According to Wikipedia, “The culture of domesticity (often shortened to “cult of domesticity”) or cult of true womanhood was a prevailing value system among the upper and middle classes during the nineteenth century in the United States and Great Britain. This value system emphasized new ideas of femininity, the woman’s role within the home and the dynamics of work and family.”
But also? The Cult of Domesticity is a super fun podcast. From their Facebook page,
“Two best friends, one podcast. Join us as we share discussions from 725 miles apart. Not an actual call-your-dad cult. Ashley and Courtney take turns telling each other true crime, history, or current events stories. However Ashley is in New Hampshire and Courtney is in Ohio. Check out our social media for the recipe of the week and additional information on our topics! We are on Itunes, Soundcloud, Google Play, Podbean, and Chorus.”
I first became aware of this podcast via Instagram where they are very active (@thecultofdomesticity) and decided to give it a try. I was instantly hooked. After true crime, history is my jam. This is a conversational podcast where the two hosts, Ashley and Courtney tell each other a story, just like the description says. It’s informal and chatty, definitely in the banter category. My one complaint with so many of these style podcasts is that they are culturally unaware. By that I mean that they don’t recognize history and literary references. They don’t recognize movie or television references older than ten years. It’s limiting. Not these ladies. Although they are young, they are still very aware of the world at large, particularly history. It’s like you put Wine and Crime and Stuff You Missed in History Class in a big blender with dash of the Food Network and it works.
There are occasional tech issues. Sometimes you get funky noises from the microphones but not so much as to put me off. I’m not one to sneer about production values. There is some awkward laughing and inside jokes, all of which lend to the charm. Simply put, the hosts are engaging. Their lengthy friendship is comfortable to hear and soon you feel like you’re part of the club.
You don’t have to start at the first, although the first episode. I jumped around as I binged earlier episodes and I didn’t find it disconcerting at all.
Ashley and Courtney were gracious enough to answer some interview questions for me.
Tell me how y’all named your podcast. When I first saw “Cult of Domesticity” I expected something more along the line of knitting or cooking, not crime and history.
Courtney: We actually called our dorm room the Cult of Domesticity as a joke. Ashley and I both enjoy cooking, baking, crafting, and all the domestic arts but that part of our friendship was folded into watching true crime documentaries, paranormal shows, and me telling Ashley about the weird history I had read about. So I think we are challenging the perception of domesticity where yes we can still do everything a 1950s house wife did but we choose to do it while watching dateline or a documentary.
Ashley: Also, it was something our mutual friends could identify with us pretty quickly, and they were the original target audience, because we are so awkward with people we don’t know.
I’d love to know about your process. How do you decided what topic to cover and how do you divide up the work?
Courtney: The topic process is easier for us to divide up because we tend not to tell each other what we are discussing, so the response is genuine. Personally, I have a giant spreadsheet divided into several topics so I won’t go down into a serial killer black hole or bore everyone with my abstract historical loves.
Ashley: I really like that Courtney is so organized with the spreadsheets and whatnot, because I do not usually operate that way. But it does help to keep us from focusing on any one thing too long, especially since we do tend to cover darker topics and that can be hard to listen to for weeks on end, let alone to research constantly.
Courtney: Dividing up the work has changed as we go along in the process. Initially, Ashley did all the editing which was a god send to me because I hate the sound of my voice. We have come up with a system where we edit our own episodes and if someone cannot edit that week then it is no difficulty for the other to do it. I tend to be the person posting on our social media and responding to emails right now because I have more time. However Ashley does all our amazing Instagram art and designed our logo.
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned as a podcaster?
Ashley: I learned that I sniffle SO MUCH! Also, that podcasting is a lot more time-consuming than I originally thought it would be. But the community we’ve found, especially on Twitter, is so amazing, and it’s nice to have people who started around the same time we did to compare notes with.
Courtney: I love how supportive the podcasting community is. They have definitely helped us learn how to improve and grow our own podcast. Additionally, I have learned all of my vocal ticks and how allergic to my cats I am editing them out.
Tell me a little about yourselves away from podcasting.
Courtney: I just graduated with my masters in history where I studied the eighteenth-century British Empire. This is basically why I am the long winded one! So I am currently job hunting. When I am not podcasting or job hunting, I am often crafting, baking, or taking care of the many animals in my house. My favorite type of craft right now is knitting but I am learning to quilt and make candles.
Ashley: I always feel like I’m such a boring person now, because it feels like all I do is work. I finished my associate’s degree in paralegal studies last year, and the day after graduation I moved halfway across the country. Now I’m working in a pharmacy and it’s a huge difference but in a good way! When I’m not at work or doing podcast stuff, I’m either sleeping or reading. So there’s that.
Finally, which episode is your favorite and why?
Ashley: My favorite episode so far is probably Episode 7, our Halloween episode about the Salem Witch Trials. It’s a topic I’ve always been interested in, and the episode has a special place in my heart. There’s so much more I wish I had thought to include in that episode though, and so much more still to learn about what really happened. Also, Courtney’s reactions to my telling of the story make me laugh every time I think of them.
Courtney: Episode 16, the Kirtland Cult Murders, or Episode 20, Snake in the Bed, because they were interesting for very different reasons. The Kirtland cult murders has such a personal connection to me because I live ten minutes from the site and it impacted so many around me. Of course after we recorded my mom informed me that she went to school with the property owner’s daughter… things you wish you knew growing up. As for snake in the bed, I love the amazing story of Alexander the Great but Ashley and I had so much fun laughing over the ridiculous nature of his life.
So if you’re like me and love all things crime, history, and culinary, this podcast is definitely for you.
Cowtown Crime Verdict: A delicious treat