Politits, the political radio show with a feminist twist on Belfield FM, which first ran in 2016-17, is back but in podcast form with Politics students Hazel Nolan and Aoife Doran. The girls are back feeling older and wiser. Chatting to the girls, you gather quickly they have learnt the mistakes from their freshmen year doing the radio show.
When I asked what has changed for them doing the show 2 years on from the original broadcast, both girls feel they have grown up a lot more, are much more independent in their thinking and they are now trying to deconstruct heavier topics this time around. Aoife, in particular, discusses how one thing that has changed in their sophomore year, is that their ‘preachy attitude’ during the first year is gone. When I asked to expand on that, Aoife says ‘we would go on the radio show, say hi how are you, these are our opinions and that was it. It’s horrendous to listen to, no one wants to hear two white girls trying to tell you what it is. Especially how 2 years ago, we don’t know as much as we know now. We’re trying to represent everything now’. Hazel adds to that with ‘we are trying to put ourselves into the shoes of people who wouldn’t be updated on everything, like in our Jordan Peterson, we tried to put ourselves in the shoes of Jordan Peterson’s fan, instead of just saying he’s just an idiot’.
Jordan Peterson is the Canadian psychology professor and known for being the ‘coolly rational man’ in facing down the hysteria of political correctness. He first came to rise on Youtube, expressing trouble over a federal amendment to add gender identity and expression to the Canadian Human Rights Act and has stardom has only increased due to his criticism against Marxism, human rights organisations, HR departments and “an underground apparatus of radical left political motivations” forcing gender-neutral pronouns on him. He has a massive following of white men, which has lead to his book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos to become a runaway bestseller in the UK, US, Canada, Australia, Germany and France.
So when Hazel and Aoife recorded the episode on Peterson, which is yet to released in the podcast form, they both wanted to hear different opinions other than their own, so they got a white man, they told me. Aoife told me that ‘He brought a whole new dimension to the episode. Aaron understood it a bit more than us. Everyone has internalised misogyny and Peterson has tapped into that and legitimises it. And for us, being women, we see the things Peterson says and we get really angry so it was great for Aaron to be there and explain it to us’. Hazel admits she didn’t originally didn’t want to talk about Peterson but Aoife pushed for it but feels now it could be their strongest episode.
When I ask them, do they think they have a voice that needs to be heard in this day and age in Ireland, they don’t think really think that their voices do need to be heard? Hazel says to me that they are by no means looking for a gap in the market. That white privileged voices do not need to be heard anymore. They want Politits to be more intersectional this time around and are very aware that there is not a lot of ‘white voices’ on the podcast scene. I argue however, that they are not giving themselves enough credit because what is great about their first episode on sex education, which is available on MixCloud, is how they went around to their friends asking about the sex education they have received in school and you are shocked at the confessions people are saying, one of them being that someone once had an encounter with a 26-year-old man who did not know how to put on a condom. That’s an interesting voice and perspective to have available to people. They said the experience of interviewing people about sex education and sexual experiences was awkward and uncomfortable at times but that is an interesting voice to have because, as Hazel points, they are not asking experts on the matter, it is people who don’t know the best way to sex education in Ireland or what do when the matter of consent becomes blurry. They are asking people who maybe have had a bad experience in that way and they are always interesting to listen to.
What, in my opinion, has perhaps changed the most since the girls stopped Politits, is the political landscape in Ireland. Hazel was head of UCD for Choice in 2016-17, which is how most people on campus would know her. During the first season of the show they would have a snippet for 30 seconds of what was happening in the Repeal Campaign at the time and so much of what Hazel was doing involving activism during the campaign, fitted very well into what they were discussing on the show at the time. Full disclosure, I was in the committee for UCD for Choice with Hazel and at the time, we were still fighting for the right to have a referendum be put to the people. And now we are living in a post-repeal society. Something Aoife says in the sex education episode is how she doesn’t know how we ever repealed the 8th amendment because of Ireland’s conservative approach to most things including sex education. But from our discussion of various different topics with the girls and their way approaching them, wanting to understand it from every perspective, it makes me hope that the modern women of this country are ready for a different way of doing things.
Politits is available on Mixcloud with the first episode on Sex Education available to listen right now. Follow Politits on Instagram and Twitter for updates on new episode and interviews.
By Ailbhe Longmore – Arts & Lifestyle Editor