Transcript of EP 226 – Hannah Rosenberg on An Answer to Red Pilldom

The following is a rough transcript which has not been revised by The Jim Rutt Show or Hannah Rosenberg. Please check with us before using any quotations from this transcript. Thank you.

Jim: Today’s guest is Hannah Rosenberg. Hannah is a Bitcoin and ecommerce web developer, educator, and economist with a passion for monetary theory and alternative currencies. She became an early Bitcoin adopter and enthusiast in 2012, but going on to found Velas Commerce in 2014. As an educator, Hannah has taught blockchain courses at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Business Administration. Today we’re going to talk about an essay Hannah wrote that you can find on her website at titled, An Answer to Red Pilldom. Welcome, Hannah. Great to have you here.

Hannah: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Jim: I really enjoyed the essay because it managed, to my mind at least, other people I’m sure disagree, to stay right in the middle of sane. There’s nuttery on one side and there’s nuttery and wokery on the other. And that’s why I reached out to you. I said, I read this, it’s a quite detailed, quite long essay on stuff without being nuts at all. I mean, on this particular topic, that’s not easy.

Hannah: Well, thank you. That was certainly the goal, yes, to try and get to some sort of sanity in the mixture of all this.

Jim: All right, let’s start off by explaining to the audience what you mean by red pilldom.

Hannah: Yes. So the term red pill originated with the movie The Matrix, right? There’s the one scene where I believe it’s Morpheus is offering a choice to Keanu Reeves’ character. And the idea is that you can take the blue pill and you can go back to living your little fantasy life, or you can take the red pill and you can see how deep the rabbit hole goes. You can see reality. And so this term red pill kind of started years ago after the Matrix movie as a term to mean like waking people up to reality. And I think it was kind of a cool term when it first started and there was some interesting uses and people would use it in interesting situations. However, then the dark corners of the inner web sort of co-opted the term and it became a term that’s now generally applied to some very ugly, angry, misogynistic ideas that float around the dark corners of the inner web. And unfortunately not too long ago, really crept their way into my world about a year and a half ago.

Jim: Yeah. It’s interesting that you only became aware of this in the last couple of years because it’s been floating around for a while. I remember when red pill became a thing, but as you said, it was originally, wake up, be wise, don’t be fooled. And then it fell into the, I know my daughter started complaining about those red pill assholes about six or seven years ago. It seemed like maybe it was not too long after Gamergate where I happened to know people on both sides of that particular ugly and unnecessary shit show. Then the other place that maybe it was a little earlier and is kind of related, but not exactly the same thing, was the pickup artist world. At one level, you can see some poor schmo doesn’t know how to talk to girls. I broke the code when I was 16 and a half. All you had to realize was girls were people and they like to talk about stuff and most of them knew-

Hannah: Soccer. I know. Just human beings. Who would’ve thought?

Jim: Just all you got to do is say, hey, they’re people. They have interesting things that they know and they want to talk about. I still remember a girl I went out with one time, we were just talking about Lord of the Rings until we both fell asleep and we were 16 and a half and didn’t end up going home until the sun came up, but all we had done was talked about Lord of the Rings and fallen asleep. But anyway, so the pickup artist thing is also sort of tangentially around all this.

Hannah: It is, and looking back I can see that this was creeping into my world. I think that it popped up on a number of notable occasions, but I kind of dismissed it as just some crazy person. And it wasn’t until about a year and a half ago that I realized it was surrounding me, a number of scenarios, and I had to deal with it and to try to understand it, what the heck was happening.

Jim: It sounds like you went a little on the nuts side on your research. In your paper early on you have this long list of links to all kinds of different topics.

Hannah: So it hit me hard because I realized I was surrounded by it and it was tough for me because I was surrounded by it in some very close friendships. So it hit me personally and hit me hard. And so I say I was highly motivated to figure out what the F was going on and spent all my spare CPU cycles for a number of months, six months probably just trying to figure out what on earth was going on. Why are my dear friends telling me this stuff?

Jim: Interesting. And so what was your first insight into what was going on?

Hannah: At first when I started to hear this stuff, especially about a year and a half ago, it was people telling me, “Oh, women are submissive.” And at first I was like, okay, this sounds like some old-school religious stuff. Maybe this has some origins there. But then, no, it didn’t come from religious stuff. I thought maybe they were just, it was a really poor choice of words. Maybe they meant women are kind or women are empathetic. And I think I looked so hard into this trying to find… You don’t want to let go of people you’re close with and you don’t want to be like, this person’s just messed up and I shouldn’t hang out with them right now. You don’t want to do that because that sucks. So I spent months trying to understand, maybe they’re just confused. Maybe they’re just using the wrong word. Maybe they just mean kind. I was wrong. They did not just mean kind. So that was my first just thinking they just must be using a poor choice of words. This must be what’s going on. But that wasn’t really the case.

Jim: But unlike, again, the other gutter, you also don’t believe men and women are identical either.

Hannah: Right. And I think some of this is a reaction to some of the woke conversation that you hear now, “Oh, there’s no difference between men and women,” which is just objectively false. And I like to joke, I’m a mother, I’ve birthed two children and every time I hear people say, “Oh, men and women are the same, there’s no difference between men and women.” I’m like, just please tell that to a woman in labor. I dare you. As soon as she catches her breath, you’re going to hear about it.

Jim: Talk about that a little bit, and then the other topic that you identified as an area of difference.

Hannah: Yeah. So I think the primary difference, there absolutely are differences between men and women and they all come from the primary difference, which is pregnancy. Women get pregnant, men do not. Females get pregnant, males impregnate. This is the difference between men and women. And then all of the other differences that we can see pop up between men and women are just sort of downstream of that. We can say women are a bit more empathetic or social. Well, that’s probably related to them needing to have empathy for the baby that just emerged from their body. And we can say men were more aggressive. And that I think is something, again, men were conscripted into the work of protecting the tribe from some bear or some lion.

So we can look at these differences and see where they came from and see that they are there and it’s obvious, but I think it’s really important to also not go down the other deep end and be like, men and women are completely different species. This is how you wind up with young men that have no idea how to talk to women and don’t realize that women are just people because they think that we’re-

Jim: What a concept.

Hannah: We’re wildly different creatures. Oh, women are so complex, you can’t understand women, all of this stuff. It’s like, no, no, we’re just humans. But there are these important differences. It’s like we’re not exactly the same. The sanity is somewhere in the middle there.

Jim: And the pregnancy thing, and not just pregnancy, but also the nature of the ape with clothes that we are, is that women are generally the ones who have to raise the kids during that period when both the mother and the child are very vulnerable. And so from evolutionary psychology, one can get to a perspective that’s biologically seemingly reasonable that a woman has a significant incentive to find a man that’ll hang around for a while.

Hannah: Yes, absolutely.

Jim: And of course, from a Darwinian perspective pure Darwin, which of course isn’t actually what drives us, but if you assume that it does, the dude’s job is to deposit his sperm and leave some other sucker to raise the kids.

Hannah: That’s a little bit harsh. I have a friend that says. “Humans are halfway between chimpanzee and enlightened creatures,” and I think that’s accurate, and we certainly have some, shall we say, slightly regressive instincts on occasion, right?

Jim: Indeed.

Hannah: But absolutely, and you’re a father, so you would’ve seen this firsthand, going through the process of being pregnant and childbirth and breastfeeding and all of this. This is a big deal and this is a very difficult thing to go through and puts you in a vulnerable state. And absolutely there’s an incentive and a very, very good and reasonable one to find a partner who sticks around and who helps you out and who is a capable and responsible human being.

Jim: Not only am I a father, but now I’m a grandfather. I’ve got a three and a half year old granddaughter, and I will say it’s much more fun to be a grandparent. Kid gets fussy or shitty, you just hand them back.

Hannah: I hope I get to experience it someday. It sounds like a lot of fun.

Jim: It really is. It’s great. And so you see pair bonding, it makes a lot of sense. The duration on kind of a four or five-year cycle in the middle of at least the statistical distribution.

Hannah: When trying to examine this stuff, you can get so caught up in these arguments. So this study shows that women are slightly more like this or men are slightly more like this. Oh, you can get really lost in the weeds, but it’s really important to zoom out on human history and sort of look at what humans have been up to and the totality of our history. And when you do that, I think there’s a lot of evidence, I would guess, I haven’t seen any really solid studies on this, but that humans have strong instincts to pair bond in four or five, six-year cycles, somewhere right around there because we absolutely do pair bond, but then a lot of people have a lot of trouble with long-term monogamy. We have these mixed instincts, and so I think that’s probably what’s going on.

Jim: I would point out that humans vary kind of at a bell curve distribution on all kinds of things, and I suspect that this is one of them. My wife and I, for instance, have been together for 47 years. Holy shit, right? A lot more than four or five and I hate to say it, but relatively conflict free.

Hannah: Well, that’s awesome.

Jim: The China didn’t get launched occasionally, but you know how that goes, right?

Hannah: Yes.

Jim: But I don’t think either of us ever thought about saying, Splitsville. So people can vary it. And on the other hand, I got friends that have never had a relationship last for more than two years in their life and they’re my age. Keep in mind that all these things that might have a central tendency also have a large variance.

Hannah: And I think that people sometimes have conflicting instincts. We want to pair bond, we want to build a relationship with someone. And also that waiter over there is really hot. It’s just like you have this mixed set of instincts that you have to try and balance. Being human’s a bit tricky, but I think it’s really important that we understand that most of the instincts that we have are just weird, different survival instincts, and we don’t beat ourselves up for them. We understand them and we manage them.

Jim: Looking at the cute waitress or the waiter with the cute butt, of course you’re going to, if you’re a normal person, right?

Hannah: Of course your heart rate’s going to raise a little bit. It’s okay. You don’t have to beat yourself up for that. You should just probably not ask for their number, depending on what your situation is.

Jim: Probably the wise thing not to do. All right. The next topic you got down to, I never knew quite how to pronounce this. I’ve seen it in writing a thousand times. I’ve never heard anyone actually say it in real life, which is kind of interesting. I’ve never actually heard anybody say it. Hypergamy or-

Hannah: Hypergamy. Yes. I don’t know, I think it might be hypergamy or… In my head it’s hypergamy, though that might be wrong. But like you said, I see this written a lot. I get essays on Facebook posts of mine talking all about the hypergamy. So it’s something I see written quite a lot. And to give you sort of the summary of it, it’s this idea that a woman will always leave a man for essentially a richer man, a man with more status and more things. I explain this to my husband and he just looks at me with this face. He’s like, “That’s so sad.” I’m like, “Yes. That is such a sad concept that people would think that people just don’t like each other, that a woman can’t just like someone.”

But with a lot of this red pill stuff, I think it starts with a little grain of truth. So like we talked about earlier, pregnancy is a massive physical burden and it’s a big thing and it puts you in a very vulnerable state. So a woman would be crazy, she would just be insane to go around mating with someone that isn’t going to be a responsible partner, someone that can’t provide for her while she’s providing for their child. So I think it absolutely makes sense for women would be a little insane to go around choosing a partner and mating with someone if they weren’t someone that was capable of helping them, capable of being some sort of provider during that vulnerable stage at the very least.

And so I think that’s absolutely true, and that absolutely makes sense. And then it gets twisted into where these dudes think they need to be Elon Musk to get a girlfriend. It’s like try being a decent human being. You could be a mechanic. Just the idea that this is the case is just like… It’s interesting. I live in Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans, one thing I really like about it here is they’re very affectionate and I just walk through the grocery store here and I see a ton of just average Joes just walking around holding hands with their girlfriend and their wife. And that’s beautiful. And that’s like, if hypergamy were a thing, they would all be at the club trying to find Bad Bunny when he came into town or something like that.

Jim: The Ruttian theory though, about one line that may be part of this, and that is for the reasons you laid out, that women have a very legitimate interest in having an effective mate, at least for four or five years. And that is adulting. Young men and unfortunately not so young men these days who don’t adult, who are still living in their mother’s basement playing video games and watching porn all day before they go and smoke reefer and watch some ESPN, it may well be that these people who are thinking that hypergamy is going on may just be falling below the line of adulting. Does that make sense?

Hannah: Absolutely. It could be. And then it could be that this stereotypical non-adulting man that you’re describing isn’t willing to take on responsibility. And then as such is not willing to find a partner and then blames that on him not being Elon Musk.

Jim: And really all he had to do is be an adult, show up.

Hannah: Get a job. You don’t have to be rich and famous. Be a mechanic, whatever. It’s cool.

Jim: Yeah, keep the same job, right? Don’t have 17 W-2s in one year.

Hannah: Exactly. Some stability is good because children require that.

Jim: Now, on the other flip side, and this isn’t so much about things, but when I think about our status hierarchies in our society, I see two. One’s money and the other’s looks or sex appeal and they’re not the same thing. Some people who are maybe middling on looks are really high in sex appeal and vice versa. Some of these models, I suppose they say they claim that they’re good-looking, but my god, they seem kind of cold and kind of bony to me. I wouldn’t want to get involved with them, but somebody else who just got that sizzle, whatever it is. And again, happily married, 43 years. But anyway, non-player for 47 years.

I have no idea what I’m talking about here, but what people tell me, they tell me is that in the online dating game, especially the swiping kind, Grinder and Tinder and that sort of stuff, that there may be a looks hypergamy going on and that these things apparently work quite good for the top 15% of “good-looking” dudes, but not well at all for anybody below that. So the small elite group, as we used to say in the old days before it was politically incorrect, get more ass than a toilet seat while the other guys are not getting much traction.

Hannah: Yes. So I think there is a little bit of an element of truth to this one as well. I’ve been out of the game myself for about 16 years now since before Tinder existed or Bumble or any of those. I have never had a Tinder profile. So I’ve not done this, but I have many friends who do have these, and I have some friends who will tell me about their experience with this. And I think there is some truth to it. And I don’t particularly like these dating apps because I think, like a lot of applications that we have today, a lot of social media, it plays on these, let’s say, the lesser of our human instincts. It plays on these sort of instant, fast…

So I think some of those apps do bring out some of our uglier side and probably there’s some truth to that. Because I have a friend who’s a nice looking dude and he’s got a college degree and he’s like, I would think for a 24-year-old chick, this guy would be a catch. And he would show me his Tinder and all this stuff that was going on and he had trouble finding a match. And I’m like, why? He’s got nice pictures, he’s got a nice profile. So I think there is some truth to that, and I think these apps are just not really a very good way to find a partner. And probably, I hope someone develops something better, because I think they do tend to skew human interactions. So I think there’s probably a little bit of an element of truth to that.

Jim: It might well be that, hey, unless you’re one of the 15% genetically endowed, go take a course in creative writing, because it would be all chicks basically, at the community college. Well, things like that. The old style tricks that we used to use when I was a lad, right?

Hannah: Yeah. Meet people in real life where they can see you in your entirety and not just one picture.

Jim: In fact, I think it’s still the number two way people meet, but it was by far number one when I was in the market, and that is friends of friends. Let your friends know that you’re available and they’ll fix you up, or at least they should if they’re any good, right?

Hannah: If they’re decent friends. And also, I think some people do have trouble, but I got to say, I do also know a number of just regular dudes who are not six foot tall and do not have six packs and are not rolling in money who have found partners on Tinder. I think just there is some truth to that, but I think it’s a mixed bag.

Jim: Like anything else, it’s a statistical distribution, so we can’t assume that one rule rules them all. All right, next part of Red Pilldom is some kind of nostalgia/reverence of the 1950s supposed trad wife.

Hannah: Yes. This one. And I got to start by saying that I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being a stay-at-home wife, a stay-at-home mom, a stay-at-home father, any of those things. I was a stay-at-home mom for four years. I don’t regret a drop of it, but there’s this reverence for this, which bothers me, right? I’m trying to think through, first of all, it’s an anomaly in human history that even it’s possible for one parent to just stay home and attend to children all day. For most of human history, mothers have been working mothers. Your great-grandmother may have had seven kids, but she was also a seamstress and knew how to can food and was tending a garden and was doing all of these different things.

The problem is the idea that it’s not appropriate for women to be involved in the broader world, that it’s only appropriate or women only want to be sitting in the house baking cakes and playing with their kids. Nothing wrong with baking cakes and playing with your kids. That’s great stuff to do. But the problem is this idea that that’s the only thing that’s sort of appropriate to women, I think is wildly inaccurate, has no basis of support in any bit of human history we can really dig up except for some strange little pockets here and there, and is just not healthy for people. It’s like those jokes about mother’s little helper, the TV shows Desperate Housewives. For most women, this is just not an appropriate life to not have any involvement in the outside world.

Jim: My grandmother on my mother’s side, she had nine kids and she was a farm wife and she had all kinds of things she did around the farm. She had the chickens, she did all the canning, which was months’ worth of work, every season, et cetera. My own mother who was a traditional housewife, but she was also very active outside the home, she was president of this, vice president of that. Then she got involved in politics, had all kinds of stuff. And so this idea that it was the ’50s TV show, the wife all prettified up sitting there waiting quietly for her husband to come home from work. But somehow it’s become this, as you say, it’s part of this rhetoric of what at least some people think they might want. But here’s my hypothesis. If they actually did want it, they’d hate it because the person would be boring as shit.

Hannah: Oh, yeah. It’s just not appropriate for the vast majority of humans. And I asked my dad about this, so I asked him about the life of his mother, my grandmother, who is a 1950s housewife. And my dad said, he’s like, “Yeah, 1950s housewife, that’s not appropriate for mothers.” And he says that 1950s housewives weren’t 1950s housewives. His own mother stayed at home for a while when him and his brothers were younger and she was on the committee that rewrote the Illinois State Constitution. And when him and his brothers went to school, she went on to lead the nursing department of two different hospitals. She was a very intelligent, involved person even when she was at home with kids.

And this is the part that makes me sad. If someone wants to stay home and do things around the house and raise their children, that’s an amazing thing to do. What makes me sad about this concept, and especially because I have two daughters, and of course I’m biased because I’m their mother, but I look at them and I see these incredibly intelligent, creative, interesting people, and it really makes me sad the idea that they would go out into the world and someone would see them as having such limited capabilities or interests in the world. I see them as really varied, interesting people. And I would like the world to also hopefully see them as varied, interesting people.

Jim: They’re people, duh. It keeps coming back to that, that men and women have some differences, but they’re, I think the number you put in your essay, 98% the same.

Hannah: 98% the same.

Jim: That’s probably not far from it. Another part of Red Pilldom, motherhood is the highest form of fulfillment for a woman.

Hannah: And this just kind of rolls right into the last one. And it’s this idea, and I’ve had people tell me this like, “Oh, I can’t find a wife to have children with because I don’t want to give up my job and I expect her to give up her job and stay home with the kids.” And for a period of time that might make sense. But just this idea that I now expect you to do nothing else in your life, but be dedicated to our children. I want you to give up all your other interests or I’m going to consider you a selfish person, but I’m not going to give up my other interests for our family. It’s just, oh, it makes me sad to think that someone would look at someone that way. And again, being a mother is a wonderful thing to do, but just the idea that this is the only thing that’s appropriate to a woman or the only thing that’s going to bring her fulfillment in life is sad. And I think if you actually did have a mother that did that, that wouldn’t be healthy for the kids.

Jim: Again, boring. Boring.

Hannah: There’s this quote I threw in there that says, “The greatest burden a child must bear is the unlived life of its parents.” Parents who did not live their life the way they wanted to, pushes their dreams onto their kids. And that’s not healthy.

Jim: I got to give my parents a lot of credit for not being that person.

Hannah: I try not to be that with my kids. Maybe you should do this, but you do your thing.

Jim: My parents were quite good about that. They were not trying to live through their kids. “I always wanted to be a ballerina, so you better go take ballet,” that kind of stuff.

Hannah: “We’re going to ballet class.” Yeah.

Jim: All that stuff. I’ve seen that though.

Hannah: I have too. Yep.

Jim: Now here’s another, your next topic, and this is one that there is a term of truth perhaps, and that’s the war on masculinity.

Hannah: Yes. The war on masculinity. There are pockets and subcultures where I think this is true. I’m from Chicago. I worked at various different jobs in Chicago for years, and there’s one job in particular that I had that was, shall we say, a very, very woke workplace. And this was a while ago, but it’s actually the job place where I learned the word woke. It’s a while ago. And oh my gosh, the culture in that place was wild. Men were the butt of every joke and especially white men. And they would just say some ugly, ugly things. So absolutely, in some spots it’s very socially accepted or even encouraged to say some awful things about men, which is not cool. And I think in that sense, there is in some pockets that war on masculinity where people deride men in certain cases.

In other spots, when I hear someone say the war on masculinity, it tends to cause a slight cortisol spike in my body. I’m like, oh no, I’m going to lose this friend too. Because sometimes you have some of these red pill people that will define masculinity in some really unfortunate ways. Like men are dominant, men are conquerors, men are the leaders. And so if you say something like, “Hey, you shouldn’t be trying to control your wife.” Well, it’s like, oh, that’s the war on masculinity because of course men are the leaders.

So I think this is this term where I can understand where it came from. And there are certain aspects of our society that are slightly harder on men. I think trying to get little boys to sit at a school desk all day, it’s just not going to work well. So that’s just because of the logistics there, tough on boys. There’s these aspects of truth to it, so I think I understand where it started. And then sometimes when I hear it, I get on edge because I’m worried I’m going to get a lecture about how men are the leaders and need to be making the decisions for people. It’s a mixed bag.

Jim: Especially the thing about education has become more and more feminized. One of my pet peeves actually is when I was a lad, particularly in junior high, this is when you look at mammals of that age, they all want to spar and fight and establish their little dominance hierarchies. And it was more or less allowed. If you actually got into a fist fight right in the middle of the class, you got a three-day suspension. But if you wanted to have a fight underneath the pear tree up where the road came in, that was fine. There’d be a little crowd of people and they’d have their fight and then they’d shake hands and be friends.

But people learned how to get their aggressions out and modulate them. And there was fair fighting. Nobody would ever hit somebody when they were on the ground. They would never kick them. If you pulled out a weapon, everybody in the crowd would beat your ass. So nobody ever would do that. It was just unthinkable. And this zero tolerance for 13, 14, 15-year-old boys engaging in rough tumble, sparring, which is every mammal you could look at pretty much does that, I think is a terrible thing. And I believe the result is school shootings.

Hannah: That they don’t let that aggression have an outlet.

Jim: And they don’t know how to do it correctly. I mean, the correct way is you go up and say, “Hey, asshole, what’d you say about me?” And then they jaw a little bit and one of them throws a punch, the other one throws a punch, somebody gets knocked down. That’s the end of it. And that’s how you settle that shit when you’re 14, right? But instead, if you’re not allowed to do that, or someone’s going to literally call the cops as they will in especially upper middle class school districts, instead, you sit there and brood and then you go home, get your AR-15, come shoot the place up. Go with the boys on this one a little bit, a over feminization of school to have totally suppressed natural boyish fighting, especially at the 13, 14, 15-year-old age.

Hannah: So when you say feminization, I’m guessing what you mean is a system that girls are much more likely to adapt to than boys, a set of standards that fit girls better than they fit boys.

Jim: Yeah, non-fighting… We didn’t have much fights in high school, I’ll say, but in junior high school, the girls fought too. In fact, I knew a girl in my eighth grade science class who carried a pistol in her purse. It was a pretty rough neighborhood.

Hannah: At school, I don’t know about that. In Chicago, definitely, maybe to and from school, absolutely.

Jim: Well, anyway, the girls would fight some, but the boys fought 10 times as much. A prohibition on natural male adolescent sparring impacts boys way more than it does girls. Classic disparate impact.

Hannah: Yeah, that could be. I mean, I have no instinct to spar with people. Maybe that’s because I’m a lady.

Jim: See? See? All right, next topic, the wall. And we’re not talking about Pink Floyd either, right?

Hannah: No, no. This is the unfun wall. Yeah, Pink Floyd would be better. So the wall, I believe, is a tool of emotional revenge for sad and rejected men. So the concept of the wall is this idea that when a woman is young and pretty and youthful, she’s going to get lots of male attention, some truth to that. And then at some point, 35, 40, whatever you want to call that cutoff, boom, she hits the wall. No man wants her anymore. So you better find a good partner straight away, or you’re going to be an old lonely maid, a sad, neglected cat lady. My guess about this one is, especially the way in which people will bring this up and talk about it, is it feels like emotional revenge. So I think this is men that are feeling rejected and they’re seeing lots of pretty women that they’re trying to pursue get lots of attention. And they’re like, “Well, just you wait. One day you’re going to be sad and rejected too.” And so I think this is where this comes from.

And then of course with a lot of the stuff, there’s some aspect of this that’s accurate. I think a healthy looking 25-year-old woman is kind of the lowest common denominator of heterosexual male attraction. And then of course, menopause is quite real. It’s a very, very real thing. And if a woman wants to have a family, then that’s something she needs to be very aware of. But just this idea that… Now, I’m 40 and I have a bit of a baby face, so I tend to look young, but I certainly haven’t hit any wall. And I also have women in my life who I’m close friends with, relatives or close friends that are in their 50s, 60s, 70s, and they’re sending me texts about their hot date this weekend.

Jim: A friend of ours is 70, my age exactly, and she’s in a, I don’t know, maybe a year into a fairly hot and heavy romance with a dude about 15 years younger.

Hannah: And I’ve had some friends who have worked at nursing homes and heard some stories that I don’t want to remember. Right? It’s like, “Oh, I didn’t want to remember grandma that way.”

Jim: Exactly. That does make sense. I sort of vaguely heard of it. So it does make sense. That would be kind of a malicious tale to be told, even though there’s not much truth to it.

Hannah: And I mean, I think it really is just dudes who are lonely that are just mad about it and they’re like, “Wait till you’re going to be lonely.” There is some tiny aspects of this that there are some women who go around in life sort of navigating life by being sexually attractive and sort of getting people to do things for them. And then of course menopause is very real. But if you weren’t trying to engage in emotional revenge and you were actually trying to help women, you wouldn’t tell them about the wall. You would be like, “Hey, don’t navigate life by trying to play on the sexual instincts of young men. Just have skills and build relationships and be aware that someday you’re going to hit menopause. So if you want to have kids, you should get on that.”

Jim: The biological clock is indeed ticking.

Hannah: It’s a real thing. Yes.

Jim: All right, next topic. Humanity is a mesh network, not a hierarchy.

Hannah: So this one is, there is this idea, the status hierarchy or the dominance hierarchy. And this is where I go back to saying humans are somewhere between chimpanzees and enlightened creatures. So humans have some of these hierarchy dominant instincts. And I also think we have what I would call better instincts. And I really don’t like the idea of just really leaning into hierarchy and status and domination. I think it’s kind of ugly. And as I put it, it’s like play animal games and you get animal results. If we want to have nice things, if we want humanity to have things, hospitals and art museums and nice stuff like this, this comes about via cooperation.

So I think just viewing the world purely as just this hierarchy, who’s higher than who, it’s sad. I don’t think it helps us progress as a species. I don’t think it helps us get good things. And what’s interesting about it too is that chasing status and hierarchy makes you a slave to the whims of the world around you. It just deprives you of individuality when you just have to conform to whatever the world around you thinks is the cool thing to do, is the cool status thing of the moment.

But also people like to talk about a lot like, “Oh, I’m going to be rich or I’m going to have my own business and then I won’t have a boss. I’m going to be at the top of that hierarchy.” Anyone who’s ever ran a business, especially a small business, knows that when you’re a small business, you don’t have one boss, you have 12 bosses because all your clients are your bosses. So just this idea that there’s this very rigid pyramid sort of hierarchy in the world isn’t accurate. It’s more of a mesh network. I have a business, so you could say I’m at the top of that hierarchy, but also then I’m accountable to my clients. So I’m at the bottom of all of their hierarchies. When you zoom out again on that, it just looks much more like a mesh network than a pyramid.

Jim: It’s got aspects of both the idea of being sort of in the middle. Another topic that is part of Red Pilldom is women are naturally submissive.

Hannah: Oh, yeah, my favorite. So first of all, we should clarify that we are talking about in general in life and not in the bedrooms. These are two different things. And sometimes people mix up these conversations. So for this topic, let’s say outside the bedroom, this idea that women are submissive, we talked about this at the beginning where at first I thought maybe they meant kind or agreeable or empathetic, but you look at it, the dictionary definition of submissive is ready to conform to the authority or will of others. And that’s really a sad and destructive thing to expect of someone. Whether you look at that from just a logistical point of view or what that enables and causes, or if you look at that from a mental health point of view, the agency and autonomy are core to mental health and personal development and wellbeing. Or if you look at that from a spiritual point of view, the idea that you’re not directing your life deprives you of being able to grow and learn.

And so I think any way you look at that, that’s just a really destructive concept. And unfortunately, I think there are a decent amount of dudes in the world who somehow absorbed the old-school idea from a couple of generations back that a man isn’t a man unless he’s in charge of the woman in his life. And so dudes have this idea and so they have to justify it because they don’t want to be a horrible person, which is good. And so they’re like, “Well, women want this, women want me to tell them what to do.” But then we can get even a bit more complicated there, where sometimes people will tell me, “Oh, no, women tell me this. Women tell me, ‘Oh, I’m submissive,’ or, ‘I want a dominant man.'” And I think what complicates this is that sometimes these words get used to negotiate responsibility in a relationship.

So let’s go back to what you were talking about earlier about the man who isn’t adulting. So imagine a woman who’s running into all of these men that won’t take on responsibility, that aren’t adulting. So for her to say, “I’m submissive, I want a dominant man,” what she’s saying is, I want a man who can adult. I don’t want a man who can take on responsibility. I don’t want to do it all. That’s a shitty deal. I want a responsible, capable partner. And so sometimes I think these words get used either for a woman to signal that she’s not the radical man-hating feminist on TikTok or a way to negotiate responsibility in a relationship. Sometimes I think that’s what’s happening. Other times I think it’s just this really ugly idea that a man’s not a man unless he can control a woman.

Jim: I think it could be both, but it is unfortunately, as you say, sometimes it’s that second one. And in the first case, if a woman really says, “I want a responsible peer partner,” maybe submissive isn’t the best word for that.

Hannah: No, it’s not. It’s a very unfortunate use of terms. But I do think that’s what’s happening sometimes when it’s used.

Jim: My father, if you’d woke him up at three o’clock in the morning and said, “Are you the head of the household?” He’d probably say yes. But I never saw my parents ever make a decision of any consequence whatsoever except jointly. And it just seems to me, as you point out, it would be tiring to have one party have to make all the decisions by themselves and further, they’re going to make worse decisions probably.

Hannah: They would absolutely make worse decisions. And a woman doesn’t want to do it all, because then she’s stuck making all the decisions. And if you do the reverse, then she’s freeloading and he’s stuck making all the decisions. It’s not fair in any aspect.

Jim: All right. Closely related, men are leaders and presumably women are not.

Hannah: Exactly. Men are leaders. This is a fun one. Sometimes I think this is a continuation of that one above where it is the uglier version of women are submissive, it’s someone that thinks that they have to be in control of a woman to be a man, but they want to put it in nice noble sounding ways. So they just say, “I’m the leader. I’m providing a service.” But all this comes back down to is decision making. Like you said, your father might’ve said something like that, but the decision making, there was a lot of balance in the decision making.

So when you say someone is the leader, what I worry about is, is there a balance in decision making? Are both partners getting appropriate, like a balanced share of decision making? But then you have some people that just take this in another direction where they say men have just certain characteristics which make them better leaders. For instance, they’re risk-takers and they make these sharp, fast decisions. And to that, I say, yeah, I would agree in some aspects of life, not in all, but in some situations men can have more of a risk tolerance, especially with certain physical things. Men have more of a risk tolerance, and so they’re more willing to take risks. And sometimes men are very good at being very decisive.

But what sort of situation are we talking about? If there’s an emergency, maybe you want the police officer or you want someone who’s in the military to have that sort of fast stuff or maybe a first responder. Maybe you want them to be risk-takers and you have fast decision making. But then there are other situations where you don’t want that at all, where making impulsive decisions is absolutely disastrous and people will get killed. And so it’s absolutely not that simple. And I think if you made a list of things that were generally good qualities of leaders, you would find that half of them are stereotypical male things and half of them are stereotypical female things.

Jim: I think it’s also extremely important to understand individual differences. There’s a bell curve, and this is where people go into the gutter on both sides, again. For instance, one of the last legal barriers to women in work in the United States fell a few years ago where women were allowed to become Marine Corps infantry officers. And guess what? Not too many women want to be Marine Corps infantry officers.

Hannah: Some of them do.

Jim: A few do, and they’re good at it, right?

Hannah: Yes.

Jim: And they got through this amazingly grueling course and they’re doing fine. But there’s two classes of errors. One to say, oh, yes, in the year 2525, half of Marine Corps infantry officers will be women. I would bet long odds against that.

Hannah: I would too.

Jim: But two, no woman should ever be a Marine Corps infantry officer. In the same way, no man should ever be a preschool teacher and realize that yeah, most guys aren’t going to be interested in being a preschool teacher, but some are.

Hannah: But some are.

Jim: It’s just a good bell curve. So why can’t we just realize that we are as a species on most things, we have a distribution across a relatively wide range. And if you line up, depending on each issue, the overlap’s bigger or smaller, if you take these two bell curves, one for men, one for women, and put them both on the same chart, there’ll be a huge overlap, right?

Hannah: Yeah. Massive.

Jim: And it also depends on the application. Marine Corps infantry officer, mostly men, but not all. Preschool teacher, mostly women, but not all. In the business world, it’s kind of interesting, I’ve gotten maybe a little different perspective on this over the years. I’ve now come around to the view that for managing in a bureaucracy, women may actually have the somewhat better set of skills for coordination, for encouraging the best out of people, et cetera. Not to say there aren’t a lot of good men business executives. Hey, I was one, goddammit. But I think that the men are leaders thing in the context of business, particularly larger, more bureaucratic organizations is probably actually slightly reversed and that, if anything, the nurturing and networking and consensus building skills that women are probably a bit better at. Yes, men can be a bit of assholes, it is true, in that kind of larger bureaucracy. Women may have a little edge there. But again, there’s lots of individual difference.

Hannah: I think we could say that you’re more likely to find a woman that has that particular skillset.

Jim: But again, keep in mind individual differences, people, just like the whole goddam failure of both maggotry and wokery. Goddammit, get rid of both those two things-

Hannah: Please. Yes.

Jim: Is that you can somehow evaluate people based on what category they’re in rather than say, let’s take a look at the person and let’s see what they are about.

Hannah: Collectivism.

Jim: Yeah, exactly.

Hannah: It’s constant collectivism.

Jim: It’s so odd that the two of them make the same error somehow. Maggotry and wokery are kind of weird mirror images of each other.

Hannah: And I have a wide variety of friends and friends on social media, and I have some friends that are like the extreme focused radical feminists and I have some friends, a few, well, mostly I’ve gotten most of these extreme people out of my life, but I had some friends that are the red pillers. And to watch them go off on these rants and get so angry and you’re just like, you’ll see one of them with their woke rant and then scroll past, see another one with their red pill rant. I’m like, do they not realize they’re the same?

Jim: It’s funny, I just signed off of Facebook yesterday and that was for a while. I do a six months social media sabbatical every year. I just find that being on it all the time is just, it’s same shit, different day. But anyway, I’ve only been back about a month and a half, and yesterday I signed off for a month and I said, I am sick and tired of people who I know in real life are smart and nuanced people, and I do know people. I’m unusual in having lots of friends on both sides of this. I said, you’re all so locked up in your tribal alliances, you can’t even think straight. So I’m going to take a break and decide how I want to deal with you guys when I come back in a month. And I think that when I come back in a month, I may just decide not to engage in any discussions about Team Red and Team Blue issues.

Hannah: And it’s an election year. Good luck, buddy.

Jim: We’ll talk about complexity science, cognitive science, the nature of consciousness and metaphysics, maybe.

Hannah: Cool stuff.

Jim: Anyway, so we’ve talked about a lot of things that are kind of curious and sometimes bad. Why do you think this stuff, these ideas have become popular? Why there are vibrant communities of red pilldom?

Hannah: There’s a lot of different reasons. One of them, I think, is that as large chunks of humanity move out of survival mode, and so we have more free time, we can have more expression. We’re not just surviving. Gender roles were in large part survival roles, right? I’m sure there were plenty of young men that did not want to go kill that lion. They got pushed into it because the eight-month pregnant lady isn’t going to do it. Gender roles are survival roles. And then once you get past survival, if you’re not being conscripted into a role out of necessity, then you kind of have to find a different source of value. So if you’re not viscerally needed by your tribe, you can feel kind of lost. So you have to individuate a little bit and find your own source of value when there’s not that survival pressure. Sometimes people get frustrated with that or feel a lack of value in their lives because of that, and that can sort of lead them into this stuff.

I think, like we talked about earlier, a lot of this comes back to responsibility. Women have built-in responsibility because women get pregnant. And so I think a lot of this stuff comes about because of men’s relationship with responsibility. Either an willingness to take it on, or perhaps finding people in their lives that won’t let them take it on because maybe women are telling them, “I don’t need no man.” And so they’re feeling like they can’t take on responsibility. But I think that frustration or failed attempts to either take on responsibility, a lot of this stuff is related to that. Modern dating is messed up with some of the apps. Social media skews people. I think some of the dating apps skew people too.

And then a lot of it’s just a reaction to wokeism. And one of my favorite quotes that I put in there too, is that “History has always been a series of pendulum swings, but the individual doesn’t have to get caught in that.” And I love that because I think that’s what we’re watching, this pendulum swing. So we had in this country, generations back, quite a lot of racism and patriarchy and all of this stuff, and we swung away from that, which is excellent. But then we’re swinging wildly into the wokeism, which is crazy insanity. And then some people are swinging back the other way really hard. So we’re just swinging too far constantly. I think that’s a big part of what’s going on.

Jim: Yeah, I got to say, certainly some of the guys I know, it’s a reaction to having their finger wagged at them saying, toxic masculinity and all this sort of stuff, for just very regular, normal, nice dudes. And this kind of critical theory horseshit that is poisoning some percentage of our people produces a predictable reaction, which isn’t so good either.

Hannah: When you go around insulting people for years on end based on this collectivist thing, this immutable characteristic of sex or gender, if you go around giving them shit about it for years and years, you might find that, yeah, they get a little bitter about it and go the other way.

Jim: Exactly. Again, I think you’ve hit right on it. It’s the idea that you are the bucket that you exist in rather than that you are you. And if we’re going to help our country and our humanity come back from this is, I like to use the expression liberal universal humanism, the idea all men, and put the W-O in front of that as well, are created equal and have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as a person. And because we’re on these statistical distributions, what’s right for one person is not right for the other. Right?

Hannah: Yeah.

Jim: Realization, there’s some percentage of people that are homosexual by orientation. That’s going to be how they’re going to be happy. Why would you not want them to be happy? Let them pursue their happiness.

Hannah: Yeah, just let people be people. Just stop trying to shove people into boxes.

Jim: Yeah, try to put them in the box and say, “All men are this. All women are submissive. All men are assholes.” Right?

Hannah: Yeah.

Jim: Come on people. Let’s not do that. Anyway, I want to thank you, Hannah Rosenberg, very interesting discussion. The name of the essay, again, is An Answer to Red Pilldom that people can find at And as always, the link to the essay will be on the episode page at Thank you very much.

Hannah: Thank you.

Jim: That was a great conversation.