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Misogyny, Generalisation, and Controversial Topics

Misogyny, Generalisation, and Controversial Topics
In this episode, we’re joined by our friend Sheen to discuss some complaints that a few listeners have raised over the years about this podcast having misogynistic undertones.

In this episode, we’re joined by our friend Sheen to discuss some complaints that a few listeners have raised over the years about this podcast having misogynistic undertones. We discuss some complaints about last week’s episode and discuss the extent to which generalisation about groups (eg: women) is accurate and / or useful.

Here are some of the highlights from our discussion:

It is through the lens of dating that gender is most frequently discussed on the podcast. This can give a skewed impression that the only time we are talking about women is through the lens of trying to be more attractive in terms of dating which could lead to ideas of objectification which is not the intention of the podcast. Equally, despite knowing that this is clearly a multifactorial topic, by focussing on looks, we run the risk of people interpreting that we are treating as a uni-factorial one.

Controversial or sensitive topics can be difficult to discuss if someone is not listening to precisely what you are saying. Just looking at the broad themes, taking statements out of context and then pattern matching them onto something else can be problematic. Extrapolating from the main point and making assumptions can lead to a loss of nuance and context that was intended by the original speaker.

The Overton Window of acceptable things that can be said is shrinking. Whilst there are lots of good things about it being unacceptable to say certain things in public such as racism or sexism, it can lead to certain conversations being siloed into group chats or not being shared. Shrinking the window doesn’t necessarily solve the fundamental problem of how people think about certain topics.

Once you are looking at a person through the subjective lenses of the group that they should belong to, you are taking them away from being the subject of their own story. People are very different and by grouping them together, you limit the power of the individual and restrict their identity to the group that they are being placed into.

Generalisations can be a problematic and controversial area especially when placing people into groups or categories. This can obscure nuance and differences that otherwise would exist. To emphasise this point, Sheen discussed the example of Ivanka Trump and Alexandria Ocasia-Cortez as two young female leaders in the USA. Although they may sit within the same category of political figures in the USA, bracketing them together would obviate the plethora of differences between the two women in terms of what they stand for and what they represent.

There are different ways to apply generalisations. Where generalisations can go wrong is when statistics are given too much weight and extrapolated out to represent the group in the whole realm.


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What is this?

Not Overthinking is a podcast about happiness, creativity, and the human condition. We talk about things to help us think, do, and be better. Things like social interaction, lifestyle design, mental models...things that are hard to examine, but important to explore. And hopefully, things that make for a fun and interesting chat every week.

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Who are we?

Ali is a junior doctor and YouTuber working in Cambridge, UK. He makes videos about medicine, technology, productivity and lifestyle design. His links: YouTube, Blog, Newsletter, Instagram

Taimur is a data scientist and writer, working on his own startup Causal. He writes on his blog and as a columnist for Medium. His links: Blog, Twitter, Medium, Instagram