In This Episode
In a politics increasingly dominated by ‘wedge issues’ and the ‘woke’ divide, Nish and Coco explore whether it’s possible to have constructive conversations on social issues with people with whom you disagree. The activist and author Gina Martin reveals the lessons she’s learnt from her career as an activist, which started when she was a victim of upskirting. Her campaign ended up changing the law to make upskirting a specific sexual offence. Gina also has lots of tips for Pod Save The UK from her new book ‘No Offence, But…’.
As Nish and Coco prepare to go on their summer break, Coco reveals what she’ll be getting up to on her honeymoon. Plus we salute the anarchic genius of 90’s Saturday morning kids TV…with shout outs to Cat Deeley and Wonky Donkey!
Pod Save the UK is a Reduced Listening production for Crooked Media.
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Gina Martin, campaigner and author of ‘No Offence, But…: How to have difficult conversation for meaningful change’
Nish Kumar So just like our political leaders Pod Save the UK is on its summer recess and by the time you listen to this Coco, you will be one week into your honeymoon.
Coco Khan Oh, yes.
Nish Kumar Wow. That was a lot sleazier than I hoped for. That was considerably sleazier than I’d hoped for.
Coco Khan It’s not going to be a sleazy honeymoon, actually. It’s quite active. There’s a lot of backpacking involved, a lot of trekking. I’m going to bring my hiking shoes, which is not synonymous with a sexy time is it?
Nish Kumar You’ve got hiking shoes?
Coco Khan Oh I’ve got hiking shoes. Yeah, yeah.
Nish Kumar I always forget you’re one of our great outdoorsmen.
Coco Khan I’m the only ethnic in the countryside. Here I am walking around.
Nish Kumar It’s just you and a Nate Irani. The Only Asians in the countryside.
Coco Khan In fairness, though, I did get these camping shoes for a music festival, which I guess makes it a bit more palatable.
Nish Kumar Yeah, right.
Coco Khan But yeah, it’s going to be quite busy. The main thing for me is that I get to not be in Britain. That’s the main sell.
Nish Kumar Yeah, sure sure.
Coco Khan The love stuff is great. Marriage turns out, wicked.
Nish Kumar Yeah.
Coco Khan But not being in Britain, elite.
Nish Kumar That’s the real vibes.
Coco Khan What are you doing for your recess?
Nish Kumar I am. I, as we know, have now officially become an uncle to match my sort of general vibe. As, like the world’s favorite, uncle, I’m now literally someone’s uncle. I imagine I’ll be spending some time getting shat on by a baby.
Coco Khan I’m sad that we didn’t think more about the fact that this is summer recess or I would have bought you a white shirt to draw on. To Nish, best of luck in all your endeavors than just do like a little cock drawing.
Nish Kumar Maybe listeners can verify. Is that something that happens on the last day of school across the world? Because on the last day of school here, people write on their white shirts.
Coco Khan Yeah. Okay. All right. Well, for our listeners, don’t worry. Even though we’re away, we’re not away from your ears too long. So we’re recording this episode for you to enjoy. It’s a conversation, but hopefully not too difficult. Or one with the activist and author Gina Martin. That was a joke, by the way. It’s a reference to the name of Gina’s new book. It’s called No Offense but How to Have Difficult Conversations for Meaningful Change.
Nish Kumar A quick run through Gina’s CV. She successfully campaigned for a change in the law on upskirting, and she’s a writer and equality campaigner.
Coco Khan Also, fun fact about Gina. She was nominated for an OBE and she rejected it.
Nish Kumar Hi, Gina. How are you?
Gina Martin I’m good. How are you both? So good to be here.
Nish Kumar I’ve known Gina for a very long time.
Coco Khan Oh Really?
Gina Martin Yes.
Nish Kumar Because I went to university.
Coco Khan Uncle Nish?
Nish Kumar Yeah. Gina is one of the first people I was a savvy, unofficial uncle to trace. Well, so I went to university and very good friends with Gina’s sister Stevie Martin, who’s a great comedian.
Coco Khan So, Gina, what advice has Nish given you over the years? You know, not a lot.
Gina Martin To be honest, you’re always very supportive. But I was in Durham, not drinking around all of you. So I feel I always felt so out of my depth and so intimidate because everyone’s so cool and you’re so kind. And that’s just my review, my real life forgiveness. Yeah.
Coco Khan That’s so nice. And what are you doing at the moment? I know we’re talking to you from Down Under.
Gina Martin Yes, I’m in Melbourne. I live in Melbourne now. I’ve learned, you know, I’ve got used to not saying mobile because apparently that’s not right. And I said of the first month and then that got corrected swiftly. I live here now. Yeah. And I’m writing and I’m training in facilitation and I’m working just like I did in the UK. Really. I’m really lucky because since the pandemic, everyone’s very comfortable working remotely and kind of doing all this stuff in the UK just from upside down. And I’m getting ready to leave in a couple of days, come right back to London and do my book tour. So I’m very excited.
Nish Kumar Well, well, well. Look who’s come crawling back tail between the legs. Do they always come back to His Majesty’s United Kingdom?
Gina Martin I see. I can’t get I can’t get that right. Yes. Because I’ve been away.
Nish Kumar Yeah. Like I’ve ended up sort of. I keep calling him king, Prince Charles, like it’s a lot. It’s a huge thing to like. It’s a huge thing to, like, move beyond. Yeah. So you’re coming back here to. To talk about the book. We’ve decided to get together, Jump on you.
Gina Martin You have to go right in. This might be the first time I’ve really talked about it for longer than 5 seconds, so this is exciting.
Nish Kumar Okay, well, we’ll give you 10 seconds now to talk about it.
Gina Martin Okay. It’s really good Bye bye. And it’s really, really good. You should buy his phone conversations. 24 hours is the whole progression. I’ve got ten amazing writers. Nothing. It’s not going. It’s fine with me. And I hope it’ll make you feel confident to have conversations I had.
Coco Khan Wow, that was really fast. It was like Twister. That was Rapid Twister. Yeah.
Gina Martin No one’s ever compared me to just.
Coco Khan Well.
Nish Kumar Coco constantly. Is it a fight to reassert her credentials as a young person? But every time for reference, speaking about. Yeah, exactly. This is what I read. Every cultural reference you bring up.
Coco Khan The other day I was in a taxi and they were listening to some new music and it came up on the radio. Little Duck. The name of the artist came Little Duck. And I was like, Oh, that’s it. I’m just getting back in my company, just too late for me. I’m done. I’m our little duck. Okay, cool. But anyway, back to activism. One of the things I wanted to talk to you about was practical activism, teaching activism. Do you think a person can be taught to become an activist?
Gina Martin That is a question I’ve never been asked. I love that question because, no, I don’t think you can be taught to be an activist. I also think there’s a lot of kind of commercialization and misunderstanding about what activism actually is. And usually people come to this work and we call it the work because it’s really a choice, like a life choice, like it’s like living actively in your view of the world and your principles and values and trying to, like, shake things up and change things because they matter and usually comes from like personal experience. So I think for it to be really authentic, it has to come from your belly like a controversy that you’ve experienced, something that you’re angry about, something that impacted you, and then that way you don’t run out of steam. Be your best place to be someone who can help like shape a solution and see you’re not picking things to choose, right? Because I think we’d be in a pretty bad situation if we have people being like, I’d like to change something so I can be seen to be changing it. So you can’t teach someone to be an activist, but you can share skills like strategies, and that’s often what we do in like the activism community we share. We don’t hold cards close to our chest, right? So we can all learn and get better at doing.
Coco Khan Hmm.
Nish Kumar What kind of skills do you mean? I mean, I know that that’s almost like a whole separate podcast conversation that I’ve just asked you. That one thing.
Gina Martin That’s my next book.
Nish Kumar Chance But what’s an example of some of the skills that activist that you sort of share amongst yourselves?
Gina Martin Well, depending on what your work is, you’re going to have strategies that you so like. For instance, a year after the law change, I was working with Naomi Nicholas Williams, who is a model and she was being censored on Instagram. Her pictures have been taken down, right? She’s a plus size black woman and she’s being censored because of a body. And the algorithm was saying that she was like salacious and showing too much skin, but at the same time had, you know, an unending stream of thin white women on the Playboy account, fully functional, nude. And that was fine. So is this real placing a body depending on who you are and what your identity was? And I was able to be like, okay, hey, I think if we use the right strategy here, if we can turn kind of public momentum and a single minded message into. Momentum to pressurize this institution, all this business, and then we can work with them to start to figure out what part of their policy is like censoring women. Then we can get together. We can make this company that can happen. And that looked like, you know, knowing how to write a press release really well, like knowing how to set a timeline for a campaign, knowing how to have an elevator pitch so you can tell someone really complicated things like legislation or legalize in a in two sentences, so many millions of ways to do it. But each activist has their own strategies that we’ve worked to have them and they can pass those between groups. And therefore, the movement gets better because it’s more people with skills involved and what, you know, cross-pollinating essentially.
Nish Kumar Do. You know, I don’t want to go over too much, I’ll go with you. But I just think we should clarify, because it was obviously a massive news story in the United Kingdom. We inexplicably have American listeners that we are trying to shed every week by making increasingly obtuse references to British culture and politics. But just for the benefit of those listeners, just quickly summarized the law changed the you directly affected and also it comes back into you saying that activism often comes from a specific person experience. Can you just briefly summarize the upskirting law change that you kind of drove through?
Gina Martin Absolutely, yes. So in 2017, I was 25, 26, 26. So that festival and my sister, the state, your friend and I was in a group of I was surrounded by a group of people pre-pandemic and a group of guys were hitting on me, my sister and I said no. And essentially they worked together to take photos of my crotch to my skirt and took it as my crotch. And they shared them in the group around me. And I was lucky enough to see one of them looking at the picture, took the photo, handed the find the picture and one of the guys into the place and was told by the police that. I if I chose not to enter because it would be a graphic image, but because I did choose to wear knickers, there was probably nothing they could do. Nothing would really happen. And I three months previous to that incident, I had had a stalking case that had been dropped by the CPS four year and half. So I’ve been in this. You know, this reality for four years of essentially being terrified and being at the kind of hands of men who are making my life very difficult because I was a woman, because I wanted something from me. And when the police decided to do nothing about the upskirting that I’d experience, I, I was working in advertising at the time and I decided to kind of take all the skills I had for advertising and apply them to creating a national media campaign and a legal campaign to change law. And I ended up working with a law firm and creating a political strategy. And I worked on that every day for two years and essentially changed the law, the Sexual Offenses Act, to make upskirting a specific offense. And from that front, San Gibraltar also change the laws. And we had a big cultural conversation about upskirting and non-contact sexual assault. And so that’s really what most people know me for, and that’s where my campaigning journey started. And it started because of that personal experience.
Coco Khan We’ll be back in a moment with more from our guest, Gina Martin. Campaigning is a really long and terrible slog. And I think one of the things I remember when the law came in for upskirting, thinking like, oh, finally, because, you know, the world of the digital world was moving so quickly and the law and the CPS weren’t keeping up to date with the intimidation that women were getting online or just through the use of digital devices. So I remember at the time being like, oh, finally, and hopefully next we’re going to see revenge porn, which we did, and hopefully we’ll see other things as well. But since that time, you know, there’s not been a lot of prosecutions for upskirting, which is not surprising given that the rape conviction rate is I think it’s 1%, something like that. Mm hmm. Do you as an activist who campaigned so long for that, how does that make you feel?
Gina Martin It’s a really hard one because. There’s this thing when you’re doing something like that, like campaigning like that. And I didn’t have any legal or political experience. I was doing it just as a victim and as someone who cared about it. There’s this disbelief that you’ll ever be able to finish the first bit, which is like, make people care enough about the thing. And then there’s this place that you’d be able to turn it into a like a effective campaign. And then there’s disbelief that I’ll be able to finish it. And there was many points where I didn’t think I was gonna be able to finish it to change the actual law. And so when the law changed, I was so. I mean, now I’m now 31 and I’m just about getting to grips with the effect it had on me in terms of personally like I re I was really unwell and I was really I mean, I had raped that’s the two years I was dealing with like the most horrendous abuse two years I had. I was working full time and like 24 grand and getting five amount every morning and trying to change. It was just like when politicians, the sexism policies at Parliament just there was so much going on. And so by the time I changed it, I was like, okay, now I can like go back to a life that’s so healthy. I can like live a regular life. And that was silly because obviously that didn’t happen. I was going to go back to my job and then everyone’s like write a book and I was like, I’d love to do that. So my life obviously changed. And then from that point onwards, there was a lot of, you know, I worked with police constabulary, I worked with cops some day, so I worked on Freedom of Information requests to try and find out how this law was working. And what we noticed what we saw was that there was a obviously a massive uptick in awareness and there was a big cultural conversation. What should happen, which I don’t think we can often we also give the credit to because we can’t measure it. But like a lot of the the progress we see in our societies from cultural change, a collective consciousness shifting, and then we turn that into political momentum. So I was really proud of that. And then what we also saw was that one in three of the prosecutions made after the fact, after the crimes were of perpetrators who were perpetrating significant or repetitive violent sexual offenses. So, you know, the first man that was prosecuted was a prolific child father, essentially, who saw 250,000 indecent images of children on these devices. But he was perpetrating upskirting at the same time. And so I knew from, you know, I collected thousands of stories during the campaigning and I knew that we were seeing this action. But we are also seeing it parallels all the things that you can’t prove what you done. The data doesn’t exist in law. So there was those kinds of things and CPS was like, okay, this is important, this matters. But there came a point, I think personally where I had to let go because I can’t make an institution essentially do their job. I can’t it doesn’t matter how many conversations I have. You know, rape is essentially decriminalized in the UK as well. Yes. Then prosecutions. So like it got to the point where I was like, I have to choose to be able to be healthy and and move and do cultural work that hopefully will stop young people having these babies ashes and turning into the type of men that use sexual violence as a weapon to control people. I’d much rather be in the prevention work because at least I’ll be able to get out of bed every day and I’ll be I’ll be well, and also I’ll be getting that earlier than trying to force institutions that quite clearly don’t have our best interests at heart. And that’s what it had felt like the whole time I was doing that campaign. Anyway.
Coco Khan That is so fascinating to hear you talk about that difference between cultural change and institutional change, because my journey, I mean, I haven’t done anything as profoundly brilliant as you, but even just in my work as a journalist talking about issues, I have sort of gone slightly the other way where obviously being a journalist is about cultural change, right? And now I find that my desire to like, have a chat with my racist uncle is much lower than it previously was because I’m like, Well, what’s the point? Who have other opinions? But actually maybe I’m better off changing my the opinion of my MP and getting him to care more about this issue. So my sort of my kind of own journey has now been much more focused on the institution. So it’s really fascinating to hear you talk about that, I suppose. Am I right in thinking it’s both right? We need both oh one both.
Gina Martin And I think in activism, like you are sort of you’re part of a sort of decentralized collection of families, people globally or in your society that are all working on different parts of the puzzle pieces. Right. That’s the whole point. Like it’s not just you. And I think I found that uncomfortable as well. And that was great because it was all like, I think there was an expectation I was waking up that every morning in a red suit, smashed jacket. It’s like I was actually like working with loads of people and I still do. And I’m part of this big family. People are putting different puzzle pieces down. So like whichever way you find that, you can do that effectively and you can still have a life and you’re not crying over that I think is a pretty good place to start.
Coco Khan Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Nish Kumar Do you think you’ve found a bit of sort of balance with it again? I’m. I know your sister, I know your family. I know that it has been stressful for you and stressful for them dealing with that with all with the fallout of all of this kind of stuff. Have you been able to find Because I do think I don’t want to dwell on it for too long, but I do think it’s worth people listening understanding that there is like an emotional impact to these things. Like it’s that it does take a huge amount out of out of the individual involved. A Have you do you feel like you’ve got a better balance in a sense of like, I mean, in terms of like mental health? Support. Do you feel like that’s something that you’ve been able to put in place now?
Gina Martin Yes, I feel like in the last year and a half I’ve started to do much better with that. And I appreciate you saying that because I think with specific types of campaigning, like no one, no one’s glamorizing and looking at like welfare workers who work in communities, no one gives them the time of day. But with someone like me, of my social patient look and sounds like me who was doing the campaign, I was doing that kind of stuff. It’s very glamorized, I think. And I think there’s a kind of, you know, David and Goliath and and she took on the law and won. And like, those headlines are very like sparkly, but like behind that there is a lot of difficulty and there’s a lot of pain to it. And I think I’ve got to the point now where just on a very simple, a very simple ends, I actually now get to work in spaces where I’m in rooms with people who care about this stuff, and I see things change. Whereas when I was in parliament, I was in rooms of people who cared about optics and lied and would say, support you in the press and then wouldn’t take a meeting with you or, you know, I got patted on the head by a male politician. Yeah. And if I reckon if I to telekinesis now I looked at it, I reckon you could guess that it is but I tell you like, yeah, but you know, it was just like this. There was so, there was so little humanity in, in that institution. And now I get to be in rooms of young people who are like, say the ridiculous out loud so they can get to the bit that really makes a difference. And I see you can see people be transformed by the work I’m doing. I get to actually see it, and that means that there’s hope at the end of the work day, like I leave and I’m like, This is doing something, This is working. And actually, you know, who am I to minimize the difference that makes the one person who has how many people in their immediate circumstance, they’re going to act differently and make different choices that really matters. And just because they can’t measure it doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter, you know?
Nish Kumar It’s just it’s it’s always very inspiring to to Gina. And there is also an element of it that’s a little bit dispiriting based on because we also had a conversation with Mari Black, who’s a similar age to you, is a similar person who got involved because out of conviction and is now stepping away and actually I think described the what was the phrase used to describe the Houses of Parliament.
Coco Khan It was a sociopath.
Nish Kumar And yeah, she yeah, she said she described working in the Houses of Parliament as working with bullies and sociopaths. And actually we also had another conversation where she said, here’s a story about an MP and I’ll give you the name later. It’s like it’s like it’s a couple of slightly dispiriting parallels, but to keep the sort of focus hopeful, Do you feel like with the work that you’re doing, you’re starting a chain reaction that ends in institutional change? Because if you can change, if you can effect cultural change, that will eventually drip feed down into our institutions.
Gina Martin Yeah, well, I think it’s the grassroots up, right? Like it’s that it’s I feel like the trickle down thing is difficult, but I see the grassroots growing up as better. Like we see if I take an institution or an organization whose work I genuinely believe transforms communities like I work with the quality they have. They work from corporates and unions and schools, and they go into rooms with young men and they have incredibly difficult conversations with young men about masculinity and like, what does it mean to be a man? It was actually learned from my father and like, why do I think successes and how do we use power and, and like those rooms and those kinds of conversations are genuinely changing the minds of these young boys. And those young boys are going to grow into men. And we know that men are responsible for 82% of sexual violence. We know that that men are responsible for upwards of 90% of all violent offenses. So like we are actually if we can get early to these types of conversations that we can build like critical thinking skills on telling kids what to think, but telling them how to navigate all this wildness that they’re going to come across on the Internet and life, how they’re going to show up in their relationships, how they’re going to connect with the boys, how they’re going to show vulnerability. Like that’s massive. And I’ve seen that it makes a difference. Like I’ve actually been in the room. So I do believe that it makes a change. I the problem is, is I can’t it doesn’t make a headline, you know, a headline about that. It isn’t sexy, but it’s it’s like but it’s good, honest work.
Coco Khan It clearly is.
Nish Kumar But listening to Pod Save the UK and we are delighted to be joined by Gina Martin to talk about her new book. It’s trying to facilitate difficult conversations and it’s called No Offense, But so I feel like this book would be very useful for me as a an inveterate ruiner of parties with my ceaseless need to argue with people. I think this is I feel like this is a useful book and also a book whose very concept feels like a personal attack on me. But of course it is really important that we have difficult conversations in a polarized world. So just just talk about the kind of impetus behind this kind of this kind of book, apart from being a specific goal, to stop me from screaming at people.
Gina Martin Of course. Yeah. Yeah. I started writing it free from the beginning of the pandemic because since the law change, I’ve done lots of speaking and lots of workshops and sessions since then with all different people. And there’s one question that comes up every time I go anywhere in real life, and people constantly go, How do you respond to. And then there’s a phrase now, like without crying or screaming it or losing it or, you know, how do you articulate yourself with those kind of conversations? And I just thought, well, can I make something that you can pass into the hands of someone else or you can sit with and feel after you’ve read it, more confident to do that. And I took, I’d say, eight of the most common phrases around misogyny and sexism and sexual violence I hear all the time. So, you know, you’re not humans. You have no intention. You should cover up all those kinds of ones. Boys will be boys, all these kinds of things. And then I also took a few that I wanted to dig into. So there’s a couple about, you know, what we hope the pandemic, like the government, are doing their best. Are they? Yeah. And, you know, the police are here to protect us in these big narratives that we have socially. And then I invited ten of the writers and activists and advocates who I really respected, who I’ve worked with, because it didn’t feel like you can write a book about gender inequality without writing about all the things that are so woven into the nature of that, like so intersecting and so contextual to it too. So we have ten of the writers who are writing on everything from Oh my gosh, from transphobia, tribalism, to love fair fashion to feminism and men, you know, what feminism actually is in terms of an inclusive lens, what kind of white feminism is. There’s so much in that from these writers and how we view refugees. Like so much of that. And the idea of it was to get all these writers to get this like explore these phrases that we hear that whole progression because when someone says them, you feel like, yes, but so the point and you really struggle to articulate yourself in response to them, how do we explore them, where they come from, what the impact of them is, and then give some prompt some information and context around them for when you respond. And then also, I’ve made a resource actually from facilitation of Lifeline and training, facilitation to give to everyone who buys the book at the events because it just feels like there’s got to be a way to have these conversations which are so emotional for so many people because they are living in the reality of these systems every day. And those are talking to us so defensive. There’s got to be a way to at least try and get past these types of phrases and get into something slightly deeper, slightly more constructive. And that’s what the book aims to do.
Coco Khan Well, Gina, did you ever watch some TV life?
Gina Martin Are you joking? It’s all I watch.
Coco Khan Okay. A lot. Great. Great, great. So you are of the same generation as me where we’re partial to a challenge. And so, you know, obviously, you’ve been working on this book, so now I’m going to bamboozle you with a listener question. Okay. For going out there. Let’s see what happens. Okay. So the here’s the email. It says, How do you talk to a lifelong conservative voter whose empathic kind of heart, generous individual on a personal level, who actively want the world to be a fairer place and will demonstrate this on an immediate community level, but who simply cannot bring themselves even now to vote for anyone else because lower taxes, traditional values and a sense of practicality, i.e. that just isn’t how the world works.
Gina Martin Oh man, that’s so frustrating. That’s incredibly hard, I think. Okay, so first I would if it was me, I would start to think about how I’m going to frame the conversation, how we approach the conversation. So the first thing I would and there’s lots of wouldn’t do, I guess the first thing I wouldn’t do is I wouldn’t start a conversation. I wouldn’t be talking about policy and I wouldn’t be talking about the actual political party. And the reason for that is, is that I’d go I take an indirect route so the conversation can actually start and we can start to have a conversation about the things we care about without getting into like very, very specifics about politics.
Nish Kumar This is mind blowing for me. Yeah.
Gina Martin So it was for me for a long time.
Nish Kumar Ina, Surely you start by screaming. Why the fuck did you fucking.
Gina Martin I know, but that’s, that’s. That’s the. That’s the problem. It’s like I want this my want to do this. And that’s what I have done for a long time.
Coco Khan My first thought when I was thinking in my mind, what would I do? I just thought to myself, It’s a good thing I’ve got waterproof jackets from my camping days because someone will truck something in my face, water in the face, wine in the face. It’s bad that my first thought was, what would I wear to get like, costume party?
Gina Martin That’s story and TV live.
Coco Khan Yeah. Yeah. I guess.
Nish Kumar A guide for the American listeners. MTV Life was a Saturday morning children’s show that ran for a long time and introduced a lot to Cat Deeley. You know, Cat Deeley is very famous at American sites, like a dance reality show called Daily Killer It, man. Well, this is not the point.
Gina Martin I love her.
Nish Kumar We all love Cat Deeley. We’re all very proud. Daly Obviously, Kate, we’re thrilled. I’ll go. Professional success.
Coco Khan Another tidbit for the American listeners is they had a game show on some TV called Wonky Donkey. And I just I still to this day, don’t really know the rules, but I just feel that our listeners in America will appreciate the phrase wonky.
Nish Kumar Weekend kids television. In the late nineties, early 2000s was the Wild West. Yeah, it was chaos.
Gina Martin It was. It was chaos.
Nish Kumar It was people in their twenties with visible hangovers struggling through an ill thought out. All right.
Coco Khan But listen, let’s ask Gina her expert advice. Yes, I do. About this.
Gina Martin So. Yeah. So if this is me, I’d probably instantly be thinking about the long game. So I’d be thinking right. So like, I’m not going to long conversations can change things and I also want to keep it fairly de-escalated. So I want to go into the conversation. It escalates, we start to argue, and then it’s about winning, because then the conversation will never continue. So like the way that we would probably do facilitation, so like plant seeds over a long period of time. So talking about immediate impacts of Tory policies and that person’s life or my life without labeling them as that and having a human conversation about what those impacts are. So like if I’m being impacted by Tory policies or my career is being impacted by a Tory policy, I’d be talking about what that impact like just in conversation, just like, you know, in the kitchen, talking about what’s going on in our lives. And I continue to have those conversations and then I probably start to link it to Tory policy slowly.
Coco Khan I mean, it’s like.
Gina Martin I sound like I’m tricking someone.
Coco Khan But like this it’s fully.
Gina Martin How I would have that conversation. I wouldn’t want to go in directly because it would escalate and it would get very passionate, very political, even though these things are political and they always will be. But I would start to talk about the impacts of Tory policy in relation to us, the family dynamic people we know. I would also probably try and notice the things that person cares about. So for instance, like I remember having a conversation with someone who just didn’t give well, partly didn’t believe that climate change is happening. And I found out down the line I was like, Oh, I was friends. I found out a few days like that, like a really avid skier. And so I was able to like, start to have a conversation around, like how that would impact like that. The thing I love the most, you know, like most ski slopes now were losing snow. Like when I was like, I mean, I was like the thing that you and they were like, Oh, shit. Really? It was like, yeah. And then like that to a larger conversation about climate change. But like essentially you just, you essentially, I think, want to have a, a non-reactive but considered conversation with someone about the impacts of the choices they’re making in terms of the political party that they support and link it to your lives personally and then be able to have a slow burn conversation about the impact of that and the danger of it and why you disagree with that and try and keep it very personal in terms of how it affects you. But I think the arguing and the winning and then it gets into a political football usually makes the conversation very hard to have. So no one’s really hearing each other by that point.
Coco Khan You know what I love about that? I love that because it it assumes that people are reasonable and ultimately good people that they want the best. I believe that in my heart, even though every time I turn the news, it’s very challenging.
Gina Martin Oh, man, so tired.
Coco Khan I think you have to you know, the heart of this is is a sense of optimism and a sense of love for your fellow person rather than, I think sometimes how it’s framed when you try and persuade people to a woke agenda that we we’re trying to diminish their opinion or say they can’t think so and it’s actually not that it’s it’s it’s much more like I know that you are a caring, compassionate person and I would be interested in engaging with you in this conversation to see what might come out of it. Do you that do you think there are some people that can’t be spoken to that 100%?
Gina Martin I’m not. I mean, I think there’s a context. The problem, the difficulty with I found also with, you know, writing this book and and and even just having to write blood for it is like people are always going to think there’s a silver bullet or there’s a there’s a solution or a recipe to having a constructive conversation. There is in this context is relationships, is baggage, there’s identity, there’s social location. Like those things are all going to come into it. And in the resource I’ve created for this book, I think the questions we ask ourselves before that conversation, the most important. So, you know, instead of now. Trying to argue with or win or change the minds of ex. However many people I work with or come into contact with, it’s like, who are the people in my life that I think I could have that conversation with, that I could work on over time that would be able to get that kind of quality over quantity mindset because you burn out if you try to change everyone’s minds. But you know, if I’m having conversations around masculinities with like my dad, with my partner, with some of my male friends, and then people that I feel like it could be constructive and things could change and that’s actually an impact. However, there’s also, like what you’ve named that what you brought up, which is I think very important, is that there are conversations in which we’re not safe and there are conversations in which there’s just harm being done. You could have so many families to worry about, but they’re they’re they’re passing really harmful, you know, transphobic views or really harmful, you know, homophobic views. And you’re a young person and it’s it’s not down to you in that situation to change that person’s mind. Right. This book was kind of, I guess, created with dominant groups in mind who have access to dominant groups who are using kind of lazy, repetitive cliches and narratives because they’re easy, because they have these ignorant, bigoted mindsets. And we can sort of disrupt that with constructive conversation. But I think it’s really important to say that no one has to do this and everyone is safe to do this. And so it’s kind of like, do you have the privilege and the location to be able to have it and who with and play the long game with it, like try and get that with them. And that’s where that compassion comes in, right? That compassion piece. But it doesn’t have to be with everyone and it doesn’t have to be all the time.
Coco Khan It’s funny how people can get. Quite defensive with these things. And I mean, you know, I think you’re probably the same as me. Like, you know, in my long journey of getting into politics, like I’ve had opinions that I regret now because I wasn’t informed enough about the issues I have. I’m British, man. I say sorry every 10 minutes. Yeah, sorry. Two lampposts. No problem for me to say sorry to someone being like, Oh, actually, I didn’t read that story. I wasn’t aware of it. So, you know, to me it’s strange how this can really challenge people’s sense of self because you were talking earlier about people having emotional baggage. Do you think these are the sort of conversations genuinely we can have without a professional like yourself in the room?
Gina Martin Yeah, I don’t know. I mean, I think we can develop in our relationships if we’re looking at talking to to specific people that we want to work on that with. Yeah, I think we can. I think that can be progress can get better, but it’s it’s always gonna to be challenged. It’s always going to be hard. But there’s also something about the fact that I know people have tried to have these conversations and that conversation maybe hasn’t gone how they’d hoped, but I’m trying to not give two addresses. So I want to say this, but that person has been like a defensive and then someone else has had a similar reaction and they’ve started to think, Oh, that’s multiple people. Now maybe there’s some I have to think about here. So there is a seed that can be planted from these conversations, but it doesn’t is and you’re not going to get made easy in that conversation ultimately. Yeah, but I’d much rather be encouraging us to to try and to step up and try and feel confident in having difficult conversations with a dose of compassion and try and be constructive, then not do that because the amount of people that want to ask me that they must, people that I feel like a there’s a hunger for it to be able to articulate ourselves and especially for women with the chapters I wrote that the eight chapters that I wrote, I just feel that so many women have so many experiences backed up in their heads and in their hearts and in their bellies, and they are eating away at them. And so when they hear someone say, not all men, it’s like a stove boils over because it’s it’s so much they’ve taken in. And so it’s understandable that we we lash out or we just we want to police or we want to like, put them in that place because we’re feeling so much, because we’re living under these realities and these realities suck. But I think if we can, you know, help each other tell those conversations, I just feel like that’s I’ve seen them happen. I’ve seen facilitators do. I’ve seen people in rooms with facilitators with never do it, done it before the end of the session, be able to stand up and have a conversation that they couldn’t at the beginning. So I just believe in people’s ability to grow and I just would really like to create some kind of fertile space for them to learn how to do that.
Nish Kumar I think that’s a wonderful and optimistic note to end on. The book is called No Offense but How to Have Difficult Conversations for Meaningful Change and is out Now. Gina, I’m a big fan of you. I’m a big fan of your entire family and I’m a big fan of Kate Daly.
Gina Martin Those episodes on the podcast, they kind of both. Thank you so much for having me.
Coco Khan Thank you so much, Gina. That was a great chat with Gina. Great chat. I mean, has it changed you? Do you think? If we have if we have SUELLA Braverman in here, you think you can have a constructive conversation? I’ll bring the relevant Waterproofs in.
Nish Kumar Obviously, I think we could bring Suella Braverman in here. We would have a great chat. Yeah, and I would be on the first train to the nearest offshore holding facility. I’d be on a barge within by. By nightfall. Oh, no. A lot. A lot to ponder about and a lot for me to consider. I was taking notes through some of that. Yes, I think I think everything there is so very specific conversations that I’ve had very recently that immediately bubbled up. I say this today to start talking about how to try to de-escalate. I was like, I it’s not that I don’t attempt to de-escalate. I actively try and escalate these things.
Coco Khan Why? Because I’m the sort of man.
Nish Kumar Of ceaseless fury, right? I’ve got bottomless depths of anger.
Coco Khan Is it that you feel like, you know, it would be more honorable to settle it with a duel?
Nish Kumar You know, I definitely don’t think I don’t think at this point in my life, I’ve learned enough about myself to know there’s no point in me trying to settle anything physically. I’d probably be like, let’s.
Coco Khan Take this outside my, you know.
Nish Kumar Keep it inside.
Coco Khan Yeah.
Nish Kumar The pen is mightier than the sword, but not really. And I don’t want to get stopped. Look, that was a great chat. And we’re going to be back next week with a brand new episode. And if you want to get in touch with us about any of the issues, anything political or just so specific questions about Cocos honeymoon and subsequent travel advice and advice on advice or being an ethnic outdoors, you can get in touch with us by emailing suck at reduced listening echo dot UK. We love your messages, but we’d also love to hear your voices as well. So why not send us a voice note on WhatsApp? Our number is 07514644572. So internationally, that’s +447514644572. If you need to the show, remember to hit follow on your app and you’ll get a new episode every week.
Coco Khan And just finally, the British Podcast Awards has a public vote, the listeners choice. And if you’d like to vote for us, I mean, we would certainly like it. It’s free and it’s easy to do. So just go to British podcast Awards dot com forward slash voting again. Anyone can vote. So all you have to do is go to this website. We’d appreciate it very much. It’s British podcast awards dot com food slash rating could save the UK is a reduced listing production for crooked media.
Nish Kumar Thanks to senior producer Musty Aziz and digital producer Alex Bishop. Additional production assistance from Annie Keates Thorp.
Coco Khan Video editing was by Will Dokken and the music is by Vasilis Fotopolous.
Nish Kumar Thanks to our engineer David Dugahee.
Coco Khan The executive producers are Louise Cotton, Dan Jackson, Madeleine Heringer.
Nish Kumar Watch us on the Pod Save the World YouTube Channel. Follow us on Twitter and Tik Tok, where we’re at Pod Save the UK or on Instagram through the Crooked Media channel.
Coco Khan And hit subscribe for new shows on Thursdays on Spotify, Amazon or Apple or wherever you get your podcasts.