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  • Writer's pictureArlene Bozich

Pay Up, Joe Rogan; Itemized Receipts for Damages Owed to Women by Male Podcasters

Once, I had a date last less than 5 minutes. I had talked to a really interesting Art History major on Bumble and decided to use my one night off from rehearsals and grad school work to meet him for a drink. I got there first and ordered my own beer. When he arrived late, he managed to spit out, “Oh! You got your own drink, great- I don’t have to buy it for you!” I didn’t laugh, and he saw the TV up behind me- it was during the Trump/Hilary race. He smiled at Trump on the TV and said, “He knows how to talk to women, huh?” He then went to order his drink, but stopped when he saw I had a knee brace on- I was prepping to have ACL repair surgery in a few weeks. He tapped it with his knuckles and asked, “How are we going to fuck?” I slammed my drink back, gathered my things, and only said this to him, “You’re going to forget my face, lose my number, and never even think about talking to me again, you absolute fucking waste of space and life.” And I left.

There’s an art to escaping a bad date, and my personal style is direct aggression. There’s no need to be ambiguous- any gray areas would just drag out the inevitable and add to the confusion or frustration. But as I kept trying to go on dates since then, there’s just been a deluge of clueless, casually cruel men who all seem to parrot ideas off one another. I had one date ask if his feelings on Ivermectin were going to be a deal breaker. I told him that facts don’t care about his feelings, so the fact that he was dumb enough to hold his feelings as the priority in a scientific situation meant that he was possibly too stupid to keep himself alive, so…yeah, it was a deal breaker. Another attempt at dating included getting roped into a conversation with a professed “Anarcho-Capitalist”. When I mentioned that euphemisms are toxic and he should believe in his morals enough to be honest with himself and others and just call himself a “Fucking Fascist”, he seemed to be upset that the First Amendment also included my right to speak. There’s also the negging attempts that I now just laugh off, because what kind of creep needs to make others feel bad about themselves just to get control of others' attention or time, like…just be nice? It’s really not that hard.

But these men had one overlap in their Venn Diagrams of Disappointment- they were all huge fans of Joe Rogan and his podcast. The false equivalence, weaponized misinformation, and complete disrespect for ideas that are ready for the public versus private spheres of conversation have all infected anyone who regularly listens to the podcast- at least, the ones I’ve run into in the wild. There’ll be the random segment that might be decent- but it’s a rare ten seconds at best. Overall, whether Joe intends it or not, he’s got some of the stupidest, worst-behaved fans out there and those of us who’ve had to babysit these infantilized man-children deserve compensation. This is mental and emotional warfare at its most reductive, a tale told by a complete idiot and pushed out to millions of unwitting listeners who deserve better.

Everyone who loves Joe Rogan always tells me the same line, “He’ll talk about ANYTHING!” There’s a certain brand of bravery involved with approaching the taboo, which I can respect. But this idea that anything and everything is worth a discussion and time on a public-facing forum falls prey to the Paradox of Tolerance, coined by Karl Popper. Basically, if you’re tolerant without any limits, you will always be corrupted by hateful, greedy, & fearful people. So, for real tolerance to exist (which is the goal of every healthy community), you have to become intolerant of intolerance. You have to have standards. Because when you don’t, you do shit like promote Alex Jones’ work on your podcast without challenging him or having any real discussion- you give a voice to a grifter who lied about murdered children and their grieving families, all while giving NRA-funded politicians a pass on their part in gun deaths in our country. When you don’t have standards for who comes on your show, you’ll invite Gavin McInnes, founder of the Proud Boys. Which like…fucking gross, why would you not vet someone’s beliefs for basic human decency before you have a recorded conversation with them? Without standards for others or yourself, you’ll say the n-word more than once on recordings which, for a mediocre white dude who can’t tell the difference between a White Supremacist Idea and an Actual Opposing Viewpoint, it is not a good move. When you don’t enforce the RISA framework in your conversations, especially those meant for public consumption, you’re creating a false reality that’s presented to the audience as a shared, factual reality. People are wired to listen to one another, to be able to trust those that they hear on TV or radio or now, podcasts. So when the people creating the content that the public is meant to hear don’t have a standard of reality or have to provide constant disclaimers to keep the audience from acting on false information, we end up with poisoned ideas. We end up thinking that, just because they have an ‘opposing’ viewpoint, Flat Earthers have as much credit to their argument as anyone who’s looked at a horizon, seen the parabola of the sun’s shadow, or had to calculate the curve of the Earth in planning a trajectory. Just because someone has a different perspective, it does not make that perspective worthwhile. When Joe Rogan doesn’t enforce standards of reality or fact-check the ideas of the person coming onto his show, he’s forcing his audience into a false reality, where this idea has as much merit as the factual reality that we all share. It’s a manipulation, masquerading as tolerance of the taboo.

On top of the false equivalences, plain misinformation is enough. Do you know how many guys I’ve had to teach the process of how vaccines are made? Enough where my teaching time needs to be compensated by Joe Rogan fucking directly, I deserved to go on a date- not give a free lecture on a topic that absolutely sucks. The reason I personally corrected these men is because the pandemic caused me to lose a huge sale related to the development of the vaccine. The group I was working with suddenly had to divert their funding from their business tech and usual yearly flu research to focusing entirely on developing the COVID vaccine. These scientists were already working on this research for years, it was just adapted for the present need. I was literally brought through the process that they had to go through, now that they had a public need and funding to pivot their focus and work. There were no scientific corners cut- they just finally had the money and the need they should have, without so much bureaucratic red tape. However the virus had started, whoever was to blame- I really didn’t care, as long as we as a country could respond. But we didn’t respond at all; our pandemic response infrastructure had been destroyed by D-Traitor Agent Orange and he needed to weaponize the right-wing media to cover up for his genocidal mistake. Cue Rogan. Joe Rogan is so stupid he lied to his followers about the vaccine multiple times (and has had to pay out in court more than once), and I really wonder how many people died because Joe Rogan didn’t have any oversight when it came to lying about a way to keep people safe in a dangerous situation. Where is the requirement of reality? Freedom of Speech does not protect causing panic when there is none (the old idea of shouting ‘fire’ in the theatre when there isn’t one- it’s not protected by free speech because you lied and it caused an emergency). People are dead because Joe Rogan scared them away from using the vaccine. All those families deserve compensation, as well as the women like me who are still trying to get through to dumb, poor men who turn to Rogan for any sort of social interaction.

And this is the part where I get so frustrated. Because I understand why so many guys in particular are drawn to Rogan- men don’t fucking talk to each other and any sort of conversation is better than none. My theory is that every male podcast, whether it’s those Neoliberal guys you love over at Pod Save America or you’re mainlining Tim Pool’s gross-as-hell horseshit, it's just them practicing having almost-human conversations. To me, it seems like they’re under the impression that everyone in the public has to hear every thought or conversation they ever have or it didn’t happen. Like a baby playing Peek-a-Boo- unless these guys get validation from a sizeable audience outside of themselves, they don’t think they exist anymore and just start screaming. Because something that women have developed over men, due to the shunning from public life that happens to all women basically after they turn 25, is the ability to know the difference between a private sphere conversation and a public one. See, Joe and all these other male podcasters are playing full matches or games at a professional level without fucking practicing properly a day in their private lives. Ideas need to be vetted, need to be tried- which is why I love that the guys who listen to podcasts are trying at all, it’s a good thing to want human connection. But we have to start holding public-facing conversations to a higher standard than what you can get away with talking to your friends. We all say annoying, horrible, mistaken, gossipy things. That’s human. What’s ridiculous is saying those things out in public and thinking you don’t deserve pushback- that what you said is more important than what reality and the shared community need and think in response. You can say whatever half-baked, unrehearsed things to your friends- and I wish you would! God, I wish all guys would just start talking to their guy friends more. You don't need to golf or drink- just pick up the phone, I'm serious. Practice small talk. Get to know what your friends' day-to-day life is like. Show some goddamn interest in people. DO NOT FUCKING RECORD IT. Because then, you’ll start to recognize what’s worth talking about in public- and what isn’t up to your personal or communal standards. But it takes practicing in hundreds of private conversations with friends and loved ones and people who know you and where you’re coming from emotionally without judging you before your ideas are really ready for public consumption by strangers.

Take the whole ‘Alpha Male’ bullshit. Any man who has ever talked about being an Alpha or aligns with that ideology is a complete dumbass, but it’s also not their fault- they got misinformed. The study that this idea came from was done on captive wolves, which means their behavior was closer to a population in prison, not the natural hierarchy wolves find in the wild. In the wild, the leaders of the pack are just the Mom & Dad. That’s it. There are usually extended family members in a pack and, when it’s time for their own families, younger wolves go and find mates to build their own packs. Some packs even join together as larger communities, when the hunting and space allows for that many wolves to work together. Even with this being the reality, so many guys still repeat that old viewpoint and try to destroy their lives to fit that false mold. They think they have to be cruel, and macho, and angry- they think they have to fight for everything and that they deserve to be punitive, dictatorial leaders simply because of gender and the violence they're willing and able to commit. It’s reductive. It reduces a person to less than an animal because it’s based on animal research that was incorrect. But with podcasters still allowed to pound their chests and repeat disproven or objectively false information, you’re going to keep seeing people act on these old, antagonistic behavior patterns- the brain can’t tell the difference between fiction and reality. So it takes the information given and creates habits and behaviors based on that information, and uprooting the old belief has to occur before a newer, healthier belief has space to grow. And after seeing how Bill O’Reilly and Tucker Carlson both fell from power as soon as they were de-platformed, I wonder if the same should be done for podcasters who keep lying to their audiences. It would at least stop the repetition of lies, leaving some room for repair and eventual growth.

Until then, I’ll just keep grabbing itemized instances for my receipts. I want to think of a fair price for Joe to pay to all of us who’ve been walking around, trying to clean up the shit he keeps slinging (and to stop his fanboys from continually hurling shit at us). And I think I’ve got it. If Joe doesn’t want to pay up, then I want Joe to set a public list of standards for his show and have a private conversation with all of his guests before the public version of the ideas. And if he can’t do that, I think every person who has had to either date, work with, or be in public with a Joe Rogan podcast fan deserves a cool million for their troubles and for the podcast to finally be fucking cancelled.


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