Jane Caro & Catherine Fox pull back the curtain on successful women with ‘Women With Clout’ podcast
Jane Caro and Catherine Fox have been friends for a long time, having met through their daughters at primary school, they’ve co-authored books together and now they’re entering the audio world with new podcast Women With Clout, hosted on SCA‘s podcasting platform PodcastOne.
“The podcast has been going for 20 years. Usually, it includes wine,” laughs Caro.
“At the moment, we’re mostly recording the podcast during working hours, so there’s not a lot of wine involved, sadly.”
Guests from Season One of Women With Clout range greatly from the likes of political activist Sally McManus to Indigenous and women’s rights advocate Nareen Young but they all have one thing in common – the shared burden of being successful women in the spotlight.
“I think that we do that, in particular, to women who achieve,” Caro tells Radio Today.
“We judge them harshly so they have to be perfect. And if they’re perfect, they’re called inspirational.
“And then of course, if she turns out to be a flawed human being we all say, ‘Oh, I used to like her, but she’s a complete train wreck and I can’t stand her, and I hate her,’ This is complete rubbish.
“These women, absolutely every single one of them, is just a flawed human being doing the best she can and fighting her own feelings of inadequacy and insecurity. Nobody’s inspirational and no one’s a train wreck. We’re all a mix of all those things and somewhere in between.”
There is one conversation in this first series that stands out from the rest, Caro says, and it concerns Walkley winning journalist Kate McClymont.
“While I find it the most hilarious of the interviews, the one with Kate, there’s a story she tells about thinking that the guy in the lift was gonna punch her,” Caro begins.
“That idea that women might face up to people whose boundary on behaviour is not there at all, and who would gladly kill them if they could, and would certainly punch them in public. That really struck me, that women are entering into, professionally, a new territory.”
A grim reality to consider but as Caro contests, it also shows how incredibly resilient career-driven women are.
“The way she handles herself, with such humour, and such down-to-earth insight, and even a weird kind of compassion for the men who would do her in without a blink of an eye.
“I thought to myself, there’s something about having more women in those situations which changes the dynamic of the criminal, corrupt, hyper-masculine world that is of course outside the wall. That was something that I hadn’t thought about before.”
The series is unique in that it does away with cold, untouchable archetype interviews with career women, replacing it with the warm, funny, and touching conversations that females will find much more familiar.
“I think that it’s really interesting how little a lot of people understand what women’s intimate conversations are like. We don’t often see it depicted very accurately.”
Caro says it’s necessary for the show to use comedy to tackle the tougher topics concerning women. She insists that in order to continue to tear down patriarchal obstructions, woman have to be able to find the absurdity in their situation.
“If you don’t laugh at the bloody rubbish you’re handed out when you’re a woman in this society, you’d slash your wrists,” says Caro.
“There is an absurdity to sexism and misogyny, a lot of ridiculousness that I think women are very conscious of.
“I believe strongly that feminism is the fight of one half of the human race to be taken seriously by the other half.
“But, along with the taking themselves seriously comes an ability to laugh at the absurdity of the kinds of assumptions and prejudices. As you get older, you become more able to laugh at things, and you also become less worried about getting approval.
“And that’s where there’s a lot of humour in being able to poke fun at the gap between the rhetoric, and the reality but it is comedy of substance because it is pointing out that gap which is all well worth us being conscious of.”
At the end of the day, Caro and Fox have a relatively simple ambition for Women With Clout.
“I think that’s what we’re hoping the podcast will get across: that these women are human, they’re real, they’re not scary, they’re really nice people, they’re people you’d love to find yourself having a glass of wine with in the evening.
“And that doesn’t mean they’re not effective in their job, it means that they are whole people. Not that role, or that salary, but that whole person.”