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Learning to Appreciate All Women

Brianna Wu on politics, video games, boobs, and engaging with the other side

Brianna Wu is not someone I would have necessarily wanted to talk to 10 years ago. Not that I would have refused to be in the same room with her or anything, but I would have been skeptical that she had much interesting to say, and so hostile to her identity as a trans woman that I would have barely been able to get over it. I wouldn’t have even called her “her,” instead standing strong for the principle that there are two sexes god damnit and you can’t change yours or force me to say otherwise!

In the years since, I’ve come to take a more balanced perspective. Much on the right I’ve come to find distasteful. There’s of course the cruelty to animals and the desire to regulate some of the most intimate areas of life. But beyond that, there’s a general small mindedness and anti-intellectualism that I’ve come to loathe. This of course doesn’t mean that I’m on the left, as being pro-market remains central to my worldview, but I see factions and individual figures that I sympathize with on both sides. The freedom-totalitarian axis is not the same as right-left, and that is something that has become clear to me in recent years.

Brianna was someone I’d previously vaguely heard of as being part of the Gamergate controversy, probably responsible for us not being able to see boobs in video games anymore. Recently, I’d seen her on X making spirited defenses of Israel, and standing up to leftists more generally. We started talking and decided to do a podcast together. Along the way she assures me that no, she didn’t have a problem with women’s bodies, and even shares my sorrow at what they have done to the female characters in Mortal Kombat.

Over a wide-ranging conversation, we cover trans issues, public education, covid, the horseshoe of the far right and left sympathizing with enemies of the West, abortion, Trump as a threat to democracy, why progressives get Israel wrong, and of course Sydney Sweeney’s boobs. Some may be surprised to find out that Brianna rejects the idea of gender being on a spectrum, and to me this is the only way the concept of “being trans” can make any sense, since if there is no male or female essence in the first place, how can an individual say that they are trapped in the wrong body?

In a more meta sense, we discuss what it is like to always be challenging your own side and the need for more conversations across political and ideological lines. I ask Brianna why leftists are always trying to police who others engage with, something that conservatives, despite their other flaws, don’t do. See here for a very well crafted troll of her haters.

I used to cringe at those who argue that our problems could all be solved if we simply talked to one another. But given how little open-minded discourse between conservatives and liberals there is now, we’re probably well below the optimal amount. Hopefully people will learn something from this discussion, and it can be a model for others on how to engage with those they disagree with.

All that being said, given what is in the news and the fact that we were getting along so well, looking back I feel that I tended to steer things towards the places where we are on the same page, like Israel, Trump, and Sydney Sweeney. When she told me that her favorite politician is Elizabeth Warren, that’s perhaps something that I should have explored a little bit more. We talked a little about public education, and Brianna seemed to end up agreeing with me that people should have more choices, and I granted to her that I’m open to direct redistribution for some small part of the population. We reached bipartisan consensus! Nonetheless, we could have explored actual disagreements more, and I’m sure we will in future conversations.

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Discussion of politics and current events, with a special focus on the 2024 election.