Tuning into your favorite podcast, the music queues up as your ears settle in — it’s the start of a blissful hour of zoning out or uncovering a juicy story. As its theme song fades into the background, realizing it or not, the intro song has set the stage for the podcast’s theme.
Since podcasts are truly an audio immersive medium, it makes perfect sense why podcast creators approach music licensing with a keen sense of purpose. It’s also why a lot of podcasters use Marmoset when looking for music, applying custom filters to find a song that dually serves as their podcast’s anthem. Exemplifying this, we look to Bonnie Thornbury’s new podcast series, Gender Blender.
Thornbury opens their series with “LOVE // WARRIOR” by Frankie Simone. Besides the energetic opening, the song complements the show’s theme of gender exploration; it’s an example of applying background music to guide the content’s narrative.
Fans of Gender Blender and Thornbury’s positive initiative toward bringing this conversation into the podcast stratosphere, we sat down with Thornbury to find out more.
Marmoset: What inspired you to create your Gender Blender? And what are some topics listeners can expect to encounter with your series?
Thornbury: I first started thinking about gender after taking a Gender 101 course in my undergrad, which opened my eyes to the millions of subtle and overt sways gender impacts our lives and started my own journey of coming out as gender queer.
I found it so fascinating that I eventually did a graduate degree in Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies. I've since had thousands of conversations about gender with people around the world and realized that even though it's so central to our lives, many of us are at a loss in how to talk about gender, how we feel about it, or how it impacts us. Gender Blender is a platform where everyday people can ask questions and explore what gender means to them!
M: As a woman, I feel fortunate to be among a generation that's empowered to speak out — have you found in your own life that talking about issues to do with gender identity or toxic masculinity has helped those around you (and yourself)?
Thornbury: Definitely! And I so appreciate you sharing your perspective too. I likewise feel fortunate to be part of a generation — millenials in my case — where we're looking at the gendered expectations that have been presented to us and questioning, challenging, and embracing the parts that do and don't work. And I really think that applies across the board — this isn't just a feminist movement, or a women's movement, or a queer movement — it's a generational movement.
We're all looking at gender critically and exploring new ways of being and relating to one another. As a queer, I feel so much support, love, and respect from and for our generation. It feels like there's space, we're trying to make space, for everyone. We've had enough of intolerance and division, we want a better world for everyone. It's a hard time to be — there's a lot of hurt and healing — but I likewise feel fortunate and I think the future looks bright.
M: The podcast's first episode delves into what it means to "be a man." I thought this was really interesting and great to have a guest who's on the "other side of topic" (someone who isn't directly affected by the aforementioned issues etc). How do you approach having tough conversations with people who aren't always allies or aware of their own lack of education/awareness?
Thornbury: I love this question — thanks for picking up on that! I think we're all affected by gender, although of course in different ways depending on our experiences and backgrounds. One of the people I spoke with (episode coming soon! ) talked about his experience when he's walking at night around or by women walking alone and can sense their unease. He's so very far from a predator, but he feels like that's how he's perceived in certain situations, and he struggles with how to respond to that, how to amend that both for himself and the people he's encountering, and for society as a whole.
I think so many of us can relate to that — whether being mis-perceived, not knowing how to get around gendered stereotypes or realities, or feeling uneasy in certain contexts because of gender — and at the end of the day, I think we all want to feel safe and seen.
In having so many conversations about it over the years, I think it's safe to say that we've all been impacted by gender in one way or another. Sometimes the conversations are indeed tough, but I truly believe everyone is a gender expert — everyone is an expert in at least their own gender, and gender is absolutely unique to everyone. I think the first step to becoming gender aware is empowering people to learn and speak about their own gender, and asking people how we can be allies to one another.
It's not only women or queers who need allies — we're all grappling with these issues. I'm trying to be really intentional about reaching out to all kinds of people — kids and elderly people, men and women and queers, people with different cultural experiences... I'm genuinely curious about how different people think about and relate to gender, and I hope to expand the conversation to make space for everyone's voice.
M: What's something you hope listeners takeaway from Gender Blender?
Thornbury: First and foremost, everyone is a gender expert — we all get to define gender for ourselves, but that's not something we've been asked to do before. It's been sort of assumed we all mean the same thing when we say we're a woman or man or queer or whatever. I hope to get people thinking about and talking about gender.
M: Where do you envision for the future of your podcast series?
Thornbury: As my first guest Jennifer suggested, translated into many languages, accessible to people around the world… good to have lofty goals to strive toward, right?