Jordan Peterson interview fallout: It’s little wonder men don’t know where they stand

Jordan Peterson interview fallout: It’s little wonder men don’t know where they stand, by Caroline Overington. Previous: see here, here, here and (video) here.

Peterson is a professor of psychology, previously at Harvard, now at the University of Toronto. He is 54, he has a gentle manner and — I hope it’s still OK to say this — he is easy on the eye.

Peterson’s latest book, his second, is called 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, but books aren’t why he’s getting attention. Peterson is famous for what he says on his YouTube channel, particularly about the role of men in modern society. He says men in the West are suffering a crisis of masculinity because they are encouraged from birth by an apologetic culture to believe that traditionally masculine qualities — strength, aggression, self-reliance — are negative and destructive, while feminine qualities — willingness to co-operate, for example — are the way forward for the human race.

This, he says, is so stupid “it’s hard to know where to begin”. Forcing men to become more agreeable, less competitive, will be the death of them, and all of us.

That’s not all he says. Peterson touches every button: he thinks social justice warriors are mostly faking it, and he can’t abide virtue-signallers. He thinks intellectuals are mainly arrogant.

He is not fond of humanities courses. He blames left-wing academics for the mumbo-jumbo that infects public life. He can’t see the point of women’s studies, and he believes that universities are obsessed not with “intelligent conversation … instead, we are having an ideological conversation”.

He’s also Christian. He takes seriously the idea that God made the rules and that human beings are programmed to feel wretched when they break them.

There is hunger for his message. Peterson’s YouTube channel has 600,000 subscribers. As of last week, he had 10 of the top 10 higher education podcasts on iTunes. He makes $40,000 a month from the crowdsourcing website Patreon and reckons his audience is 90 per cent male.

[Peterson’s book] is aimed at young men. He encourages them to free themselves, as quickly as possible, of the burdens of their childhood, to accept the failings of their parents, who probably did their best, and take control of their lives, because when you’re carrying a burden or living a lie, you’re suppressing who you really are, and so much of what you could be will never be forced to come forward.

Everyone’s favourite line has to do with how life is going to kill you, so you might as well go do the most magnificent thing you can think of.

Why any of this should be controversial is beyond me, but Peterson has faced the usual revolt: campaigns to stop him speaking publicly; campaigns to stop him getting university funding, and so on.

hat-tip Stephen Neil