16 | The Trouble With Tropes

February 15, 2019

What’s a “woman in a refrigerator”? Are you more complex than an Old Maid or Bridezilla? Nagging wife or desperate for a husband?

We’ll discuss what tropes are, and what tropes storytellers use in their depictions of women. How do these tropes undermine or over-simplify women’s complex ranges of emotions, ideas, and personalities? How do tropes affect our own biases, and why does this matter?

With lots of examples from TV and movies, we get into crazy women, old maids, wedding-obsessed ditzes, and perhaps the most pernicious: straw feminists and women on the sidelines.

Don’t worry, we end with examples of TV shows, movies, and books that bust tropes with realistic, complex, nuanced female characters that bring women’s identities into the forefront.

 

Audio from: Wedding Crashers, The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, King of Queens, Everybody Loves Raymond, Friends, Community, Powerpuff Girls

With more examples from: Married With Children, Roseanne, New Girl

Shows We Recommend in This Episode: The Kids Are Alright, Orange is The New Black, The Wire, Grace and Frankie, Big Love, Parks and Recreation, Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy, Black-ish

Books We Recommend in This Episode: The Wife (Wolitzer), Manhattan Beach (Egan), Asymmetry (Halliday), Burning Girl (Messud).

Find Profess-Hers on Twitter and Instagram @professhers. Email us at professhers@gmail.com. Listen to us everywhere you find podcasts.

Written by Misty Wilson-Mehrtens and Allegra Davis Hanna

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15 | Math Class

February 8, 2019

We’re taking you to math class, as best as we can, to talk about math education for women, and some of our favorite female mathematicians and math experts.

From women in the 1800s who fought to go to college or invented computer programming, to women still alive with mathematical achievements that helped defeat Nazis and move us all forward.

This episode includes discussion of 4 awesome women, featuring a guest spot from our friends in the STEM Fatale podcast:

  • Ada Lovelace, who understood the concept for the first computer (the analytical engine)
  • Katherine Johnson, who completed flight path calculations for John Glenn using paper and pencil (and chalk and chalkboards) 
  • Elizebeth Friedman, who helped create the field of code breaking and used her skills during both World Wars
  • Grace Hopper, who served in the Navy, worked on the Mark I computer, and invented programming compilers

Find Profess-Hers on Twitter and Instagram @professhers. Email us at professhers@gmail.com. Listen to us everywhere you find podcasts.

Written by Misty Wilson-Mehrtens and Allegra Davis Hanna

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14 | Dudes + Feminism (Featuring a Profess-Him)

February 1, 2019

Do men need feminism? Does feminism need men? Is toxic masculinity real?

The answer to all of these questions is a very emphatic yes, and in this episode, we discuss examples from TV, academic research, and our own lives that can attest to that. While this episode includes discussions about serious stuff that we take seriously, we have lots of fun (and so many laughs) with our guest, a real-live dude professor who shares his perspectives and experiences.

We discuss the Big Bang Theory, Gamergate, Urban Dictionary, Man Wipes, Wonder Woman, a Gillette ad you may have seen, and satire.

Toxic behavior isn’t exclusive to men, and it’s certainly not universal among them, but there are expressions, actions, products, ads, and media that illustrate and amplify the toxic version of masculinity. Toxic enough to make many men feel not strong enough, toxic enough to make women wary, and toxic enough to put people at odds.

Find Profess-Hers on Twitter and Instagram @professhers. Email us at professhers@gmail.com. Listen to us everywhere you find podcasts.

Written by Misty Wilson-Mehrtens and Allegra Davis Hanna, Guest Rik Sehgal

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13 | Villainy, Crimes, and Musicals

January 25, 2019

Female criminals, anti-heroes and villains in history, literature and TV.

Why are female criminals oddly fascinating? How has their depiction changed over time, and what does their depiction tell us about ourselves? What’s up with playground chants about murder? Why do we need more female anti-heroes on TV?

We discuss some famous felonious women, and some lesser known lady criminals of history - including an exploration of the continued (and possibly sexist) depictions of Lizzie Borden, the women who (mostly) inspired the musical Chicago, and others.

We also get into the literary tradition of writing female villains inside and outside of stereotypes, inspiring performances by female actors, and accomplishments of female authors. Not happy to let Walter White and Tony Soprano have all the fun, we trace the history of televised female anti-heroes and decide on whether their representation is, in the end, beneficial representation after all.

Find Profess-Hers on Twitter and Instagram @professhers. Email us at professhers@gmail.com. Listen to us everywhere you find podcasts.

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12 | Lady Detectives on TV

January 18, 2019

From Charlie’s Angels to Brooklyn 99, how have female detectives and crime solvers been depicted on TV?

We discuss some notable TV detectives from Honey West to Jessica Fletcher, talk about how shows like Law and Order made progress in representation, and get into CSI and other shows that (thankfully) start to show more complex female characters. This episode also includes discussions about The Closer, Veronica Mars, Major Crimes, and some new shows this season that have us feeling hopeful.

It’s pretty obvious from the start that we think Brooklyn 99 is the most progressive example we have - and guest Cristina Sullivan shares her take on Latina representation in the show. We commend its humor, diversity, portrayal of LGBT characters, and its approach to important topics. But how did we get here - and why is this show a rarity?

In this episode, we end on a high note of progress, with some optimism about the future of female detectives on TV.

Find Profess-Hers on Twitter and Instagram @professhers. Email us at professhers@gmail.com. Listen to us everywhere you find podcasts.

Written by Misty Wilson-Mehrtens and Allegra Davis Hanna

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11 | Lady Detectives in History and Literature

January 11, 2019

Women solving crimes, preventing assassinations, gossiping to find killers, and breaking into archetypes and police forces.

Who are the notable female sleuths from literature, and how does their development reflect the changing nature of police departments? How does Agatha Christie’s most famous lady detective fit an archetype, but break the mold? What happened to the first generation of women who grew up reading Nancy Drew?

We start in the 1840s with literary traditions and the creation of modern police forces, introduce you to the real Kate Warne and a novel about her, and discuss literary and real-life legacies of women who changed crime solving.

In this episode, we make powerful connections between history and literature, and between modern policewomen and recent crime novels. You'll also get lots of great book recommendations!

Find Profess-Hers on Twitter and Instagram @professhers. Email us at professhers@gmail.com. Listen to us everywhere you find podcasts.

Written by Misty Wilson-Mehrtens and Allegra Davis Hanna

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10 | Modern Holiday

December 21, 2018

All we want for Christmas is non-oppressive media representation.

In our second holiday special, we get into seasonal sexism, Hallmark and Lifetime holiday movies, Elf on the Shelf, Dolly Parton, diamond rings, and non-problematic Christmas and holiday jams.

Remembering that the personal is political, we discuss some of our holiday memories and how women balance extra expectations around the holiday season. Remembering that we support each other’s choices, we discuss representation and gender roles in Christmas TV movies, but also why those movies are valuable.

We discuss lots of things that sneak up on us during the season: extra work, sexist advertising, Pinterest and other sources of pressure, and what should really matter.

Find Profess-Hers on Twitter and Instagram @professhers. Email us at professhers@gmail.com. Listen to us everywhere you find podcasts.

Written by Misty Wilson-Mehrtens and Allegra Davis Hanna

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9 | Classic Christmas (Or, How English Teachers Ruin Everything)

December 14, 2018

Baby, it's cold out there for a feminist.

In our first of two Christmas specials, we get into Little Women, and three classic “Christmas” carols. We're sure you're already familiar with how English teachers ruin stuff, but do y'all know how surprisingly rad Louisa May Alcott was?

This episode has everything: Literature and literary analysis, book-to-film adaptations, songs, jokes, history, women's movements, and what we want for Christmas!

Find out what Misty's historical final take on “Baby, It's Cold Outside” is (it may surprise you?), and learn about why “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” was banned for a year.

Find Profess-Hers on Twitter and Instagram @professhers. Email us at professhers@gmail.com. Listen to us everywhere you find podcasts.

Written by Misty Wilson-Mehrtens and Allegra Davis Hanna

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8 | Women In Sports: Play Like a Person and Look However You Want

December 7, 2018

Play like a man but look like a girl? We are going to hard pass on both.

Make-up, hair-dos, playing in dresses (or worse), having chaperones and going to charm schools: Playing professional sports seems to come with some serious restrictions for women.  

We talk about women playing professional sports in the US: the woman who was too good for Babe Ruth’s liking, the All-American Girls’ Professional Baseball League, women who play football the only way they can, what hasn’t changed since the 1940s, and how much we love that Geena Davis movie.

We have a lot of fun on this episode, and get to discuss history, culture, sports, and film. We promise even the non-sports fans among us will be glad they’re here.

Find Profess-Hers on Twitter and Instagram @professhers. Email us at professhers@gmail.com. Listen to us everywhere you find podcasts.

Written by Misty Wilson-Mehrtens and Allegra Davis Hanna.

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7 | Pop Charts, Not Pop-Tarts 2 (Women of Music Part 2)

November 30, 2018

Rebel girls, girl power, lady rock stars, Lilith Fair, and shaking off scrubs.

In our second music episode, we rock out with some of the greatest women of music from the 1980s and the 1990s. Listen as Madonna, Cyndi Lauper embrace their personal power, and Joan Jett and the Go-Go’s make space for female-led bands. In the 90s, we get alternative, and discuss songs that speak to what it was like to be a girl - or man, to feel like a woman.

Which songs speak to us about the complexity of womanhood? How does the history of female musicians relate to to women’s movements?

You’ll hear some of your favorite songs, and you’ll pick a side on our debate about Britney and Christina.

Find Profess-Hers on Twitter and Instagram @professhers. Email us at professhers@gmail.com. Listen to us everywhere you find podcasts.

Audio engineering by Austin Haynes. Written and presented by Misty Wilson-Mehrtens and Allegra Davis Hanna.

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