away, just like cries, cries, cries, cries, cries horribly and maybe we’re in the extinction burst, right? Like, maybe it, it’s going to be much, much worse. And then all of a sudden it’ll be fixed, right? Right.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S2: Noreen. I just want to I want to tell you, you know, that phase killed me with my first child. I’m just I’m I’m I’m giving you my heart here. It’s just I can’t. I’m sorry that you have to listen to that. It is extremely bad. Just put like, you know, I think

S3: we might fail. I think we might. I think we might just not succeed at that. But that’s another conversation for another time.

S2: Yeah, it’s I remember I have a great vision of myself kind of weeping on the outside of the door by the crib, like thinking it was the worst tragedy. It’s very hard. Anyway, my heart goes out to you. It’s a difficult phase that. Extinction risk, does you know, I guess maybe they face the whole Earth, is it, but they call it that?

S3: Can you believe that it’s full extinction is what they call it anyway?

S2: That’s not helpful.

S1: No, it’s not. All right. We’re going to take a break here, but we’ll be back with some questions about culture.

S3: If you’re enjoying the show, please subscribe to the waves wherever you get your podcasts.

S2: If you want to hear more from June Noreen and check out our Waves Plus segment, where today will be asking Are the holidays sexist? Are that

S1: they totally. So I know for sure that if we’d been recording together this year, we’d have talked about what’s been called the great resignation you referred to earlier. Noreen this post-pandemic phenomenon of millions of people quitting work and apparently more women than men are doing that. Does this feel like a real phenomenon to you and what should we make of it? Noreen What do you think of this?

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S3: Well, I think it’s definitely a real phenomenon. I’ve been reporting a little story and talked to two women just this week who quit their jobs because, you know, they were taking care of kids or they, you know, had moved during the pandemic to for it to be easier to be in their house with their children and they couldn’t go remote. I feel like it’s being framed in a bunch of different ways in the media. There’s the sort of, you know, labor shortage. People have more choice thing. There’s the great burnout resignation. And then there is women who I don’t think are making like a super excited, empowered choice to leave the workforce. That has me pretty depressed because I think it has really long running ramifications.

S2: Again, you have to piece apart the different parts of it. There’s straight on just unbelievable that women were knocked back to the 80s level of workforce participation and the fact that it happened in September, which is so obvious because that’s when kids go to school. So there was really no other way to explain that, except we haven’t made much progress on this idea that women and New York magazine did a whole, you know, they interviewed lots of women about it. It was just a million small, tiny domestic decisions which add up to the woman stays home. And so that felt depressing. That felt like, Oh, we haven’t really made that much progress on that front in these small, intimate ways because the way people make decisions is really deeply influenced by these gender expectations and stereotypes. It should have, in my mind, landed 50-50. Like sometimes it makes sense for the guy to stay home and sometimes for the woman to stay home because these are school aged children, not babies. So you know, anybody can help them with the Zoom lessons.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S3: Well, I was just going to ask as a person who wrote The End of men, which I know you sort of hate having brought up in circumstances like this. But I’m curious if you feel like this is a little bit of an end of women moment. Like, does it feel like a really sharp reversal of what you were writing about? Yes, you

S2: know. Yeah, yes, I I I felt exactly that. I felt when I read the exact numbers around women leaving the workforce that September, that all the progress I had described in that book was extremely tenuous. And I felt like I was this kind of cheerleader person, like cheering on cheering and then but it was all like stitched together without any structural support or any societal support. So as soon as something hits, it can all just fall apart. You know, like all of that progress, that it can be wiped away in a month because it’s the first month that school starts. That’s crazy. Yeah, that was extremely depressing to me at that moment when that happened in the pandemic. And you know, there’s all this sort of long term tragedies that happen, like if you look at black women’s workforce participation, they have much higher rates of workforce participation than white women in general, but also a way higher workforce disruption. So it’s this, you know, it’s this like quicksand problem where, like workforce participation does not give you all the data that you need. Because if you have workforce participation but you can’t lay down roots, then you then you just kind of treading water and you can’t really make progress. So. So that’s what that all look like, that pandemic moment, however, the the sort of younger, privileged people choosing not to work or to the extent that people are revolting against a certain kind of job, you know, is probably not leaving them in a great circumstance. People need money. America’s expensive, but there’s something at least willful in that least. It’s not happening to you. There’s a little bit of choice in that.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S1: Yeah, that’s actually an area where I see a little bit of hope in this. Maybe some people for whom this is about how COVID revealed that the priorities were messed up. They will fully step back a little bit from the the race that they were in, that they decided I don’t want to they want to run this race. I want to be over on to the side. You know that they decided to to prioritize work and money a little bit. But who can do that? You know, it’s OK to say, Well, now that I can work remotely, I don’t have to live in a an expensive city or I can live a bit further out. But you still have to pay health care bills. You still have to pay the cost of college if you have kids, because that’s those are things that you almost can’t opt out of, or if you do, you’re causing other problems. So while I get the urge, I’m not sure that it’s realistic. For very many people, it seems to be something that only a very few privileged and truly hopefully recognizing their privilege can take advantage of. But I think mostly it is, as you’ve said, like a non voluntary process,

S2: a last period to this Noreen from a from a mother further down the road, I look back on my maternity leaves with deep gratitude as the times when I did actually get to completely disconnect from work. And I love them for that reason and I enjoyed it. I enjoyed just sort of hanging around, hanging around with the neighborhood moms. I loved it. I haven’t had periods like that since. But as you said, June again, total privilege because I worked in places and I’d worked there long enough that I had paid maternity leave for longer than, you know, probably 95 percent of Americans have it. So yeah,

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S3: I had a really nice maternity leave and I am incredibly, I think I will be very sentimental about it for a long time,

S2: exactly as I am.

S1: I think Sex and the City has come up a couple of times in our conversation and whatever that shows, weaknesses were. It was a really interesting text about friendship. I know that you are both people who are for whom friendships are very important and you have very strong friendships. And I’m curious how they changed over the course of the pandemic. Like, we’ve all been really isolated by the pandemic. We couldn’t meet our friends in the way that we used to, but maybe you found new ways to spend time with your friends. How has it been for you?

S3: Noreen Yeah, I would say that the friendships where there is an active group chat have been the ones that have really thrived, and that’s been interesting. I really do miss the sort of weaker tie friends, right? The people you see at a party, the people you might walk out to lunch with at work, that sort of ambient stuff I really do miss. You get a lot of fun and gossip and just novelty from that. I mean, it’s hard for me because like my life did sort of change. And so some friendships that were like more in that sort of ambience before, like now because, you know, my husband is friends with the woman or the man or, you know, they have a baby around the same age, they have become closer. So it’s hard for me to separate out, like new life phase from horrible global pandemic. The left us all, you know, inside and afraid of other people.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S1: What about you, Hanna?

S2: I remember it was just about the first week of lockdown when our emotional fairy godmother, Esther Perel, was on one of the millions of podcasts that she’s always on that I happen to be listening to. And she predicted, how are the strain that our intimate relationships would be under because we would be seeing each other all the time and depending on them to do all different things, and they would have to become even more and more varied than they already were in American relationships. And I think that is absolutely true. I mean, that kind of air of of sort of weirdness and isolation that settles around domesticity is like it’s a thing like you can smell it in the air. It’s just it’s just strange, you know, to not have normally in intimate relationships. You like, leave and you come back and you leave and you come back. But it’s like, we’re all living like like prairie families where we’ve seen nobody but each other. Those people, like died when they were thirty three, you know, so

S1: my God, I think that for me, what’s become clear is that old friendships have either revitalized like, you know, people who I was friends with in Seattle, who I haven’t seen for years because zooming with your friends was more of a thing during the pandemic. In the early stages, like we’ve zoomed a bunch of times which we should have been doing anyway. But we it just kind of wasn’t on the menu. You know, again, I also have a group chat that with people I was at school with who had been a, you know, high school. I’d been out of contact with them for decades. And now we are, you know, talking on WhatsApp every day. I saw them really? Yeah, I saw them when I went, Wow, I went home a month or so ago and I, we had lunch together again. Hadn’t seen them for like 40 years. And like my partner and I see each other often for 24 hours a day. Like we if we go out, we’ll go out together, you know, if it’s just to the store, like, that’s the thing. The people you know, you’re maybe having more intense interactions with. But I really haven’t made any new friends and that’s weird. You know, like as you get older, it’s it’s a commonplace. It’s a cliche that it’s hard to make friends. Of course it is. But generally speaking, you’re at least in situations where you could make friends with people. And I know there are people who I probably would have been had closer friendship relationships with, you know, people who I’ve maybe been on a podcast with. Who? You know, we clicked, but if you’re not going to have any opportunity to go out to a bar or something or to have dinner together, you’re probably not going to make that next. You know, you’re not going to change from one kind of relationship to another. So it’s been hard to make new friendships. It’s one of the big changes.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S2: I think I was in the office. I have a new job, so I was in the new office for a significant amount of time this week and it was intense. It was like exactly what you said. It was like trying to get, you know, people I’ve seen on Zoom or on many Zoom calls, and so I saw them in person. Even making eye contact was intense. Like, I don’t actually feel like the same kind of person. It was a very different to have casual interactions. I loved it, but it was intense. Like it took a lot out of me just to be in person with a lot of people. Yeah.

S1: All right. We used to spend a lot of time talking about movies and TV shows and occasionally even books. When we get to the recommendation segment of this episode, we’ll talk about something that we’re loving, right this second. But if you had to pick out one piece of culture that you’ve loved over the last two and a half years, what would it be? I’m going to start with you. Noreen Malone.

S3: This one was so hard for me because I realized I have actually, I consume so much culture. I had a really hard time picking it. So I’m just going to say some proper nouns, and then I will land on the thing that I actually want to talk about. But low brow I really loved younger. The podcast that I liked the most was Mirabai Nights the promise. You know, I will argue that The Morning Show was better than other people thought it

S1: was Season two.

S3: Even I loved Susan, too. I don’t know. I don’t know what happened.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S1: Wow. Oh my God. If only we could have talked about that.

S3: I think it’s smarter than people think it is. I like all the obvious things that people like. But but the thing that I saw right before lockdown and then in the moment in June 2021 when I’ve been vaccinated, I thought things were getting better. I went to see a play in person and it was Jacqueline Novak’s Get on your knees, which is like this really intellectual, smart, incredibly funny, goofy, like, rigorously structured one woman show about blowjobs, but about so much more. There is, there is. And I think it’ll probably come to Netflix or some streaming service sometime soon. So I feel like people should look out for that. But there’s a Great New York Times Magazine article explaining more about it. But if you get a chance to watch it, it is so smart. She’s a

S1: genius. Hanna what about you?

S2: For me, it was. It wasn’t that hard because I was thinking of it more like, what’s actually? I’ve seen and watched and read and heard a million amazing things. You know, over the last year and a half like culture has been our lifesaver in many ways when we were locked up in the only way we get to experience like variety and other people’s consciousness and, you know, commune with people who are making other things. And so it’s been a total lifesaver. But in terms of what has impacted me the most, I would say it was Chloe Zhao, you know, both Nomadland and also the writer and then sort of watching all of her other movies. And I think it’s because of the way that she makes movies has shaken up my idea of myself as a journalist, meaning that she has a very different relationship with the subjects that she, you know, it’s like half documentary, half fiction. And I feel like the way journalism is practiced is overdue for a kind of reckoning, like it’s the way that that we as journalists kind of own the story over our subjects and the things and people that we write about. And we’ve always thought, OK, that’s the way that it has to be. Like, I tell the story, you’re my subject. I get to decide how your life is portrayed. And Chloe Zhao and I think documentarians, visual documentarians, not podcast yet are playing with that idea and like giving over the story in some weird, naturalistic way to the people that they are telling the story about. And it’s it’s a mix. It’s like, you know, Nomadland. There’s Frances McDormand, who’s an actual actress, and I’m sure there’s a script, but there are also these other people who are just kind of doing what they’re doing. And there’s a there’s a disappearance of her, the director. It’s just made me think a whole lot about the work that I do and how I do it and the power relationships between me and the people that I write about and and sort of ways that I’ve done stories in the past. I just feel like it’s stuck with me. The method of it has stuck with me for a really, really, really long time, and it’s like slowly changing the way I do work.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S3: When you talk about that Hanna, it actually weirdly makes me think about the whole Bon Appétit implosion and the podcast that was made about that, which made me think about the relationship of journalism and subjects. But also, I just want to shout that out as a piece of culture that I enjoyed, which was the slow form unraveling of Bon Appetit, which might make me a terrible person. But it was gossip when I needed gossip. So. But was it the

S2: podcast you enjoyed because we only heard half of it? Or was it? The unraveling of bon appetite as a cultural phenomenon or both

S3: more the latter, the podcast is a subset of that sort of implosion within the implosion and the, you know, all of that. I just I found it to be incredibly fascinating. I went really, really deep. That was that was something that was something that we did in our Little House on the Prairie. As we close read the masthead of Bon Appétit. We like went. We went pretty deep into it.

S1: OK, for me, I’m like Noreen in that I had to make a list and I’ll see what what surfaces as the most important. I really loved season six of Line of Duty. It’s kind of a weird end to the story, but I just think that show is so fantastic. I thought the most recent season of making gay history, which I believe is season nine, the Eric Marcus’s personal story of the AIDS era or the breakthrough of AIDS, was amazing. I really loved Natalie Haynes podcast. Natalie Haynes stands up for the classics, which is about the classics, as in Latin and Greek history and literature. Rick Perlstein history books and then a weirdly, I think maybe the thing that stuck with me in the way that that it has for you, Hanna and Chloe Zhao is I am one of those people, and this has been true for a long time. I’m much more interested in Patricia Highsmith as a person and biographies of her and books where she’s a character, novels where she’s a character more than the things that she’s actually written. I have actually listened to on as an audiobook her recently released diaries and notebooks. But even more than that, I’ve really enjoyed the reviews of that book, and there were some reviews of apparently terrible biography of Patricia Highsmith called Devil’s Lust and Strange Desires, which Terry Cassell absolutely demolished in such an entertaining way in the London review of books that I also I haven’t read the book yet. I’m not sure I will, but I have loved every single review of it.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S2: I loved her castle.

S1: Oh, that’s so good.

S3: I would love to see the data from your TiVo June from from

S2: Oh my god, I miss you so much, drew. And this is like, I don’t have anybody like this in my life who consumes in quite the way that you do, which is extremely particular. And I just miss knowing about it and like being influenced by it and just, you know, moving my like, adapting to it. It’s so awesome.

S1: Before we head out, let’s get to our current recommendations. What are you loving right now? Hanna let’s begin with you.

S2: I am reading a book called The Electricity of Every Living Thing by a British writer called Katherine May. I don’t know if you know her. She also wrote a book called Wintering. She’s like Cheryl Strayed, but like more chill. You know, like and this book is about actually being diagnosed as autistic in her 40s and and it’s a walking book. It’s one of those, you know, discover yourself as you’re walking, as your people do journey. And, you know, it’s a walking culture book. And I just I just love the way she writes, and there’s an amazing passage in it, which taught me a lot where as a lot of women with autism get diagnosed in their 40s, and she writes about the experience of reading kind of DSM descriptions of autism and not really seeing herself in them. And then she goes and discovers stuff written by autistic people, and she makes like a list of diagnoses as they appear from the inside, and that the kind of juxtaposition of those two lists, like how people from this goes back to the Chloé Zhao, who gets to tell your story question as sort of DSM. People from the outside make that list of symptoms and then people from the inside make the list of their experiences of living with autism, and she immediately recognizes herself. That was another powerful juxtaposition where I was like, Oh, what a difference. If you let the people who are having the experience actually tell the story about themselves and immediately, it’s like everything in her relaxes because she can now recognize herself. And I just love her writing. Oh, and June, the last season of Great British Bake Off. I’m doing this just to pander to you. But that was just amazing.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S1: Soon, as I saw Krystal, I’m like, She’s going all the way. Because not only does she have a winning personality, but also like if you have a person, a regular member of the public who is that beautiful, they are going to stay to the end. First episode, I’m like, OK, she’s going to be right there to the end.

S2: Male who looks like that and then has like 15 versions of herself called like, What were her sisters like Chanel, Crystal and whatever it’s like anyway? All right. Noreen, what about you?

S3: I have been enjoying the I think it’s Hulu show only murders in the building. Yes. Have you guys been watching this?

S2: Yes. Yeah, I love the way I love the music of that show, how they mess with the serial music. It’s so funny.

S3: It’s so funny. So if you’re not watching it, it’s Steve Martin and Martin Short and Selena Gomez, strangely, who is kind of great and seems to have chemistry with those little guys. And it’s weirdly, you know, I’m not a boomer, but I was raised by a buddy. You know, one boomer parent. And like, so Steve Martin and Martin Short for me are very deeply nostalgic. Like, you know, the three amigos. All of it. The premise of the show is these people live in an Upper West Side building that is clearly based on a real Upper West Side building. One Steve Martin’s character was, you know, the detective on a show like Matlock, but he hasn’t worked in years. Martin Short’s character was at one time, a big time Broadway producer. He had a giant flop that ruined his career, but they still have these apartments. Someone dies in the apartment building. They’re obsessed with the podcast that’s like Serial and they and Selena Gomez, their mysterious neighbor and fellow podcast Obsessive, decided they are going to make a podcast about the murder in the building. And it is just so just funny. Those guys are funny. They it’s sharply observed about what is hilarious about podcast culture, and it’s just a little treat at the end of the day.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S2: Dude, what are you going to recommend?

S1: I want to rave about the show. Yellowjackets on Showtime. I was on the culture gab fest a few weeks ago. And again, like, if this is the great, great value of being on podcast. So I watched it to talk about it on that show and I am so glad I started it. It’s such a great, messy show. If I say the plot is going to kind of sound terrible in the 90s, I guess the Championship, the state championship girls soccer team was flying out to nationals on the West Coast. Their plane crashes, they’re, you know, stuck in the middle of nowhere. You can imagine the hijinks that ensue. Some of them make it back home. And you know, in 2021, we we are so far, at least in the episodes that I’ve seen so far, four of them are still alive and kind of reckoning with what happened. And really, what’s amazing about it is, is that the actresses, like Melanie Lynskey is just superb. Christina Ricci is in it. Juliette Lewis Tawny Cyprus. Those are the four returnees, and they’re just so great. And I think just seeing having the messes that TV shows are about, be women’s messes. Like again, it’s ridiculous that that’s revolutionary, but it’s so cool and the acting is just phenomenal. I love everything about it. It’s fantastic, and I really encourage people to check it out, despite what you will think when you hear the plot. All right. That’s our show for this week. The Waves is produced by Shayna Rosin.

S2: Susan Matthews is the editorial director with June Thomas providing oversight and moral support.

S3: If you like the show, be sure to subscribe, rate and review wherever you get your podcasts. And please consider supporting the show by joining Slate Plus, members get benefits like zero ads on any Slate podcast and bonus content of shows like this one. It’s only a dollar for the first month, so to learn more, go to Slate.com, slash the waves.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S2: Plus, we’d also love to hear from you, so e-mail us at the waves at Slate.com.

S1: The waves will be back next week with another reunion show. Next week, you’ll hear from the other great throwback team of Christina Kulture, Richie, Marcia Chaplin and Nicole Perkins. Do not miss that. Thank you so much for being a Slate Plus member, and since you remember you get to hear this weekly segment and of course we had to revive, is it sexist? And we’re not messing around with a penny ante topic this week. Noreen Hanna, I want to know, are the holidays sexist? There’s so much family life work that often falls on women. The whole gifts and cards and family meals business. And if you eat meals together as part of your celebrations, apparently now there’s this expectation that you’re responsible for changing the minds of your relatives on political and social issues. And for me, I don’t do most of that other stuff. But no. December is officially Christmas movie month, and 99 percent of them are these very old fashioned, heterosexist rom coms. I guess the more I talk, the more I wonder if there’s anything that isn’t sexist about the holidays. Please talk me down.

S3: You know, you can decide or not to spend a ton of time working on Christmas presents or Hanukkah gifts, or you can just sort of like decide family togetherness is going to be the thing or like you can, you know, make your husband deal with the turkey or your partner or whatever. Like, I don’t know. I think it’s a choice, but of course there is social pressure, right? Everyone walks into your house for the holidays and it’s filthy and there’s no food. You might be judged more.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S1: Have you been to my house?

S3: No, I’ve been to my house. You might be judged more than a man would be right. So I don’t know. I don’t know. I’m talking myself around in circles, and I’m actually very curious to hear what Hanna thinks of someone who said the scales have fallen from her eyes recently about so much sort of internalized sexism. It sounds like just stuff she felt like she was doing for years. That was actually like shouldering too much of the burden.

S2: It feels too cranky to stick that on to the holidays. At first, when you were talking to you and I was like, Are we talking like Jesus? Like the sort of general patriarchal

S1: like about the birth of Jesus? Is this the whole thing about the birth of Jesus? Because that is sexist? Let’s not pretend

S2: so 100 percent completely very sexist. Like all of that, you know, packaging around Jesus now. Hanukkah doesn’t really sort of have that, you know? I don’t know. I guess the Maccabees, maybe it is a kind of warrior story. So I suppose in their origins, they’re all extremely patriarchal and sexist in terms of the actual practice of the holiday. The one thing we have to factor in here is the sort of male nostalgia around holidays, I think is is sort of very strong. And so often, you know, in my experience, men love those traditions in a in a very sort of particular way, in a different way than than women enjoy those traditions. But is the expectations around decoration and all that sexist? They definitely are. I mean, you can’t get around that what you said, Noreen. I mean, if you’re it’s like, it’s not just what you said, which is that sort of cooking. If somebody came into your house, like, who would they blame if your house was a shit show and your children had no presents like you, they would blame you. I don’t think there’s much doubt about that, but also the the emotional work around handling relatives like not just the political work, but like the sort of making sure that all the relatives get equal time and like, you know that everybody’s taken care of and all the parents feel good and all everybody’s just kind of accounted for that does feel a little bit like women’s work around the holidays. But can we just get into the joy? Are we going to be totally grinchy about this? Like, Oh, maybe I can. Well, just like the women experience extra joy from doing all of the work that they’re doing in these moments, like do they experience more connective joy, though? There is a price for it?

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S1: I do experience joy because I just don’t participate, like I don’t go home, which we can debate. How good are awful that is. I don’t have kids. I I do give a couple of gifts, but like, it’s not a big deal. We don’t really decorate. We go out to dinner like it. And it’s a day. It’s not just a day of like, it’s time off. It is. It is like ring fenced. It is time that you just get to spend on you if you choose not to participate. And there are very few things that you can choose, like the level of participation that you engage in because as we’ve said so much, so many of this kind of thing is semi compulsory. So I very much like that holiday madness can be opted out of, and I pretty much opt out of it. And and I that gives me great joy.

S2: Can I ask you? I think that’s amazing. June and two questions. Did it take you a long time? Was it a long process for you to opt out of it and be subset question? Do you feel no guilt and you feel totally fine about it?

S1: I feel no guilt. It took a while, only in the sense that I. I think I was very, very subject to the nostalgia and maybe still like I do want some presence. I like opening the presents and if I didn’t have presents, it would be OK, but I would, I would probably be a bit sorry for myself. But yeah. However long it took, it’s happened, though. So there we go. It’s done.

S3: I feel like the holidays are a nice time for sort of defining you and your little unit, right? Like, I have never really decorated my apartment and it’s never been that big. And all of a sudden this year, and now that we have a baby, we have like, you know, we have an advent wreath. We have to menorah as we have a Christmas tree, we have stockings. We are like figuring out what our little family traditions are going to be, what we’re taking from each side of our families, how we are going to handle all of that. And it’s kind of a nice and I’m sure we’ll come up with funny little traditions. I hope as our son gets older and you know, that are related to, but not entirely exactly the same thing as we did growing up. And I think it’s, yeah, just a nice moment for self-definition, whether it’s like, screw the holidays, I’m saying in an opening presents, but or it’s like this little thing where you shop from one house to the other. I don’t know. It’s just like a nice moment of self-definition.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S2: Yeah. And I think you’re in a beautiful phase of it. So I think it’s the most lovely, tender like sweet phase of gift of where it feels really generative and not like a hassle like you. It’s an act of creation, like we get to create and define things that are new and exciting. And I think that’s that’s like, there’s no that’s that’s nice, that feels really nice.

S3: The other member of my household does not believe that he hates decorations or whatever. It’s fine. It’s fine.

S1: Well, that’s a lovely note to end. So of course, there’s one more thing we have to do the traditional mark. So to 10. So on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being very sexist, how sexist are the holidays?

S2: Hanna seven.

S3: Noreen Yeah. Six.

S1: Six. Now I’m going to do something. I think they’re 10 sexist, but I think they’re zero because you’re you can fully upto if you want to. So I’m going to say, I guess that means five. So yeah, it’s kind of. So that means that the total or average. How sexist the holidays are this five, that’s pretty on sexist. That’s that’s probably No.

S2: Six, because we did five, six and seven. So it’s six.

S1: Oh, sorry. Yeah, sorry, I was. I was saying I did know that. I didn’t know that we always get the math wrong, even when it’s super easy. Oh my god.

S3: Remember how much we get called out for saying that?

S1: Yes, yes, I do. And I and I was like, Oh, thank God. When we would say that, I was like, Oh, thank God, that was a super easy summer. All right. So that’s a six. And I think that’s probably as sexist as we ever got. So well done holiday season. I’m proud of you. Thanks so much. Plus members for supporting the magazine and thank you Noreen and Hanna. This was amazing. I’m so happy to get to talk to you.

S2: It was so much fun. Happy holidays to both of you and to everyone listening. I miss you guys. Yeah, I miss you too.