This is the third post in a series in which we profile people’s passion projects and let them explain their work in their own words. Learn more and see a list of all the projects profiled here.

Feminist Killjoys, PhD is a podcast by Raechel Anne Jolie and Melody Hoffmann. They both were gracious enough to answer some questions about the podcast, the inspirations behind it, and some of their favorite things in pop culture. Check out Feminist Killjoys, PhD on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The podcast is also available through iTunes.

What is Feminist Killjoys, PhD? How did it come about?

FKJPHD is a podcast about feminism, politics, pop culture and usually cats. It came about after we (Melody and Raechel, the hosts) got our PhDs and got jobs as professors. With Raechel in Boston, Mel in Mpls, and much less time to have our usual intellectually-stimulating conversations about the aforementioned topics, we wanted to carve out regular space to have those discussions. We are also very committed to bringing education to the masses–academia is inaccessible to so many, so we wanted a free source of knowledge to provide anyone with access to a phone or computer.

We had no idea what we were doing when we started, but after a lot of DIY trial and error, we’ve gotten pretty good and producing and hosting the show, (if we do say so ourselves :)).

What version(s) of Raechel and Melody does Feminist Killjoys, PhD bring out? In other words, how does Feminist Killjoys, PhD allow you to express yourselves?

Raechel: I love FKJPHD because it allows me to be unapologetically political; as a teacher, I can’t let my most radical-Left self come out in discussions, so that I don’t alienate students who don’t share those beliefs. I genuinely want to make the classroom a safe space for learning and growth, and I can’t speak as bluntly as I do elsewhere. On the podcast, I feel emboldened to say what I think.

I also love it because it’s a weird juxtaposition that demonstrates how we all contain multitudes! How many other podcasts have entire episodes devoted to Anarchism and Marxism, but will also talk about Taylor Swift, Drake, The Bachelor franchise, etc.? I love the hodge-podge it demonstrates!

Melody: Raechel is much more vulnerable on the show. I definitely still wear my professional hat. But I feel like my stand-up comedy has found a good space to flourish. I also really value talking with Rachel because we both push each other to be our best selves and educate each other on issues that are important to us.

How have you fostered those versions of yourself with pop culture?

Raechel: My relationship to pop culture feels very connected to my working-class roots; TV, music, and movies were an affordable escape from the realities of economic hardship. I felt solace in the stories. Today, as a Critical Media Studies PhD, I am interested in critiquing the problematic ideologies those mediums perpetuate, while also not dismissing the importance of pleasure they can bring.

Melody: I tend to watch a lot more of Melissa McCarthy. Through the podcast we have met some amazing people and so my avenues to pop culture has definitely shifted. For example, I became interested in improv comedy. You know the funny thing is is we rarely talk about comedy on the show but I feel the need to really represent the side of myself in this interview. Anyway, doing the show helps me keep up on pop-culture critiques which is really important to my work and so it has really benefited me in a lot of different venues. I definitely bring up examples that we talk about on the podcast into my classroom. And with our podcast platform we are able to lift up pop culture texts and media makers that we feel are important and necessary for other people to experience.

If Feminist Killjoys, PhD had a theme song, what would it be?

We do have a theme song! It’s called “Top Floor” by GRRRL PRTY. : ) GRRRL PRTY is a now-defunct hip-hop crew from Minneapolis. The crew includes Lizzo, Sophia Eris, and Manchita. They are 90s feminist hip-hop reincarnated for the 21st-century.

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