Girls in Podcasts: CTRL ALT Delete — Nasty Woman Special

This isn’t the first time that CTRL ALT Delete, the brainchild of Emma Gannon, has appeared on the Girls In Podcasts review series. I also reviewed the podcast almost a year ago, summarising the first season – but, the 101st episode was too paralleled to the work Girl Museum does to not write about it again. As gushed about in my first review, I’ve followed Emma Gannon’s writing on her blog and for The Debrief for a long time. Like Emma’s writing, the CTRL ALT Delete podcast has consistently improved. The 101st episode of CTRL ALT Delete is an interview with Hannah Jewell, a former senior writer at Buzzfeed, currently a pop culture host at The Washington Post.

Hannah Jewell spent much of the interview talking about her new book, 100 Nasty Women of History. The book is, of course, titled from the infamous moment during the 2016 election, in which Donald Trump controversially called Hillary Clinton a ‘nasty woman’. This insult has since been re-appropriated to mean badass, fearless, feminist. Jewell’s book, therefore, is a book celebrating little-known women throughout history who through their bravery to break social norms of femininity have achieved incredible things, and were often treated like nasty women for doing so.

To state the glaringly obvious, Hillary Clinton is not the first powerful woman to be shut down by a man; one of the examples that Jewell’s discusses in her book, and on the podcast episode, is Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784). Wheatley was the first black person to have her writings published, all the while enslaved by a family in Boston. This fearless breaking of the racial and gendered norms of the era led to Thomas Jefferson claiming that ‘her poetry is beneath the dignity of criticism.’ Quite the nasty woman.

Although the title of her book, Hannah Jewell is also aware of the commercialisation of terms such as ‘nasty woman’. While the re-appropriation is of course a positive alternative to the terms existence as a cruel and immature insult, there is a danger when such phrases become too popularly used. Jewell and Gannon discuss the longevity of ‘Girlboss’ and how it originally existed as an empowering feminist rally-cry, but has since been commercialised onto t-shirts, typography prints, and mugs – has the term been belittled? While Jewell is aware that this is likely to happen to ‘nasty woman’, and perhaps already has, she stands firm that the term encompasses the experience the women in her book all share: being aggressively shut down by men for fearlessly challenging and threatening gender norms.

This podcast episode in particular, as well as Jewell’s book 100 Nasty Women of History, would certainly be inspiring for young girls. With one hundred women to choose from, it’s pretty likely that any young female reader will find one ‘nasty woman’ they relate to, and either consciously or subconsciously hail as a role-model. Much like the tone of the book, the tone of the podcast is chatty and informal. Gannon and Jewell share stories about the historical badass ‘nasty women’ that have shaped society with little recognition, all 100 of whom will stand the test of time as inspirations to young girls growing up in Trump’s ‘nasty woman’ era.

-Chloe Turner
Volunteer & Instagram Manager
Girl Museum Inc.

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