Feminism and fat-shaming aside, it might be time for Mamamia to brush up on their interviewing etiquette.
“Now, I would normally never breach the confidence of what goes on behind the scenes of organising an interview, but in this case…”
Well, if you wouldn’t normally, then don’t do it now!
And with those immortal words, Mia Freedman, editor-in-chief and founder of fem-lifestyle website Mamamia, went on to publicly detail the logistics for then infamous podcast interview. The subject was Roxanne Gay, best-selling feminist author of Hunger and Bad Feminist. Freedman described these details in a manner that upset the plus-size author and which was, in the opinion of many, a gross violation of her privacy. The since deleted description on the podcast they were recording had such choice ditty’s as “Will she fit in the office lift” and “None of this is disclosed with a mean spirit”. Here’s a free tip: If you need to explain that what you’re writing is not mean-spirited, then perhaps you ought to re-think your subject.
In response to the furore, Freedman claimed that she had confused the authors’ own revelations of the personal details of her life with open-permission to reveal further private details. That by opening up about her struggles with fat-shaming and self-loathing, Ms Gay was giving permission to others to say whatever they deemed appropriate about it and her. What rankled most about the comments was the discourtesy and lack of respect shown towards the author. In feminist parlance, it reduced a complex and accomplished individual to a one-dimensional fat girl with special needs.
Fat-shaming, bitchiness and feminism aside, this is just, simply put, an unprofessional way for a media organisation to treat their client/guest. Perhaps Mia Freedman was attempting to hype up the interview by detailing all the extra-ordinary planning that went into it. The unusual and specific request for accommodating a plus-sized guest (requests, it might be added, that author refutes making). Can you imagine if she’d used this tactic with a wheel-chair bound guest? What’s more, as an experienced editor, Freedman should have been aware that her words would come off as rude and insensitive. Instead, she displayed a complete inability to mitigate all the possible interpretations of her comments. An unforgivable sin for the head of a fairly major media website.
On a fundamental level, is the role of a responsible communications professional not to place oneself in the mind of another? To understand them and their point-of-view more clearly, so that in turn they may convey that mind to the world at large. It would seem that an integral part of that is to not reduce your subject to a stereotype.
Jack and the c word crew
And here’s the tweet that makes us totally respect Roxane! Because she totally could have let him on that door!