The Gender Knot Season 1

Season 1

How Will #MeToo Affect Dating?


Many people have expressed concern about what behaviour is or isn’t appropriate when it comes to dating, including dating in the workplace. We explore the nuances.

We also welcome our co-host for season 2: Jonathan Freeman.


Daniel Carroll, co-host of the podcast Fine and Dandy with Dan and Andy

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Nico Tortorella on Family and Sexuality


The actor and model Nico Tortorella has talked about being sexually fluid, and explores his sexuality and his relationships in his podcast The Love Bomb. The star of the hit TV series Younger talks to us about his experiences with coming out to his family, as well as something he wishes he’d said but never did.

This interview with Nico was recorded in October 2016, so he talks in the context of his life back then.


Nico Tortorella, actor and model, host of the podcast The Love Bomb 

Mark Manson on Men’s Groups


The transformational power of men’s groups have come up several times on this podcast, but men’s groups often have a pretty bad and misleading reputation. The author of ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck’ talks about a men’s group in Boston which transformed his life and tells us what actually happened in this group in the first place.

Also, this is the final episode of season 1. We will be back with season 2 on January 8th 2018.


Mark Manson, author of best seller ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck’ and self-development expert

Why Don't men Talk?


Dizraeli had a breakdown last year. The MC and poet found it hard to talk about what was going on with him, and also found little support from men when he did reach out. He managed to seek help and is now focused on exploring why men don’t talk and how to get men to open up and to communicate honestly.

Dizraeli tells us about how masculinity leaves little room to explore the inner life, and to even have a language to describe what they are going through, and helps us delve into the question: Why don’t men talk?


Dizraeli, MC and poet

Is Theresa May jumping on the LGBTQ+ bandwagon?

JamesDan quotecard.jpg

Theresa May recently attended the Pink News Awards – the first sitting UK Prime Minister to do so. These awards recognise people who have worked to improve LGBTQ plus life in the UK. Some people praised her for the and for a speech she gave at the awards, but others have seen it as a cynical move from a PM trying to look good in this community, because Theresa May’s voting record hasn’t always been supportive of the LGBTQ plus community.

We try to untangle this with the hosts of the UK’s leading LGBTQ plus podcast: A Gay and a Non Gay – that’s James Barr and Dan Hudson.


James Barr and Dan Hudson, hosts of A Gay and a Non Gay podcast


Theresa May’s article for Pink News, July 2017
Background on Section 28
Theresa May’s voting record on LGBTQ plus issues

Mark Manson: is there a masculinity crisis?


Mark Manson, author of the New York Times bestseller ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck’ and self-development expert, has spent a decade or so working closely with people, helping them improve all aspects of their lives, and has written insightfully and entertainingly about how to improve all aspects of your life, be it emotional, professional or romantic. He’s also worked closely with men, doing one-on-one coaching, as well as writing about masculinity, and his own journey to where he is now. So, given all the current debates about the problems in masculinity, we just had to talk to him!

We ask Mark: is there a crisis in masculinity? We also talk about the problems with certain elements of masculinity and the solutions to these, and also touch on some of the better parts of masculinity.

We also give a shout out to the podcast Details Please, with mother and daughter duo Gail and Rose Reid.


Mark Manson, author of best seller ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck’ and self-development expert

#MeToo: how should men respond?

MeToo Image.jpg

#MeToo has seen women around the world sharing their experiences with sexual harassment and sexual assault. Now two others hashtags have grown in response, and these are about experiences on the other side of #MeToo.

With #IHave and #IDidThat men who have harassed or assaulted women publicly confess to this. But we argue that this doesn’t do women or the whole point of MeToo any good. These hashtags take the focus away from actually listening to women’s experiences, and are deeply problematic on a host of levels.


Lucy, guest from the episode on Men and Feminism

Deray McKesson of Black Lives Matter on Masculinity, Race, Sexuality & Activism


Being an activist is all about changing the world: from the structures that shape our societies down to the daily conversations we have with each other. Deray McKesson has been active in Black Lives Matter and he is closely involved with people and entire communities both on the ground, and online, and has worked in and with schools in various parts of the US. He also hosts the podcast Pod Save the People, discussing the important topics of each week with a host of experts, community organizers and journalists. He’s therefore on the forefront of some of the most important social changes and discussions taking place in the US today.

Deray talked to us about masculinity in the context of his work as an activist, his race and his sexuality.

We also discuss some of the news of the past week: namely, Harvey Weinstein, and we hear from the author Mark Manson as we try to understand the culture of silence surrounding Weinstein, by both women, as well as from men.


Deray McKesson, Black Lives Matter activist and host of Pod Save the People

Mark Manson, self-development expert and author of best seller ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck’ and self-development expert


Deray interview by Jack Dorsey

Women Journalists Calling People Out, Transgender Terminology & more



We recently asked if women politicians can call people out, a subject that was pertinent given Hillary Clinton’s latest book where she does just that. Now we turn to women journalists. Journalism is all about raising uncomfortable questions, speaking up and having to call people out, especially those in power. But women journalists face especially harsh abuse online, and the BBC’s Laura Kuennesberg even had to have a bodyguard at a recent party conference after receiving very violent threats online. We speak to Eleanor Mills, editor of the Sunday Times Magazine and the chair of Women in Journalism, and try to untangle whether women journalists can call people out, and the pros and cons of being a woman with regards to speaking up.

We’ll look at some transgender terminology that people frequently use incorrectly, after Nas did just this on a recent episode, and we recommend two podcasts for you to check out: The Ministry of Ideas and Badass Women’s Hour.


Eleanor Mills, editor of The Sunday Times Magazine

Ash, podcast listener



Playboy founder Hugh Hefner passed away last week. There’s been a ton of debate about his impact on women: did he treat them as sex objects or did he liberate them from strict sexual values? And people have also been talking about his contribution to civil rights.

We decided to take a different approach on this episode, and instead to delve into his vision for men. Hugh Hefner thought the modern man could be sexually liberated and sophisticated and interested in women and into material success whilst also being into intellectual pursuits. We explore what this actually means and how it impacted Hugh Hefner’s own life by talking to Nathan Robinson, editor of Current Affairs Magazine, and we also hear from comedians and podcast hosts Daniel Carroll and Andy Haynes on how Hefner went down for them.


Nathan Robinson, editor of Current Affairs magazine

Daniel Carroll and Andy Haynes, comedians and hosts of the podcast Fine and Dandy with Dan and Andy


Nathan Robinson’s essay ‘Good riddance to an abusive creep

Men's Groups, Women's Groups

Hillary Clinton's "Blame Game": Can a woman politician call people out?



Hillary Clinton apparently isn’t authentic. Except for when she is, and then no one can handle it!

Hillary Clinton’s new book ‘What Happened’ delves into the circumstances around her losing last year’s American presidential election to Donald Trump. She calls people out, and does so directly and by name, these being people who she believes are partially responsible for her losing the election. And she also points fingers at herself as well. Some people are loving her raw expressions, while many, many others are telling her to be quiet, and to sit down, or at least saying that it’s better to look ahead rather than to dwell on the past, which is a more polite way of saying that they don’t really want to hear it. But what is most baffling is that a politician and an aspiring leader would be told to sit down and would be discouraged from speaking out when, after all, isn’t that what politicians and leaders are supposed to do – to stand up and to call people out?

The question we’re trying to answer is this: can a woman politician call people out? Or is that a privilege reserved for men?


Hadley Freeman, columnist at The Guardian

Peter, works in politics in Washington DC

Jonathan Freeman, worked full time on Barack Obama's 2008 Presidential campaign, volunteered for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign

Russ Finkelstein, journalist, produced 2016 elections coverage for Fusion

Clare Foran, political reporter at The Atlantic

Is Gender Relevant?


We’re trying to untangle the new masculinity and femininity, but is that even a relevant mission? Or should we be trying to figure out a post-gender world instead? Journalist Dina Newman was born in Russia and now lives in London. She believes the world is moving beyond masculinity and femininity and it’s more about untangling the new humanity. She joins us as we question the very premise of this podcast!


Dina Newman, journalist

Does Clothing Shape Gender Identity?

Gender neutral clothing is all over the news at the moment. Just a few examples include school children protesting why girls and boys have to dress differently from each other and therefore encouraging their schools to change dress codes, and department stores  who are doing away with gendered sections for clothing.

We talk to two guests who work in fashion and the clothing space. We talk the relationship between how they dress and their own gender identity, and how other people in society have responded to them. Both guests were born female, and one identifies as female while the other identifies as non-binary. How has clothing shaped their own gender identities? Should there be gendered sections in clothes shops? And what will happen if clothing becomes gender neutral?


Laura Kanaplue, producer of the London Queer Fashion Show

Santina Sorrenti, founder of Gender Swap

Hiding Emotions 'Masculine' Style


Dominating, debating, having to be right – these are just some behaviours that are often common in people with power. And they are often also used by in men in power (or are stereotypically more negative ‘masculine’ traits which end up being used in fields such as politics). Sometimes it’s like the world is run by teenage boys… 

Cady Voge – The Gender Knot’s new co-producer - and host Nas discuss some a-ha moments where the realized other people doing this, and they propose what would be a different and more open approach to conflict, disagreement and decision making.

Do Men Need Purpose?


What is a man’s role in society these days? This question seems to be coming up again and again. The rise of women and feminism, together with changes in the economy, and globalization are some of the factors cited as having had a big impact on men and their sense of where they belong in society. For a while the expectation was that men were to work and to be providers for the family, but that’s not necessarily the case anymore, so where does that leave them?

Men grappling with their role and trying to find a sense of purpose is also not just a personal dilemma. There is much talk that some of the political unrest happening around the world over the past decade or so is also related to this, to the changing position of men in society and this lack of purpose that many are feeling, whether they are young men still trying to figure things out, or older men who’ve been working and providing for years, but are seeing what they do increasingly fall out of place in the modern workplace, which is also increasingly filled by women, who are on average also more educated.

You could say that everyone is after a sense of purpose, but there is a lot of talk about this with women and new roles and options and opportunities. I’d say it’s generally positive talk, as women open up more paths for themselves. In fact, pushing for equality itself gives one a huge sense of purpose. But what’s the deal with men? And why is there this insistence on men having to have a sense of purpose, can’t they just, you know, be? We chat to two men about their experiences with purpose and how it impacts men specifically, and take the untangling from there.


Justin Brown, co-founder of IdeaPod

Michael Michailidis


The Google Memo


A male product manager at a tech company gives his take on the Google Memo that’s been a big topic of discussion in recent weeks.

To bring you up to speed: a software developer at Google called James Demore wrote a memo about the company’s diversity policies. This memo spread fast internally before making it’s way outside Google and causing a lot of controversy, and led to him being fired by Google. Demore wrote largely about so-called scientific and psychological differences between men and women and how they explain the gender balance in tech, and provdes research to back up his claims. (See the links below for more details along with two very good articles discussing the memo.)

Alec Molloy has been a product manager for the past five years, and has worked in San Francisco, London and Malmo. He talks about how in some ways the memo accurately describes the situation within the tech industry, how it’s calm language is both dangerous and also something he thinks these debates could benefit more from, and what he hopes future generations will take away from the discussions about gender diversity in tech.


Alec Molloy, product manager at a tech company

A More Feminine Economy

‘The future is female’ – it’s a slogan we’re seeing increasingly, on t-shirts and placards and social media feeds. And there are currently plenty of important and necessary debates about getting more women into the upper echelons of business: more women on boards of companies, in industries such as science and tech, talk of how to retain women in the workforce after they start having families and much more.

But should we be focusing on just having more women in the most powerful positions in the economy, or should we be looking at reforming the nature of the economy itself? After all, capitalism and masculinity are closely entwined (a subject for an upcoming episode), in some ways good, and some ways less good. Instead of pushing to have more women in the economy, should we be pushing for the economy to embody more feminine traits instead? And what does a more feminine workplace and economy look like?


Eric Gade, trained historian and former intel analyst

Jess Rimington, Managing Director of The Rules and Visiting Scholar at Stanford University’s Global Projects Center


Rob Reich interview with Freakonomics mentioned in this episode

Energies: Masculine & Feminine


What is masculine and feminine energy? This short and sweet episode lays down the basics!

We’ll find out what we mean when we talk about masculine and feminine energies (and traits), and our own relationship with these within ourselves.


Jess Rimington, Managing Director of The Rules and Visiting Scholar at Stanford University’s Global Projects Center

Men's Groups, Women's Groups

Why are so many people around me suddenly joining men’s groups and women’s groups? Isn’t the notion of segregating ourselves due to gender a little… outdated? After all, so many of our social issues are related to us not knowing and being close to people who are different to us and experience the world in a way which we don’t. Don’t women’s groups and men’s groups just reinforce the notion of ‘the other’? And who said gender is so binary anyway?

We delve into whether there is still value in having these groups, and what various individuals have gotten out of them, and also speak to a guest who slated men’s groups on this very podcast, but is now a big fan!


Michelle Lim, relationships coach

Alex Linsley, founded a men’s group while a student

Ankush Jain, life coach and leader of a men’s immersion programme

Alec Molloy, member of a men’s group

Men & Feminism: Reactions


Confusion, frustration, empathy, being able to relate – just some of the reactions I received from you, the audience, to last week’s episode exploring men and feminism, where we asked whether men should get involved in feminism, and if so, how.

Many female listeners unanimously related to one of the discussions last week, and I talk to two male listeners about the conversation on male feminists.

This topic is huge, so I’ll be following it up in a few weeks’ time. Send me your thoughts and experiences at or message me via the Facebook page.

Also, check out the fantastic podcast Fine and Dandy with Dan and Andy. This podcast is all about these questions! Comedians Daniel Carroll and Andy Haynes are straight-white-cis-American men, and they try to figure out how to be better men, in terms of gender, race, privilege, and much more! It’s a fun listen, while also tackling important topics with fantastic guests. Subscribe to their show via iTunes or the link below, and join their journey of figuring it out too!


Jens Weymann, German male

 Alec Molloy, American male

Men and feminism

Should men be involved in feminism, and if so, how?

Men are super involved in feminism these days – and there appears to be a cultural trend in getting men involved in the fight for gender equality. We’re seeing this daily: be it the UN’s HeForShe campaign which is all about this, or male celebrities like Pharrell Williams and Ashton Kutcher talking about rights for women (and of course, tennis player Andy Murray’s recent stand against casual sexism), and it seems like everyday there are articles in the world’s leading publications about all this too (a recent hit being the New York Times looking at how to raise feminist sons).  It makes sense; men also need to change their attitudes and biases if we are to live in a world with gender equality, so of course they need to be part of the fight.

But what about when some men mean well but end up doing more harm than good? This episode explores that.

We look at male feminists – do they actually help the cause of feminism, or do they end up making everything about them, and in essence do they just talk over women, whose voices aren’t heard as much in first place? And should women ask for help from men to increase gender equality, and if so, how should they ask for this help so that it’s carried out most effectively? Or is catering the message so as not to upset men a problem in itself? We explore and untangle all this. And we also hear about the darker side too: the things that even progressive men don’t want to share publicly about their fears and resentments towards feminism…


Anonymous male essay writer


Michelle Lim, relationships coach based in Sweden

Shea Wilson, American male living in Sweden


Jackson Katz’s Tedx talk “Violence against women, it’s a men’s issue”
Sheila Kelley’s Tedx talk “Let’s get naked”

Callout: workplace sexism & your experiences


What sort of sexism takes place in the workplace that we still don’t acknowledge or talk about?

There’s been a lot of talk about sexism in the technology industry, and over the past few weeks several high profile investors have publicly said that they may have contributed to a culture of sexism and harassment of women.

In the debates surrounding all this, I’ve been struck by the very nature of the workplace itself, I’ve been hearing about the ways in which a lot of people degrade themselves on some level for investors, and that the workplace is a brutal and ruthless place for everyone, it’s just that the details are different for the genders. Some of this I agree with, some I disagree with, but I’d like your experiences. What sort of sexism takes place at work that we still don’t talk about? And besides just sexism, should we be overhauling the entire culture of many industries and workplaces in the first place?

Send your thoughts to - or find us on Facebook as The Gender Knot Podcast, where you can also send a message. Let me know if you’re happy to have your message read out on the show, and it’s also ok to be anonymous, just state that. Otherwise let me know if you just want to pass a thought on or if you want to talk to me more about it all. Also voice memos are great, and so do send those along too.  

Emotions in leadership: do they help or hinder women?

Hillary Clinton was often criticised for being too ‘cold’ and ‘unemotional’ during her 2016 US Presidential bid. Many women in the West can relate to this: if they show emotions they are not taken seriously in the workplace, and yet if they control their emotions they are deemed ‘cold' and ‘calculating’ and ‘untrustworthy'. We try to get a perspective from two men - on purpose - to see if emotional expression helps or hinders women in leadership, and how emotions go down for male leaders.

This episode will focus on the US. One of the guests is a journalist who covered the 2016 Presidential election campaign, and the other guest has actually campaigned for both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton on the ground. We also get feedback from a young woman who voted for Hillary Clinton, and we dig into this phenomenon further.


Russ Finkelstein, journalist, produced 2016 elections coverage for Fusion

Jonathan Freeman, worked full time on Barack Obama's 2008 Presidential campaign, volunteered for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign

Elizabeth, voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 US Presidential elections

Leaning Back & Leaning In

You’ve heard of Leaning In but how about Leaning Back? Over the past few years a lot of women have undertaken Sheryl Sandberg’s advice to assert themselves more, to speak louder and to sit at the table. But some women are questioning this and are thinking about the bigger picture of what success means to them and how exactly they want to go about it. Enter: Leaning Back!

Leaning Back is about looking at the bigger picture. It’s about listening to yourself and doing what's right for you. We discuss the pros and cons of Leaning In, what’s worked and what’s hindered us, and we explore the cultural and gender dimensions of success and the workplace.


Nomi, journalist and TV producer

Bianca Praetorius, co-editor and co-author of The Lean Back Perspective

Redefining and owning masculinity

Masculinity gets a bad reputation these days. We hear a lot about what’s wrong with it, but what about the good sides, and also the messy sides? I talk to a woman about what role we women can play in redefining masculinity, and get one young man’s experiences with trying to fit into male stereotypes, and his journey with rejecting some of these and embracing others.


Leigh Ware

Alec Molloy, product manager at a tech company

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