If Books Could Kill

Who's Afraid of Naomi Wolf? [TEASER]

March 28, 2024 Michael Hobbes & Peter Shamshiri
If Books Could Kill
Who's Afraid of Naomi Wolf? [TEASER]
Show Notes Transcript

We're finally discussing a good book! Naomi Klein's "Doppelgänger" chronicles the long, steady descent of another Naomi — Wolf (buddy oof) — from feminist icon to crank conspiracist. 

To hear the rest of the episode, support us on Patreon:
https://www.patreon.com/IfBooksPod

Peter: The wedding I was just at, the groom is a decade younger than me. He doesn't even have the same type of glasses or the same type of beard. We have only two things in common. He wears glasses, I wear glasses. He has a beard. I have a beard.


Michael: [laughs]


Peter: And people would just be looking at us and be like, “You guys-- 


Michael: [laughs]


Peter: “You guys could be brothers.” 


Michael: I like that the zingers are just becoming a means for you to complain about what happened to you this week. 


Peter: That's how I use the [unintelligible 00:00:27] tops. 


Michael: [laughs] No, I know. It's clear, Peter.


Peter: The best podcast I can make is very different from the ideal podcast in terms of what I want to make. The podcast I want to make is just like Peter gets on the mic and bitches about his life. I turn it off and people, for some reason, pay for it. If that could be my job. Oh, my God. 


Michael: You're describing the Joe Rogan experience. [Peter laughs] There are people who've made this work. 


Peter: All right, I'm just going to give this a whirl. Let's do it. Let's do it.

,

Michael: Peter. 


Peter: Michael.


Michael: What do you know about Doppelganger by Naomi Klein? 


Peter: I deeply empathize with being mistaken for someone else because everyone thinks that I look exactly like every other white man with a beard and glasses. 


[If Books could Kill theme]


Michael: Okay, so, Peter, it's finally happening. We are talking about a good book. 


Peter: This is the moment that all of our fans have been clamoring for.


Michael: I mean, I don't really know why we're covering this, other than the fact that this is a book that I've been reading. [chuckles] And it will be refreshing to talk about a book that I have some quibbles with. But in, like, a polite way, I feel like a lot of the books that we talk about on this show are we're trying to reveal the sort of conservative project or the reactionary bullshit underneath them. And Naomi Klein is not that person. She's not, like, a crypto centrist. 


Peter: Right.


Michael: We're not talking about somebody who's doing this, “I'm a liberal.” But it's like, no, she's an actual liberal. And she's dedicated her life to defending and promoting leftist causes. 


Peter: Yeah, she wrote The Shock Doctrine. Good book. 


Michael: Yeah. Naomi Klein is actually a really important writer to me because I read no logo, and I ended up working in corporate human rights for 11 years. It was not the only thing, but it was a big inspiration for me. And the entire book is about basically the radicalization of Naomi Wolf and the weird experience of being mistaken for this woman who's falling down the rabbit hole. And Naomi Wolf is also kind of important to me because The Beauty Myth, that was another book that I read in high school. And it was the first book where I was like, “I agree with this, but I don't think any of these numbers are correct.” [Peter laughs] So what is your relationship with these two ladies? 


Peter: Naomi Klein was one of the first nudges I got out of, just like center left, moderate liberalism. I haven't read any of her other books. She seems largely cool from a distance. Naomi Wolf, I never read The Beauty Myth I know of it. I sort of was loosely aware of her work and then got more aware of it a few years ago when she got exposed in that radio interview where one of her books was basically revealed to be built on shoddy research.


Michael: Mm-hmm. We will be watching that clip later. 


Peter: Hell, yeah. That was very funny to me. I love to watch someone get fucking, just get their life's work torn apart. 


[laughter]


Michael: The thing is, you were not a professional journalist at that point, so I feel like you could take glee in that. I felt such deep empathy for her in that moment.


Peter: And it won't happen to us. And here's why and this is my advice to all journalists. Never try to make a comprehensive affirmative case for anything. [Michael laughs] Just spend your entire career being a snarky little bitch. That's my advice to all journalists.


Michael: So the book Doppelganger, basically it's like a thematic dissection of this idea of having doubles. The idea is that sort of with the rise of the Internet, we're all like different forms of ourself. You're a different person on LinkedIn and on Instagram and on Twitter. She notes the kind of right-wing mirror world, how a lot of its superficial features kind of look like journalism or look like research and it's very difficult to tell. 


Peter: Yeah. Right.


Michael: The core of the book and the thing that I wanted to dive more deeply into is essentially like, “What happened to Naomi Wolf over the last 20 years.” You have this person who is, like, a very prominent feminist scholar and author, and then you sort of fast forward 20 years, and now she's just like anti-vax crank and, like, not even just anti-vax. It's like she's into, like, chemtrails. She does weird shit about the birth control pill has taken away women's ability to smell, and it's like, “Why everyone is gay?” She's just really, really, really far down a rabbit hole. 


Peter: I'm very interested in the fundamental question of whether Naomi Wolf has sort of lost her mind in some way, or whether she was, like, a natural conspiracy theorist who also happened to be a sort of occasionally brilliant feminist theorist at the same time. 


Michael: The entire first half of the book is basically foreshadowing like this person is going to go deep. 


Peter: [laughs] Right, right. 


Michael: Her career begins in 1991 with her book The Beauty Myth, which essentially says that as women were gaining all of these progressive wins, the patriarchy pushed back in the form of bullshit beauty standards. Beauty standards that nobody could ever live up to. 


Peter: Right.


Michael: As soon as this book comes out, it was a runaway bestseller, it did super well. A lot of second wave feminists said that, “This was the beginning of a new generation of feminists taking up the mantle.” But immediately, the reviews started to notice a couple of discrepancies. So, one of the numbers that people pull out is that in the book, Wolf says that, “Eating disorders are really common in America and 150 thousand women every year die of anorexia.” 


Peter: I read about this claim after her sort of downfall in 2019. 


Michael: Yeah, yeah. There were a lot of those circling back to the beauty myth. Yeah. 


Peter: And so, she basically is claiming that anorexia has this massive death toll and the actual number is low three figures something like that. Right? 


Michael: Yeah. It's hard to say-- I mean eating disorders are so hard to track because it's also reported. And then dying of anorexia is difficult to kind of measure, because sometimes people just, like, have heart attacks. Like, not everybody with anorexia is, like, super thin, so it's difficult to track but it's so easy to say that it's not 150 thousand people. 


Peter: Right.


Michael: I think if you're, like, in your 30s at a certain age, you probably have a friend, some acquaintance within two degrees of separation from you that has died in a car accident. 


Peter: Yeah.


Michael: The numbers that she's quoting here are four times higher than the number of people killed in car accidents every year. So, like, if this was true, you would have numerous acquaintances-


Peter: You would know, yeah, yeah.


Michael: -who had died of anorexia. So it's like it just is not plausible at all. The defense of her that I will give is that this is actually a mistake that her source made. So, there's a 1988 book called Fasting Girls, that she is relying on for the sort of the statistics on the prevalence of eating disorders. And so this book is relying on a newsletter from the American Anorexia and Bulimia Association, which was, like, the major Eating Disorders Association at the time, which said, “150 thousand people have anorexia.” 


Peter: Okay. 


Michael: This author, not Naomi Wolf, this author somehow mistranscribed that as 150 thousand deaths. And so, the sort of original sin of this was not Wolf's. But still, I mean, when you see a number like that, you should pause. 


Peter: Look in her defense, pre-Internet, you have to go find, like, another book that has the data and come on. I mean, who's got the time for this? 


Michael: But then, so what she says is, by the time this starts getting pointed out in reviews, she claims that she had already found it and fixed it. It's only the first edition of the book where that number was in it. And, like, that was removed, fixed, republished. But then I got this book. So, I got it from Amazon, and I looked at, like, “What does the text say now?” And so, I'm going to send you what it says now. So, this is the updated text. This does not include any mortality statistic. 


Peter: Okay. The number of women with the disease has increased dramatically throughout the western world starting 20 years ago. Dr. Charles A. Murkofsky of Gracie Square Hospital in New York City, an eating diseases specialist, says that, “20% of American college women binge and purge on a regular basis.” Roberta Pollack Seid, in Never Too Thin, agrees with the 5% to 10% figure for anorexia among young American women, adding that up to six times that figure on campuses are bulimic. If we take the high end of the figures, it means that of 10 young American women in college, two will be anorexic and six will be bulimic. Only two will be well. The norm then for young middle class American women is to be a sufferer from some form of the eating disease. 


Michael: Yeah. What do you think, Peter? 


Peter: So, no, no.


[laughter] 


Michael: You may not have the numbers on the top of your head, but you know it's not 80%. 


Peter: Maybe the general point is, like, this is widespread and that's a defensible point, but it's just not this widespread. There's just no fucking way. There's just no way. 


Michael: Yeah. The thing is you don't want to throw out the baby with the bathwater here. Eating disorders are extremely prevalent in America and extremely damaging. 


Peter: Yeah, yeah.


Michael: Some of the criticism of this book at the time had this weird misogyny to it where they're sort of like, “This lady says that eating disorders exist.” 


Peter: I guess preaching to the choir here. But there's also an image in people's minds when you talk about certain things, like eating disorders, where you're thinking about someone whose life is consumed by it.


Michael: Right.


Peter: Little types of disordered behavior related to food, very common.


Michael: Extremely common. 


Peter: And if you wanted to say that that was like 60%, 80%, then I think that's quite defensible. But to say that bulimia and anorexia, you know, very discreet disorders, are reaching those numbers, it's just not true. 


Michael: Yeah. I mean, the National Eating Disorders Association says, “It's between 10% and 20% of college women have some form of eating disorder. So, 20% is the high range. And when you look at bulimia specifically, this is within a 12-month timespan, 7% of college students report binging and 1% report purging. 


Peter: Okay.


Michael: So these are thankfully pretty rare behaviors. Again, it's like, these are real problems, but it makes it so hard to defend Wolf and to defend this book because it's like you can't get basic shit like this, this wrong. 


Peter: Right. 


Michael: There's an academic article, this is wild, from 2004, called A critical appraisal of the anorexia statistics in The Beauty Myth: Introducing Wolf's Overdo and Lie Factor. Where they look at 23 different statistics in the book and they're like, “Here's her estimate, and here's the sort of academically accepted estimate.” And like, all but five of them are wildly overblown. Some of them are overblown by an order of 10. Some of them don't even make sense on their face. So she says, “A million women suffer from eating disorders in America but then she also says that 3.5 million women in the UK suffer from eating disorders.” The UK's population is smaller than America, but they have three times more sufferers of eating disorders like that. Just as an author like that, you should try to reconcile those two figures. 


Peter: Well, that's true of TERF though. [Michael laughs] It happens. 


Michael: So throughout the 90s, she continues writing books on feminism. She has one called Fire with Fire, another one called Promiscuities, then one called Misconceptions in 2001. The 1990s are basically like the peak of her respectability. 


Peter: Yeah. 


Michael: By the end of the 1990s, she is apparently consulting Al Gore. 


Peter: Yeah. Doesn't she become a generic democratic political consultant for a bit? 


Michael: Yeah, for like a very brief period. Yeah. She's working with Hillary Clinton. And this is an excerpt from Klein's book. I'm going to try to just say Klein and Wolf, because every time I say Naomi, I confuse myself. 


Peter: By the end of the decade, Wolf was considered such an authority on all things womanly that during the 2000 presidential election, Al Gore, the democratic party nominee, hired her to coach him on how to appeal to female voters. Her widely reported advice was that Gore had to get out from under Bill Clinton's shadow and transform himself from a beta male to an alpha male, in part by wearing earth tone suits to warm up his robotic affect. 


Michael: Nothing says alpha like a bunch of browns and dark greens, alpha shit, alpha shit. 


Peter: Okay. Wow. She's a pioneer. I mean, there's no way around it. 


Michael: [laughs] You didn't get yelled at for our Lean In Episode. And I could tell you were about to say something, and you're like, “No, no, no. It's not worth it.” 

Peter: Wrong, wrong. [Michael laughs] No, I was thinking something so feminist that I thought the world wasn't ready for it. 


[laughter]


Peter: I got this. This is so bleak. That someone that, like, is sort of credited with advancing feminist thought is just like, “You got alpha males and beta males. Are you an alpha or a beta, Al Gore?”


Michael: I know, I know. 


Peter: In this picture you are leaning in towards tipper. You want to be straight up. She leans towards you.


Michael: We will get into this. But the central question with this is, “How much of a conspiracy theorist was Wolf before all of this anti-vax stuff? And also, how much of a conservative was she?”


Peter: Right.


Michael: Because she's sort of casting herself as a feminist and she's talking about the dangers of beauty standards. people kind of cast her as this leftist, but a lot of her ideas were fairly conservative to begin with. 


Peter: Yeah. I mean, there's always been that sort of tension between the second and third waves of feminism. Where it's like, “How do you talk about female independence within the sort of patriarchal superstructure?”


Michael: Right. 


Peter: Right. So, what does this mean for whether we should be doing what we want when what we want to do is maybe informed by these patriarchal norms? etc.


Michael: Exactly. Klein tells the rest of the story kind of out of order because she's doing it thematically, but I am putting the pieces back in order. So, after The Beauty Myth comes out in the 1990s, basically at the height of her powers, Wolf goes to, I believe it's Oxford, where Klein is studying. And Klein, she hasn't become a writer yet. She's not famous. I think Wolf is a little bit older than her. 


Peter: Okay. 


Michael: And so she is just a student journalist and she is assigned to go cover Wolf giving a talk at her campus. So, I'm going to send you this excerpt from Klein's book. This is the ending anecdote of the book. 


Peter: You're destroying Klein's narrative structure. 


Michael: I know she's listening to this livid. But because I think this moment is so fucking deranged, and I think it's supposed to be kind of a twist but I think it's actually kind of important for, like, everything comes afterwards. So, I'm going to send you this. 


Peter: Oh, my God. Okay, sorry. I just read. [laughs]


Michael: Don't. [crosstalk]


Peter: Sorry, sorry. After the Q&A wrapped up and the mingling began, I introduced myself as the student journalist with a shared first name who was scheduled to interview her. Wolf locked her eyes on mine. “I knew it was you,” she said, “You look like you've just been raped.” 


Michael: Long silence. 


Peter: Oh, my God. 


Michael: This is such a fucking deranged thing to say to somebody. Can you fucking imagine? 


Peter: I truly cannot. 


[laughter]


Peter: I've never said anything even remotely close to this in any form. 


Michael: Neither. Holy shit. 


Peter: That is one of the most fucking wild things to say to a human being.


Michael: It’s fucking insane.


Peter: It's something that is purely designed to unsettle the person's equilibrium.


Michael: And establish dominance in some way. It actually seems like some, like, weird. Like something a man would say to another man as being like, “I'm the alpha in this exchange.” It is really fucking weird. 


Peter: Which we know that's something she believes in, right? 


Michael: Yeah, exactly as consistent.


Peter: The alpha and beta dynamic. 


Michael: Yeah. And I guess Klein then describes that she sort of, at the time, thought this was edgy and cool. It was a way that sort of I don't know. I don't know how to put this, but sort of manipulative people do this instant intimacy with you like you're sort of sharing a secret and they're doing it by saying something kind of shocking. 


Peter: Uh-ah. Okay.


Michael: Klein says that at the time, Klein had a really bad week, apparently because she had written something pro-Palestinian for the student newspaper and was just getting yelled at from all corners of the campus. And so she was like, what she was reading in me was like some form of trauma, like, I was projecting some form of trauma. And she read it as, like, sexual trauma. So, then they become friends and they're like pen pals for a while. 


Peter: Okay.


Michael: So all of this is sort of getting at the fact that Wolf had little inklings of some conservative beliefs and also just being kind of a fucking weirdo-


Peter: Right.


Michael: -fairly early. And her work was really shoddy from basically day one of her career as a public intellectual. So then in the early 2000s, she starts to sort of go off the rails. Klein says in the New Millennium something changed in Wolf. Maybe it was Gore’s electoral loss or George W. Bush’s electoral theft. And the way some of the post vote recriminations focus on her controversial campaign role, perhaps it was something more personal, an unraveling marriage with two young kids. She’s made reference to a year of chaos right after I turned 40. Whatever the cause, Wolf’s soaring profile dropped significantly in the early and mid-2000s.


In 2007, she publishes a book called The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot, which is about how the Bush administration was basically tilting toward a fascist regime. I read a review of it in Reason, God help me, where it says, “Wolf commits a bewildering series of mistakes that demonstrate not even a rudimentary understanding or familiarity with the subject of fascism.” Readers are told that, “Hitler was a propaganda master because he was trained as a visual artist, he was not. Nor did Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels develop the practice of embedding journalists.” [Peter laughs] It's like a weird mirror image of liberal fascism where she's just like, “Do you know who else had embedded journalists?” 


Peter: I love people who are able to identify increasingly innocuous things that Nazis did. 


Michael: Yeah. [chuckles] 


Peter: And be like, “You know who else did this?” 


Michael: Yeah. Nazis took showers.


Peter: You know who else loved a salad? 


Michael: Yeah. [laughs] 


Peter: Every now and then. 


Michael: So, it seems like the conspiracism really ramps up around the Occupy Wall Street stuff in 2011, after the police crackdown on the protesters, she says, “This is like a new era of fascism in America.” She then publishes a book in 2012 called Vagina: A New Biography


Peter: Sure. 


Michael: There's a 2019 article in New York Times called Naomi Wolf's Career of Blunders Continues, where they say, “Vagina, so profoundly misrepresented the workings of the brain, I'm not sure science writers have recovered. This is a very troubling interpretation of science. I can't find the data behind her claims.” Beverly Whipple, the scientist who discovered the G- spot said upon reading it.


Peter: Hold on. There's one lady who discovered the G-spot. 


Michael: Well, we all know men have never found it. 


Peter: Huge help for dudes, huge help for dudes. [chuckles] Well, so what is the science that is being proffered in the book Vagina


Michael: [chuckles] I was like, “I don't want to look this up.” But then I was curious, I guess she's saying that, “Vagina’s can feel grief.” You can tell someone's internal mental state by measuring various things in their vagina, kind of like a mood ring or something. I just don't think that's true. [laughs] 


Peter: I do think it's true. That just sounds right to me. 


Michael: [laughs] I think it was something where, again, her heart is in the right place. Yeah, reclaiming, destigmatizing gray--


Peter: Michael, you do not have to read that in good faith. 


[laughter] 


Michael: I'm trying. 


Peter: This is classic Hobbes. He's like, you know, you're like, look, “We have to admit the vagina is magical.” 


[laughter] 


Michael: Well, there's a whole thing where gay men pretend to be grossed out by vaginas, and I don't want to do that, but I am genuinely very bewildered by the whole thing. 


Peter: Sure. 


Michael: So when she's like, “Vaginas feel grief,” I'm like, “I don't know, does my penis feel grief?” 


Peter: Okay. 


Michael: Sometimes. 


Peter: Yeah. All right. No, I sort of assumed that, like, the title of the book was a little bit of shock value, right, Vagina Monologues. 


Michael: Yeah.


Peter: Like, we're crossing that sort of social boundary and just saying vagina to get your attention. But it's actually pretty cool to write a book that's like, “Vaginas can think.” 


Michael: Yeah. [laughs] See, you've reached the Hobbes singularity. [Peter chuckles] So, then the next decade, it seems like she sort of falls deeper into conspiracy land. I'm going to send you an excerpt from Klein's book. 


Peter: “In the decades since Occupy, Wolf has connected the dots between an almost unfathomably large number of disparate bits of fact and fantasy. She has floated unsubstantiated speculations about the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, saying he is, “not who he purports to be, hinting that he is an active spy.” About US troops sent to build field hospitals in West Africa during the 2014 Ebola outbreak, she has said this was not an attempt to stop the diseases spread, but a plot to bring it to the United States to justify mass lockdowns at home.” 


Michael: Mm-hmm.


Peter: Okay, that's just right-wing shit. I remember that. 


Michael: Yeah. Yeah. 


Peter: About ISIS beheadings of US and British captives. She has said, “These were possibly not real murders, but staged covert ops by the US government, starring crisis actors, about the results of the 2014 Scottish referendum on independence, which the no vote won by a margin of more than 10%. She claimed the results were potentially fraudulent based on an assortment of testimonies she collected.” Okay. 


Michael: Scottish referendum truther I've never heard of before. 


Peter: Once you become a conspiracy theorist, every referendum is fake. 


Michael: Yeah, yeah.


Peter: Every election isn't real. You know, also, I love that she's claiming that they were fraudulent based on an assortment of testimonies she collected. When I was in Edinburgh in 2008, a guy gave me and my friends hashish when we ate fish and chips and then told us that “Bush did 911.” [Michael laughs] So I assume that he was one of the testimonies that she collected. 


Michael: Yeah. Based on the testimonies you've heard Bush did do 911. So, speaking of her ability to assess evidence, we are now going to fast forward to June of 2019. 


Peter: Yes, here we go. 


Michael: And a BBC radio interview. This is on the BBC, so I couldn't, like, get it, but somebody has uploaded to YouTube. They've done. There's, like, a little bit of audio editing. I don't know if it's noticeable, but just in case you hear anything weird. That's the YouTube rip. 


Peter: Got it. 


Naomi: You get sentences, as I mentioned, of penal servitude for 10 or 15 years. And I found, like, several dozen executions. 


Interviewer: Several dozen executions.


Naomi: Correct. And this corrects a misapprehension that is in every website that the last man was executed for sodomy in Britain in 1835. 


Interviewer: I don't think you're right about this. One of the cases that you look at that's salient in your report is that of Thomas Silver. It says, “Teenagers were now convicted more often.” Indeed, that year, 14-year-old Thomas Silver was actually executed for committing sodomy, the boy who was indicted for an unnatural offence, guilty, death recorded. This is the first time the phrase on natural offence entered the Old Bailey records. Thomas Silver wasn't executed, death recorded. I was really surprised by this and I looked it up. Death recorded is what's in, I think, most of these cases that you've identified as executions. It doesn't mean that he was executed. It was a category that was created in 1823 that allowed judges to abstain from pronouncing a sentence of death on any capital convict whom they considered to be a fit subject. Pardon, I don't think any of the executions you've identified here actually happened. 


Naomi: Well, that's a really important thing to investigate. 


[laughter]


Naomi: What is your understanding of what death recorded means? 


Interviewer: Death recorded. This is also from-- I've just read you the definition of it there from the Old Bailey website. But I've got here a newspaper report about Thomas Silver and also something from the prison records that show the date of his discharge. 


Naomi: The prisoner was found guilty and sentence of death was recorded. 


Interviewer: Yeah. 


Naomi: The jury recommended the prisoner to mercy on account of his youth. 


Interviewer: See, I think this is a kind of-- when I found this, I didn't really know what to do with it, because I think it’s quite a big problem with your argument. Also, it's the nature of the offense here. Thomas Silver committed an indecent assault on a six-year-old boy. 


[laughter]


Michael: I love YouTube. Thanks, YouTube.


Peter: Oh, my God, dude. 


Michael: I don't know how the rest of it goes.


Peter: Oh, no. When that initial-- When she's like, “Well, that's an important thing to investigate.” 


Michael: [laughs] Someone should look into this. 


Peter: Just devastating. I'm just-- I'm retreating from public life [Michael laughs] if I'm in her shoes, it's game over. 


Michael: It's so dark how he's like, “Oh, I went to the Old Bailey website.” 


Peter: Right. 


Michael: [laughs] On the correction, like, “The first place you would go for, like, super basic fact checking.” 


Peter: Dude, I fucking googled it, how he found out. 


Michael: Naomi. 


Peter: Oh, Naomi. Like, fundamentally, you're not a fucking historian. You're way out of your depth. Why are you doing this? 


Michael: It's even worse than this, Peter. Because this book is an adaptation of her PhD thesis. She went back to school as an adult. 


Peter: Oh, God bless. 


Michael: This is what's so fucking fascinating to me. And, like, a weird systemic breakdown. How did nobody else read this? Like, didn't she do a PhD defense of this in front of other academics? She has a supervisor.


Peter: And her supervisor, Claudine Gay. [Michael laughs] When this popped up, this was, like, the first time that the average person who's moderately well-read, heard any real detail about her and her work. 


Michael: Yeah, yeah. 


Peter: But when it pops up in the context of her career, it's sort of like, “Well, yeah. Well, of course.” 


Michael: Death recorded part of this interview is the part that I think gets the most attention. But that thing at the end, right before the little sound effect, is in some ways, potentially worse. That the whole book is about how consensual relations between gay men were prosecuted and gay men were executed for their consensual relationships. A lot of the examples are actually child molesters. 


Peter: Right.


Michael: A lot of these people were, like, monsters. And you're saying that it was homophobic to put them in jail? Like, I'm sure the prison system was very bad back then, but it's like, you need to find real cases of this. You can't have, like, one guy, I think, had sex with a horse or something, and it's like, whatever you think about that, it's not a consensual human relationship, Naomi. It shouldn't be part of your book. 


Peter: Yeah, the only word they can say is, “neigh.”


Michael: [laughs] You have to have stolen that from something, Peter. 


Peter: Nope. 


Michael: You had a horse rape joke ready? 


Peter: Look, have I sent you the pictures of the Argentinian horse dancer? 


Michael: What? No. 


Peter: All right. I was just in Argentina and there's, like a-- we have to cut this, but this is just for us. There's a guy that sort of does, like, an almost dancing show with a horse. He stands on the horse, and then he's like, the horse lies down, and he's lying next to the horse, caressing the horse's face. It's meant to show this bond between the man and the horse. They're so comfortable with one another, but we're looking at it, and you're like, “Wow, this guy really seems like he fucks the horse.” [Michael laughs] And I'm not someone who takes pictures. When I'm on vacation, everyone in my life complains about this. “Can I see pictures?” And I'm like, “I've got two.”


Michael: Okay.


Peter: I got, like, 10 pictures of this guy and the horse though. 


Michael: [laughs] And you were like, “Mike is going to say something involving sex and a horse, and I'm going to have a quip ready.” 


Peter: I'm just saying, “Look, I've been thinking about it.” [Michael laughs] This has been on the brain a little bit. All right, hold on. I'm going to turn this around and send you a picture of the guy with the horse and then we can move on. 


Michael: All right. Send it, send it 


Peter: It's extremely important. Hold on. 


Michael: Oh, my God. 


[laughter]


Michael: It's like pillow talk.


Peter: I mean, dude, when I'm-- At first, he was doing, like-- [Michael laughs] sorry, I know. I said we could move on. At first, he was doing, like, a handstand on the horse, and I was like, “Oh, cool. We're going to see horse acrobatics.” The rest of it is just him just, like, cuddling with the horse in different ways. 


Michael: It's, like, first base, yeah.


Peter: This is a wedding full of, like, the best way to put it is very nice people. They were not the type of people where you could be like, “So you guys see that horse fucker?”


[laughter]


Michael: So, you think I fucks the horse or what? Like, “I'm Jeff, hi.” [crosstalk]


Peter: Right. I do feel like everyone was looking at it and being like, “This is a little bit too intimate with the horse, you know?” 


Michael: Well, you know in Argentina, you know what they feed gay horses. [Peter laughs] Hay. 


[laughter] 


Michael: I'm allowed to tell homophobic jokes on this podcast. One of us can do this. 


Peter: I think I would I would never do.


[laughter]


Michael: Wait, do you want to hear the other homophobic joke from my high school? 


Peter: Yeah, of course. 


Michael: What does a gay snake say? 


Peter: What? 


Michael: Sssssssssss.


[laughter]


Peter: Oh, God. I'm sweating. I actually can't. Like the fact that we somehow transitioned into the one thing I've been thinking about all week. The guy fucking his horse-


[laughter]


Peter: -that this came up in, like, without me prompting, it just horse fucking came up. And it's like, “Hey, did you know that in the past week, I actually had a horse fucking experience?” 


Michael: That's when you say, like, “I should buy some shorts or something, and then you open Instagram, and it's giving you ads for shorts,” and you're like, “That's uncanny. These tech companies.”


Peter: My Google Ads are like, “Ever wanted to fuck a horse?”


[laughter] 


Michael: Okay. Focus, focus.


Peter: I'm sorry. 


Michael: It's good that we're in, like, a giggly mood because we're now entering the phase where we read off a bunch of Naomi Wolf's tweets. 


Peter: Hell, yeah. Okay.


[music]


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