Headed to Congress with Jenn Taylor-Skinner
The midterms are over (though the recounts and runoffs may not be). So we make sense of what happened—and what’s next—with Jenn Taylor-Skinner, the host of our fave new feminist political podcast, The Electorette.
Jenn tells us all about why she’s feeling pretty good about the midterms, how she plans to keep up the momentum into 2020, and why having a bilateral pulmonary embolism—yep, the same thing Serena Williams had—made her take a hard pivot into podcasting in 2017. Now she’s the full-time host of The Electorette—one of Teen Vogue’s picks for political podcasts, and a show you’ve gotta add to your rotation.
I just really wanted a space where women could speak without being interrupted. And I had no idea how much I had a hunger for that myself.
—Jenn Taylor-Skinner, host, The Electorette
On the agenda
- More than 100 women are headed to Congress—including the first Native women, the first Muslim women, and the youngest women ever
- Florida voted to re-enfranchise more than a million people with felony convictions—and this is really freaking important
- Protecting voter rights and making sure no one ever has to wait six hours at the polls should be top priority (Jenn recommends Ari Berman’s book, Give Us the Ballot)
- White women gotta do better
- Maxine Waters remains iconic
Plus: we fucking love all your “I Voted” sticker selfies (here’s Sara’s!), your lil baby voter pics, and…you.
This episode of NYG is brought to you by:
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Sara Wachter-Boettcher Harvest is the time tracking and project planning software I rely on to keep my business running smoothly. And you can rely on it too! With awesome features like Harvest Forecast, which helps you figure out who’s assigned to what and keep track of workload, and tons of reports that shine a light on the health of your projects, Harvest makes it easier to focus on getting things done, not busywork. Try it free at getharvest.com, and when you sign up for a paid account, use the code “noyougo” to save 50% off your first month. That’s getharvest.com, code “noyougo.” [intro music plays for 12 seconds]
Katel LeDû Hey everyone, I’m Katel.
SWB And I’m Sara!
KL And you’re listening to No, You Go, the show about building satisfying careers and businesses—
SWB —getting free of toxic bullshit—
KL —and living your best, feminist life at work.
SWB And as I’m sure all of you know, last week was a big week here in the US. We finally had the midterm elections, which I was on pins and needles about. So, we’re going to talk a little bit about that today—we’re going to talk about what happened, and what’s next. And to help us out, we invited Jenn Taylor-Skinner onto the show. Jenn’s the host of The Electorette, an intersectional, feminist podcast about politics. And she is going to tell us more about her perspective on the midterms, as well as what it was like to trade a career in tech for running a political podcast and how she keeps it all together even when she’s talking about heavy stuff all day like voter suppression and reproductive justice. So, first up, Katel, how was your election day?
KL It was good, I actually went in the middle of the day, which is a little uncharacteristic for me. I usually go first thing, I think you like to do that too. But I was lucky because there were no lines and it was pretty easy. I definitely was thinking about how that was absolutely not everyone’s experience, but I was extremely anxious the entire day and I think I had my shoulders up around my ears all night.
SWB Ugh, yes. I was also feeling very anxious. And I was so upset, you know, watching on Twitter when people were reporting six hour lines at their polling place and broken machines and I mean, it’s not that I think that Philadelphia’s polling locations run super smoothly. [KL laughs] You know, my husband was actually working the polls and he was like, “oh boy, these voting machines,” but we didn’t have those kinds of lines. And I think, I mean obviously that’s just a travesty, right? Voting should not take six hours. You should not have to be waiting through all of this mayhem, it’s just ridiculous. But, luckily that was not my personal experience, so I do like to go early. I meant to get there right at seven when they opened, but I was writing an email or something, so I got there at 7:25 and there was already a good line. And so as I’m shuffling up there, I see none other than Lizz Fiedler, who you might remember. She was a guest back in season one running for the PA legislature in my district, right? And she was out there welcoming voters at my polling location, which was rad.
KL That’s so awesome.
SWB Yeah, so I got to chat with Lizz and even though her candidacy at that point was a pretty sure thing, she was running unopposed because her district is 90% democrat [KL laughs]—for her the primary was the big deal. But even so, she was still feeling pretty nervous because she told me she had spent, you know, fifteen months putting everything she had into this campaign and she just—it’s not real until it’s real.
KL That is so cool, I remember going to the party she had when she won the nomination, which was amazing. And this is definitely the first time that I’ve been this close to folks who are actually running in these races. It’s very exciting.
SWB Yes. It was really awesome also that I ran into her outside of the polling place and then I got to literally walk inside and vote for her.
KL [laughing] Yeah.
SWB It was great. And so also like I said, my husband was working the polls and he was there at 6:15 in the morning—
SWB —wrapped up around 9pm and, you know, it was definitely quite a day. [KL laughs] But he noted that turnout was really high in Philly, which was also—that was encouraging to hear. So yeah, I mean it was a stressful day and a lot of—a lot of ups and downs, but you know, here we are.
KL So, obviously we didn’t win back the Senate and there were some awesome people running who didn’t win, but it’s been a few days and I think it’s important to talk about some of the bright spots. Like here in Pennsylvania, we are finally going to send some women to Washington. We mentioned before on the show that right now Pennsylvania has 18 reps in the house and none are women, which is changing in January, which is amazing. Four women will join the delegation: Mary Gay Scanlon, Madeleine Dean, Susan Wild and Chrissy Houlahan.
SWB That is so reassuring and even though four out of eighteen is [coughs] not enough [KL laughs], it’s still okay—that is so crucial, right? We need those voices. So, we don’t have the representation we need, but there are a lot of really great wins for women and I just want to recap a few of the ones that are so exciting because I know it can get lost a little bit as we are still facing all of the same problems we were facing before, as our political landscape is still a freaking nightmare. It can get a little lost, so let’s just remember some stuff. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from Minnesota and Michigan, they are going to be the first Muslim women to serve in Congress. And then you’ve got Sharice Davids from Kansas and Deb Haaland from New Mexico, who are going to become the first Native American women to serve in Congress. Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia are the first Latinas that Texas has ever sent to Congress. Which like, come on, Texas?
KL I mean, seriously.
SWB And then in Massachusetts you’ve got them sending their very first Black woman to the House, that is Ayanna Pressley. And then also the youngest women ever were elected in to the House, so New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who obviously everybody was excited about during her primary upset, you know, she was a shoo-in during the election, her district was so strongly Democratic, so of course she won. But now, at 29 years old—she just turned 29—she’s the youngest women who has ever been elected to Congress.
KL That’s so rad.
SWB Yes! And then it’s not just her. Abby Finkenauer of Iowa is also 29, although she’s going to turn 30 in December, [KL laughs] so she’ll be 30 when she actually goes there.
KL That’s a pretty good birthday.
SWB Gosh, I know. Can you imagine? We didn’t quite hit this goal.
KL [laughing] Yeah.
SWB And then finally, one other person I wanted to mention—not a woman, but Jared Polis of Colorado will be the first openly gay governor, which I think is also pretty rad.
KL That is also amazing. So, this is all so encouraging and it’s really nice to pause and get excited about all the good news and, of course, we need to know that there is still so much to do.
SWB Yes, and I think that’s one of the reasons I was so excited to talk to Jenn from The Electorette because she’s just immersed in this stuff every single day and when we talked to her, she was feeling really positive. She was feeling good. You know, I thought it was so interesting to hear her talk about why she’s feeling positive because there’s a lot of reasons you could point to to not feel good, but she’s choosing to look at all of these encouraging signs and to focus in on, well, what are we going to do next and where do we focus our energy? And so I felt like we had a really good and nuanced discussion about that that I think you all are going to love. [music fades in, plays for five seconds, and fades out]
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KL Ooh, wait, so how do you figure out what you get?
SWB Okay, so this is pretty neat. So, you go to takecareof.com and you do this online quiz thing and what it does is it asks you all about your habits and your goals. So, for example, you know I go to the gym a lot, so they’ll ask you about exercise, and if they—if you want vitamins that are going to help you with workout recovery. Or they’ll ask you if you want to sleep better or focus better. And so I took it and I was like “oh yeah, give me some of that good brain stuff.” [laughs]
KL Ughh. I could use that too.
SWB Seriously. So, okay, so then once you decide what you want, Care/of is going to ship your vitamins to you in these awesome, daily pill packs, so you have this personalized mix of stuff that is already organized for you. You don’t have to fuss with a bunch of bottles, I just grab a pack while I’m making coffee. Oh and there are vegetarian options and vegan options if that’s your jam and speciality items like prenatal and postnatal vitamins for all of you mommas-to-be out there. So, for 25% off your first month of personalized Care/of vitamins, visit takecareof.com and enter the promo code “nyg.” That’s 25% off your first month of vitamins, only at takecareof.com, promo code “nyg.” [music fades in, plays for five seconds, and fades out]
Interview: Jenn Taylor-Skinner
SWB Jenn Taylor-Skinner is the creator and host of The Electorette, a podcast about politics, feminism and intersectionality where she interviews women who are leading causes and making change—from Black Lives Matter organizers to reproductive rights experts. And we invited Jenn here today to give us some expert perspective on the election and tell us a little bit more about her show and her story. Jenn, welcome to No, You Go.
Jenn Taylor-Skinner Thank you, I’m excited to be here.
SWB First off, can you tell us a little bit about The Electorette?
JTS Yes. So, I started The Electorette probably a little over a year ago, so I guess at the end of the summer in 2017 or early fall in 2017. And it was actually somewhat of a long time coming because after Trump’s election and after Hillary Clinton’s loss in 2016, I felt that I needed to do something. And if I look back in my history, I think that I registered The Electorette domain one week after the election. And so it wasn’t until later after, I think the spring of 2017 where I—after I’d gone to The Women’s March in DC and I met a lot of brilliant, brilliant, passionate women there and I thought, “You know what? I just want to talk to women.” I—being in technology had spent most of my time around engineers and lots of male heavy teams, but after being at The Women’s March, there was so much energy there in DC and around the world basically that I just felt that I wanted more of that all of the time.
SWB And so now you’re doing that pretty much full time, right? What was that decision like to kind of jump in wholeheartedly?
JTS So, like I said, I registered the domain right after the election, but I wasn’t quite sure, you know, how we make these kind of big decisions in our head and in our heart, but we don’t quite jump in? [laughs] And sometimes it takes something big to push us? Well so my big thing—and like I said, I’ve never told this story—so my big thing was sometime around late spring in 2017, I had a bilateral pulmonary embolism, right? The same thing that Serena Williams had, you know, a clot in both lungs. And so long story as to how that happened and how that was diagnosed, but basically, it was pretty serious. And I realized that life was precious and it could end at any moment, you know. I am and I was a really healthy person, it was just kind of this medical fluke that this happened to me. I realized that I really needed to stop wasting my time in spaces where my voice wasn’t being elevated and it wasn’t being heard, and I really wanted to do this. So, I just made a hard pivot. I mean, I think after I got—I was released from the hospital, I think I went back to work and I resigned.
SWB Wow, that’s amazing.
SWB So, what’s it been like this kind of first year, little over a year of the show, both for you personally and then also, you know, as you’ve been running this hyper political show focused on feminist issues in the run up to the midterms in the midst of a truly wild year?
JTS So, as soon as I started asking women to come on the show and to be interviewed, I had no idea how much energy there was to do something like this and how much hunger there was for women’s voices to be elevated. So, one of the goals that I had with The Electorette was to kind of counter the incorrect messaging out there around lots of things, around reproductive health, around gun violence and all of these things—but hear it from women. You know, again, this kind of goes back to my experience spending most of my career in technology and, you know, what happens when you work in technology when you’re on male-heavy teams, often women’s voices and their opinions aren’t heard. You get talked over—your ideas aren’t listened to. And I just really wanted a space where women could speak without being interrupted. And I had no idea how much I had a hunger for that myself.
SWB Yes! I think that’s something that me and Katel can definitely relate to on this show because I feel like every time we interview people, we’re just like, “how do we friend her?”
KL Yeah, we always want to hang out with [laughing] the people we talk to way more.
SWB Okay, so in addition to talking about making friends on podcasts, I also want to talk to you about the midterms themselves because a lot has happened and, you know, when our listeners are hearing this, it will be just about a week after election day and so, of course, everybody will know we didn’t take the Senate, we did gain control of the House, and we have a ton more women who are heading to Washington and also winning local elections. So, lots of cool stuff, but we also did see some really great progressive candidates get defeated and I’m wondering, how are you feeling now, kind of coming down from that?
JTS Maybe I’m being naive, but I feel really, really good. You know, I hadn’t really thought about or talked about The Women’s March in a little while now, but just talking to you now, I’m starting to remember in my heart and in my body what that felt like. And you know, that felt like it was 20 years ago, even though it’s only been two years ago. And I think when we were all together and we were marching and we were doing all of those things, I think that we had no idea what direction we were going to go. And [laughs]—I think that this was the first goalpost, right? This midterm election. Over 100 women are headed to Congress, and that’s a historic number. I think the total is 111 at this point, but 100 women—that has never happened in the history of Congress in over 200 years. I think it’s—Congress, it was 229 years ago I think, it was started. But yeah, I just feel really good about that. Just that number alone.
SWB Yeah, and I love that—that pausing to celebrate that, to celebrate those numbers and to celebrate a lot of the individual victories. Katel and I have been talking about things like—we’ve got Native American women who are going to be in Congress for the first time, we’ve got Muslim women going to be in Congress for the first time. And there’s a lot of fucking awesome stuff happening. But the other thing I really noticed and I think everyone really noticed about this particular election cycle was just how messed up the voting process itself is—like how many people were reporting six-hour waits in line and broken polling machines, how many polling places were being closed, often in particular communities, aka Black and Brown neighborhoods. Still dealing with all these issues around disenfranchisement and gerrymandering. And so one of the bright spots that I found in the midterms was the law in Florida that was restoring voting rights to people who have been convicted of a felony, which is like this one, small bright spot in a lot of examples of ways people are being disenfranchised to see an effort towards re-enfranchisement.
JTS That change in Florida is huge. It’s huge, right? So, if you think about that governmental race between Gillum and DeSantis there, just think about how that would have turned out had these people been able to vote, right? I mean, that’s just incredible. It’s an incredible change.
SWB Absolutely. It was over a million people who are going to regain eligibility and the margin between candidates in Florida was like—I don’t know—60 or 70 thousand votes, something like that. It was very small. I mean, you have to really think that a million potential new voters is a dramatic change to the landscape in Florida, and I think about that a lot. Like, you know, how do we start to make progress on ending voter suppression and protecting voting rights when it often can feel like such a self perpetuating cycle, right? Like we can’t get the people who need voting rights to have the voting rights that it would take for them to be able to vote to change the laws. [laughs]
JTS Well, it’s been a really terrible time in terms of voter suppression, but the thing that I’ve noticed from, you know, just within the past two years, is that voter suppression used to be an issue for the experts. You know, people who wrote wonky research papers, you know, people who kind of crunched the data and write books about it, but now it’s mainstream. You know, even when I started this podcast, like in 2017, I was reading the book by Ari Berman and I was reading, you know, some other books and I would talk to people and people weren’t really—the average person just wasn’t really aware of the bigness of voter suppression. And I think the fact that we had these really big superstars running for office like Stacey Abrams in Georgia and the governor’s race in Florida—the fact that we really had these people that we wanted to win and the fact that the possibility that they wouldn’t win due to voter suppression was really good for highlighting this as an issue. Now, everyone’s thinking about it and everyone’s talking about it. The only caveat that I have there is that—and it’s something that I need to research and I need to read about—but obviously, Brian Kemp, [laughs] Brian Kemp in Georgia is really good at voter suppression. He’s an expert. He’s a voter suppression expert, right? [laughs] He’s the Secretary of State and the only thing that I’m curious about is why there hasn’t been more focus on the Secretary of State races? I mean, to my understanding, I think that there were 27 seats open—Secretary of State seats open—that we could—could push for. And I don’t understand why that isn’t happening, but I guess overall, I’m just happy that we’re going in this direction where, you know, the whole country is watching what’s happening with voter suppression.
SWB And I think that this is the kind of conversation that we have to have a lot more of and—another conversation that I think we have to have a lot more of is the conversation about white women. [laughs] So, NBC news exit poll was finding that 50% of white women voted for Ted Cruz, which ughh can you imagine voting for Ted Cruz? [JTS laughs] But people keep doing it! And then in Georgia I know that there was a pretty similar story there and I’m a white woman and I was pretty sad to see that, but I also wasn’t really surprised. It’s well documented the way that a large percentage of White women will vote to uphold patriarchy and white supremacy. But I’m curious—you’re a Black woman, right? So, from your perspective—how do you make sense of the way that the other women that you want to speak to and whose voices you want to hear aren’t necessarily having your back?
JTS Yeah… well, I mean, I think you’re talking just generally, right? Like [laughs] I don’t know anyone—
SWB Hopefully not specifically! [laughs]
JTS I don’t know anyone personally, Black or White, who—who would have voted for Cruz. I mean [laughs & SWB laughs] that would be an instant unfriend. [all three laugh] I mean just—so you’re right about the numbers, and—you know—it makes me sad too. And I’m looking at them right now and you’re right that it was like 60% I think of White women who voted for Cruz and 72% of White men voted for Cruz. We shouldn’t let the white men off the hook, right? But yeah. So, those are the numbers and Black women, I think it stands at around 94 or 95% went for O’Rourke. So, obviously the thing is that for the party, for the Democratic Party, and I think that they are realizing this—where their base lies, right? You know, with Black women and let’s see—I don’t know what the number was for Latina women, I think it was around 65%. But people of color, right? They need to focus on the—on the needs and the issues that affect these communities and put effort and resources into getting out the vote there. I had one of my very first guests, Laura Briggs—she wrote a book about reproductive justice—and I asked that question too because I’m just really baffled and just trying to figure it out. And she had a really good analysis. And I think that as we’ve matured as an electorate, we’ve begun to better understand the psychology behind women who would vote for someone like Cruz or someone who would vote for—for Trump. So, the scare mongering on the right about the caravans and about MS–13 and about immigrants who rape and all this kind of stuff, that’s very intentional, right? So, they’re running on this fear narrative. And so the theory that she has is that White women have a lifestyle that they want to protect. You know, they want to protect their children, they want to protect their homes, they want to protect their safety and you can kind of see that I think mirrored in those viral videos like the ones with Barbecue Becky, where lots of women around the country are kind of trying to police the world of people they think are nefarious. And so, by the fact that conservatives are kind of scaring them to say “hey, there’s a lot more scary people out there and we’re going to help police them for you,” they’ve made this bargain that says “hey, you know what? If you protect me and you keep my environment safe from these nonexistent threats, I will in turn make the bargain to weaken my reproductive rights or all the other things that you want to take away from women generally.” And that was my question to her since she’s an expert on reproductive rights was reproductive rights benefit all women—Black women, White women, Latina women—they benefit all women, so why would they bargain that away? And so I thought her answer was really good and that was that they made this calculation—they made a calculation that it is worth it for us to give up a few rights so that you could protect me and my family and life essentially.
SWB You know, me and Katel were just talking earlier today about White feminism and probably not the people who would have voted for Ted Cruz, but the people who don’t necessarily want to question the role of race in their feminism or don’t necessarily want to think about what work they need to do to dismantle some of their own assumptions. And I think that often times it’s like that challenge feels really big. And I know you care a lot about intersectionality and touch on that constantly in your show. Is there anything that you’ve learned along the way or that you’ve found really helpful in sort of being able to reach across that—that chasm and get people to understand that we can’t really talk about feminism without talking about race?
JTS I think there’s a lot of guilt there. I think that people don’t like to confront their own complicity. I think one thing that happened to me personally was just a personal anecdote. There are two distant relatives that are having a conversation and people always ask me about politics and they were talking about some of the—the race issues that we’ve seen in the country. And actually, I should—I should give you a little more background because they weren’t Americans, right? But they were just talking about the race relations in America. And one was talking about, “well, you know, you have all of these people who come into your country and you know, they want handouts and whatever.” And then the other person wanting to bond with me or I guess take the side—the correct side—said, “no, that’s just racist, you’re racist.” [laughs] And so I noticed that the other person just shut down and so I said “well, you know”—and I lied—I actually said, “well, no, you’re not racist.” [laughs] And then I explained to them why that position was wrong and I gave them some books and then I gave them some facts and then they were open, so in that moment I kind of flipped someone to show empathy for the people that they were kind of demonizing, but by I guess lying a bit and just showing some empathy and seeing that moment when they were shutting down. Because I think that guilt shuts a lot of people down.
SWB Gosh, I mean that’s—I think that’s a great story and I think you’re right. Guilt shuts a lot of people down, but that’s also a lot of freaking work to put on you, right? To have to do that for them. And so I guess I think a lot of it too that I would hope that some of our listeners really hear, particularly our White listeners, which I suspect is probably the majority of them, they need to figure out how to get over some of those feelings of defensiveness themselves, right? That talking about race and saying the ways that we have learned to think about race and the beliefs that we have deeply embedded in ourselves about race as White people are not neutral. And sure, you don’t want to be racist, but that doesn’t mean that you are—your desire to not be racist or not be called a racist does not [laughing] absolve you from this and it’s—it’s okay to have difficult conversations about race and it’s not about being a bad person or a good person, it’s about saying, “I’m willing to do some work to talk about this problem.” And I would like to see more White women being able to do that without the labour of women of color coaxing them along, you know? So, obviously there’s been all this talk for months and months and months about a blue wave and then we had progressive candidates like Beto O’Rourke getting a lot of national attention. And when he didn’t win, you know, we had some of these major races not go the way we wanted. I’ve heard a lot of people in my feed or in my social circles expressing feelings of defeat. Now, you said earlier in our conversation that you were actually feeling really good, that you had a lot of positivity and you have a lot of reasons for that, you have a lot of bright spots you’re looking at. But I’m wondering, what would you tell somebody who is feeling that sense of defeat right now?
JTS Anyone who may be feeling a sense of defeat may have wanted to look closer at the—more closely at the numbers [laughs] before the midterms because the margins for those big races with—you know—Gillum in Florida and Beto O’Rourke in Texas and for Stacey Abrams—they were always really, really close, right? They didn’t have a lock on those races. So, I was always hoping that the media would highlight some of those other races that didn’t have celebrity candidates in front of them, right? And so, I’m not really sure. I think that it’s really hard to feel those big losses because these are superstars. Beto O’Rourke is a really big superstar and he’s not going anywhere. So, the thing is I think that I would tell those people to look at the amount of mobilization and energy that Beto O’Rourke was able to garner in Texas, right? That was a seat that was not supposed to be in play. And the fact that he had—that he was so close is—is really a positive, right? And Congress, winning back the House, which was just something we were supposed to win, which we were predicted to win—we only needed to flip 23 seats and I think as it stands, we’ve flipped—I mean, I think maybe 30 to 31 seats. So, that’s huge. I think that’s really huge. So, one of the other things I wanted to highlight—I wanted to go back to the number of women of color who—who won their seats. You talked that there were two Native American women making history going to Congress and there are two Muslim women going, Rashida Tlaib is one of them. You know, I actually heard Rashida Tlaib talk at the She the People Conference and that was in San Francisco a couple of months ago. You know and she is a firebrand. She is passionate. And if you—if you listen to all of these women who—who won last night, these aren’t just any women in politics, right? These women are fired up, they are passionate and they are—they’re running out of their outrage, they’re running out of frustration and anger. This is a different crop of women. I think you’re going to see a different Congress with these women seated.
SWB Well, so speaking of that, now we’ll have a majority of Democrats in the House in 2019. So, what are you hoping that they can focus on? Or what do you think should be the priority?
JTS First of all, we’re going to be running some really great committees. For instance, Maxine Waters, she’s going to head the Financial Services Committee. And you know what that means? [laughs] That means that she can subpoena Trump’s taxes. So, she can subpoena Trump’s taxes.
SWB Mmm! She has been waiting for this day.
JTS So, that’s the thing that’s foremost on my mind, I’m thinking about that, you know? And all of the committees, the investigative committees that we’re going to head.
SWB And what about for you personally? So, now that the midterms are over, what are you kind of planning to spend more of your political energy on and what’s on your 2019 agenda?
JTS You know, first of all, we’ve got a couple of runoffs possibly, right? I think before we started this conversation, there was a possibility that there would be a runoff in Georgia. And then also there is definitely going to be a runoff in Mississippi in the senate race with Mike Espy and Cindy Hyde-Smith. So, Mike Espy is the Democratic candidate and that’s a really important Senate seat. And also, there is an automatic recount being—being kicked off. So, there are a few really important seats that aren’t completely 100% lost and I guess my point is is that I have a feeling that Democrats might do what they have a tendency to do and have done in the past, which is to kind of quickly move on or to fill this sense of complacency or we need to keep this energy up and it needs to ratcheted up on into 2020. So, I’m hoping that if these runoffs happen, if the recounts happen, all of that energy that went into the races before midterms stays there to support these candidates, to get them over the finish line. The work isn’t done. So, for me, between now and 2019 and between now and 2020, I’m going to be focusing on doing my part to keep the energy up.
KL I actually wanted to ask you a couple more questions about going back to Electorette. You said you started the show because you wanted to build on a sense of community and strength and I just—I think that’s such an important idea and concept to carry through as we sort of move on from—from this very poignant moment. How has that piece of it evolved for you in context of the show?
JTS I wanted to elevate the voices of women without necessarily saying it, right? Because I don’t want to limit my audience to just women. So, what I was hoping to do was to get listeners generally—men, women, non-binary people—to get used to hearing expertise from women, right? Because so often—and I think there’s a study about this—so often, media outlets, they call on men more often as experts in comparison to how often they call on women. Right, so what I wanted to do was get the audience, my listeners, used to hearing facts and expertise from women. And it’s funny, just the other day, there was a list of top political podcasts to listen to from Teen Vogue and Electorette was number one, [laughs] so I was really happy about that. But the—the person who wrote the list was a man and I was really proud of that—that Electorette was at the top of his list for political podcasts to listen to. And that’s kind of what my goal has been. So, it isn’t—it is about elevating the voices of women and bringing women together, but it’s also about kind of nudging, gently nudging our allies to support us as well.
SWB Yeah, totally! I think about that a lot in the context of our show too. We obviously, you know, we talk to women, we also talk to non-binary folks, but we haven’t really had any men on the show and we’re very comfortable with that. But we do know that men listen, we get emails from them pretty regularly. We hear from men who are like “I didn’t know what I was missing in terms of having access to kind of deep conversations between women.” And for some men, they really crave that. Once they got that, they were like, “oh! This is a perspective that I just wasn’t hearing.”
JTS So one of the things I also try to do, not with just men but also with white women, because I do know that there are white women out there—all you have to do is look at the exit polls—who aren’t necessarily on board with the things that would kind of help us all, right? That issue of intersectionality, is that, like I said, I bring on experts because I figured if you hear the voice of an expert and they’re talking about facts and not necessarily opinion, people are more open. So I do have lots of people who come on to talk about race in this kind of factual historical context. One of the ones that is my favorite, is my conversation with Mehrsa Baradaran—she wrote the book The Color of Money, which talks about the history of black banks and you know, talks about the history of black wealth, and why blacks have less wealth than white Americans. And she goes on—and this book is really great, everyone should read it—and she talks about this from a factual point of view and from a historical point of view—everything that’s happened to get us to this point. So that’s one of the roles the podcast, is to talk about things that are really difficult for people to hear and kind of remove that personal finger-pointing element.
KL Makes a ton of sense and I feel like—I feel like that is—that is very true. One of my favorite parts of your Twitter bio is “kid embarrasser.” [JTS laughs & KL joins in] Can you tell us a little bit more about that first and basically what it’s like to be a parent while running Electorette, running this podcast and doing this full time.
JTS So, [laughs] dancing will do it. You know, calling him silly names like buttercup, that will do it. [laughs & KL laughs]
KL Oh gosh.
JTS But what is it like? So another thing that embarrasses him is when I play Electorette on the speakers—on the loudspeakers in the house. [laughs] Yeah, but you know, it’s fine and actually he is old enough to—to be able to be there in the room or be in the house when I’m doing a recording or you know.
KL So, when you took this full time and started doing a podcast full time, I mean that’s pretty different from having I guess a quote, unquote traditional jobby-job, as we like to say. What has been the difference there and what has been harder or easier?
JTS Well, you know, obviously managing your own schedule is—is a good part of it. Although, if you’ve worked in technology, the good thing about that is you do have a little bit more control of your schedule than you do if you were, you know, worked at some place where you have a retail job and you had to go specifically from 9 – 5 or like 8 – 4. So—but I did gain a lot of flexibility in that, right? Which is helpful with having a family. So, I do miss going to the office, I do miss being around a lot of other people, so I always try to get out when I’m not actually recording, get out—go to coffee shops or go to cafes and work. So, one of the things is that if you work by yourself or you work for yourself is that it can be easy to get pretty lonely and spend a day without talking to people.
SWB Jenn, we are getting close to being out of time, and so before we let you go, I want to hear a little bit about what’s next for The Electorette. What kinds of topics are you looking to explore next on the show, and what are you excited about?
JTS Yeah, you know. So, one of the—a couple of other episodes that I have coming up, which I’m really excited about: I talked to someone who did a long-term, maybe a year or so, research study on women in porn. And that one is going to be really interesting. So, [laughs] that one is coming up. And I’m doing one, I have one in the works, on street harassment and public harassment, and that’s going to be really great. And one of the things that I’ve started to do recently is to have multi-part episodes or episodes where there are more than one expert who are there to give a different perspective on a single topic. And I’m thinking about some other things—you know, how to bring in voices, not necessarily experts—people who write books or people who write podcasts or journalists or politicians—but women who do other things, everyday women. I think that their voices are important too—mothers and people who work and who aren’t necessarily in the business and getting their side of things. So, that’s something that I kind of have in the works as well. And I’m also going to do—try some solo episodes too, we’ll see how that goes.
SWB Well, based off of everything you said today, I think they’re going to go really well. So, thank you so much for telling us all about your story and helping us make sense of the midterms a little bit more. So, our last question for you—where can folks get more Jenn in their lives?
JTS You can go to electorette.com and I am all over Twitter, of course. [laughs] “JTaylorSkinner”—that’s my Twitter handle and I am obsessed with Twitter, so if you want Jenn, you can get a saturation of Jenn on Twitter.
SWB Well, awesome. Thank you so much for being here and everyone, go check out The Electorette. [music fades in, plays for five seconds, and fades out]
KL Time for a break from politics to talk about jobs! This week, Shopify’s director of talent acquisition, Anna Lambert, brings us some much needed advice for anyone looking to hire. Let’s here what Anna has got to say.
Anna Lambert Don’t fall into the “done it before” trap. So many employers look for people who have “done it before.” For example, I want a developer who has built an commerce product using Ruby on Rails. I mean, sometimes you’ll want that specific experience, but that shouldn’t be your default. You will miss out on amazing people who bring diverse experiences that may make them great in the role. So, learn how to assess talent without relying on them having done the specific job. The magic comes when teams are made up of people with varying experiences. They may be self taught or come from a completely different industry. Job seekers—learn how to translate what you’ve done to other industries, disciplines, and problems. You don’t have to have done it before, but you’ll need to show how you’ll learn and what you’ll bring to a new team.
KL I love Anna’s advice because it’s one way that more diverse candidates can make it through the process. So, if that sounds good to you, you should talk to Shopify. Visit shopify.com/careers to see all their open positions. [music fades in, plays for five seconds, and fades out]
Fuck Yeah of the Week
SWB Okay, so I feel like we already had a bunch of fuck yeahs earlier in this episode. We said fuck yeah to so many awesome candidates who are breaking boundaries and making waves—all these people who are firsts and onlys. But do we have any other fuck yeahs before we go today?
KL I definitely think I have one and that is babies wearing “I Voted” stickers. [laughing] Something that made me smile a lot on election day was flipping through Instagram, and I think I was scrolling through and actually saw three photos in a row of babies I know—and I know some cute-ass babies—and they were all wearing their parents’—I presume their parents’—“I Voted” stickers, and it was just so sweet. There were also a few photos of dogs wearing stickers on their floofy heads and butts and that was also great.
SWB I also love baby photos in general on Instagram, but I especially love the baby voters. I mean, I don’t think the babies were making the voting decisions, but—I don’t know—babies would probably make better decisions than what a lot of America seems to be making. [laughs] Okay, so I love the voter stickers in general because I feel like they just really normalize voting and they kind of just show you how many people in your community are out there voting. You know, I saw somebody complain about them online saying they felt performative and that taking a photo of yourself after having voted was like wanting to be perceived as doing good without necessarily being very politically engaged. And I get that—maybe some people literally don’t do anything except go vote once a year and put a sticker on and take a selfie, but still I think that’s still—it’s still nice to see those pictures because I think it’s great to normalize voting as a part of people’s lives and a thing that we do and participate in and that everybody—all of your friends, all of your family, everybody is doing it. And so it’s—it’s nice to visually see that, it’s nice to see everyone voting. The other thing I loved was just all of the different voting stickers.
KL I know! That was really cool, seeing which ones were different from state to state.
SWB And which ones I was jealous of—
SWB —we need some better designed ones in Pennsylvania.
KL New York has a really cool one.
SWB They’re super cool, yeah! Okay, so fuck yeah to everyone who is out there celebrating their vote and then also fuck yeah to doing everything we can to make sure everyone actually has the right and the ability and the access to be able to vote in the future because that needs to change.
KL Fuck yeah!
SWB And that’s it for this week’s episode of No, You Go. NYG is recorded in our home city of Philadelphia and it is produced by Steph Colbourn. Our theme music is by The Diaphone. Thank you so much to Jenn Taylor-Skinner for being our guest today and thank you to everybody for listening. If you like the show, please don’t forget to rate us wherever you listen to podcasts because that really helps us spread the word. And we will see you again next week! [music fades in, plays alone for 32 seconds, and fades out]