Why Would Billionaire Thiel Care How And When Women Ovulate?
This week, your freakshow will not go down to the dirty tent but uphill, to a carbon fiber cage designed on the principles of Japanese minimalism. Here, female ushers, mute and sleek, pad around in black bearing trays of sushi. The creature on display in the corner is a little shy, very rich, and extremely dangerous in the litigious sense. So we’ll just stand at the door and try not to disturb him too much, while he concentrates on ways to use his money to transform America into a 21st Century model of medieval autocracy.
Peter Thiel, billionaire venture capitalist and co-founder of PayPal, is one of the more politically active members of the so-called Pay pal Mafia, the dozen or so men who got filthy rich off some of the major apps. Now he’s using some of his pelf to help American women adjust to their new handmaiden status.
In the publishing world, Thiel is regarded as particularly terrifying for having destroyed an entire media company in a fit of spite because it outed him as gay. He covertly financed a lawsuit (not his own) that bankrupted Gawker Media.
Thiel is now fully out of the closet, having proclaimed his sexual orientation to the MAGA rabble at Trump’s Cleveland nominating convention in 2016, to, it must be said, tepid applause. He is married to a man with whom he shares some children.
One fascinating facet of his freakishness is the disconnect between his private life and his support for the political movement that just engineered the legalization of discrimination against gay people. Of course, unlike most gay Americans, Thiel’s fortune ensures he has a legion of minions to pick up takeout from enterprises that now can legally refuse to serve him.
Thiel was born in Germany in 1967, to conservative Evangelical Christian parents (according to his biographer - he has denied their political leanings). He first came to the United States as an infant, then, like fellow PayPal mafioso Elon Musk, lived in South Africa, where his dad developed a uranium mine. The family moved back to California in the 1980s, where Thiel went to high school and college. At Stanford, he distinguished himself advocating what at the time looked like insanely out of step political philosophy, especially regarding women. In 2009, Thiel wrote that the extension of the vote to women in the 1920s “rendered the notion of ‘capitalist democracy’ an oxymoron.”
Now that philosophy has leaked into the mainstream. Even if it hadn’t, Thiel has enough money and power to ensure we don’t laugh at nutty regressive ideas anymore.
As American women endure forced pregnancies under the Dobbs ruling - achieved arguably thanks to financiers like him who put Trump in power - Thiel is now dabbling in women’s “health care” and women’s media.
He runs three hedge funds, a giant crypto-surveillance enterprise that works with the Defense Department, and has poured seed money into a variety of ventures including a weird medical enterprise experimenting with juvenile blood plasma to reverse aging. But now he has poured $200 million into Recharge Capital, a fund that seeks “investment and roll-up opportunities in the women’s fertility value chain across Southeast Asia, Latin America, Europe, and the Middle East” with a focus on international fertility tourism and “menstrual wellness.”
These clinics will not, of course, replace Planned Parenthood, which for decades provided legal abortions and desperately needed low-cost contraception to millions of women. Planned Parenthood is gutted by Dobbs and before that years of right wing assaults - both physical and financial. PP clinics are increasingly replaced in major American cities across the country with weird “pregnancy centers” that at best push junk science about the dangers of hormonal birth control and at worst, endanger women whose problem pregnancies can kill them.
It’s no exaggeration to point out that political extremism has shoved American women, medically, back into the Stone Age. Now, in that vacuum of decent women’s health care, Thiel and his ilk see financial opportunity.
Thiel is also bankrolling other efforts to, what I would call pink up American women, get ‘em back in line with lollipops, cheerleader skirts, and ponytails, including an online magazine aimed at cuteservative women called Evie, that pushes junk science about contraception, along with tips for how women can embrace their biological differences from men -- which apparently include rejecting employment, self reliance, and taking advantage of technology and medical advances that enable reproductive choice.
Thiel is also financing the 28 app, a period tracking application.The magazine encourages women to manipulate their periods and control fertility through exercise, diet, and tracking.
Now, all this begs a question: Why does a gay man care about how and when women use birth control? Thiel's regressive notions about women belong to a larger trend on the upswing in our society that is as old as the patriarchy itself: the enduring obsession with the procreative power of women and the need to control it.
Real women are supposed to know their place in the patriarchy, including trusting nature over technology when it comes to their bodies.
Right-wing women often repeat the lie that feminists hate themselves or hate men, and that feminism forced women to deny their maternal instincts. In fact, feminism merely suggested that women have a choice. That choice, of course, has been ripped out at the root by Dobbs and any vestige of it eradicated if hormonal birth control can be discouraged or, incredible as it may seem, outlawed by extremist judges.
Thiel’s interest in women’s health care also belongs to a movement in Silicon Valley sometimes called Pronatalism. This Cult of Breeding glorifies traditional gender roles and is practically Mormon in effect: De facto practitioner Elon Musk, for example, has spawned ten children with three different women and he’s barely 50.
At its creepy core, pronatalism aims to breed more "master race" babies from the sperm of the supposed geniuses who happened to be standing nearby with math degrees when Steve Jobs invented the iPhone.
Pronatalism and its insistence on women’s position way down the hierarchy is part of an intellectual movement related to Catholic extremism, toward hierarchy and autocracy being seriously promoted within certain intellectual circles.
The “common good” constitutional law theory proposes a return to something like monarchy and it isn’t a notion emanating from the kooks at Claremont, but from legal scholar Cornelius Adrian Comstock Vermeule at Harvard’s “Center for Human Flourishing.” The center is financed by the right-wing Templeton Foundation.
Like Vermeule, most of the thinkers in this space either advance or admire medieval Catholic extremist positions. Some of these “tradCaths” not only support autocratic leadership but also advocate physical punishment of women who dare to try to control their own destinies. If you want to burn out your eyeballs on Opus Dei doctrine, check out platforms like the Josias Blog and Notre Dame’s blog.
Be warned: These guys love Latin.
Thiel is also involved with, and possibly financing a pair of fascist-adjacent female podcasters. The droll, downtown hipster girls on Red Scare giggle over racist memes, and worship and often quote Thiel’s political philosopher Curtis Yarvin (google his nom de guerre Mencius Moldbug if you want to know more about this freak).
The girls (one of whom identifies as a “tradcath”) recently suggested on one episode that menstruating women be barred from going to work during their periods. They are not alone in advancing the notion that women get back in the kitchen and bedroom. The hard right now seriously advocates that women shouldn’t work at all. “Women are at the vanguard of perverting the medical profession by advocating the teaching of woke ideologies in medical schools, placing these ideologies on an equal footing with medical education,” influencer Dennis Prager opined in a column headlined “Women are Disproportionately Hurting Our Country.”
This truly bizarre, antediluvian, anti-feminist ideology has a hold on 21st Century America. Why? It is part of the extreme backlash against women’s gains achieved over the last generation. The invention of the hormonal birth control pill (and newer better versions in the form of implants) broke down the biological prison walls in which our foremothers existed since the species evolved.
You don’t get away that easily, women.
Nina Burleigh is a a journalist, author, documentary producer, and publisher ofAmerican Political Freakshow, a Substack on politics. Her journalism has been published in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Airmail, and New York. She is the author of seven books including most recently Virus: Vaccinations, the CDC, and the Hijacking of America's Response to the Pandemic and an adjunct professor at New York University's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute.
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