Curated by Nahanni Rous, co-creator of the Jewish Women’s Archive podcast Can We Talk
Nahanni Rous hosts and produces the podcast Can We Talk for the Jewish Women’s Archive. She’s been listening to lots of women-centered podcasts lately, and has shared some of her favorites with RadioPublic.
I created Can We Talk in 2015 with Judith Rosenbaum, the Executive Director of the Jewish Women’s Archive. Judith has a PhD in women’s history, I have the audio storytelling chops. We’re both Jewish, feminist, and dedicated to collecting and sharing stories about women’s activism and lives. A lot has happened in our country since we started this show. I feel an increasing urgency about women’s stories — both to tell them, and to hear them. As the #Metoo movement reminds us, storytelling can be a form of activism, and a catalyst. I seek out women’s stories in order to hear different perspectives and to find common ground.
Happily there are now hundreds of women’s voices in the podcasting world — one playlist can’t encompass everything of quality. I’m sharing a dozen shows here that use various formats to address women’s intersectional identities — women talking about who they are, what shapes their identities, and how they are shaping the world.
As a story-teller rooted in my own particular identity, I also think it’s crucial — especially now — to connect with women of diverse backgrounds. Just as you don’t need to be Jewish to listen to Can We Talk, you don’t need to be queer, African American, Asian, the mother of a transgender child or even a woman to grow from the stories and conversations you’ll hear in the podcasts on this list.
Can We Talk?
This is my show — a scripted, storytelling-style podcast, produced by me for the Jewish Women’s Archive, mostly about Jewish women. Our special sauce is the historical rooting we give our stories, the gender lens, and the eclectic range of topics that illustrates the many ways Jewish women live and help shape society. We’ve done episodes on the history of the Equal Rights Amendment, the poem that gave the Statue of Liberty her voice, the Jewish story embedded in the classic film Dirty Dancing, women’s voices in broadcasting, and curly hair as a mark of Jewish pride, to name a few.
The Call with erica williams simon
A top-notch interview show, with inspiring guests and a skillful host. Erica Williams Simon draws out reflections and analysis grounded in her guests’ life experience. Simon is African-American, a former political activist and consultant, the daughter of a preacher, and describes herself as “faith-y.” I like the way she draws on all of these identities as an interviewer.
Ladies, We Need To Talk
A tightly produced, smart show hosted by Yumi Stynes for Australia’s ABC Radio. Stynes and her guests talk about sexuality and body image in a head-on, refreshing, and fun way. I admire how she dives into taboo topics — masturbation, what it’s like to be fat, what to do when you bleed through your jeans — all the while sounding self-confident and curious. Plus, the Aussie accents are so great.
How to Be a Girl
Marlo Mack and her young transgender daughter tell the story of her daughter’s transition to being a girl at the age of 3. Mack also interviews people whose paths they’ve crossed. Her beautiful storytelling chronicles motherhood, childhood, gender identity, and the rigidity and flexibility of society. Part of the beauty of the way she tells this story is the profound listening that comes through, which I think is always at the heart of powerful storytelling.
Tracy Clayton and Heben Nigatu talk about current events with each other and their guests. They’re smart and serious, but they also crack each other up. Their banter is inviting. I value the window into the sitting room of these two African-American millennial women… hearing what activates them, what makes them mad, and what makes them laugh.
Hour-long conversations between Cameron Esposito and LGBTQ+ entertainers, artists, and activists (mostly women and some men) about identity, sexuality, civil rights, and society. Esposito is also a stand-up comedian, quick on her feet as an interviewer, and generous in sharing her personal experience. In a powerful way, these conversations remind me of the slogan “the personal is political.”
Well-produced and often very personal stories of women fighting to protect and provide reproductive rights for women all over the country. I picked this podcast because it is an example of a series that dives deep into one of the most critical issues for women today.
The Catholic Feminist
Thoughtful discussion and interviews that wrestle with the complexity of being a devout Catholic and feminist. I included this show not only because I appreciate host Claire Winarski’s sincerity, but because her perspective on feminism and religious doctrine is often different from mine. It feels especially important these days to find measured, thoughtful voices that deliver different, and perhaps challenging, viewpoints.
Confessions of Successful Asian Women
This is another thoughtful interview show. Host Aliya Janjua interviews entrepreneurs, philanthropists, scientists, artists, and activists. She asks her guests to reflect on their life paths and how their careers dovetail with their religious, cultural, and family backgrounds. Janjua asks all her guests what “success” means, and I love that she gets a different answer out of all of them.
Not By Accident
Sophie Harper’s serialized story of becoming a single mother by choice. In each episode, Harper documents her experiences all the way from insemination clinic to her daughter’s toddlerhood. The episodes play like pages from Harper’s diary, with the voices of friends and family woven in. I like the way I as a listener become one of her confidants.
Inflection Point with Lauren Schiller
Lauren Schiller interviews women who are working against inequality, sexism, and violence. Topics range from girls’ activism around the world, to the gender pay gap, to how to keep our souls replenished in the fight for justice. Schiller focuses less on identity, and more on action and empowerment. Her guests do inspiring work in the world, and she skillfully helps them tell their tales from the trenches.
A history show relayed as a conversation between the two hosts, Beckett Graham and Susan Vollenweider. They tell stories of women from all periods of history, from the ancient Egyptian Pharoah Hatshepsut to the American Congresswomen Shirley Chisholm. The hosts provide detail and context for the lives of these women — not to heroicize them, but to ensure that they are part of our historical memory.
Taken as a whole, these dozen shows provide a vibrant range of women’s voices talking about women’s lives. Add them to your queues and press play! Happy listening.
Want to create your own collection of shows that dovetails with your area of interest? Add shows to your Smart Folder on RadioPublic, then inform the Podcast Librarian of your collection: firstname.lastname@example.org.