The Skeptics Society & Skeptic magazine


EPISODE # 311

Meghan Daum — The Problem With Everything: My Journey Through the New Culture Wars

The Problem With Everything: My Journey Through the New Culture Wars (book cover)

Shermer and Daum discuss:

  • unauthorized autobiography
  • “Write about feminism, because as a straight, cisgendered, able-bodied, (mostly) heteronormative white chick, it’s the only thing available to you anyway.”
  • Feminism (first wave, second wave, third wave, and beyond)
  • Was the sexual revolution good or bad (or both) for women?
  • badassery, problematica, wokescenti (“to describe the class of NPR-listening, New Yorker-reading, Slate-podcast-downloading elites once called the cognoscenti. They are now the wokescenti.”)
  • Gen Xers: the last generation to experience both analogue and digital
  • Elders: are we not respected any longer by younger generations?
  • What is a woman?
  • Sex and Gender
  • who you identify as vs. who you’re attracted to
  • Trans
  • the #metoo movement
  • the #BLM movement
  • intersectionality
  • toxic masculinity
  • wokeness, liberal vs. progressiveness, far left vs. left
  • cancel culture
  • political tribalism.

Meghan Daum is the author of six books, most recently The Problem With Everything: My Journey Through the New Culture Wars. Her collection of original essays, The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion, won the 2015 Pen Center USA Award for creative nonfiction. A Los Angeles Times opinion columnist from 2005 to 2016, Meghan has written for numerous magazines, including The New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, and Vogue. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts grant and has taught Columbia University in addition to teaching private workshops in personal essay, memoir and opinion writing. Meghan is the host of the weekly interview podcast, The Unspeakable and the cohost, with Sarah Haider, of the weekly podcast A Special Place in Hell. Meghan founded The Unspeakeasy, an intellectual community for freethinking women. Her current writings are on Substack.

About the Book

From an author who’s been called “one of the most emotionally exacting, mercilessly candid, deeply funny, and intellectually rigorous writers of our time” (Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild) comes a seminal book that reaches surprising truths about feminism, the Trump era, and the Resistance movement: The Problem With Everything: My Journey Through the New Culture Wars.

In this gripping work, Meghan examines our country’s most intractable problems with clear-eyed honesty instead of exaggerated outrage. With passion, humor, and personal reflection, she tries to make sense of the current landscape—from Donald Trump’s presidency to the #MeToo movement and beyond. In the process, she wades into the waters of identity politics and intersectionality, thinks deeply about campus politics and notions of personal resilience, and tests a theory about the divide between Gen Xers and millennials.

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This episode is sponsored by Wondrium:

Wondrium (sponsor)

This episode was released on December 20, 2022.

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