Skip to main content

PS Picks: Kaitlin Prest's Radiotopia Podcast 'The Heart'

PS Picks is a selection of the best things that the magazine's staff and contributors are reading, watching, or otherwise paying attention to in the worlds of art, politics, and culture.

On one particularly memorable episode of The Heart, a longstanding Radiotopia podcast, host Kaitlin Prest asks the men in her life about sexual consent—about situations they've been in where consent was pushed or ignored—and begins with an interview with her father, who shares a story from college, in which he kissed someone too drunk to say "yes." In The Heart, a podcast with a stated mission of challenging "the way that we think about love, sex, and gender," open and frank discussions like these are always front and center, no matter how awkward they may seem. During a mini-season called "No," for example, which focuses on the complexities of power and consent in romantic relationships, Prest dives into her own experiences with consent and non-consent in an attempt to examine the more unspoken aspects of intimacy.

The Heart, which originated in 2008 as a college radio show at McGill University, averages more than two million listeners each year. In every episode of the podcast's seasons, which range from four to 15 episodes in length, Prest examines human sexuality and intimacy. The Heart critically (and refreshingly) analyzes the concept of consent as a product of cultural and historical forces—ones that have reduced it to a simple "no means no" definition. Prest places a particular focus on layered power dynamics—from gender to age differences—and carefully considers how those dynamics affect the ways a "no" may be perceived or distorted. (And while The Heart announced its final season last December, Prest is working on another promising project.) After a landmark year in which "silence breakers" like Ashley Judd and Susan Fowler were made Time's 2017 Person of the Year, The Heart reminds us that there is still work to be done.

A version of this story originally appeared in the May 2018 issue of Pacific Standard. Subscribe now and get eight issues/year or purchase a single copy of the magazine.