Ep. 17 - Helen Lewis on where feminism sits with woke
I’ve just had a very fun chat with Helen Lewis, the pre-eminent British journalist of The Guardian, The Atlantic, GQ and others - about Difficult Women. That’s the topic of the podcast, but it’s also the name of Helen’s eye-opening new book which you can get in all the normal places and Amazon.
I wanted to have her on the show because she has a distinctively measured take on the battles women have faced over the last century or so. Her book covers obstacles women have had to overcome over the years, such as getting divorce legalised, getting the vote, changing the way we talk about sex and so on. But it does so without lecturing or reproaching men; while also adopting a warts and all approach to the women she writes about.
They weren’t saints – and Helen writes about things like the jealousy and classist rivalries in the suffragette movement; and how some of these pioneering feminists were attracted to fascism and eugenics. I also wanted to have Helen on because I’ve recently had conservative Lord Daniel Finkelstein, and before that, anti-woke academics – and I don’t want this podcast to become some sort of hub of incels and misogynists and things – Helen shows how you can be an activist, you can fight for social justice without alienating everyone else or showing off your virtue.
She has long been a famous name in British journalism. She’s made radio documentaries for the BBC, including a recent one I enjoyed called the Roots of Woke Culture, where she interviewed anti-social justice scholars Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay – who also came on this podcast. However, her name really took off online after her GQ interview on YouTube with famous Canadian psychiatrist Jordan Peterson. I don’t want you to leave this podcast, but I do recommend you check it out – it has 16 million views right now, so it’s likely you’ve already seen it.
I thought she really held her own against one of the world’s most famous intellects. Concerned about woke culture and often extending an olive branch to men. We discuss that Jordan Peterson interview as well as trans rights, woke culture, sex and…we really do laugh quite a lot, I really enjoyed this one, and hope you do too.
Do check out some of my other episodes, from the Coffin Confessor who reveals the secrets of the dead at funerals and the man who killed his girlfriend by accident to the interview with NME music journalist James McMahon on OCD.