Ahead of her appearance in Birmingham, Eibhlin Kissack chats to Deborah Frances-White about her UK tour The Guilty Feminist: Live. 

The Guilty Feminist, if you haven’t had the pleasure to listen to it before, is an award-winning podcast series recorded in front of a live audience, in which host Deborah Frances-White invites special guests to discuss our noble goals as 21st century feminists and the hypocrisies and insecurities that undermine those goals. 

Funny, charming, accessible, and insightful, The Guilty Feminist podcast examines the state of feminism in contemporary society, reflecting on how far we’ve come, how far we have to go, and the hilarity of the obscure place we often find ourselves in at present – that familiar paradoxical position of wanting to fight for feminist issues, but feeling guilty about some of our more trivial concerns (like whether our hair looks good in the picture we are about to upload to Instagram). The now-famous 'I'm a feminist but...' has become almost like a catchphrase for the podcast, offering women an easy way to reveal their guiltiest moments for others to enjoy and more often than not, relate to. 

Diversity, inclusion, humour and intersectionality are at the heart of Deborah’s activism and her approach to the podcast. The Guilty Feminist is a safe space for women to confess their insecurities, laugh at their hypocrisies, and attempt to make the world a better place for all. Now, Deborah brings The Guilty Feminist on tour across the UK in a string of live shows, featuring some very special guests. Each show will incorporate a group local to the town the tour visits, helping to support community projects and connect like-minded individuals, whilst leaving audiences laughing in their seats throughout.  


Live Image Credits: Callum Baker

I’m very excited to talk about your new tour The Guilty Feminist: Live, which will be kicking off in my hometown of Halifax before heading to Birmingham in a few weeks’ time!

I cannot wait – we are bringing the wonderful Jenny Éclair, Sophie Duker who is a really incredible up-and-coming comedian and is genuinely very funny, and Me For Queen who is an incredible music act. We are going to blow the roof off the place with music, comedy, and a celebration of womanhood. 

Fantastic! Jenny and Sophie have featured as guests on your podcast before, and have been brilliant. How have you selected your guests for the live tour shows, as I know they change on each date and in each city?

Across the UK we will be featuring other guests including Sindhu Vee, Desiree Burch, Bridget Christie…there’s going to be so many fantastic comedians and we want to make sure everyone has an opportunity to be on the tour. People are able to come to different tour shows and see different comedians and acts as we go around the country. Basically, we chose them because they are incredibly funny, they share our values of wanting to make the world a better place, and because we adore them and know they are going to bring their A game to the audience. 

Your panels are always inclusive - I wondered if you could talk a little about why intersectionality is key to your panels?

If white women fight to get the same rights as the most privileged white men, then it’s not really feminism, it’s just the influential people trying become a little bit more influential. Whereas feminism says, ‘hey how can we make the world fairer for everyone?’ - especially for women who maybe aren’t in a position to fight for themselves because they’re working four jobs, or are disenfranchised in some other way. They, for example, might be a person of colour in a massively white world, or an LGBTQ+ person in a very straight world, or they’re in a wheelchair and they can’t even get into the building that you’re in because nobody thought to make it accessible.

I think I started this podcast three years ago to wallow in my own oppression, but discovered more about my own privilege than anything else. Now I know more about my own privilege I am really excited to use it. I think people get scared when they’re told they’re privileged, they go, ‘oh I’m not privileged!’ - they want to shirk privilege and throw it away. But actually, you should own it and use it like a steamroller to make the world fairer for other people. The only problem with privilege is if you’re only using it for you and people like you. 


How has your own feminism and activism changed since you started The Guilty Feminist? 

I’m just much more aware of who might be listening, and how easy it is to exclude somebody by the way you talk. I now understand how easy it is for people to think, ‘oh you’re not talking to people like me you’re talking about people like me’ and so I’ve become a lot more sensitive in my language to make sure I include people, because I want everyone to feel like it’s a joint space and not just my space. 

What can audiences expect in terms of the topics that you will be discussing during the live tour dates? 

It’s a visual extravaganza! It’s going to be a really entertaining evening, it may feature me in a green sequin Jedi cloak that says 'The Guilty Feminist' on the back – I’m not making that up. It’s tongue in cheek, with power poses, and we will be doing our 'I’m a feminist buts'… 

For example, I’m a feminist but…one time I went on a women’s rights march and popped into a department store to use the loo and ended up trying out face creams, and when I came out the march was gone. [Laughs]

We are going to do those, have lots of raucously funny comedy. There will be music – a little bit of R.E.S.P.E.C.T to rip the roof off the place and have everybody moving and grooving, and also we are going to have a local group from Birmingham that will be coming to talk about how they are making the world a better place for women in the area. Local people can then get involved - they can either hashtag, donate, volunteer, or connect with the group in some way and start to think about how to make Birmingham better. We are so stuck online now and we are often looking at global issues, but we should also think about how to make our streets better, our community better. How do we make it better? That’s a really good question, and that’s what we are going to be discussing. 

The Guilty Feminist creates a safe space for listeners and participants to discuss issues and examine some of the reasons behind the internalised guilt that so many of us feel. After so many years of exploring the paradox between noble causes and trivial concerns, do you think you’ve mastered shaking off the guilt?

Yeah – I mean, we are all human beings, we all carry guilt. We all think, ‘oh god I shouldn’t be so worried about my appearance’ – but we do. We love to decorate ourselves, that’s fine. It’s building muscle. We don’t have to be perfect to be a force for meaningful change. I am going to die with a full inbox and never having read the complete works of Sylvia Plath, but I can accept that now and move on, and still think about how I can make the world a better place for me and other people. Let’s start again. Let’s accept the fact that I will die imperfect, and I will still carry these paradoxes.

That’s part of what makes us human, and relatable, and fun! I would say, beware of anyone who says they’re on top of it – we’ve all got the lizard brain, the primitive part of ourselves that wants to feed, and shag, and protect yourself. Beware of anyone that says, ‘oh I’m beyond that’, because they’re not. People that pretend they are beyond that are the ones you shouldn’t trust. Just accept, ‘yeah, I’m selfish, I’m vain, I screw up, I do things that I have railed against myself’. If we start from that place of honesty, it’s so relaxing! When I first started saying these things, so many women said, ‘oh thank god you’ve said that!’

At first I thought, ‘oh my god I’m going to be kicked out of the feminist club!’ but actually no, you don’t, because we are all a bit like that. 


That’s the beauty of The Guilty Feminist podcast – it's basically saying that it’s okay for us to think and feel these things, and that doing so doesn’t make us any less of a feminist. 



The Guilty Feminist: Live - Birmingham, Symphony Hall

Hosted by Deborah-Frances White with guests Jenny Éclair, Sophie Duker, Me For Queen, plus one to be confirmed

Thursday, 2nd May 2019


Tickets for all dates available from www.guiltyfeminist.com and www.ticketmaster.co.uk.

Twitter: @GuiltFemPod / Facebook: @GuiltyFeminist

www.deborahfrances-white.com / Twitter: @DeborahFW 

www.mcintyre-ents.com / Twitter: @McIntyre_Ents 

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