Leon Wieseltier, who was for decades the literary editor of The New Republic, is a legendary cultural and media figure. But in 2017, just as he was set to launch a new publication, he was accused of #MeToo transgressions and his professional connections were severed almost overnight. After three years out of the public eye, Leon has reemerged with a new quarterly journal called Liberties, which aims to be “slower, longer and deeper” than just about anything else around. In this conversation, Leon talks with Meghan about his hopes for the magazine, his frustrations with political and cultural discourse today, and the fallout and lessons from the #MeToo allegations made against him. They also talk about sexual dynamics in mentor relationships, the virtues of the Louis CK film Pootie Tang, and why Leon wishes he could list “intellectual” on his passport as his occupation.
Leon Wieseltier is the editor of Liberties - a Journal of Culture and Politics. From 1983 to 2014, he was the literary editor of The New Republic.
Inspecting The Machinery of Identity Politics: A Conversation with Writer and Scholar Laurent Dubreuil
How To Let Your Kids Live More Dangerously: A conversation with “America’s Worst Mom,” Lenore Skenazy
Journalist Lenore Skenazy was dubbed “America’s Worst Mom” in 2008 for a column about letting her nine-year-old ride the subway alone. The controversy led her to speak out about finding safe ways to allow kids to be more independent and she founded the Free Range Kids movement. In 2018 she co-founded Let Grow, a nonprofit that offers resource materials, school curricula and even does policy work with an aim toward helping kids be more self-sufficient (and helping their parents allow them to be). In this interview, Lenore talks with Meghan about her work, her own parenting and the fact that, as she puts it, “There’s never been a safer time to be a child in America.”
Lenore Skenazy is co-founder and president of Let Grow, a nonprofit promoting independence as a critical part of childhood. Ever since her column “Why I Let My 9-Year-Old Ride the Subway Alone” created a media firestorm, Lenore has been declaring that our kids are smarter and stronger than our culture gives them credit for. She is the author of Free-Range Kids, the book-turned-movement that garnered her the nickname, “America’s Worst Mom.”
An extended version of this interview is available for second-tier Patreon subscribers at www.Patreon.com/theunspeakable.
Sandra Tsing Loh is a writer, performer, and radio commentator. Her work has been heard on NPR’s Morning Edition and This American Life. She is a contributing editor to the Atlantic and host of the syndicated daily radio “minute,” The Loh Down on Science. Her latest book is THE MADWOMAN AND THE ROOMBA (W.W. Norton, June 2020). She lives in Pasadena, California.
Uncomfortable Truths About Dating (At Least The Heterosexual Kind): A Conversation with Evan Marc Katz
British academic Helen Pluckrose is the co-author, with James Lindsay, of Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything About Race, Gender, and Identity—And Why This Harms Everybody. She was also part of an infamous academic hoax wherein “grievance studies” papers about subjects such as fat bodybuilding and dog park rape culture were accepted for publication in established journals. In this interview, Helen talks about how the social philosophy known as critical theory came to inform mainstream culture and politics and how we can understand it better while also stop pretending to understand what is fundamentally nonsense. She also gives a concise definition of “intersectionality” and offers tips on what to say when your friend or boss asks you to read White Fragility.
Helen Pluckrose is a liberal political and cultural writer and commentator currently focusing on postmodernism and Critical Social Justice scholarship and activism. She is the editor of Areo, a digital magazine looking at politics, culture, science and art from a broadly liberal and humanist perspective. Helen's background is in late medieval and early modern religious writing by and about women. She took part in the "grievance studies affair" with James Lindsay and Peter Boghossian and her book with James Lindsay breaking down Critical Social Justice scholarship is entitled Cynical Theories: How Universities Made Everything about Race Gender and Identity - And How This Harms Everyone.
We forget that beyond thoughts and ideas and language there is a three-dimensional reality that gives us valuable experiences and can teach us a lot about how to be in the world. — Sasha Ayad
In this edition of the podcast, Meghan speaks with Sasha Ayad, a Licensed Professional Counselor who treats adolescents and young adults dealing with issues related to gender identity. Over the last few years, the number of teens announcing transgender identities has increased dramatically. Some statistics point to increases of more than 1000 percent in the annual rate of children seeking specialized gender services. Sasha talks about what may be driving this phenomenon, why it’s more common in girls, why trans identification often appears in clusters within peer groups, and how the power of trans activism has affected treatment models and standards of care.
Sasha Ayad is a Licensed Professional Counselor who works in private practice, and has treated adolescents for over 10 years. Her work focuses on teens and young adults struggling with issues of gender dysphoria and gender identity. She became interested in the sharp rise in teenagers, mostly girls, who declare a trans identity for the first time during adolescence. She discovered, through working with hundreds of families, that teens were developing gender dysphoria only after adopting a transgender identity. She questions the practice of medical transition for children and adolescents, and her clinical work focuses on a developmentally appropriate, least-invasive-first talk therapy approach to gender dysphoria. Visit her at www.inspiredteentherapy.com