Backtalk: That’s Not Consent. That’s Capitalism.

This week, Dahlia and Amy get into the newest marketing ploy around consent: condoms that require four hands to open. These kinds of throwaway, viral products commodify ideas around sexual violence without actually working to solve a problem (while hoisting the blame for sexual assault away from the perpetrator), and we’re sick of it. And in Amy vs. Dahlia, we argue about what blast-from-the-past TV show needs to make a comeback. Text “reboot” to 503-855-6485 to let us know what you think!

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[FULL TRANSCRIPT]

DAHLIA: Our shows are produced by Bitch Media, a nonprofit, independent, feminist media organization that is entirely funded by our community. If you love waking up to new episodes of Backtalk and Popaganda, join hundreds of fellow listeners as a member of The Rage. As a member, your monthly donation includes a subscription to Bitch magazine in print and digital, a special rage-inspired mug you’ll never wanna put down, exclusive access to a members’ only texting group, and loads of other snazzy benefits. So, don’t wait. Become a member today at BitchMedia.org/rage.

[theme music]

AMY: Hi. Welcome to Backtalk, the feminist response to pop culture podcast. I’m Amy Lam, Contributing Editor at Bitch Media.

DAHLIA: And I’m Dahlia Balcazar, Senior Editor at Bitch Media.

AMY: And every episode we start by talking about our favorite pop culture moment. What’s yours, Dahlia?

DAHLIA: This is a clip from an interview that Cardi B did last week. And listen to the delightfulness for yourself.

[recorded clip plays]

INTERVIEWER: Is there ever a chance that you and Nicki would make up and perform together?

CARDI B: …. [Cackling.]

INTERVIEWER: I love your laugh.

CARDI B: [Continues laughing.]

INTERVIEWER: Thank you, Cardi. Thank you.

CARDI B: Thank you.

DAHLIA: My favorite thing about this clip, it’s like it’s not clear what Cardi is cackling about. Is she cackling about her feud with Nicki Minaj, or is she cackling at this interviewer’s attempt to use her catchphrase? But she really is just cackling like a wicked witch for a full 10 seconds, just refuses to answer the question, just starts cackling. And I love it. I wish I could behave that way in real life whenever I didn’t wanna answer a question, just cackle like a villain and then flee.

AMY: I think what you can’t see ‘cause we’re listening to it, but the face that she just gives him after he asks her the question, she has kind of like a very pleasant smile, but very knowing. But I think that cackle is because you know how she’s made a move to trademark her catchphrase?

DAHLIA: Oh!

AMY: Yeah, maybe it’s ‘cause now he owes her hella royalties. [Laughs.]

DAHLIA: That’s funny. She’s laughing ‘cause she’s like, give me money. You owe me money.

AMY: [Continues laughing.] Yeah.

My favorite pop culture moment also has a little clip with it. I saw this tweet from Monica Eng who is a producer at WBEZ in Chicago. It’s like a radio station there. I think it’s maybe the NPR station there. I guess they had granted Make-A-Wish to this little girl. She was 5 years old. Her name is Azka, and I guess her wish was to make a mystery podcast. And it’s so adorable! And Monica Eng had tweeted it because the first part of her wish was to make the podcast, and the second part of it was for people to listen to it. And as a podcaster, just to hear somebody go on air and just be their full self and tell it a really fun and silly story, it just melted my cold, cold, ice-cold heart. [Laughs.] So, I just wanted to play a little clip of her telling this story that’s about these people, and there’s a good mystery. And she’s telling it with so much delight and seriousness for a 5-year-old. It’s just the best.

[recorded clip plays]

My name is Azka, Azka Sharief. I am 5 years old. I am in kindergarten at Stevenson School in Des Plaines. And I am doing a podcast on a story I wrote! [bouncy music] The name is The Stealer of the Diamond.

[cutesy bells ring]

AMY: So I wanna take a moment to think people who took the time to read and review us on iTunes. Thank you so much. Y’all are the best! We got some new reviews, and one that I really liked is from somebody, their user name is Team Cat Forever. You know that’s contentious to me ‘cause Dahlia and I actually argued about dogs versus [laughing] cats—

DAHLIA: Oh yeah!

AMY: —not long ago, and you guys know I am firmly team dog. But I respect this Team Cat Forever person because they gave us a very nice review. And the review says, “You know, there are a lot of feminist commentary podcasts out there these days, but I always end up dropping them because nothing compares to the nuance, radically intersectional, and deeply cathartic rage-fueled discussions Amy and Dahlia have on Backtalk.”

DAHLIA: Aw!

AMY: “Open your ears, your mind, and your third eye, and give them a listen.”

DAHLIA: Oh, thank you so much!

AMY: Thank you so much. I can forgive that you love cats…for such a good review.

BOTH: [Laugh.]

DAHLIA: I love cats too.

AMY: Yeah, you’re totally a cat person. But if you have a moment, and you wanna share your cat or dog lovingness, [laughs] you can come and rate and review Backtalk on iTunes. Thank you so much.

[cutesy bells ring]

DAHLIA: In our last installment of Amy vs. Dahlia, we argued about which is the hardest part of adulting. Is it, as Amy said, paying bills on time? Or is it, as I said, feeding yourself? And the votes are in. And guess what! I won! Feeding yourself is the worst part of being an adult. I love to read the comments and what people added to the voting. And someone wrote, “I’m not yet an adult, but Amy is making me nervous.”

AMY: [Laughs.]

DAHLIA: And then someone else wrote, someone was saying like actually, we have it wrong. “It’s not only that you have to pay bills on time, but that they are also all due at the same time.”

AMY: Yes, yes.

DAHLIA: Which, that is totally true. Man, but I’m really heartened by all of these people who also feel these feelings about how hard it is to be an adult.

AMY: Yes!

DAHLIA: It’s really, it’s, it’s—I’m the kind of person that when I feel bad, I don’t mean to say I wanna drag someone into my bad feelings, but if someone else is like, “Oh! That has also made me feel bad,” I’m like, Oh my god, really? I’m not alone? Like it’s so meaningful to me if someone else can share a negative experience that I’ve had. And so, it’s like I was saying: I felt a little, I don’t know, kind of silly talking about these things because it’s…. I don’t know. I feel like when you become an adult, you’re expected to just take it, kind of like man up and do it and not really complain about it that much. And I really, I love the chance to complain about it.

AMY: And you know, I also felt kind of silly when we had the argument. I was like, oh people are gonna think we’re just whiny or whatever. But when people voted and responded, it actually heartened me. I’m like, oh my gosh. We’re not alone. And the other things that people like, ‘cause you can also comment and tell us, like you said what else they are annoyed by about being an adult, people said things like cleaning. And I’m like, oh my god. You’re so right! I fucking hate cleaning!

BOTH: [Laugh.]

AMY: You know, just like little things, yeah. And somebody had written, “Working 40 hours a week with no summer break until the end of time is, by far, the worst.” Yes! Okay.

DAHLIA: Agreed.

AMY: That’s true.

DAHLIA: That’s like too real. I didn’t—That’s so much. [Laughs.]

AMY: I think essentially, they’re saying capitalism as part of being an adult is the fucking worst.

DAHLIA: Yes!

AMY: So honestly, thank you all so much for voting and then sharing your feelings ‘cause it kinda does affirm to us that we’re not alone in our frustrations. Because I think often, we just go through these motions and do these things because that’s what a “responsible adult” is supposed to do. And we don’t often question why we’re doing these things or what responsibilities we have, but it really is comforting when we know that there are other people feeling the same ways and are also frustrated and scared or feeling alone in these types of responsibilities. So, it was just very heartening to read everything.

DAHLIA: It’s really meaningful to us when we can connect with you and when you feel like we’re speaking to you. Which of course, we are. You know, here we are speaking to you. And when you speak back to us, I don’t know. I know we talk about this sort of every episode, but I’ve been working on articulating my feelings. I listen a lot to that Drake song “I’m Upset,” and then I just practice saying, “I’m upset.” And I think it’s a good skill to learn to articulate, to share what you feel. Oh, now I’m just getting like so self-helpy. I think that it is very difficult to share what you are upset about because it is scary. The idea of someone being like, “Why would you even be upset about that,” is really scary and would feel belittling. And so, I think when you put yourself in a vulnerable position, you say like, “Oh, I’m scared about politics,” or “I’m scared about climate change,” or actually it’s so, “I’m scared about being able to pay my rent,” you know, I think that there is meaning and solidarity in sharing your feelings and finding community when you do that. So I appreciate it so much, and it warms our hearts so much to see all of these comments from you.

So, this Amy vs. Dahlia is gonna be a little more lighthearted. This month, The Twilight Zone reboot premiered, which I have been so excited about. And it got us thinking about just old show reboots, which I’ve noticed that there have been so many of recently, you know. You know how Hollywood loves to recycle their properties. So, you know, there’s a Sabrina the Teenage Witch reboot. Roseanne was a reboot. One Day at a Time is a reboot. And so, we wanted to do this Amy vs. Dahlia about what is an old TV show that should be rebooted but has not yet been? And I turn to Amy to begin with her argument.

AMY: My pick is maybe a little obscure, but I think it warrants rebooting. It was such a good and fun show, and it is Small Wonder. I don’t know if you all know it, but it’s a show from the ’80s. And I think I watched it in syndication in California when I was a kid. And the premise of the show is that there is this family, like a mother, a father, and a son. And the father is some kind of robotics engineer. And so, he creates a robot, and her name is VICI. And VICI stands—it’s VICI—VICI stands for Voice Input Child Identicant. [Laughs.]

DAHLIA: Oh, god!

AMY: Yes. And so, VICI is essentially a 10-year-old girl, and VICI is played by obviously, a young girl at the time. Her name is Tiffany Brisette. And it was a sitcom, you know like a multi-cam sitcom, half an hour with commercials and everything. And I just love the premise so much ‘cause it’s really about how nobody could tell that this little girl, [uses robotic voice] who literally talks like this, [regular voice] is a robot.

DAHLIA: [Laughs.]

AMY: And how she did not have her own bedroom. Everybody thought that she was an actual little girl. And so, but she had not superpowers, but she had super strength and the ability to read very fast because she’s an android; she’s not a real person. And so the show is just about how the family’s trying to hide her true identity even though she literally sleeps in her “brother’s” closet. She walks into the closet, and that’s how she goes to sleep. But I think that a 2019 reboot of it would be so fun because we are talking about actual real AI technology. We do have some types of robot-y people who behave in bizarre ways but can hold actual conversations with folks. And I think that a 2019 reboot would just show how far technology has gone, and I think the comedy that could arise from an actual AI living amongst us and us not being, and everybody is not aware, and they’re behaving in such bizarre ways, but it’s just let’s just chalk it up to them being a weirdo, I would love to see a version of a Small Wonder, and the robot is the cloud or something, you know?

DAHLIA: Oh yeah.

AMY: This is an obscure one, and I don’t think a lot of people will know this show, but look it up.

DAHLIA: [Laughs.]

AMY: Try to find an episode of it. It is so cheesy but so fun, and I think I’m just nostalgic for how precious we used to be about technology and the things that we thought it could do and compared to now in the ways that we use technology.

DAHLIA: It’s funny. I feel like maybe you and I were not exactly on the same wavelength but similar. I almost like gasped when you said yours because my pick, it’s not really the same, but you’ll see. My pick for TV show that should be rebooted is the ’80s and ’90s sitcom—Well, I don’t know if it’s a sitcom. It’s kind of serious. A dramedy, let’s say, The Wonder Years.

AMY: NOOOOO!!!

DAHLIA: Oh my god! Do you hate The Wonder Years? Don’t say that. Okay.

AMY: No, I have feelings. Go ahead.

DAHLIA: Okay. So, The Wonder Years is set in the ’60s and ’70s. It’s about a family, the Arnolds, and I just was obsessed with it as a young kid. I watched it on Nick at Nite all the time. I just love, love, loved it. But I think that what a reboot needs to be resonant, especially if it’s sort of like “a period piece,” you know I think that when political or social or cultural moments sort of align, I think that’s when bringing something back from the past can be really resonant and really meaningful. And something that I think maybe not enough people noticed about The Wonder Years is on its face, it seems again, like a sitcom, like very happy and very pleasant. But it does really trouble a lot of ideas about suburbia and especially the Vietnam War and capitalism. And it really does sort of get to you know, even though it plays on this idea that weren’t the ’60s the best? Like wasn’t it so great in the ’50s and the ’60s? You know, because of the title The Wonder Years. I think what it ultimately shows is that it does trouble the time period, that it says actually, these times were very fraught, and they were filled with beautiful moments between Winnie Cooper and Kevin Arnold. But they were also very heavy and difficult for families at the same time. And that’s why I was not sure whether to call it a sitcom or a dramedy because I think it is really serious and sort of in the same way that The Crucible was written to talk about McCarthyism even though it’s about the Salem witch trials. I feel like a reboot of The Wonder Years could be really engrossing. What are your feelings, Amy? [Chuckles.]

AMY: My feelings are I actually watched the show also on syndicate, and I watched it ‘cause my brothers liked it. And I think my feelings about it—‘Cause even though I was watching it as a kid, I already knew that there was something about the show that didn’t resonate with me. Because even as it does what you’re saying, it’s talking about a specific time period and the turmoil that it’s going through, it’s also hyper-focused on the trials and tribulations of Kevin, Amold. Do you remember that episode when he got an ID chain for, like the bracelet for Winnie?

DAHLIA: Oh yeah!!! Kevin Amold. [Laughs.]

AMY: And they misspelled his name. Yes. So, I always call him Kevin Amold. [Laughs.] And so, I just think that there are like a million shows about boys coming of age.

DAHLIA: Boys, that’s what I thought you were gonna say, yeah, yeah, yeah.

AMY: Yes. And I mean maybe I would fuck with it if it was rebooted with a whole new family, and it was like focus on maybe a young girl of color growing up at that time. That would be a show I would fuck with.

DAHLIA: Pretend like that’s what I said.

BOTH: [Laugh.]

DAHLIA: No, ‘cause I totally hear you that there is a lot of this like, wow! Isn’t it amazing growing up and being a boy? I totally hear you. So, I should’ve said like maybe from a sister’s perspective or a different family but…. Man, Amy! You always demolish my arguments.

AMY: [Laughs.]

DAHLIA: I can’t recover! Yeah, so vote. If you text the word “reboot” to 503-855-6485, you can vote on which show you would want to see rebooted. And then also of course, we’ll also let you tell us if there’s a different show that you think should be rebooted. And man, Amy! I really thought making you go first would make me win this time, but I think I’m wrong.

AMY: Well, but the obscurity of my show might play in your favor.

DAHLIA: All right. We’ll see. Audience, it’s up to you.

[cutesy bells ring]

In our main segment, we’re gonna talk about consent and sort of the commodification of consent practices. We were thinking about that because last week, the Argentine condom and sex toy company Tulipán came out with an ad for what they’re calling a consent condom pack. In order to use the condom, the package has to be pressed on all four sides simultaneously, which its design allegedly is such that in order to open the condom, four hands have to be on it. Which supposedly that means that there’s consent. It turns out that this was kind of like a viral marketing thing for Tulipán. The executive creative director commented. He said it was never intended for sale. It’s a limited edition designed only to raise awareness about consent. And I think that really gets to—I mean like I’m so glad that this person said this quote because—I think it really gets to what we wanna talk about, which is these kinds of viral flash marketing “solutions” to problems like consent that don’t solve a problem. Buying a product does not solve the huge cultural problem we have of people not knowing or refusing to get proper consent from their sexual partners.

AMY: Yeah. It’s so wild because if you think about if somebody’s going to perpetrate sexual violence, not only are they not going to ask for your two hands to help open this theoretical condom wrapper, but they’re most likely unconcerned with putting a condom on, you know what I mean. And I think that types of viral marketing like this do something in terms of sparking conversations, but I think that the conversations that they tend to spark are really wrongheaded and are even sometimes very irrelevant, you know? Why put the time and energy into even creating this type of prototype sort of? I think it’s even kind of like an art piece, you know, to make some type of social commentary, but the social commentary here is a little moot. Because I think that when we think about, especially for a company that makes sex toys, but a company that makes condoms, to think that they’re using that as a way to further their brand makes me think about, what do they think that their products are being used for? Or how do they think that the people who are using their products think about sex and consent?

And it also, I think in a way, I think that it undermines how people understand sex and consent or undermines people’s intelligence around that conversation. It’s like, “Oh, hey guys. In order for you to use this theoretical condom, everybody has to give an enthusiastic yes with their hands! And we can see then, and then you can then proceed with having safe sex.” I think that by doing something like that, it really shifts the conversation away from what true sexual violence is like, how those situations occur, like the responsibility that we have to prosecute and find perpetrators. It’s like, I think that it’s shifting the conversation into a way that’s very unproductive and actually doesn’t do very much to focus the conversation on why is sexual violence so prevalent. And what do they think that this type of marketing trick will help it?

DAHLIA: I also feel like stunts like this sort of truncate the conversation around consent because it’s really reinforcing the idea that consent happens one time at the beginning of sexual activity, and that’s it. And I feel like that, sort of the fact that actually consent is a constant negotiation or a collective process that is ongoing, that consenting to one sexual act does not mean consenting to another, I think that products like this or stunts like this really, again, go back to this idea that like oh, all you need is one yes at the beginning, or all you need is her hands on the condom at the beginning. Instead of real education, which is like consent is an ongoing process during which sexual partners are communicating and continuing the consent process rather than saying like, oh, well, we signed a contract at the beginning of sex. So now, the whole consent, it’s all done. We all agreed to everything.

AMY: Yeah, it’s ridiculous. And then I think it that type of idea puts the onus on the person to accept that once they have given the initial consent, then no holds barred. Then they’ve given up all their other rights, essentially, you know. It’s like well, I guess this is it. I don’t get another chance to back out. And that’s not how that works. It’s way more nuanced, and it isn’t just like a one stop shop for consent.

And also, the ideas for products like this, I think it falls into the categories of products that are theoretically about prevention but don’t actually address the core issues of sexual violence. Kind of like I’ve heard stories about anti-rape underwear or types of devices that women can wear around their waist or their crotch in case somebody’s trying to assault them. Then they deploy these devices upon their attackers. And I think that things like this put the onus on the person who are at risk for being assaulted to protect themselves. Like this notion that like, oh, you can give consent by also putting your hand around this condom wrapper so that everybody is in agreeance, it undermines this idea that why aren’t people who are perpetrating, why aren’t we doing more to figure out what is happening with them and having them prevent their atrocious actions? Rather than putting it on the person who is more vulnerable to the attacks and making them be the ones to decide these things. It’s just like I just think it’s so bizarre that, I don’t know, that the conversations goes that way and that a condom company would use something like consent as a marketing tool. It just seems very insensitive. And I don’t know. It’s insensitive and throw away and just as a means for marketing. Which makes me feel even worse about the situation, even worse about the idea of the product, and even worse about the company who actually makes these products that people use to have safe sex. Ugh.

DAHLIA: You know, and actually what you just said was really, really helpful for my thinking because there are products sort of similar to this. Like throughout the past 10 years or so, I’ve seen a lot of products that sort of engage with sexual violence in some way. And I think some of them, I remember there is like a nail polish that changes color if there’s a roofie in your drink. And again, having nail polish that changes colors doesn’t stop someone from putting a roofie in your drink. So it’s not really like focusing on that behavior. It’s focusing on what a person can do to protect themselves. But I feel like that is at least kind of solving a problem in a way that this condom is not.

And what it was really reminding me of as you were just talking is a lot of transphobic people, when they’re talking about bathroom bills—I know this is a weird stretch or a weird rhetorical leap but—when transphobic people, who I think are arguing in bad faith of course, are talking about bathroom bills, they say things like, “Well, if this bill passes, then a man can just walk into a woman’s restroom and assault them.” And like yeah, that can already happen, you know. People who are committing crimes, people who are violent, that is already a crime. Assaulting someone is already a crime. And so, it’s again, it’s just like these people, people who are predators don’t care about whether or not you know all four hands are on the condom. Sexual assault is a violent crime, and it’s not gonna be solved by this silly condom packaging.

AMY: I think that these things where the preventative-ness is the responsibility of the person who is more vulnerable, it just keeps feeding into this idea of no, we need to educate girls or like vulnerable people on how to protect themselves versus no, we need to tell men in particular that nobody owes them anything. Especially anything like any type of sexual behavior. And I think that when things like this pop up, it’s just a reminder to, I think, women and especially I think younger women who maybe don’t have as much experience or maybe could be more naive about these things, it reiterates this idea to them like, hey, you’re responsible for whether or not somebody will attack you. You’re responsible for putting your hand on that condom thing. And then once you do, you’ve given consent for the rest of the night or whatever.

So, I think that when products or ideas like this enter the zeitgeist, it just kinda reaffirms this idea, even very subconsciously and very in-your-face consciously, that when it comes down to it, we are responsible for whether or not somebody is going to attack us. And I think that’s at the root of why things like this might seem like oh, it’s like a little marketing trick. Oh, how funny. Haha or whatever. But I think it’s insidious, and it kinda like just keeps stacking on these messages that we hear as vulnerable people constantly, that we’re the ones that should be responsible. And if we’re not being responsible, if we did put our hand on this condom wrapper and later on we decided to take back our consent, well, you’re shit out of luck ‘cause you already opened it. [Chuckles.] And so, that\’s why I do think that even when the guy from the company said like, “You know, don’t worry guys. It’s not a real thing,” it is somehow a thing that has now entered our consciousness about how we think about consent. And I think that not taking a responsibility with that or offering more, like making it so that this conversation expands a further out than this fun marketing viral thing that they did, it’s what’s most disheartening I think about the conversation around consent and sexual violence.

[cutesy bells ring]

DAHLIA: At the end of every episode we share something we’re reading and watching and listening to. And this week, we have a shared watch pick, and it’s the fact that Game of Thrones is back for its final season!

[Game of Thrones theme music plays]

AMY: GAME OF THROOOOONES! [Laughs.] Yes, it is back. It is so back. I think I love this show for many reasons. I think this is so weird to say, but I think part of the reason why I like this show now in this point of time in my life is because it makes me feel like I am part of this big group of people who watch this show. [Laughing.] I don’t know how else to explain it. And of course, I’m very excited to see what happens to all the characters. I’m very intrigued to know who will become the one true ruler of all seven kingdoms. And I think that one of the pleasures of watching this show is to see how the storytelling has unfolded, not even the story itself, not even the content, but the way the show frames the storytelling. Because there’s been an evolution in the show that I don’t think that the showrunners get that much credit for it because I mean TBH, I love shitting on them because they’re like these two kind of clueless white guys who pitched a show called Confederate that they wanna make after they’re done with Game of Thrones.

But there’s been an evolution in the way that, speaking of sexual violence, in the way that they depict sexual violence on the show. Because I think that they really took to heart the feedback that viewers gave them. Because in the earlier seasons, they treated sexual violence like it was just like some throwaway plot point, and they depicted it really, I think, in cruel ways. And yes, there have been moments where I think they kind of took a few steps back, you know? No spoilers, so I won’t mention them. So I hope that in the rest of the season that they continue with this. And you know, I’m ignorant about the book, so I don’t know how George R. R. Martin has written like the arc for these characters. But I get this feeling that some of the way the plot points in this show works, has been based on the type of feedback and encouragement that they’ve received from their audience. And this is a theory I have I have no concrete proof of this.

Also, because I’m ignorant—I haven’t read the books—but I think that visually as a story and the way that they tell storytelling, in this first episode, there are moments where I felt like they were pandering a little bit [laughs] in the way that they showed how characters behaved. And I think they’re pandering to people like me. Like I want to see strong women characters. I want to see things where women aren’t being subjugated. I want to see brown folks in the white spaces and how the white folks around them really react to the brown folks. So, I think that they’re doing things that are kind of nods to viewers like me. And this is the first episode of the new season, and I just cannot wait to see what the rest of the season will be like.

DAHLIA: You know, we talk all the time on this show about sort of the vast importance of media in proliferating messages about gender and violence, and specifically now, we’re talking about sexual violence. And just like to put this into perspective—although I’m not very good with numbers, so even though, I mean it’s hard for me to even visualize—17.4 million people watched the Game of Thrones premiere. And that’s the largest-ever audience that HBO has had at one time ever. And so, this show is huge, and the messages that it’s spreading about you know again, about sexual violence and gender are reaching huge amounts of people. And so, I am heartened that you feel like they are taking to heart—I’m heartened that you feel like they’re taking to heart—because there has been a lot of really problematic depictions of sexual violence and really triggering and upsetting and really horrible representations of sexual violence. And things like that matter because look: 17.4 million people are watching.

AMY: I just hope, fingers crossed, that the next seven episodes will challenge us but also not exploit things that have made me feel not good about it in the past.

DAHLIA: Yeah.

I have the read pick this week, and I wanna recommend the novel The Night Swimmers by Peter Rock. He was a college professor of mine, so I’m a little biased. But I loved this book. It is set in the ’90s and now, and it follows the narrator who’s a recent college graduate and is sort of in that postgrad what am I doing sort of phase that I remember all too well. And he is spending some time in Wisconsin, and he’s a swimmer and starts swimming in this lake at night with a young widow. And the two of them form this friendship that is just based around the fact that they are night swimmers, that they swim together at night. And there’s a lot of mystery and some magic, and it sort of goes back and forth between this time period in the ’90s and then also now as the narrator is sort of reflecting back on that time and also thinking about his family now. But the scenes of swimming were just so entrancing to me, and like I myself am not a swimmer. I’ve certainly never swam across a lake at night. But this idea of just the vastness of the water underneath you and just what’s in there and what’s looking up at you, I just, I really, really loved it. So, I wanna recommend The Night Swimmers by Peter Rock.

AMY: Oh, that sounds great. So, my listen pick is a track from Tierra Whack. So, I learned about Tierra Whack because last year she released this sort of like visual E.P. album. I’m not sure how to explain it, but it’s called Whack World. And I think it’s strung together a few, like maybe four or five songs, and each song is very short. And it has these amazing, super creative, absurdist visuals that go with it. First of all, I implore you to go to YouTube and find Tierra Whack’s Whack World. It is so fun to watch. But the track that I am recommending is called “Only Child.” In the past month or so, Tierra Whack has been releasing about a song a week on her YouTube channel, and I just can’t get enough of this. I think she’s a really great emcee, and I’m just waiting for her to blow up farther than she already has.

[“Only Child” plays]

♪ “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah-yeah, yeah/
You ain’t never think about nobody but yourself
Selfish/
Might not really care, wait until you’re gonna need my help/
Helpless” ♪

AMY: Thanks for listening.

DAHLIA: Thanks for listening.

♪ “You ain’t never think about nobody but yourself/
Selfish/
Might not really care, wait until you’re gonna need my help/
Helpless (Help me, please)/

You must be the only child because you’re so stingy/
I just wanna go buck wild when you don’t defend me…” ♪

DAHLIA: Thanks for listening to Backtalk. This show is produced by Cher Vincent. Bitch Media is a reader-and listener-supported feminist nonprofit. If you wanna support the show and our work, please head over to bitchmedia.org and donate.

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by Amy Lam
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Amy Lam is Bitch Media’s contributing editor. Find her at @amyadoyzie.