New ‘Feminist Detective’ show uncovers the misogyny that’s hiding in plain sight

Lauren Schiller and Ruth Whippman host a new radio show and podcast, Feminist Detective. Photo: Susan Chainey

Berkeleyside talks with broadcaster Lauren Schiller and journalist and author Ruth Whippman about their new radio and podcast segment, “Feminist Detective,” which is broadcast Fridays at 12 p.m. on KALW 91.7 FM on the “Inflection Point with Lauren Schiller” show. The “Feminist Detective” segment is also a standalone bi-weekly podcast.

What is “Feminist Detective” about?

Whippman:Feminist Detective” is a new regular segment on the existing weekly radio show and podcast, Inflection Point with Lauren Schiller. Each week Lauren and I will tackle a new ‘case’ in which we dig out and expose the hidden sexism in one aspect of daily life. These are lively, humorous and sometimes controversial conversations between the two of us, unpacking those small moments or issues — the ones that leave you feeling uneasy, as though something is a bit off or unjust but you aren’t quite sure why.

Who is doing it?

Whippman: Shall we introduce each other?  I’ll go first.

Lauren Schiller is a broadcaster, speaker and the host and creator of the long running show “Inflection Point,” which features the stories of how women rise up.  Every episode has inspiration for listeners that they can apply to their own lives. This season also features new Toolkit segments with concrete actions from the experts to take on the big issues along with these new “Feminist Detective” segments.


Schiller: Ruth Whippman is a journalist and author, who writes op-eds and cultural commentary for various places including the New York Times and the Guardian and is the author of the book America the Anxious. She is also super smart and super funny.

Where did the idea come from?

Whippman: I have been a guest on “Inflection Point” twice now and Lauren and I had a great rapport, always having these really fascinating and often hilarious conversations that we continued off mic. One theme that kept coming up for us was how in this particular cultural moment we are so bombarded with obvious misogyny that it is easy to miss or ignore the smaller sexism that can actually be really insidious and really make up the fabric of the world we live in.  

Schiller: I interviewed Ruth for the first time at Berkeleyside’s Uncharted Ideas Festival and we hit it off right away. Ruth always brings an insightful and incisive perspective, whether we are talking empowerment for women or empathy for men, so we decided to produce a regular segment. The name “Feminist Detective” came from the idea that sometimes we take sexism so much for granted that we barely even see it, so we need to get on the case to uncover what is hiding in plain sight.

What kinds of topics will you be looking at?

Whippman: The first episode, out now, is called “The Case of the Fleabag Crowdfunder.” We dig up the original crowdfunding page of the mega-hit show Fleabag from back in 2013, and discuss how the tone of it shows us the crazy lengths women have had to go to reassure and placate men that equality is not threatening. Future episodes include “The Case of the Missing Apology” and the sexist assumptions behind the drive to get women to stop apologizing; and “The Case of the Unfunny Women” about sexist ‘scientific’ studies and the grip they have on the popular imagination.

How can we listen?

Schiller: “Inflection Point” is broadcast every Friday at 12 p.m. on the Bay Area’s KALW 91.7 FM and on a range of public radio stations across the country. The “Feminist Detective” segment will appear on the radio show and will also be released as a standalone bi-weekly podcast which you can download from the “Inflection Point” feed wherever you get your podcasts. “Inflection Point” is also running a crowdfunding campaign to support the production, with a deadline of Nov. 18.