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Feminist activisms: the appropriations of the podcast media for the mobilization and empowerment of women in cyberspace

Abstract

This article aims to analyze the appropriations of the podcast media as a means of communication in the context of contemporary women’s emancipatory struggles. Specifically, what we want to understand is whether the messages conveyed by the Olhares Podcast contribute to broaden the struggle of feminist listeners in cyberspace, empowering and mobilizing women. The research anchors its theoretical approach in authors such as Castells (2013, 2017), Cremades (2009), Alvarez (2014) and Costa (2018). This is a case study that uses netnography techniques combined with data collection based on interviews with listeners and the program’s producer. The netnographic approach is present due to the weight of the online component of the object of study. The research points to the potential of the podcast as a medium for the engagement, empowerment and training of women, mainly in line with other strategies that use the mobilizing force of personal reports as a connection engine between women.

Keywords
Online feminism; Feminist activisms; Contemporary feminist struggles; Podcast; Media consumption

Resumo

Este artigo tem como objetivo analisar as apropriações da mídia podcast como meio de comunicação no contexto das lutas emancipatórias das mulheres na contemporaneidade. Especificamente, o que se pretende compreender é se as mensagens veiculadas pelo Olhares Podcast contribuem para ampliar a luta das ouvintes feministas no ciberespaço, empoderando e mobilizando mulheres. A pesquisa ancora a sua abordagem teórica em autores como Castells (2013, 2017), Cremades (2009), Alvarez (2014) e Costa (2018). Trata-se de um estudo de caso que utiliza técnicas de netnografia combinadas à coleta de dados a partir de entrevistas realizadas com ouvintes e a produtora do programa. A abordagem netnográfica se faz presente devido ao peso do componente online do objeto do estudo. A pesquisa aponta o potencial do podcast como mídia para engajamento, empoderamento e formação de mulheres, principalmente, se alinhado a outras estratégias que usam a força mobilizadora dos relatos pessoais como motor de conexão entre mulheres.

Palavras-chave
Feminismo online; Ativismos feministas; Lutas feministas contemporâneas; Podcast; Consumo de mídia

Resumen

Este artículo tiene como objetivo analizar las apropiaciones del podcast como medio de comunicación en el contexto de las luchas emancipadoras de las mujeres contemporáneas. De verdad, lo que queremos comprender es si los mensajes que transmite Olhares Podcast contribuyen para ampliar la lucha de las oyentes feministas en el ciberespacio, empoderando y movilizando a las mujeres. La investigación se basa teóricamente en autores como Castells (2013, 2017), Cremades (2009), Alvarez (2014) y Costa (2018). Este es un estudio de caso que utiliza técnicas de netnografía combinadas con la recopilación de datos a partir de entrevistas realizadas con los oyentes y la productora del programa. El enfoque netnográfico está presente por el peso del componente online en el estudio. La investigación apunta al potencial del podcast como medio para el compromiso, empoderamiento y formación de las mujeres, principalmente en línea con otras estrategias que utilizan la fuerza movilizadora de los informes personales como motor de conexión entre mujeres.

Palabras clave
Feminismo en línea; Activismos feministas; Luchas feministas contemporáneas; Podcast; Consumo de medios

Introduction

The advent of Communication and Information Technologies (ICTs), and the emergence of the internet, open up a field of new possibilities for the production and circulation of content. In this regard, several guidelines of social movements, which did not have space or the most adequate approach in the hegemonic media, have been gaining prominence in the last decade and bringing their problematic to this new territory.

Castells (2013)CASTELLS, M. O poder da comunicação; trad. Rita Espanha ; rev. cient. Gustavo Cardoso. - Lisboa: Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, 2013. highlights social media as spaces of autonomy where self-communication is practiced, that is, the production of the message is decided autonomously by the sender. In this direction and in the broadest sense, the internet has been transforming itself into a great arena for debates on issues related to the Feminist movement in its plurality, considering its identity guidelines and its intersectional character.

The internet has also become the stage for major transformations in terms of content production and circulation. For Castells (2013)CASTELLS, M. O poder da comunicação; trad. Rita Espanha ; rev. cient. Gustavo Cardoso. - Lisboa: Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, 2013., this change in the communicational environment has important effects on contemporary social life and directly affects the norms of construction of meanings and, therefore, the production of relations of power.

Cremades (2009)CREMADES, J. Micropoder - a força do cidadão na era digital. São Paulo: Senac, 2009. points out that technology and its mobile devices connected to the Internet have given back to the subject quotas of power once dominated by the State and other institutions, such as the church and the market. The Spanish author calls it Micropower Revolution, an “unprecedented recognition of the power that the individual has for participating in a collective project that is changing the society in which we live” (CREMADES, 2009CREMADES, J. Micropoder - a força do cidadão na era digital. São Paulo: Senac, 2009.. p. 17).

In this scenario, several media have already consolidated ground in the field of feminist emancipatory struggles, such as blogs, zines, audiovisual channels, among others. One of the best-known feminist blogs in the country is Think Olga1 1 Available at: https://thinkolga.com. . Olga is a feminist NGO created in 2013 with the objective of empowering women through information. This organization is responsible for campaigns that have had great repercussions both on social media and offline, such as #ChegaDeFiuFiu, a campaign against sexual harassment in public spaces, and #MeuPrimeiroAssédio, which generated a large flow of sharing of personal stories about harassment during childhood and adolescence.

It is in this same direction that the portal Azmina2 2 Available at: https://azmina.com.br. develops its work. The non-profit institution conducts a project to empower women through independent feminist information and education, with the aim of using information against the various types of violence that affect Brazilian women.

Feminist struggles have also gained strength in the audiovisual field. On YouTube, there is a large number of channels that address feminist and LGBTQIA+ themes, such as Não me Kahlo3 3 Available at: https://www.naomekahlo.com. and Canal das Bee4 4 Available at: https://www.youtube.com/CanalDasBee . With a name alluding to the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, the Não me Kahlo portal has the mission of spreading knowledge about gender issues and has around four thousand subscribers on the channel. Canal das Bee, on the air since 2012, is one of the most well-known and well-articulated channels in Brazil and its proposal is to be a space against homophobia and against every kind of prejudice.

It is not new that the media is used to strengthen women’s battles. Leaflets, newspapers, radio and television have been used, in various contexts in the history of the women’s movement, to address feminist issues in an attempt to sensitize society to this agenda. Some examples of these uses are the alternative newspapers Nosotras and Brasil Mulher, pioneers for opening the feminist debate in this media; the Viva Maria radio program, created in the 1980s, that opened up space for the expression of women’s civil, political and social rights; and the television programs Malu Mulher (aired on TV Globo between 1979 and 1980, with Regina Duarte as the protagonist, portraying the life of Malu, a recently divorced woman fighting for her new life as an emancipated woman), and TV Mulher (1980 – 1986), presented by journalist Marília Gabriela, which discussed the roles of women in modern society.

In the context of growth and strengthening of feminist fights in the virtual field, the podcast presents itself as another channel to reinforce this content. However, because it is a sound media, it carries specific features that bring back the power of the spoken word in a world of constant visual stimuli.

The podcast as a media appeared in the United States of America in 2004 and, in the same year, arrived in Brazil. It is currently experiencing a moment of expansion and a scenario of solidity and maturity with the arrival and the investments of major players such as Spotify, Globoplay, Deezer, among others. Despite the favorable market context to the growth of podcasts, the face that interests us in this study is far from market metrics. The gaze here is directed towards the political uses of this media and its appropriations by historically silenced groups and movements.

In general, podcasts can be defined as audio-on-demand programs. According to Bufarah Junior (2020)BUFARAH JUNIOR, A. Podcast e as novas possibilidades de monetização na radiodifusão. Radiofonias – Revista de Estudos em Mídia Sonora, v.11, p. 33-48, 2020., podcast can be conceptualized as the dissemination of digital audio files throughout the web, periodically and using RSS indexing technology. It is a media that presents itself as a territory rich in formats and possibilities for creation, being the round table format the most common in Brazil. This variety is also perceived when it comes to content. For producers, there are countless possibilities to create niche content on any topic or area. For those who listen, there are programs on different themes, ranging from content about politics, to even learning new languages.

Medeiros (2005)MEDEIROS, M. S. Podcasting: produção descentralizada de conteúdo sonoro. In: Anais do XXVIII Congresso Brasileiro de Ciências. Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, 5-9 set. 2005. points to the freedom that podcast listeners have in being able to choose the program they like and want to listen to, and also when this listening will take place. The author also evokes a key point of the media, which is its disruptive character. That is, the idea of breaking with the standards already established in the market, when realizing that the listener, appropriated of digital tools, is increasingly autonomous and demanding, no longer surrendering to the impositions of traditional media. On the contrary, now this listener is an active subject who infers in the production and engages in the consumption and distribution of the content that interests him.

Assis (2014)ASSIS, P. O feed e a fidelização do podouvinte. In: LUIZ, L. (org). Reflexões sobre o podcast. Nova Iguaçu (RJ): Marsupial, 2014. p. 29-47. draws attention to the listening experience provided by the podcast. For the author, the podcast transcends the temporal dimension and the natural spatial limitations of relationships with media such as the radio and the internet itself. This is because the listener, through the feed, can access this content from anywhere and at any time. This is what, according to Massarelli and Perrotta (2006)MASSARELLI, V.; PERROTTA, M. Podcasting: A change for listeners, a challenge for broadcasters. In: FOLLMER, G.; THIERMANN, S. (ed.) Relating Radio. Communities. Aesthetics. Access. Leipzig: Spector, 2006. p. 257-264, can be called asynchronous listening. And not only having access, but you can also insert this content in your daily life and consume it at your own pace and according to your intention. This more flexible nature of the media is quite compatible with the double journey that marks the routine of us, women, facilitating access to content according to each one’s availability.

There is a growing trend of women, whether producing or consuming, interested in making use of this space that can be used as a place of feminist resistance and citizenship practice. The podcast has been used by women in order to build a militant listener base and appears to be a powerful tool for mobilizing and engaging them with their different flags and fights.

Here, it is important to emphasize that the perspective of the present study is guided by the idea of the podcast media as a place for exchanging knowledge and as a space for building citizenship, making use of the term used by Bonini (2020)BONINI, T. A “segunda era” do podcasting: reenquadrando o podcasting como um novo meio digital massivo. Tradução: Marcelo Kischinhevsky. Radiofonias – Revista de Estudos em Mídia Sonora, Mariana-MG, v. 11, n. 1, p. 13-32, 2020., which understands the podcast as an emancipatory cultural practice. Based on these assumptions, the objective of the present study is to analyze the appropriations of the podcast media by women in their emancipatory revindications based on the following questions: to what extent do the messages of the program influence the emancipatory movement of women? And how can the uses of the podcast contribute to expanding the feminist fight to other spheres?

Methodology

The research is characterized as a case study, in which qualitative analysis was privileged and combined with netnography techniques. According to Kozinets (2004)KOZINETS, R. V. Netnografia: realizando pesquisa etnográfica online. Porto Alegre: Penso Editora, 2014., netnography is a specialized form of ethnography and uses computer-mediated communications as a data source to arrive at an ethnographic understanding and representation of a cultural phenomenon on the Internet. Its approach is adapted to study forums, newsgroups, blogs, social media, etc., as well as online communities and cultures and other forms of electronic social behavior, considering the specificities of the digital environment.

The study was carried out using a combination of data collection techniques that included, besides the survey and online interviews with a semi-structured script between listeners and the featured podcast’s content producer, the analysis of the program’s social media. The network chosen for this investigation was Instagram, an online social media for sharing photos and videos.

The interviews with the ten study participants – nine listeners and the podcast producer – were carried out between March and April 2020, in the context of social isolation imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. For this technique, a semi-structured script was developed for the conversation with the creator, producer and presenter of the podcast, Aline Hack. The document was developed in three blocks, in the sense of tracing the profile of the creator, understanding the uses she makes of the podcast media, and analyzing the unfolding of the contents produced by the program in her militancy, as well as understanding the strategies used for the production of the Software.

A similar script was produced for the interview with the participating listeners. They were selected and invited to take part in the study based on their interactions with the program’s profile on Instagram. Also divided into three blocks, the study sought to: identify the profile of the participants, which includes age, education, profession and geographic aspects; understand their relationship with traditional media and with the podcast; and to understand how the participating listeners evaluate the uses of the podcast in relation to the empowerment of women and the expansion of their struggles.

Simultaneously, the focus shifted to the profile of Olhares Podcast on Instagram. The chose period to analyze the interactions of the user(s) in that virtual environment was between the months of June and November of 2019. With a cut in time, we observed the engagement of the followers in the posts of this social media profile to analyze the amount of likes and interactions via comments on the content published by the team. It is worth noting the growth of feminist content on Instagram, often serving as a complementary media to other digital content spaces such as blogs, video platforms (YouTube), and the podcast media itself.

That said, the netnographic approach is present due to the weight of the online component in the study. The observations come from the existing relationships in the virtual field to understand aspects of the daily lives of users who establish exchanges and communicational relationships in cyberspace, mediated by ICTs.

Olhares Podcast

The main product of the eponymous portal, Olhares Podcast is a feminist project that “seeks to attribute new perspectives by highlighting the fights, social participation, affirmative actions and achievements of women” (OLHARES..., 2020OLHARES PODCAST. Olhares Podcast: novos olhares sobre as mulheres e o feminismo, 2017. Um podcast feminista sobre mulheres, movimentos sociais e direitos humanos. Disponível em: https://olharespodcast.com.br. Acesso em: 20 dez. 2020.
https://olharespodcast.com.br...
). The program, which exists since 2017, is an independent initiative, presented by lawyer and activist Aline Hack and published every two weeks. Each episode lasts an average of 45 minutes to an hour.

The first episode aired on March 8, 2017, as a part of activities alluding to the fight on International Women’s Day. In its years of operation, Olhares have already opened dialogue and have given voice to trans, black, indigenous, refugee, Christian women, members of popular collectives, academics, in addition to raising discussions and debates on current and relevant topics from an intersectional perspective.

The project’s website also has opinion columns and offers exclusive content, via newsletter, for financial supporters of the initiative. Highlight for subjects such as: maternity and feminism; abortion and reproductive rights; fatphobia; sexual division of labor; women and technology; democracy, participation and social transformation; women and the political space and, during the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, feminism, quarantine and post-pandemic.

The profile of the interviewees

The age range of the survey participants varies between 19 and 48 years. They are distributed in several states of the country, presenting the following regional configuration: Northeast, with an interviewee from the state of Bahia; Southeast, with seven interviewees, three from São Paulo, two from Minas Gerais and the other two from Rio de Janeiro; and Midwest, with two participants from the Federal District. Another important point regarding the territorial aspect is that eight of the participants live in large cities or capitals and two of them at the countryside. This marker was used to understand whether there are converging or diverging points of expressions of feminist activism in urban or rural areas.

When it comes to education, we observed that all participants have at least a degree, either in progress or already completed. Six of them have a postgraduate degree: specialization, master’s or doctor’s degree. As for professional performance, the interviewees work in areas such as communication, international relations, education, health, and the legal field.

Chart 1
Profile of the interviewees

The podcast is part of the routine of all the study participants. They listen to it while carrying out domestic activities, which still remain, mostly, under female shoulders and also in daily displacements, either in public transport or in private cars. As it is a medium that does not require absolute attention, it is possible to listen to its content while performing other activities. This is noticeable in the speech of participant 3 of the study:

I started listening because it is fast and because I can listen to it wherever I want. Considering that I spend two hours commuting to and from work, college, I have this free time. And so I fill it with this listening

(Participant 3).

The podcast has gained space in everyday life and the liking of the participants for its characteristics and singularities. The interviewees highlight the practicality of finding content and the autonomy to consume it as soon as possible as the main elements of the media, as shown in the following reports:

I think that the practicality is what captivates me. It gets my attention that one can be easily connected to this type of information, anywhere and at any time of the day

(Participant 1).

I seize every opportunity I get to listen. Washing the dishes, making dinner, taking the bus. I’m hyperactive. I’m always doing 500 things at the same time. So, I put on the podcast and listen to it as I am doing a lot of other things

(Participant 5).

Being able to download and listen to it in my time. Even if someone uploads it at eight in the morning, but if I can only listen to it at six in the afternoon, it will be available. For me, this availability is interesting for me to adapt to my schedule

(Participant 4).

The didactic character of the podcast media is an element that also gained prominence among the participants. This aspect is said to enable the understanding of the content, being, many times, their first contact with the subject:

I really like this rapport of bringing information, bringing content in an easy way, in a simplified way. I had even commented that on Youtube one needs a set and needs to be dressed up. So, in the podcast you just talk, you bring the most simplified information. So it’s versatile

(Participant 1).

Since people don’t read much nowadays, because they don’t have time, because they don’t really have the habit... anyway. The podcast is a very good alternative

(Participant 5).

The ICTs in new feminist practices

Communication and the ICTs are themes that turn out to be key to understand the plurality of the feminist movement in Brazil and in the world. No matter how much one considers the democratic nature of the internet, one cannot help but think that this access, by itself, does not guarantee any change in the patriarchal structure that sustains us. In this sense, the study dialogues with Wolton (2012, p. 184)WOLTON, D. Internet, e depois? Uma teoria crítica das novas mídias. 3. ed. Porto Alegre: Sulina, 2012 when, in his reflection on the internet, he states that “the new technologies are not enough to change society, that is, to modify the social organization and the cultural model of communication”. Therefore, it is necessary to consider, in addition to the innovative dimension, the social dimension of technology.

This debate about gender and technology is permanent, especially with the improvement in structural conditions and access to the internet and these new communication tools. Social media sites play a fundamental role in this, because, seen from their configuration, they provide new forms of articulation and a more horizontal debate. Castells (2017)CASTELLS, M. Redes de Indignação e Esperança: movimentos sociais na era da internet. 2. ed. Rio de Janeiro: Jorge Zahar, 2017. calls it Culture of Autonomy, referring to the capacity of a social actor to become a subject by defining his action around projects developed independently of society’s institutions, according to his own values and interests (Castells, 2017CASTELLS, M. Redes de Indignação e Esperança: movimentos sociais na era da internet. 2. ed. Rio de Janeiro: Jorge Zahar, 2017.). In this sense, the exercise of autonomy is essential in the actions of socio-political movements in contemporary times.

For Castells (2017, p. 199)CASTELLS, M. Redes de Indignação e Esperança: movimentos sociais na era da internet. 2. ed. Rio de Janeiro: Jorge Zahar, 2017.:

The networked social movements of our time are largely grounded on the internet, which is a necessary, though not sufficient, component of collective action. Digital social networks based on the Internet and on wireless platforms are decisive tools for mobilizing, organizing, deliberating, coordinating and deciding. But the role of the internet surpasses instrumentality: it creates the conditions for a form of common practice that allows a leaderless movement to survive, deliberate, coordinate and expand.

Castells (2017, p. 193)CASTELLS, M. Redes de Indignação e Esperança: movimentos sociais na era da internet. 2. ed. Rio de Janeiro: Jorge Zahar, 2017. also highlights the local and global character, simultaneously, of these network movements: “they start in specific contexts, for their own reasons, constitute their own networks and build their public space by occupying the urban space and connecting to the internet networks.

As an example of these movements that emerge in local contexts, we have, in 2011, in Canada, the Slut Walk insurgency that soon hit the web and streets of several countries. It was no different here in Brazil. In several cities, we see the performance of feminist collectives that march in the streets having as their motto and north of struggle what is preached by the movement. Making use of bodies as a political tool, making their speeches visible and impacting society in offline and online dimensions.

Alvarez (2014)ALVAREZ, S. E. Para além da sociedade civil: reflexões sobre o campo feminista. Cadernos Pagu, v. 43, p. 13-56, 2014. states that feminism in networks is articulated through feminist political-communicative webs, with horizontal and multimodal practices, merging fields of action and interacting with other feminist groups, emphasizing the movement’s transversal nature. For Costa (2018)COSTA, C. Uma nova geração política - Rede. In: HOLLANDA, H. B. Explosão feminista: arte, cultura, política e universidade. 2. ed. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2018., the feminist insurrection was the one that most benefited from the decentralized logic of the networks. According to the authors, to account for the diversity of feminisms, the networks proved to be a sufficiently flexible base to articulate the multiple feminist identity positions within the intersectional logics indispensable for the expression of new women’s activism.

Bogado (2018)BOGADO, M. Uma nova geração política – Rua. In: HOLLANDA, H. B. Explosão feminista: arte, cultura, política e universidade. 2. ed. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2018. points out that there are at least two points to be highlighted about the types of organization of contemporary activisms and that has current feminism as its representative:

On the one hand, the total prioritization of the collective. On the other hand, a political language that passes through performance and the use of the body as the main platform of expression. These are the elements that can be noticed at first sight in the new feminist manifestations

(BOGADO, 2018BOGADO, M. Uma nova geração política – Rua. In: HOLLANDA, H. B. Explosão feminista: arte, cultura, política e universidade. 2. ed. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2018., p. 32).

Another strong element that crosses these new forms of feminist action on the web is identification. Individual reports affect the other, generate empathy and often provoke a reaction. This can be seen in the numerous online campaigns mobilized by the use of hashtags, which often start from a personal account that was amplified by the networks.

Costa (2018, p. 46)COSTA, C. Uma nova geração política - Rede. In: HOLLANDA, H. B. Explosão feminista: arte, cultura, política e universidade. 2. ed. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2018., calls it mobilizing force of personal accounts, one of the main political instruments of network feminism. In addition to generating mobilization, these stories impact subjects and provoke personal reflections on a daily basis, which generate empathy and unfold in the collective.

This was observed in several participants’ reports when listening to feminist podcasts, such as Olhares Podcast. For them, listening to the reports of other women makes them feel close, sharing a feeling, in a way, of a collective, in which the main objective is to break with the idea that one is alone and demonstrate solidarity, sisterhood and support:

When listening to women [...], you feel as if you are building a dialogue. As if you were there exchanging your experiences with these women. This is very rich, very empowering. That feeling of sharing

(Participant 7).

So, more and more I enjoy listening to more women, getting to know more women, exchanging these experiences. Because it is very important for us to realize that we are not alone, that these pains are all shared.

(Participant 5).

Another aspect analyzed was the podcast’s potential of contribution to women’s lives and struggles. The interviewees recognize the importance of the content and highlight contributions in the dimensions of self-knowledge, personal transformation and also access to information to have a repertoire on feminisms:

And this also helps in everyday life because a person who knows, who understands, who absorbs what they are listening to can also generate a personal transformation”

(Participant 1).

It makes us think differently, from different points of view. And that’s what we take for life, isn’t it? For us to question things that normally alone we would not question. So, it leads us, in our own lives, to rethink relationships with people or look at ourselves, our attitudes, the way we think, how we act, how we take care of ourselves, how we interact

(Participant 2).

I believe that no revolution is made without knowledge, you know? I think the podcast can profoundly help with the issues that we struggle with. Thus, as the podcast is a tool for democratizing access to information, it is very important. It can be a very important tool, precisely because it is a tool for disseminating content

(Participant 5).

Weaknesses of the podcast media

Despite the multiple evidence of the strength and potential to push the fights inside and outside the podcast, and its consequences in the public sphere, it is important to consider some weaknesses in the uses of this media. This reflection was confirmed by several participants who, despite being enthusiastic and aware of the role played by podcasts in training and militancy, emphasize that it is necessary to go beyond it to, in fact, advance in the feminist fight:

I think the podcast is a support, but only that. It cannot be unique. It is an interesting space for you to find content, for you to find spaces to speak, but feminism is applied offline, isn’t it? It is all for nothing if we are a militant who only listens to podcasts and claims to be a militant. Militancy cannot reach its peak only at podcast listening. It has to exceed it. It has to make people participate in marches, in protests, introduce them to groups and collectives within their regions, make them search for Facebook groups or support groups; recommend to other people, participate, live all that, huh? Reading groups, try to read more… all that. Make that a cyclical movement, that doesn’t end up on the podcast

(Participant 10).

Even if we consider the podcast to be relevant, it is still an elitist media and distant from the majority of the population. Despite the boom in the current market, the growth in the number of programs and the popularization of some of them in this period of social isolation due to COVID-19, the ideal scenario of great popular reach is still far away, as the following report points out:

My point is... I don’t know if it will contemplate everyone, right? Because podcast, good or bad, even though it’s free and all, it’s a bit of an elite media. You need to have a device, you need to have time. And somehow you need to have some kind of knowledge, or, at the very least, patience, to listen to someone talking about something you’ve never heard of. There are people who work a lot, have children, have a thousand things to do... they won’t stop to listen to something that... you know? Something that has nothing to do with them or that they don’t identify with. But white feminism, the more elitist one, I think it does, it makes the difference, it generates debate. Now how this reaches some other less privileged people, that’s another matter, right?

(Participant 8).

Although far from an ideal scenario of access to ICTs and the communication tools, it is important to illustrate the current Brazilian scenario with numbers. According to the National Survey of Samples by Household – the 2019 Continuous PNAD1 ICT5 5 Available at: https://cetic.br/media/analises/tic_domicilios_2019_coletiva_imprensa.pdf. (BRASIL, 2020), there are 134 million internet users in the country, with cell phones being the most used device, by 99% of interviewees – which, by far, points to the growth and popularity of this device by Brazilians. Of this total, 58% of respondents only have access to the internet via cell phone.

The survey also brings data on the cultural activities of Brazilians on the internet. In this universe, the highlights are the consumption of video and music, the most common activities among users. There are also indications of podcast consumption, mostly for Class A users (37%) and with graduation degree (26%).

Another aspect highlighted in the study as a weakness of the podcast media is related to its language. The interviewees consider it fundamental to use strategies to approach and engage the listeners of this media. Even though the podcast presents relevant characteristics such as autonomy, didacticism and practicality, one cannot forget the growth of the anti-feminist narrative in the country, which occupies the networks in an orchestrated and aggressive way:

Precisely to bring into the debate people who think they don’t know what feminism is, people who were co-opted by the anti-feminist debate. So, if our challenge is to prove to these women that being feminist doesn’t mean any of what this anti-feminist discourse has built, it seems to me that the podcast is an excellent opportunity to reach these women’s ears because it is very accessible

(Participant 5).

This aspect requires planning and strategy on the part of feminist content creators so that their narratives are attractive and can sensitize those who are willing get to know this field.

Conclusions

This research brought many reflections on the potential of the podcast as a medium for engaging and educating women. Mainly, if aligned with other strategies that use the mobilizing force of personal stories as an engine of connection between people. In this case, women.

The first point that drew attention in the study was about the peculiarities of the podcast media and how women make use of them. Three aspects were highlighted as attractive elements for this media: the practicality of listening to the content at any place and time; the autonomy of being able to download content and listen to it when possible; and the pedagogical character of the media, since the contents are presented in a simpler way and with accessible language.

Podcast presents itself as a gateway to certain subjects, as well as an interesting option for those who do not have the habit or time to dedicate themselves to reading. These three most evident characteristics of the podcast are reinforced when one sheds a light on the ways in which women, in the majority, consume the programs: performing the invisible and unpaid work of domestic care and commuting, in public or private transport.

The research brought findings in several areas. It was observed, for example, that the podcast is seen as a media capable of enhancing individual expressions and struggles, recovering the meaning and power of the oral word, of sound information – an important point if compared to the amount of stimuli, almost always visuals, to which we are always submitted.

It was found that the personal reports brought by the programs have a lot of strength and this strength generates empathy and breaks with the idea that that woman is alone with her problem. This phenomenon, typical of network relationships, strengthens, empowers and generates a feeling of companionship among the listeners.

Another finding pointed out by the interviewees concerns the podcast’s contribution to the listeners’ personal development. Specifically, in the dimension of self-knowledge, by conveying content that favors personal transformation and the development of critical awareness by questioning everyday actions and habits. An important point that also favors the participation of women is the easy access to information, since the program is free and curated to expand references and repertoires on feminisms and related topics.

A fundamental aspect that draws attention in this research is the interactions that women establish on networks through podcasts. It was observed that technology gains a central place in their lives and routines. This presence is perceived through the change in news consumption, now mostly through digital means. This favors greater presence and greater contact with new communication tools. Networks can also leverage women’s tactics, by bringing individual and group stories closer to a global sphere, in addition to helping to break with the silencing and invisibility historically imposed on women.

Still on the struggle of women, it was observed that the use of hashtags as a form of engagement in actions and campaigns is very present, and is also a widely used tool to search for podcast episodes. Despite the frequent use of this resource, it must be considered that the tool alone does not change realities. It is necessary to go beyond it. And this is evident in the research findings.

With regards to understanding the dialogue between podcasts and other spaces of struggle, we sought to understand the connections made through the work with Olhares Podcast. The interviewees’ reports showed that the program does refer to other fronts of action. The program was used as an instrument for the personal empowerment of women who managed to break with a daily life of violence. It was also used as an awareness raising tool for building public policy. And it reached places rarely occupied by women, such as the Chamber of Deputies, for example, and CCXP6 6 Comic Com Experience (CCXP) was created in 2014. It is considered the biggest pop/geek culture event in Brazil. , one of the main technology events in the world. These examples are social proof of the strength of this media and its interlocution with other spaces of action.

However, as reiterated by several interviewees, the podcast is only a support for these struggles. Nothing can be restricted to it. On the contrary. Feminist political action needs to go further and gain consistence by always occupying other spaces. The podcast media contributes, but does not exhaust the performance.

Even considering the gains that podcast media brings to women’s education and struggle, and moving away from romanticism when analyzing the field, it is essential to consider limitations and weaknesses in accessing and consuming this media – which points to the great challenge of the podcast producer with this theme. Far beyond a technical or language concern, media education is essential to increase access to this media, as well as to others, and also greater appropriation and awareness of the uses we can give to it. The podcast is still seen as an elitist media and distant from the majority of the population, even with the advances and growth in popularity.

Here, it is necessary to consider as barriers to access to sound content the digital gender gap, little discussed but always present, and the deep social disparities that disadvantage and distance access to this tool by poor and black women. It is an ambivalent field, because, at the same time that it presents itself as a space for the democratization of discourses, it is still well below the uses of its potential because it is far from the hands of those who really should have access: non-white women who live in peripheral territories.

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Edited by

Editor: Maria Ataide Malcher
Editorial assistant: Weverton Raiol

Publication Dates

  • Publication in this collection
    23 Oct 2023
  • Date of issue
    2023

History

  • Received
    28 May 2021
  • Accepted
    09 June 2023
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