It’s a weird time for women’s rights. As of last week, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed a ban on abortions given 20 weeks post insemination, while our President-elect is continuing his parade around the states pushing pro-life bills. Then we have future President Pence (with the inevitable impeachment of Trump) who is wildly known to liberal women as the guy who thinks your abortion tissues should be given a funeral. Reversely, media seems to be benefitting off of feminism’s cultural relevance, and people are starting to question the outlets intentions of spreading feminism or collecting a profit. But here we are, still bleeding seven days out of the month and looking up at our male counterparts feeling just a little bit down.
For those of you in search of a safe and open place to channel your emotions and free your hormonal mood swings, Improper Etiquette—a podcast started by Married to the Mob founder Leah McSweeney and Laura Stylez of Hot97’s Morning Show—might act as the Xanax you’ve been searching under the couch for. Covering topics of sex, careers, exes and more, the one thing these two women preach is that feminism is both subjective and personal. See for yourself below.
So tell me a bit about what prompted you two to start this podcast.
Leah McSweeny: It was a pretty organic thing. Laura and I would meet and just chat it up for hours about dating/sex stories, our careers, and just what was going on in general. Then we would end up laughing for hours about this shit. We both had a lot of similarities; being successful in our own very male dominated industries, both single at that time. And we were like “wait..why the fuck don’t we start a podcast and talk about this stuff?” The topics we cover are important and we know a lot of women would be able to relate. For me personally, I’ve only had a voice through my clothing, and it is refreshing to finally be able to actually speak out loud. It’s been an extension of what I do with my brand and it makes sense. I’ve always been pretty opinionated and honest about my life and now I can do it through having Improper Etiquette.
How did you two meet? Was it love at first sight?
Laura Stylez: Leah and I are still trying to remember how we met—lol. We have a lot of mutual friends, so meeting each other happened pretty organically. And yes, it was love at first sight. Leah and I would meet for coffee and end up talking for hours. We would cover so many topics and it was just refreshing sharing personal stories with someone so open and opinionated like Leah. We knew then and there we needed to create something for us.
So far you’ve covered a range of topics pertaining to female sexuality and so on. What episode in your opinion has been your favorite so far and why?
Leah: Every episode covers female sexuality because who the fuck doesn’t like talking about sex? In terms of my fav episode, that’s a hard one. I love when my sister or Marisa Mendez comes on because they are both so fucking open and neither of them have a filter—which makes for good conversations! Our most recent guest was Cindy Gallop who, to me, is a champion and a hero to women. She fights for us! So that was an honor. She’s brilliant.
Laura: Cindy Gallop was mind blowing! Leah had told me about her, and I’ve heard about her TED Talks but having her on our podcast was amazing. She’s so inspiring and motivating. Listening to her ‘sex positive’ approach to life and how much she fights for women’s equality is so needed. My girl Dascha Polanco was so much fun too. It’s great to see artists outside of their element open up.
What do you believe makes up a good episode? What are some of the points you try and hit each time you two meet?
Laura: I love our podcast because it’s super raw! I come from a background in radio where everything is structured. I’m also a producer, so naturally I add structure to our conversations and segue through topics, but on Improper Etiquette, I get to let go. We like to look at our episodes as us just drinking coffee and talking shit. We share parts of our personal life that I normally wouldn’t on my Morning Show. I think because almost nothing is off limits on what we can discuss, our audience is happy. We constantly hear people saying, “You girls are like the friends in my head.” I guess we say everything they think but don’t necessarily say out loud.
In lieu of the recent election, it seems like a lot of women are banding together to protect what little they believe they have left (i.e. roe v wade). How do you two relate to this and do you plan to take part in any sort of ‘feminist’ movements? Do you feel a certain pressure to do so? For instance, will you be attending the Millions Woman March on January 21st wearing safety pins?
Leah: First off I will say that feminism is a personal thing and everyone has a different stance on what it means to them. I am extremely concerned with women’s rights especially after this Ohio bill passed and I started doing even more research about how fucked women all over the U.S.A are. I basically lived at Planned Parenthood as a teen. I got both my birth control there and my free check ups. I am so grateful for PP. I don’t feel pressure to take part in a feminist movement. I’ve been a feminist since I was a kid; I was racing the boys in the playground and beating them, I was on an all boys soccer team, even though they hated that I was on it. I have been fighting to be me and not conform to the social standards that are being pushed onto women from a young age. The message behind Married to the Mob was always about gender equality. MOB and the ‘BITCHISMS’ I create are some examples of ways I voice my opinion in regards to being a modern feminist. And yes, I plan on going to the March—and thinking about bringing my daughter too.
What do you think about the Melania Trump slut shaming? Should she be shamed because she is not fit for the job as First Wife or should we avoid talking about her past as a way to insult her?
Leah: I think it’s a topic that’s not very important. And of course she will be slut shamed by the same people who are marching against slut shaming. But that’s ok because we are human and we all are a bunch of walking contradictions. I think we should shame her for taking on cyber bullying as an issue when she is married to one. The biggest cyber bully at this point.
Collectively, describe feminism in four words.
Social, political, and economic equality!
In you opinion, can men truly be feminists?
Leah: No because you have no idea what it’s like to bleed for a week out of the month. I’m just kidding. Again, it’s a matter of what you define feminism as. And it’s a personal thing. Yes I think men can be feminists but I’m not sure they can ever really understand the plight of a woman, simply because they’re not women.
Laura: I’m with Leah on this one. Men can never understand the physical, emotional, and sociological battle we face everyday. I have friends that are great at educating themselves and have compassion, but truly understand?—No.
Who are your ultimate girl crushes?
Leah: LIL’ KIM!