Intersection takes its title literally. Each episode is an exercise in intersectionality that brings together multiple experts from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds to discuss a single topic. Each conversation has a formal feeling to it, with each guest receiving multiple opportunities to speak at length without interruption; this differs slightly from the well-known cable news discussion format where everyone behaves like a jackass.
For my first episode, I selected "Are You Man Enough for Some Football?" Jamil Smith, along with a group of guests that includes a former NFL player, sports journalists and an academic that focuses on masculinity, dived right into the negative consequences of the strong masculinity that's inherent to the culture surrounding the sport. Despite including some self-professed football fanatics, this group was actually fairly scathing in their assessment, highlighting high profile cases of violence against women by players, homophobic behavior among many players and a sense of male bravado that encourages players to take excessive punishment without asking for help.
After vividly describing the what of masculinity's negative effects, the group posited that the why behind its prominence in football's broader culture is directly tied to the marginal presence of women in that space. With all of the players and most of the coaches for college teams and NFL teams being male, women are largely left out, creating an environment where men behaving terribly can sometimes be swept under the rug as "boys being boys." The inherently violent nature of the game itself also shoulders some of the blame. Wade Davis, the ex-player in the group, believes that the NFL will never be able to take enough precautions to fully eliminate the risk of serious injury without throwing out fundamental aspects of the game.
Everyone in this podcast knew what they were talking about, treated each other with respect, and made some salient points. I don't have any substantive criticism to levy at what I listened to, other than to note that it came across as slightly... sterile? This sort of conversation is far preferable to the aforementioned cable news model, but it did lack a certain kind of spark. As an example of what I'm talking about, About Race (which Smith recently appeared on as a guest) is a podcast that tackles similarly weighty topics with a little more passion. Intersection's rotating panel format may make it difficult for that kind of chemistry to develop. The overall purpose of this podcast is admirable, however, and I'll likely check in with it again from time to time.