12 feminist podcasts to make you think, laugh, learn – and even disagree

At one of her early regular live podcast shows in Australia, Deborah Frances-White, host of The Guilty Feminist, defined podcasting as “radio no one stops you making”. That accessibility has led to a proliferation of feminist podcasts.

Podcasting, unlike radio, is open to previously marginalised or minimalised groups in broadcasting. This includes women – and feminists in particular. Even at its most progressive, public broadcasting has rarely found room for more than one explicitly female-centred show, let alone shows that lean into the F-word (feminist).

Podcasting was built on the freedom of the blogosphere and the ubiquity of the smartphone. The form amplified the inherent accessibility of audio. Listening has never required formal literacy. With podcasting and production it was opened up by technological innovation, along with changing standards and ideas around “quality”.

No one is stopping you from making a feminist podcast (outside your objective life circumstances, but that’s another story). And if the loftiest aims of feminism are to make a more equal society, it could be argued that podcasting itself is a feminist project.

Read more: 15 literary podcasts to make you laugh, learn and join conversations about books

A smorgasbord of feminist podcasts

Some podcasts are explicitly feminist. With the word in the title, how could The Guilty Feminist be anything but? It’s a podcast and a live show where Frances-White and her guests have “candid discussions about our noble goals as 21st-century feminists and the hypocrisies and insecurities that sometimes undermine them”.

But if you read this description straight, you would be missing the joy and humour of the show. Each episode has a theme, and opens with a list of confessions from Frances-White and her guests – “I am a feminist, but …”, to general hilarity.

Guests have included former Australian prime minister Julia Gillard and the extraordinary New Zealand-born comedian Cal Wilson, a frequent contributor to episodes recorded in Australia and New Zealand. Wilson, who died unexpectedly in 2023, brought so much humour and warmth to so many episodes.

Australian Abortion Stories, a labour of love fuelled by volunteers and virtual coffee crowdfunding, is another explicitly feminist podcast.

Hosts Kelsey and Cassidy hold space for women to share their abortion stories, while exploring fundamental issues such as abortion stigma and equality of access. In its mission and form, it is a textbook example of the independent and feminist spirit of podcasting.

But what of a podcast like Chat 10 Looks 3? Hosts Annabel Crabb and Leigh Sales talk about “books, television, radio, movies, food, politics and whatever else they feel like. Even showtunes.”

It’s no surprise that a social media phenomenon developed around this podcast and others like it, where women – and a good number of self-selecting enlightened men – bring joy, support and a can-do philosophy of helpfulness to their corner of the internet. I’d argue it is recognisably feminism.

The networked nature of podcasting and its widely distributed social media echoes the non-hierarchical methods women traditionally employ to organise.

Book clubs are a similar example of women networking to combine social connection and talking about ideas. The award-winning podcast Feminist Book Club identifies as both radically feminist and intersectional.

Their episodes range widely, though, from a recent episode on Black feminist writers who’ve shaped us to episodes on Britney Spears’ memoir and romance featuring women in STEM. It too is a social media phenomenon, and an explicitly political one. The hosts aim for “feminist theory in action” and prioritise marginalised communities, with a broad and encompassing approach to gender.

Australian feminism meets intersectionality in Nakkiah Lui and producer Nicola Harvey’s sensory and superb First Eat (from Audible), based on the question: what would our dinner look like if First Nations people owned the land?. “Part memoir, part docu-series”, it ties into questions of decolonisation and self determination.

Lui, who shares hosting, travelled the world, interviewing women of colour (First Nations women in particular) about their relationships with food. She’s also researched how it has been used to oppress First Nations people. Food and body image have, of course, long been a focus of feminist discourse.

Also clearly in the feminist space is the ABC’s Ladies, We Need to Talk, with Yumi Stynes. With an emphasis on sex and personal empowerment, Stynes brings the fun to feminism, along with straight talk and useful information about a range of issues: from the orgasm gap to the mental load.

And then there’s the girl-boss feminism of Australia’s Mamamia, which has a range of podcasts, such as Mamamia Out Loud. While the feminism is sometimes hard to pinpoint, Mamamia sells itself as “a publisher with a purpose – to make the world a better place for women and girls”.

My friend, award-winning independent podcast producer Michelle Ransom-Hughes, has some of the most discerning ears in Australian audio. Her favourite feminist podcast is an American-made chat show, Everything Is Fine, aimed at women over 40. According to the show notes, each episode “digs deep into the identity shift that comes with navigating this alternately weird and liberating stage of life”.

The Heart, billed as a podcast about power and love, is another favourite among podcast producers. Founded in the bedroom of host Kaitlin Prest in 2014, it is a cornucopia of queer feminist audio and provocative storytelling, but it’s so well crafted, it’s easy to forget its mission is fundamentally a feminist one.

The forensically researched and produced The Retrievals, from the New York Times and Serial Productions, takes the listener into the experiences of a group of women undergoing IVF treatments who experienced excruciating pain. It includes harrowing stories of the gendered nature of industrialised health care – particularly, the problem of women not being believed when they report pain. While it focuses on a group of relatively privileged women, it’s a compelling and sobering listen.

And internationally, women of a certain age are enjoying podcasts (along with the sudden superpower of invisibility) such as Wiser Than Me. Here, Julia Louis-Dreyfus interviews – and honours – older women, learning along with her listeners how to live well as you age. Guests have included iconic critic Fran Lebowitz, Jane Fonda and 90-year-old comedian Carol Burnett

Read more: Australia tops the world for podcast listening. Why do we love them so much?

Policing women’s voices

Of course, while anyone can make and distribute a podcast, if it becomes a professional endeavour, there are gatekeepers within the podcasting ecosystem. Spotify’s attempt to build a walled garden of exclusive podcasts might have, ahem, hit a wall. But as significant capital flows in and out of podcasting, attempts to corral and contain audiences will continue.

The centrepiece in the Spotify garden is the Joe Rogan Experience, a podcast hosted by a man who mainly talks to other men – and the world’s most expensive podcast. While I argue for podcasting as feminist project, it does operate within the world as it is.

But it sits alongside Call Her Daddy, a podcast by a young woman, for young women – and another huge acquisition for Spotify: it’s apparently the platform’s most listened-to podcast by women. There are familiar debates around self-proclaimed feminist host Alex Cooper’s feminist credentials as some (outside her target audience) question whether, say, proficiency in sexual techniques are a feminist concern.

But Call Her Daddy speaks to the diversity of both feminism and podcasting, while engaging with celebrity and contemporary culture.

Another method of pushing back against the voices of young women in particular is seen in the direct policing of women’s voices and vocal fry, which is a style of speech associated with Valley Girls and the overuse of the word “like”, with the voice pitched in a way that can sound inauthentic and creaky.

Listeners and critics feel free to complain about women’s voices, though men get a pass for the same qualities. Despite these familiar double standards, women continue to blossom as producers, hosts and consumers of podcasts.

In putting their voices to the world with humour and verve, women are putting the lie to such ideas as “women’s voices are shrill” and “women aren’t funny”.

It is no small thing – and a decidedly feminist one – that podcasters such as the fabulous Deborah Frances-White have taken the means of production into their own hands. May they continue to podcast the joy, variety and challenges of women’s lives, well lived.

12 feminist podcasts

  1. The Guilty Feminist

  2. Australian Abortion Stories

  3. Chat 10 Looks 3

  4. Feminist Book Club

  5. First Eat

  6. Ladies, We Need to Talk

  7. Mamamia Out Loud

  8. Everything is Fine

  9. The Heart

  10. The Retrievals

  11. Wiser than Me

  12. Call Her Daddy

Lea Redfern does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.