Big Sister Hotline: S02E13 Feat. KAREN PICKERING

CN: This episode contains discussion of sexual assault and rape, homicide and vigilantism.

Hello there everyone! I've tinkered with the format of the show this week, quite by accident. However, it turns out I like the tinkering and I'm curious to know what you think about it. New format might look something like this: Intro, followed by a short segment called SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT in which my guest and I unpack something that's widely accepted as being standard or traditional but is probably pretty indefensible when it comes down to it, and then a much longer and meatier segment talking about a more specific issue. This might be something that's happened in the news that week or something we've read about or an idea we've had or even the particular specialty of the guest in question (for example, in Aja Barber's episode we would have devoted this segment to discussing her work around fashion and sustainability). Finally, each episode will end with a very short segment on something that's bringing joy or working positively in the world.

My guest this week is hotline regular, KAREN PICKERING. She's a feminist and a community builder, and is currently writing her third book THE MOTHER OF ALL SHOCKS, a book about the industry of motherhood and all the ways we are being failed by it while encouraged to enter it. She's one of my besties! Here's how the episode looks:

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT: Karen used to work at the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, and we talk here about the cultural practice of women changing their names after marriage to men. Why is this still happening? Where does it come from? And why is 'choice' such an illusion?

THE MEATY MIDDLE: There's a heavy content note for this segment, because the topic is pretty full on. A tiktok popped into my feed the other night, featuring a man who spent 19 and a half years in prison. The reason he first entered the system (and stayed in it, as so often happens with the prison industrial complex)? When he was 12, he murdered another boy in his neighbourhood as an act of retaliation for the boy sexually assaulting his sister. What disturbed me about the tiktok was both in how unrepentent he still was about the crime and how enthusiastically so many of the comments supported him. It struck me as a really good example of how sexual assault and rape is only seen as real or legitimate if men take it on themselves to avenge women - because when women come forward with their own testimonies of this violence, we are so often disbelieved and further abused, with urgings to reconsider 'destroying' a man's life. Karen and I have a long discussion here about vengeance, testimony and who gets to be championed in situations like this. We touch on 'Promising Young Woman', the Brock Turner rapist trial and the documentary series, 'I'll Be Gone In The Dark'.

POUR SOME SUGAR ON ME: Finally, in the joyfulness close out, Karen and I talk briefly about Ted Lasso and the immense pleasure this show is giving so many people. It's such a wonderful exploration of community and kindness, and it dissects toxic masculinity so well while demonstrating what POSITIVE masculinity looks like!

Don't forget to let me know what you think of this format!

Follow Karen on Instagram: @karenpickering


Instagram: @clementine_ford



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