Hillary Frank, creator and host of the wildly popular parenting podcast The Longest Shortest Time, says she encountered “the special misogyny reserved for mothers” when first trying several years ago to get her show on the radio. As Frank writes today in a New York Times op-ed, she was met with “rejection after rejection.”
One editor said she sounded “like a little girl.” Others questioned if there was an audience “for this kind of thing” or whether anyone other than moms would listen. This struck Frank, who at the time didn’t identify as a feminist, as odd. “I don’t hear anyone fretting over whether ‘99 Percent Invisible’ listeners are all architects or ‘Radiolab’ listeners are all scientists,” she writes.
Then, in 2015, she decided to do an episode about childbirth injuries and pitch it to a network radio show. “Most of these injuries can be remedied by pelvic floor physical therapy, but doctors rarely recommend it, or even know about it,” she writes. “I wanted to investigate why so many moms were living with pelvic pain for months—years, even—after giving birth, resigned to painful sex or no sex at all.”
Ah, sex. A topic with its very own special brand of dismissive misogyny (at least, when a woman is the subject).
By then, advertisers and publishers had gotten hip to the benefits of capitalizing on mommy dollars. And yet, Frank pitched it to a public radio editor, who, she says, “told me it was an interesting topic but that you just can’t talk about something that sexually explicit on the air.” She pitched it to another editor with an economic peg: “What is the cost of saving a mom’s sex life?” He turned down the pitch, saying “the answer to why we don’t prioritize pain-free sex is that sex is extra. It’s not essential.”
I’m just gonna let Frank go awf:
And yet, if you type “erectile” into the search bar on NPR’s website, you get a plethora of results. In 1998, we learned about the new popularity of Viagra, the “magic pill for impotence.” In 2008, NPR assessed a decade of Viagra. And in 2014, we got “Love and Sex in the Time of Viagra — 16 Years On.” In between, dozens of pieces mention erectile dysfunction.
When you talk about male sexual dysfunction, you’re talking about problems with arousal. When you talk about childbirth injuries, you’re talking about problems with chronic pain. From a health perspective, one talk seems much more essential than the other. And it doesn’t involve discussing boners.
NPR. It has driven me to feminism.
Feminism thanks NPR for the referral traffic.