A note from Meghan:
Last month, I led a group of ten women into the California high desert for three days of brainstorming about an exciting new project. In a series of candid, intense, deeply informed, and often emotional discussions (by turns tearful and side-splittingly hilarious), we wrestled with some of the most vexing and complicated issues of our times: the chaos of COVID policies, the new gender ideology, the state of the #MeToo movement, gun rights, reproductive rights, the challenges of leading non-secular communities, the ideological capture of fine arts and culture, and much more.
How did I get this idea?
Every day, friends and strangers email me, message me on social media, text me, sometimes pick up the phone and call me to say some version of the same thing; that incurious groupthink has left them unable to talk with their friends, neighbors, and colleagues about the issues they care about — at least if those issues have any complexity to them, which most important issues do. The subjects run the gamut: gender, race, mental health, crime, homelessness, sexual politics, climate, human biology, parenting, on and on.
Here’s another thing these people have in common: many, if not most, are women.
This was not a bunch of podcasters and journalists. These were accomplished professionals from the areas of law, medicine, public health, education, religious leadership, professional film and theater, and environmental research and policy. They came from the west coast and also from as far away as Alaska, Canada, New York, and Texas. Diverse in their opinions, they were nonetheless aligned in one very big way: they all felt politically homeless. The epidemic of groupthink that has taken hold of our society has rendered many of the most urgent conversations "unhavable." But these women were determined to have them anyway. From there, The Unspeakeasy was born.
Why A Women’s Space?
The “heterodox” space is currently male dominated. The YouTubers, podcasters, and “dissident thinkers” we all love (or love to hate) are overwhelmingly men. That’s a shame, because women are just as frustrated—and often devastated—by incurious groupthink and weaponized censoriousness (that’s a nice way of saying cancel culture) as are men. In fact, we might have it even worse.
Again and again, I hear the same things. I feel alone. I feel like I’m crazy. I feel politically homeless, sometimes even in my own home.
But we’re not alone. And I’m pretty sure we're not crazy.
Here’s my theory: The in-group/out-group dynamics on which cancel culture feeds are almost an exact replica of the clique-ish, loyalty/exclusion dynamics of adolescent girls' social development. As women (thanks to social conditioning, biological imperative or some combination of both) we tend to be extra sensitive to the social penalties that come with deviating from the tribe. So when people get angry with us for speaking our minds, it hurts. In addition to the usual landmines in the workplace, we're coping with strained family relations and the loss of cherished friendships. Women tell me about being kicked out of Facebook groups for having the wrong political opinion; ostracized by their bookclubs for criticizing (or praising) the wrong author; and drummed out of parent organizations, spiritual communities, or hobby-based groups for not toeing the accepted party line. Instead of fighting back, they keep their mouths shut in order to keep the peace. The result is that in public and private spheres alike, women are being left out of crucial conversations.
It's time for women with diverse viewpoints to be heard. So I’m creating The Unspeakeasy, an intellectual community for critical-thinking women who crave honest, rational, nuanced conversations about the subjects that matter most in our world today. It’s kind of like The Unspeakable Podcast, except we’re all invited to join the conversation, connect with one another, and expand our worldviews while also reclaiming a sense of shared reality. It’s still very much in process, but I’m imagining courses, bookclubs, day-long online retreats, and even longer in-person retreats in the spirit of our Joshua Tree gathering.
The Unspeakable Podcast is not a "women’s show." The larger Unspeakable community is for everyone and includes lots of men — of course it does, it’s heterodox! I’ll soon be announcing new developments in that realm soon, too. But The Unspeakeasy is its own entity. Think of it as the women’s annex of The Unspeakable—an annex that has the potential to become even bigger and more powerful than the flagship.
Watch this space and listen to the podcast in the coming weeks and I’ll keep you posted. If you'd like to be added to the mailing list for future announcements, please write to me via the contact form below and tell me what you'd like to find here and be a part of. What would make you feel connected, sane, and maybe even hopeful about the future?
In the meantime, I’ll leave you with our working slogan. The Unspeakeasy: where freethinking women are free.
Stay tuned . . .