I generally try to ignore Jordan Peterson. He appears in my Facebook and Twitter feeds now and then. But, I try to avoid reading about him. I know he appeals to all of the basest and worst instincts of humanity. Why would I need to know more?
Peterson stepped off the deep end a long time ago. Technically a clinical psychologist at the University of Toronto, he has long since branched out into misogyny and racism. He is a defender of manly men. One would think, from his public blathering, that Peterson kills and eats animals raw and his women are just that, his. Frankly, I don’t know if that’s how he actually does roll. Nor do I care.
But last week, Peterson was in Canada’s lesser-known and read national newspaper, The National Post, foaming at the mouth about the American Psychological Association’s new guidelines for treating men and boys. This is the first time the APA has issued guidelines for treating men and, of course, you’re noting right now that psychology cut its teeth normalizing the behaviour of (white) men. But these guidelines are focused on the pratfalls of masculinity in the early 21st century and, to a degree, toxic masculinity.
Toxic masculinity is the form of masculinity that is vicious, violent, and generally dangerous for all, including its practitioners. I grew up in a milieu of toxic masculinity. It means alcoholism, drug addiction and violence directed towards those weaker. This is not what masculinity is supposed to be, it is not how men are supposed to act in society.
So back to Peterson’s hissy fit in The National Post. Peterson argues that the APA’s guidelines are ‘an all-out assault on masculinity — or, to put it even more bluntly, on men.’ Indeed, men, gather your guns, we’re under attack!!!
He then goes on a rant denying scientific consensus about masculinity and gender roles. And then complains about what he sees as a war on traditional masculine roles and behaviours. Except, the thing is? No one really questions that part of masculinity. We question the assoholic behaviour of men and Peterson denies that being an asshole is damaging to men. The evidence, which he ignores, suggests otherwise, of course.
Next, he postulates about violence and notes that boys are indeed more likely to be violent than girls. He then does what he accuses the authors of the APA guidelines of doing: citing himself to prove his point. His point appears to be that violence is not a learned behaviour, but an innate one. But then he also notes that the boys who grow up to be violent come from fatherless families. He also claims that the experts have all agreed on this. I’m not a psychologist, but even a cursory glance at the literature suggests otherwise. But why would Peterson let facts get in the way of a good argument?
But all of this is just a precursor to his own favourite flogging horse: the idea that there is a war on Western society, that Western civilization is apparently seen ‘as an oppressive patriarchy: unfairly male-dominated, violent, racist, sexist, homo-, Islamo- and trans-phobic — and as uniquely reprehensible in all those regards.’ Oh brother. Here we go again.
This is lazy scholarship and rhetoric. This allows Peterson to claim that anything that he doesn’t like about the modern world is because we’re cannibalistic in the West, we like to eat our own. It means that it is easy for him to blame the feminists and their fellow travellers. No matter what the evidence is, it’s always this for him. He’s the intellectual equivalent of those pseudo-Christians in the US who complain about the ‘war on Christmas’ each each year and attack Starbucks for its holiday cups.
This is boring and Peterson is a bore. He long ago ceased to be an academic or even an intellectual or a thinker. Instead, he’s just an ideologue. Nothing more. He has no ideas, just rants, most of them incoherent or built on slippery and false logic.
Source: Matthew Barlow