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Women already have a Jordan Peterson The eccentric philosopher of male supremacy is fulfilling a rather basic role

Motherly: Jordan Peterson. Credit: Don Arnold/WireImage

Motherly: Jordan Peterson. Credit: Don Arnold/WireImage


December 10, 2020   5 mins

For all that he’s regarded in some quarters as the house philosopher of male supremacy, Jordan Peterson is quite a vulnerable figure —and admirably honest about that vulnerability in talking about his depression, his feelings of powerlessness, his care for his daughter. He’s translated that honesty into a public persona that reaches directly to thousands upon thousands of young men (the female Peterson fan is not unheard of, but she’s unusual) and helped them articulate their own dissatisfactions with the kinds of masculinity on offer.

This following has made him into a global superstar psychologist and theologian. There’s no one else quite like him — some people have even started wondering why he doesn’t have a female equivalent. This singularity is a lot for any one man to carry without some weirdness getting in, and now Peterson is on the cusp of a comeback, with a new book on its way, it seems like a good time to reckon with just how weird things have got.

There’s the all-beef diet, developed by his daughter and then adopted by him, with enthusiastic testimony about its cure-all powers. Then there is the claim he was once kept awake for 25 days by accidentally consuming some vinegar (a sad downside, apparently, of the all-beef diet). More troublingly, there are the eight days he spent in a medically-induced coma in Russia earlier this year to treat a “physical dependence” on tranquilisers.

More curious is the fact that he became the world’s most significant public intellectual, having published precisely one academic book 18 years ago — a book which contains more pictures of dragons than legible sentences. (I’m not joking about the dragons.) In this book (Maps of Meaning) he describes going to a maximum security prison dressed in “long wool cape, circa 1890, which I had bought in Portugal, and a pair of tall leather boots”. Unsurprisingly, the get-up attracts attention, and Peterson finds himself “surrounded by shoddy men, some of whom were extremely large and tough-looking”.

Extraordinarily, he has ascended to the position of the liberal Left’s number one enemy. When Penguin announced that it would be publishing a sequel to his wildly successful 2018 self-help manual Twelve Rules for Life (to be called Beyond Order: Twelve More Rules for Life), some members of staff were so distraught that they cried.

Even weirder, the staff seemed to think that leaking this information would be persuasive. (Peterson’s own position on crying, from Twelve Rules, is this: “Anger-crying is often an act of dominance, and should be dealt with as such.”) But that’s still not the weirdest thing. Is it that people think he’s not just “an icon of hate speech” but also stupid? He might seem absurd; but he’s not stupid.

Watching Cathy Newman interview him for Channel 4 news is like watching someone show up to a knife fight with a pair of safety scissors: the more she tries to rattle him, the more rattled she looks, and all her efforts to get him to confess that he is in fact a massive sexist are easy for him to skirt around. Who you think wins depends greatly on who you agreed with at the start, but there’s no Frost/Nixon killer blow here.

Peterson’s prominence — both as hero and villain — is unusual, but not difficult to account for. People of all political persuasions need him, whether they’re looking to him as the unflappable gladiator squaring up to postmodernist corruption, or anointing him the avatar of the basest reactionary tendencies. So while there are surprising aspects to his celebrity and his notoriety, we’re still in the realm of the explicable rather than the strictly weird.

No, the weirdest thing about Jordan Peterson is that he is actually a woman. Obviously I don’t mean he’s a woman in the literal sense of being female, and nor do I think that he has some kind of feminine essence waiting to be uncovered. In fact, one of the things that made Peterson famous was his stand against enshrining gender identity in Canadian law, a legal change which he said could be responded to in two ways: “One is silent slavery with all the repression and resentment that that will generate, and the other is outright conflict. Free speech is not just another value. It’s the foundation of Western civilization.”

This is a typical bit of Peterson rhetoric. What he’s actually saying here is that he’s going to continue perceiving — and probably referring — to people as male or female, depending on how they appear to him. This is a banal pronouncement, even if present conditions make it an inflammatory one, but he leaps into the register of high drama: “Silent slavery”; “foundation of Western civilization.” It’s the linguistic equivalent of wearing a Victorian cape on a prison visit, and I’ll leave you to decide whether that counts as bathos or as camp.

The same jolts of tone are everywhere in Twelve Rules. Its lessons are fundamentally prosaic ones about self-reliance and social integration: Peterson boils them down at one point to “adopt as much responsibility as possible for ourselves, society and the world”, which I’m sure I’ve also read on the label of some hemp soap I bought once. A life lived by the Peterson precepts might be one in which you think about your health, keep your home tidy and maybe get involved in local politics or do some volunteer conservation. At bottom, what he’s recommending is basic good citizenship.

But in order to recommend it, he uses the language of existential struggle. This isn’t just about leading a decent, balanced life: it’s about “shoulder[ing] the burden of Being” and “tak[ing] the heroic path”. It’s not just tidying up, it’s applying the force of Order (personified as “the Wise King and Tyrant, forever bound together, as society is simultaneously structure and oppression”) against the terrifying swarm of Chaos (defined as “the new and unpredictable emerging suddenly in the midst of the commonplace familiar” and represented by “Mother Nature”).

Oh yes, and order is “masculine” (“symbolically”, he hedges, unconvincingly), while chaos is “presented imaginatively as feminine”. There isn’t, it should be noted, any particular reason for this gendering: it’s just the way Peterson has decided things should be. And even though he claims to be seeking a “balance” of these two principles, it’s hard to get around the fact that the book is subtitled An Antidote to Chaos. I mean, no one ever recommended an antidote to something they thought was good.

This is where — however much he might pirouette around it — the sexism of Peterson’s worldview comes through, because if men are order and women are chaos, and order needs to dominate chaos, there’s a pretty obvious conclusion for sexual politics. When he really gets into his stride, you’ll find him describing “the terror young men feel towards attractive women, who are nature itself,” which I guess means that if you’re a woman and he thinks you’re fit, you might as well be soil, so who knows what’s a compliment anymore.

For some of Peterson’s fanbase, the sexism is surely the point. But I wonder whether there are others for whom this relentless assertion of masculine authority (bathos or camp? You decide) is more condiment than main dish, making palatable the fact that Peterson is actually quite a feminised figure. Think about it: who else can fill stadiums by telling people to sort out their drawers or learn self-respect? Who else shills eating plans? Peterson doesn’t have an obvious female counterpart because there are so many of them that none could gain his preeminence: Oprah, Gwyneth, Marie Kondo. Being a lifestyle guru is woman’s work, even if you are a man and you throw around some gratuitous Jung.

Young men don’t want to hear “tidy your room and grow up and how will you ever get a nice girlfriend if you slouch around like that?” from their mothers, but they’ll pay to take it from Peterson — so long as he wraps it in some just-so stories about lobster hierarchy. His insistence on “taking responsibility” reminds me of nothing so much as me going Full Matriarch and chasing some teenagers down a tram stop, waving the litter they’d dropped. For his fans, Jordan Peterson is their mum: she might have some odd beliefs and go in for faddy diets, but at bottom, doesn’t she just love them and want what’s best for them.


Sarah Ditum is a columnist, critic and feature writer.

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Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago

now you’re just making things up. At no point has he ever claimed “male superiority,” whatever that is. It’s amazing how a guy can have a YouTube channel full of classroom lectures, the 12 Rules book, a host of interviews that can be seen online, yet there are those who say “ignore the words you hear, THIS is what he really means.”

This was like reading the Newman interview, whose lasting mark is her continually repeating “so what you’re really saying is….” No what he’s really saying is what he just said.

Pete Kreff
Pete Kreff
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Well said.

Alex Wilkinson
Alex Wilkinson
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

So what you’re saying is…

men are order and women are chaos

Pathetic isn’t it?

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Wilkinson

I wish I had counted from the start of this interview how often she said, ‘So what you’re saying is . . . ‘ and she was wrong nearly every time!

deehaich
deehaich
3 years ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

No, EVERY time…

Michael Johnston
Michael Johnston
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Wilkinson

Yes, Ditum has a very superficial understanding of Peterson’s views on order and chaos. He has said, many times, that when order dominates chaos, the result is tyranny whereas when chaos dominates order, nothing works. Hence the need for an eternal and productive tension between the two.

David Morley
David Morley
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Wilkinson

I know – so how come women are so obsessed with tidying up all the time? 😉

clements.jb
clements.jb
3 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

Perhaps because they are married to men who haven’t internalised the “clean your room” message JP is delivering?

Last edited 3 years ago by clements.jb
Howard Ahmanson
Howard Ahmanson
12 days ago
Reply to  Alex Wilkinson

If you saw how my wife reacts to my personal spaces, you’ll realize the exact opposite is true.

Sarah Packman
Sarah Packman
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

We all see and hear through a lens.

I’m not challenging your assessment of the Newman interview; it was a train wreck.
But ‘one outclassed interviewer doth butter no parsnips’ as they say. I’ve seen him challenged more effectively elsewhere.

I like his lectures and I read his books but I do think he’s chauvinistic / traditional in his views on gender (male / female). He does an amazing job of skating very close to the edge and I’d love to have a debate with him just to see whether he’s owning his ‘truth’ or whether he’s making his views palatable to the progressive atmosphere we find ourselves in!

I don’t care if he’s a chauvinist or a traditionalist (chose your benevolent adjective), because how can we have a debate without different perspectives? The implied sexism of some of his statements doesn’t make me reject everything he has to say…he’s a clever bloke and has some good insights. His perspectives on Socialism has changed my world view and I will be forever grateful.

I do think he owes us his ‘truth’ if only because he bangs on about it so much! I’m not completely convinced that we’ve heard it yet though …!

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
3 years ago
Reply to  Sarah Packman

If you wanted to know what the real JP is like, it would be more illuminating to have a chat with his wife and daughter. Quite probably he is a bit traditional in his thinking. That doesn’t explain though why he provokes so fierce a reaction in people who are happy to ignore the honour killings and FGM occurring in their country.

Sarah Packman
Sarah Packman
3 years ago

Hmm. Men through the ages have dragged their compliant wifeys out of the kitchen to advocate that women shouldn’t be allowed to vote / work / own property etc. That doesn’t mean that they prove a point or that they know ‘what all women want’ – they marry these men because their values align or they are suffering from patriarchal Stockholm Syndrome. Women conditioned to accept the burka will also advocate it. It’s a weak argument. I would expect no other reaction from his wife and daughter than glowing accolades about his respect for women. He’s a nice bloke. Doesn’t prove a thing.

But I completely agree…. the lefty-loons throw the baby out with the bathwater when they reject Peterson. I think we should be wary of his cult following amongst some men as well though – my worry is that they hero worship him for what he implies, as much as for what he honestly states. His book 12 Rules if full of chauvinistic ‘innuendo’…that’s just a fact. I don’t think any interviewer has successfully dug into that… partly because the man is an absolute genius when it comes to debate.

I’m still left wondering if he’d like me as much in a trouser suit running my own company, as in a pretty floral dress baking cakes? This is important because I suck at baking cakes and I prefer wearing trousers ;/

jeebs.mcgee
jeebs.mcgee
3 years ago
Reply to  Sarah Packman

His arguments are based on generalities, not on individuals. He’s always said that individuals can do whatever they want including transition. He calls people by their preferred pronouns but he doesn’t believe the government has the right to force compelled speech for any reason. also he points out that no man had the right to vote until just a couple hundred years ago. As well humanity has lived in abject poverty for all of human history except for the last couple hundred years. And that neither sex could survive on their own and had to work together to survive in such brutal conditions. Also how is it that men have any privilege when for all of history they are 90% of all violent crime victims as well as 99% victims of all war death and maiming. Doesn’t sound like privilege to me. I will also note here that men make up 40% of all violent sexual crime victims and when you include the prisons in that number they make up more than half. Not to mention men are way less likely to admit to being sexually assaulted. So it’s actually very likely they make up an even higher percentage. These are all USA-based statistics from the FBI crime tracking database.

bcfitzpatrickbcf
bcfitzpatrickbcf
3 years ago
Reply to  jeebs.mcgee

But its not women raping or murdering men its other men

Naga Choegyal
Naga Choegyal
3 years ago

That wouldn’t have nothing to do with unskilful and inadequate mothers’ contribution to the seemingly eternal war of the sexes would it?
We are here dealing with a very shallow view of something called ‘depth’ psychology; when we look across the surface of a calm body of water we tend to see only reflections. In order to experience the reality of the teeming depths of the ocean we have to plunge below the surface.
In order to navigate these deeps of the unconscious we need a good scuba set of Jungian principles along with the other significant psychologists as well as a certain level of self awareness and an objective appreciation of one’s own preconceptions, prejudice and ignorance.

Blue Tev
Blue Tev
3 years ago

And it’s not women joining the police or army to stop the small minority if criminal men, it’s predominantly men.Funny though how less palatable the regularly used line above becomes if you replace “men” with “black men” (far more likely to rape than average men) or “muslim men” (pretty much the only group that does mass scale rape gangs in the UK)

John Jones
John Jones
3 years ago

Sorry, but That’s irrelevant. The men being attacked are just as much victims as the women. Just because they may be attacked by other men isn’t some kind of justification. That’s victim blaming.

Nor is it true that women don’t rape or murder men. Over 400 women have been convicted in the States for the sexual abuse of young boys in the school system alone. Women also instigate 50% of domestic violence, and 38% of victims are men.

donnaknudson67
donnaknudson67
3 years ago

It’s also not women doing the most dangerous (but very necessary) and dirty jobs. It’s also not women putting themselves in harm’s way and even willing to loose their very lives in order to protect those less physically strong than they are.

And why does no one talk about toxic femininity? It was not the boys who surrounded me in a circle when I was 8, each one in turn pointing out a particular thing about me that was “soo wieerd”, all of them agreeing with each other. It is not boys who engage in all manner of social drama and constantly changing alliances. Boys just got into a fight and by that things are settled, sometimes even ending up friends. Simple and uncomplicated.
If a woman falsely accuses a man of rape (and believe me, to my shock and disbelief, I have found out there are women who do that) his whole life is affected, even ruined, even if he is found innocent, because even then there will always be doubt in people’s minds.
Women have also been known to deliberately use their emotions (not to be confused with genuine crying) or their sexuality to manipulate people, particularly men.
There is a lot more I could say about examples of toxic femininity. But I hope you get the idea that women are not superior to men and that men are not the only ones who can be “toxic”.

djohnsonpsy
djohnsonpsy
3 years ago
Reply to  Sarah Packman

Yes, as recently as the 50’s & 60’s (as my Mother had said) Women had very little to no Choice, or Voice in this World/Country… One got married and had children, even if that was the last thing they wanted.
How Terrible for my Mother’s generation. My Mom is 91, with a better memory than me! She went further and stated that “they” [Men AND Other Women] actually seemed to have a way of making (at least) most women ‘believe’ that marriage and kids were what All (normal) women wanted. And, Who wants to be abnormal? Right?” She added, “Thank Goodness THAT ended.”

I asked her if SHE wanted marriage and kids, Truly? She was honest and said “Honey, I Iove You Kids, and my Grandchildren, etc., but no, I wanted to go on after College and pursue a career and Graduate study in Journalism.” I said ‘I’m sorry that you didn’t get to do those things Mom, but I’m really glad that You’re my Mom…’ She smiled a d said “Ditto, Honey, Ditto!”
~Best, Dr. J.

djohnsonpsy
djohnsonpsy
3 years ago
Reply to  djohnsonpsy

P.S. When I explained to her that ‘Men are Order & Women are Chaos, etc.’ She responded with “Right David, Right… And, That’s What I used to say to your Father, A Lot!”
LU Mom!

andrewbatchelor1252
andrewbatchelor1252
3 years ago
Reply to  djohnsonpsy

Every day at 6am my dad wakes to walk his dogs down the same path, at 7:15 he comes home to give them both a treat and then starts his day. At 4pm he takes a shower and at 6 eats dinner. Is in bed by 8pm and asleep by 10. My mother on the other hand will decide to take a road trip on a whim and drag him along because she wants to. Growing up it was her who made the spontaneous trips or bought something big for fun. It would always fluster my dad to have his routine disrupted which was rather funny. Thats how I view the whole order and chaos.

madhatterfoxylady
madhatterfoxylady
3 years ago

You had a balanced upbringing….morals & values for you as an individual to follow …taking from each…..you were/are a very privileged person (nothing to do with race…. there’s only one race … humanity)….my parents were very similar…I really miss their wisdom….but feel their presence almost guiding me still…one loveðƾℱ

Blue Tev
Blue Tev
3 years ago
Reply to  djohnsonpsy

Strange how the moms and grandmoms never dreamt of working in a mine, or the drudgery of a factory, or spend months in a damp trench before being shot down by machine guns.

You know, all the stuff the dads and Granddads were expected to do, and nobody asked them if they would have preferred to stay and home with their families

Natasha Felicia
Natasha Felicia
2 years ago
Reply to  Blue Tev

Let’s not forget there is never any choice about who gets to grow babies, get them out of our bodies safely and then feed them from our own bodies; following natures schedule it would be an average of two years of breastfeeding each child. I am very grateful that men do so much work protecting us all. Its just that these sex based differences make both sexes heroic. Statistics have shown for example that women are much more successful at keeping newborns and small children safe, so we all do our part in the reproduction and survival of humanity.

Jim Packingham
Jim Packingham
3 years ago
Reply to  Sarah Packman

Is it possible that the ideals in the book appear to be chauvinistic only because he’s a man? (Because They are not gender exclusive and it’s never expressed that this is only a set of ideas that will only help men) I’ve read the book a few times through (book club) and it just doesn’t trigger a bit of worry (for me) as to any sort of exclusive malevolence about or toward one sex or another.

I do think it’s difficult to just read his book though and not have a deeper knowledge of his body of work…if people do that they generally end up (not unlike the author of this piece) characterizing him as some sort of misogynist…which is pretty much (as far as we know from his lectures and writings and Q n A’s basically his public persona) not true…if anything he’s showing both sexes (all sexes really) how to navigate life in general (against both excessive order and excessive chaos) and gives equal blame to all who shrug their responsibilities.

Gerard Rodgers
Gerard Rodgers
3 years ago
Reply to  Jim Packingham

basing knowledge on archetypes I find this a very truncated reading of how dominant themes in western civilisation plays out. At best its socially weightless but a super coherent story to read. He continues the reductionism in a different way through the first 12 Rules. Again a very good read. Easy to read and seductive. Truncation is seductive and so is ideology which he rails against a good bit. Not sure I understand how he rails against ideology as much as he does. Firstly, I think he doesn’t believe his fairly precise argumentative style comes loaded with any ideology and to me if this charge holds up, and not that I am against ideology, how could anyone flatly reject ideology – what would we be left with exactly – I would say we would be rudderless without the ideations that permeate and are enacted in our personality styles. More recently his turn to neuroscience as a way of grasping social stratification is wrong-headed. Way too much leveraged in that tight formulation.

Ruth Lansdell
Ruth Lansdell
3 years ago
Reply to  Jim Packingham

I agree. Let’s face it, anyone who disagrees with even a tiny part of the total logic failure that characterizes modern feminism is branded a misogynist. If you’re a woman like I am who has dissenting views, the feminists claim that you’ve internalised this misogyny. It’s a closed loop. In my experience they don’t much like the idea of free speech when challenged and like to resort to ad hominim arguments when you disagree with them. They can’t see any sensible discussions through because so many of their points their points can’t be substantiated. It’s no wonder that JP has such a following because his very reasonable points are branded “controversial” purely because they question feminist thought. I feel JP’s lectures and writing have far more to offer both men and women than Ditum selectively describes and that it’s sad that they willfully misinterpret them as misogynist just because they challenge feminist “logic”.

Claire D
Claire D
3 years ago
Reply to  Ruth Lansdell

Well said Ruth, thank you.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
3 years ago
Reply to  Ruth Lansdell

“Total Logic Failure” TLF. Excellent.
I will remember that phrase for future use when I engage in critique of social justice assertions.

Stuart Bennett
Stuart Bennett
3 years ago
Reply to  Sarah Packman

In his book and in several podcast discussion he explains how some of the work in his clinical practise has been dedicated to helping high tier professional women to maximise their success in the business world. I would therefore contribute that he would be very happy for you and wish you the highest level of success you were able to achieve based on your abilities.

Blue Tev
Blue Tev
3 years ago
Reply to  Sarah Packman

The last line sums up women’s “equality”
It’s all about being liked, or “running your own company”
99.99% of men don’t run companies. They earn a living, mostly under tough circumstances, to support their families.

Strangely enough, haven’t come across too many professional, college educated women who come out of college and marry a man with no income or degree.

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
3 years ago
Reply to  Sarah Packman

It’s curious how you expect to be able to penetrate the facade of a man who is ‘an absolute genius when it comes to debate’, but feel incapable of telling whether his wife’s and daughter’s glowing accolades are sincerely meant. Perhaps it’s because you have no interest in trying. You prefer to adopt the posture of a Witchfinder General. If wife and daughter say that Peterson is a monster you will believe them; if they say that he is the kindest man they know, you won’t believe a word of it.

‘His book 12 Rules if full of chauvinistic ‘innuendo’…that’s just a fact.’ No, it’s not a fact , it’s your subjective interpretation.

Jacquie
Jacquie
3 years ago
Reply to  Sarah Packman

Sarah, you are so condescending – patriarchal Stockholm Syndrome *scoff*. Apparently you don’t know what ‘all women want’ either. As it turns out, I am the traditional one in my marriage, and my husband does whatever he thinks will make his goddess of a wife happy.

There is a natural order to things and it has ever been thus, no matter how much we like to pontificate on how it should work in our estimations. There is a natural order, based on sex, the having of a womb that can support life, breasts that can produce nourishment for offspring, hormones that regulate the cycles responsible for this process. It’s called being a woman. You cannot escape biology – at least not until such time that we grow offspring in amniotic tanks rather than how nature intended.

Could women have been treated better over the ages? Well duh! He isn’t talking about other cultures than what is generally referred to as those with ‘western values’. Conflating Islamic culture with Western culture is disingenuous. He is talking about where we are now, on this day, in the West. Not about what others might do in their more archaic cultures.

Point to one place in 12 Rules where he uses the chauvinistic ‘inuendo’ to which you refer. Seems to me that you are writing your own inadequacies and fears into what he says, just like the author of this piece.

What he says doesn’t diminish me at all because I am confident in and love my role as a traditional woman and wife. That you refer to other women as ‘wifey’ is telling. It is kind of like what people do with Trump supporters or Brexit voters … well you must not be very bright if …

To suggest that his wife an daughter are ‘conditioned’ is grotesque. What would you say about me then? Doesn’t quite fit your stereotype, does it? Aah, always the unicorn.

allthingscandid
allthingscandid
3 years ago
Reply to  Sarah Packman

Your supposed interchangeability between the terms “chauvinistic” and “traditional” shows your lack of understanding, or at least nuance, to the many varieties of what it means to be “traditional”. I have not, as of yet, seen any evidence that he is chauvinistic in any way shape or form, but he does seem to be traditional in many ways. And traditional is a beautiful thing when the traditions are beautiful, as many traditions most certainly are. I think you need some reflection and historical study in what it actually means to be traditional, and whether or not you can just flippantly write it off as an outdated mode of existence surpassed by our modern philosophical brilliance (read arrogance).

Jacquie
Jacquie
3 years ago

@unherdlimited-d166d6ef19f213edeece16fd1f0db8be:disqus I agree with Ray. You seem to think that ‘traditional’ is by default chauvinistic, and I beg to differ. I am a thoroughly modern, uni educated, secular woman and couldn’t be more traditional.

You are indeed flippant in your dismissal of ‘traditional’ values. Just because some traditions have rightfully been turfed out, doesn’t mean that traditionalism in the round should be. And that is why I ‘get’ Peterson and don’t find him chauvinistic at all.

Most of the ills in society these days stem from progressive attitudes that loudly and flippantly shout down traditions that actually brought some stability to our societies. Like the ‘stay-at-home-mum. Progressivism and feminism have sidelined and devalued what many women still find meaningful. All kinds of research has shown that children with SAHMs have better outcomes, but that natural work of women (and yes I did just say that) has been made into a dirty word by progressives and feminists.

Traditional roles for men and women are still a thing, and people dislike Peterson for pointing out what to normal, rational people is blatantly self-evident. It smacks of the Emperor’s New Clothes.

M Mouse
M Mouse
3 years ago
Reply to  Sarah Packman

For my 2p worth: JP is laughably out of date. I thought it was a spoof podcast I was listening to.It seems to me that he has largely brought ‘insight’ to people who are new to the self-help and how the mind works scene.Spend your time on Stephen Covey, Daniel Kahneman, Bene Brown, Malcolm Gladwell (deliberately given popular authors). Even popular weekly magazines on the shelf at Tesco will offer better insight and understanding, and they won’t deliberately obfuscate – unlike JP.Sure, it’s great that masses of young men are now tapping into self awareness and reflection. Can only hope that they will grow and move on from JP.

Andrew Butler
Andrew Butler
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Exactly right!

Simon Cooper
Simon Cooper
3 years ago

I can only assume you haven’t watched the whole Peterson Newman interview if you don’t think there was a clear winner or killer blow. Unless the purpose of interviewing is to purposefully misinterpreted what someone says and then get flummoxed when their explanation of what they actually do literally leaves you with no more misconceived preconceptions or misinterpretations. ‘Gotcha’

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
3 years ago
Reply to  Simon Cooper

Quite. I was only vaguely aware of Peterson before that interview – and most of what I heard was negative hearsay. I was actually fairly keen on Cathy Newman as a reporter.

The interview was an utter embarrassment for Newman. She is now far more famous than she ever was and not in a good way – entirely off the back of that.

Lou Campbell
Lou Campbell
3 years ago
Reply to  Simon Cooper

She was absolutely awful! I went and checked out the interview on YouTube. Had to stop listening halfway through because it was getting ridiculous”Š She was like a caricature of a gotcha interviewer. So disappointing.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Lou Campbell

I thought at any moment she was going to break out with “so what you’re really saying is that the Queen is just an old tart???”

Mike Hearn
Mike Hearn
3 years ago
Reply to  Lou Campbell

If you stopped half way through you missed the best bits!

xnicoleekanee
xnicoleekanee
3 years ago
Reply to  Simon Cooper

Exactly!! Maybe they didn’t understand what Jordan was actually saying in the interview. That’s the only way they could ever believe Cathy won.

Mike Hearn
Mike Hearn
3 years ago
Reply to  Simon Cooper

An interview in which the interviewer ends up saying to a clinical psychologist, without irony or sarcasm, “let me get this straight – you’re saying we should organise our society along the lines of the lobsters?”

I mean there wasn’t even a killer blow in that interview it’s true, that implies some sort of lawyerly debate. It was more like watching someone on drugs drop hammers on their own feet constantly for 30 minutes.

The article is pretty decent, at least I learned some things reading it, but that particular line claiming Newman vs Peterson was some kind of ambiguous draw is just totally out of whack. Is the author a fellow traveller, perhaps? I still don’t understand why C4 put that video online unless somehow Peterson got them to sign a contract requiring it, as it made their entire news operation look like it was run by 15 year olds.

Lynwen Brown
Lynwen Brown
3 years ago

The return of Peterson also unhappily means dishonest writers churning out more idiotic articles misinterpreting him and his ideas. I wonder if Sarah Ditum has even read 12 Rules for Life. Peterson explains early on in the book that the representation of order and chaos as male and female is ancient and from Taoist philosophy. The symbol of Yin and Yang is a representation of two interlocked dragons, one black, female, chaos, the other white, male, order, each with an opposing dot for an eye, representing the possibility of transformation, a declaration that nothing is so certain that it cannot change. Nothing maybe other than the dull ideologically addled minds of activist journalists.

Chris Stevenson
Chris Stevenson
3 years ago
Reply to  Lynwen Brown

You beat me to it. Was going to say the same. Peterson does not suggest as the author claims that Order should dominate Chaos, but that there needs to be a balance between Order and Chaos. And that is the best place to be.

Jonathan Patrick
Jonathan Patrick
3 years ago

The subtitle “an antidote to chaos” is there because Peterson believes that in our present times chaos is dominanting order not the other way around. Other times may suffer the opposite malady.

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
3 years ago

….hmmmm. So no human wisdom from the Tao at all then Sarah?

Sarah Packman
Sarah Packman
3 years ago
Reply to  Bernard Hill

Straw man defence…. that all you got?

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
3 years ago
Reply to  Sarah Packman

….surely that’s strawperson Sarah?

Charles Rense
Charles Rense
3 years ago
Reply to  Bernard Hill

I am sick and tired of this gendered straw binary!

Nick Peters
Nick Peters
3 years ago

You make quite an assertion there, ‘…like he wants you to.’ Hmm, you know that?

It rather undermines your point. I think the root of all of this is his belief, which I share, that ‘maleness’ is out of hand. Men have forgotten their true role in life, which is strength mixed with humility, caring mixed with ferocity (not anger) when threatened, and being accountable for their behaviour.

There is too much toxic masculinity on display in sport, media and politics. True men don’t need to shout or fight, or threaten everyone, or carry guns (wave willies). It is no coincidence that Trump has been mocked for the totally unsubstantiated smallness of his member. It’s a code, albeit an unwitting one, for him being not a whole man. He’s been described as a man child. Yet he is (almost was) the most powerful ‘man’ on the planet. What brought us here?

I don’t believe Peterson would have had such an impact if he operated in the rather cartoonish way you describe. We’re all free to judge/criticise but I believe his point is that if men are taking a wrong turn, it is little wonder if women do too.

Jeff Chambers
Jeff Chambers
3 years ago

Thanks for this. But I wonder if you could help me. I’ve been reading a bit of Lenin recently, and I’m about to start State and Revolution, but to save me the trouble could you quickly glance over Lenin’s whole written work and tell me what he really, really, really means? Because, you know, you know, eh? Thanks again.

Barry Coombes
Barry Coombes
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Chambers

Basically, Lenin wished he was a Marxist, because it seemed all scientific, but actually, deep-down, he was a populist, although he couldn’t admit it to himself. There you go, saved you the effort.

Jeff Chambers
Jeff Chambers
3 years ago
Reply to  Barry Coombes

Marvellous. Thanks. What a relief. I recently downloaded the 41 volumes his collected works from Bittorrent …

Sarah Packman
Sarah Packman
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Chambers

Jeff, you kinda prove the point that Peterson does attract some angry misogynists. The hate literally drips from your writing. Exactly how pissed off are you that I’m smarter than you?Again, Straw man defence…

Naga Choegyal
Naga Choegyal
3 years ago
Reply to  Sarah Packman

Sarah Packman,
You kinda demonstrate that JP attracts a lot of uneducated criticism from across the spectrum of angry misogynists to enraged and embittered militant feminists…

John Jones
John Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Sarah Packman

Straw man defense to an ad hominem attack.

donnaknudson67
donnaknudson67
3 years ago
Reply to  Sarah Packman

You seem like the hateful one here, Sarah. He said what he said to make the point, after you referred to an actually deep concept as being just a “stupid analogy”, that you show that you don’t understand the depth and complexity of Peterson’s ideas. Then you automatically *assume* he is an “angry misogynist” who has “hate” that “literally drips from his writing”, and that he is “pissed off” that you “are smarter than” him. His sarcasm seems to me not a result of misogynistic hate but rather a reaction to your hatred of men. You seem so entrenched in this closed feminist ideological loop, that you are not capable of seeing what the man (Peterson) is actually saying. Everything is filtered through and seen through this ideology. It’s one dimensional. I was caught in this loop for a time, 30 years ago, after reading a number of extremely “progressive” books for their time, so I know what I am saying. (These were ideas that ended up being mainstreamed in the last several years). But I am telling you, reality is so much more multidimensional than that. I had a paradigm shift out of this loop as a result of a series of dreams, and other profound experiences that would take too long to get into here. But it was a paradigm shift. Modern feminism is the artificial construct. Modern feminism is the trap.

Susie E
Susie E
3 years ago

I think the scholars (and therefore JP) were talking more about the feminine and masculine aspects of each individual’s personality being in balance (or not) and how this impacts on someone’s life, rather than men and women as separate entities who should some how be in balance on a societal level.
I wouldn’t read it so literally. As others have said humans have been putting things into masculine and feminine categories as generalised traits for as long as we know. Look up the pairing of the Goddess Lada and God Lado for a different example from the ying/yang.

Sarah Packman
Sarah Packman
3 years ago
Reply to  Susie E

I agree, many scholars do. I’m just not convinced that’s the case with 12 Rules.

Naga Choegyal
Naga Choegyal
3 years ago
Reply to  Sarah Packman

So are you here wanting someone to convince you, or just to put him down?
Looking for an argument?
Setting fire to straw men?
(Looks like ‘p***s envy’ to me….)

sheila_windsor
sheila_windsor
3 years ago
Reply to  Sarah Packman

Sarah, are you familiar with Peterson’s series of lectures (available on YouTube) on The Book of Genesis? I cannot recommend it highly enough.

David Morley
David Morley
3 years ago
Reply to  Susie E

Yes – especially since he is so keen on Jung.
you can like this chaos/order female/male thing, or you can hate it – but it has a very long history. It’s not something cooked up by JP.
good post Susie.

Peter Dunn
Peter Dunn
3 years ago

Your premise that women are a single blob of togetherness is distorting your own thinking..if you listened to him without that filter you’ll discover that Peterson, far from having a male dominance agenda, is a champion of women, especially those with self doubts about their abilities..

simonmarkroberts
simonmarkroberts
3 years ago

You say the world is ran by men, but women are basically exclusive in raising children at young ages.

Naga Choegyal
Naga Choegyal
3 years ago

The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.

Naga Choegyal
Naga Choegyal
3 years ago

Sarah Packman: You have missed the point in your willingness to perpetuate the war of the sexes.
The point is actually that the Anima is attempting to dominate the Animus, in either sex individually.
Anima personified by Feminism together an emasculated feminised Male sex unfortunately attempts to dominated by adopting a superficial imitation of male attitudes and behaviour rather than developing and asserting the intrinsic powers of the female.

Ruth Lansdell
Ruth Lansdell
3 years ago
Reply to  Naga Choegyal

True. I feel that the reason JP has become so popular is because so many of us see through the blatant hypocrisy and sexism of modern feminists who (as you aptly put it) willingly perpetuate the war of the sexes. They misconstrue and points (even when they are actually pro-female, ironically) and resort to ad hominim arguments (just like on this thread, unsurprisingly) when their points are logically debated and found wanting.

donnaknudson67
donnaknudson67
3 years ago
Reply to  Naga Choegyal

Exactly.

Caitlin McDonald
Caitlin McDonald
3 years ago

“Whether you like it or not, he’s telling us that he feels that feminism is responsible for the chaos we find in the world currently.”

Feminism =/= women

Caitlin McDonald
Caitlin McDonald
3 years ago

“it’s just a devise that Peterson uses to say what he feels about gender roles without actually saying what he feels about the gender roles.”

How do you know what he thinks? What evidence do you have that he’s hiding his beliefs behind his words?

Shane Dunworth-crompton
Shane Dunworth-crompton
3 years ago
Reply to  Lynwen Brown

Well said

Pete Kreff
Pete Kreff
3 years ago
Reply to  Lynwen Brown

I find it incredible that there are so many writers like Ditum who are perfectly happy to expose themselves as ignorant just in order to snipe at Peterson.

Don’t they think it would be a good idea to actually do some research into the man and his ideas and positions?

Sarah Packman
Sarah Packman
3 years ago
Reply to  Lynwen Brown

That was one of my main concerns with 12 Rules i.e. the way in which Peterson used religious dogma to back up his personal world view. So, far from ‘explaining’, I see the following quote more as a ‘justifying’:”Peterson explains early on in the book that the representation of order and chaos as male and female is ancient and from Taoist philosophy. The symbol of Yin and Yang is a representation of two interlocked dragons, one black, female, chaos, the other white, male, order,”There are no female Taoist priests and far from being equal, far Eastern societies are male-orientated with women being treated poorly. So Yin and Yang is simply a pretty picture and a nice idea. Certainly not the reality experienced by women.Secondly, so what? Just because a bunch of men wrote a bunch of things a bunch of years ago, doesn’t make it ‘true’ or ‘accurate’ or ‘real’. I believe in balance between male and female… it’s what I like to call ‘equality’. We don’t have it in many societies in the World… it’s still a man’s world, and you’re still in the top spots. Seriously, listening to some men these days you’d think that the boards of most companies were 80% female.Petersen claims that the reason the World is in such a bad way is that it is out of balance. That some order needs to be restored to the chaos (order being male, chaos being female). He then wraps this rather disturbing opinion up in some harmless sounding truths that no one would argue with such as ‘work hard and tidy your room’. This is a psychological trick – a verbal Trojan horse if you will. He’d be the first to call out anyone else using it…Seriously guys. Just think that through. You’ve been running this cluster f**k for two thousand years. Have you considered that maybe it feels like chaos simply because you’re losing the hegemony that you are familiar with? Are you really suggesting everything is going for a ball of ‘s**t because women have too much influence?p.s. I quite like Jordan Peterson. I don’t necessarily agree with everything he writes though.

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
3 years ago
Reply to  Sarah Packman

…..well actually yes, the female perspective does look like it’s the source of the tyranny of compassion, which is now overwhelming most spheres of public policy, to the point of chaos and decline. And as Boris demonstrates, you don’t have to be a girl to administer it.

Karl Juhnke
Karl Juhnke
3 years ago
Reply to  Sarah Packman

Deary me,
you do not want equality. No female or feminist does. You do not want 50% of workers killed to be female. Need I go on? Your thinking on this is chaotic and needs to be balanced out for you. I have done that. Cheers

Sarah Packman
Sarah Packman
3 years ago
Reply to  Karl Juhnke

Incoherent, angry, bitter… straw man argument again.
Some of you guys are putting me off Peterson… I just hope you are not his ‘demographic’. Pretty sure he wouldn’t want you in his fan club.

Naga Choegyal
Naga Choegyal
3 years ago
Reply to  Sarah Packman

Incoherent, angry, bitter?
From here that looks like a description of your writing, Sarah Packman.

Not all narcissistic psychopaths are male, nor do they all make it to the top.
Some of them make it their mission to castrate as many men as they can regardless of their merits, or perhaps because of them, out of envy.

Karl Juhnke
Karl Juhnke
3 years ago
Reply to  Sarah Packman

Incoherent? To you! The anger and bitterness is yours. Straw man? How? Is that all you got? Stop lying to yourself and the rest of us. Be honest. You do not want 50% of workers killed to be women do you? You do not want women to serve the same time in prison as men for the same actions. You want all the good and none of the bad. Just be honest. You can do it. Good luck.

sheila_windsor
sheila_windsor
3 years ago
Reply to  Sarah Packman

Sarah, from what I’ve learned about Peterson, thanks to his lecture series on Genesis (where was he years ago, when I sat through those interminable Philosophy lectures at uni, which eventually drove me to switch to Law), I’m not sure that he would want a fan club at all. However, he is clearly intent on helping the less than they could be (every one of us, including himself) to grow. He identifies the path as truth (maybe that needs a
T). Listening to him has deepened and broadened my understanding, of pretty much everything that matters.
I don’t concur with his every inference and conclusion, that would be boring and half asleep. Factor in the sheer entertainment value of his talks. I’m not a fan(atic) but you may paint me grateful and deeply impressed.

Caitlin McDonald
Caitlin McDonald
3 years ago
Reply to  Sarah Packman

” Incoherent, angry, bitter.”

Sarah, your mind-reading gets more ridiculous the poor you push it

Peter Dunn
Peter Dunn
3 years ago
Reply to  Sarah Packman

“Running this clusterf..k for 2thousand years..”
Should have handed it over to the wimmin around 950b.c. ..would be interesting.

Naga Choegyal
Naga Choegyal
3 years ago
Reply to  Sarah Packman

‘Women took priestly roles from the earliest days of organised Taoist religion and Taoist legend has many tales of female deities. Taoism emphasises characteristics that are usually thought of as feminine such as softness and yielding, modesty and non-aggression. It teaches that the weak will overcome the strong.’

https://www.bbc.co.uk/relig….

https://www.google.com/url?…

donnaknudson67
donnaknudson67
3 years ago
Reply to  Naga Choegyal

In reading your comments, I really like the way you think.

Caitlin McDonald
Caitlin McDonald
3 years ago
Reply to  Sarah Packman

” He then wraps this rather disturbing opinion up in some harmless sounding truths that no one would argue with such as ‘work hard and tidy your room’. This is a psychological trick – a verbal Trojan horse if you will. He’d be the first to call out anyone else using it…”

Give up the attempts at mind reading and predicting his behaviour. You can’t do it.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
3 years ago
Reply to  Sarah Packman

Your attitude towards religious dogma is not rational. I suggest you read Tom Holland’s book, ‘Dominion.’ He is an atheist but can see the influence of religion on our society today.

David George
David George
3 years ago
Reply to  Lynwen Brown

Yes Lynwen, this quote clarifies:
“Order is not enough. You can’t just be stable, and secure, and unchanging, because there are still vital and important new things to be learned. Nonetheless, chaos can be too much. You can’t long tolerate being swamped and overwhelmed beyond your capacity to cope while you are learning what you still need to know. Thus, you need to place one foot in what you have mastered and understood and the other in what you are currently exploring and mastering. Then you have positioned yourself where the terror of existence is under control and you are secure, but where you are also alert and engaged. That is where there is something new to master and some way that you can be improved. That is where meaning is to be found.”
“‱ Jordan B. Peterson, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos

donnaknudson67
donnaknudson67
3 years ago
Reply to  Lynwen Brown

You know, it was that Taoist like thinking that also was a big part of me understanding how men and women can truly relate to each other. It’s such a different paradigm that there is no way to translate or understand it from the prison of what feminism has become. I also started to understand that reality *in my body* as I did Tai Chi. It really became a bodily understanding right along with a conceptual understanding.

bob alob
bob alob
3 years ago

It’s no surprise that this author writes for the Guardian.

Joe Blow
Joe Blow
3 years ago
Reply to  bob alob

The left’s answer to Breitbart 🙂

Joe Blow
Joe Blow
3 years ago

“Watching Cathy Newman interview him for Channel 4 news is like watching someone show up to a knife fight with a pair of safety scissors…Who you think wins depends greatly on who you agreed with at the start, but there’s no Frost/Nixon killer blow here.”

That is truly a bizarre conclusion. Newman was made to look like an unprepared, arrogant and bigoted fool. To see the encounter as one that Newman “won” is simply to be deluded.

Jeremy Poynton
Jeremy Poynton
3 years ago
Reply to  Joe Blow

Quite. Newman was shown up horribly, as bigoted and stupid.
Peterson? Well, for me his core message is take responsibility for your own life. And given that the notion of personality, long ago abandoned by the Left and now drowned in a Tsunami of Narcissistic victimhood cultivated in our universities, is CORE to a functional society, no wonder he gets so much abuse.

Take responsibility for your own life? Can’t. Won’t. Pathetic.

Rob Newman
Rob Newman
3 years ago
Reply to  Joe Blow

Absolutely!!!

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Joe Blow

Some of the best light entertainment I have seen for a long time.

Ms Newman’s discomfiture was sheer nectar.
Sadly she seems to have withdrawn from the conflict.

bcfitzpatrickbcf
bcfitzpatrickbcf
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

So much pleasure in seeing her dicomfiture why ? Because she’s a woman?

Michael Johnston
Michael Johnston
3 years ago

Not because she’s a woman – because she’s a sanctimonious muppet.

donnaknudson67
donnaknudson67
3 years ago

Why automatically go there-that Mark Corby said what what he said because she’s a woman? It’s so automatic for so many women to make it about men thinking wrong things about women. It seems pretty clear that he said what he said because Newman was completely trying to typecast Peterson constantly. It seems so robotic this way of thinking. I’m sorry. I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but it just drives me crazy the way so many women have one track minds.

Ruth Lansdell
Ruth Lansdell
3 years ago
Reply to  donnaknudson67

Exactly – as if the only possible reason any man could disagree with Cathy Newman is because she’s a woman, not because of her clearly selective and bigoted points. JP made her look like a total amateur.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago

No, because she was ill prepared and outmanoeuvred.
Did you in fact even watch the interview?

Chris Milburn
Chris Milburn
3 years ago
Reply to  Joe Blow

Totally agree! If you didn’t see a clear winner, it’s because you started watching the interview hopelessly biased against Peterson.

Charles Rense
Charles Rense
3 years ago
Reply to  Joe Blow

Just as to see a fighter on the ground bleeding out while holding a pair of safety scissors, and think they might have won is deluded.

clements.jb
clements.jb
3 years ago
Reply to  Joe Blow

I found the interview wholly engaging, when originally viewed. Was my introduction to both Peterson and Newman. At the time, I was aghast at Peterson’s security, adeptness and clarity of thought. I thought Newman came across as someone with an agenda, that was largely subliminal.
When I watched it again, a few months ago, I was struck by how much credit Newman gave to Peterson, as the interview proceeded. Yes, she tried to put words in his mouth, but eventually, he won her over. Watch the body language; they come to an understanding: You (Peterson) know your stuff, don’t you? (Yes, I do; I’m an authentic academic, not a journalist). They start to enjoy the event, laughing together. Newman shifts uncomfortably, but she does shift somewhat (albeit, not much further than: I might get you next time
 {zero chance, I think}).
My point is that “feminism” (if that is, put simplistically, what Newman represents) is an ideology — a set of ideas — which Peterson challenges. That’s what got a lot of people excited: Peterson is a “champion” against an ideology which has, with significant merit, dominated the Western cultural discourse for nearly a century or so.
Peterson thought, isn’t taking aim at feminism — it has some merit — he’s actually speaking to men and saying: you don’t have to accept the assumptions that underpin the ideology of feminism
or woke-ness
or cultural marxism etc. And he’s been largely successful. The discourse is becoming more balanced, as this thread shows.
It’s in everyone’s interest to have a good, healthy, sustainable balance between the sexes. And to challenge the lazy assumptions that underpin all ideologies — very few of ideologies are capable of underpinning a healthy, balanced culture and society. So the chaos caused by the disruption of new ideas, eventually becomes the new order and a new chaotic set of ideas enters the fray. Everything comes at a price.

Last edited 3 years ago by clements.jb
Stephen Crossley
Stephen Crossley
3 years ago

This man-baiting article is not worthy of comment other than to point out that when the author writes

“The female Peterson fan is not unheard of but she’s unusual”,

she is clearly expressing what she would like to believe rather than the truth, a state of denial in which many feminist writers increasingly find themselves.

lenny1680
lenny1680
3 years ago

My college-educated spouse and many of her female friends find Jordan to be extremely insightful. Very much non-PC common sense is what he preaches.

Shane Dunworth-crompton
Shane Dunworth-crompton
3 years ago
Reply to  lenny1680

As do I.

Ruth Lansdell
Ruth Lansdell
3 years ago
Reply to  lenny1680

I am one such female and I also find JP’s work insightful and non-sexist. The reason he wins every debate he has isn’t just because he’s so intelligent but because the points make sense. Many hours of his lectures are on YouTube and he talks about so much more than gender and identity politics. The feminists could stand to learn a great deal if they actually bothered to listen properly to what he’s saying and not just do that selective-hearing, cherry-picking of information thing they do so well.

Claire D
Claire D
3 years ago
Reply to  Ruth Lansdell

The thing is Ruth feminists are rarely interested in expanding their understanding, they have a political aim, they stick with it, and will fight off anything that threatens it, eg, Jordan Peterson.

Jeremy Poynton
Jeremy Poynton
3 years ago

My wife, a literate 55 year old Feminist is a huge fan of JP. Why? Because he talks sense.

Just saying

Ruth Lansdell
Ruth Lansdell
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Poynton

Absolutely. Ditum makes out that JP only has a few “unusual” women followers. This is total rubbish. Lots of women feel JP makes sense. Because he does. We aren’t in the minority: Ditum just wishes we were.

Harvey Johnson
Harvey Johnson
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Poynton

Ditto with my 25-year-old girlfriend.

His common sense message is near-universal outside of the slightly brainwashed, or those who are too lazy to actually listen to JP at source and prefer to get their opinions approved by The Guardian before expressing.

Alex Mitchell
Alex Mitchell
3 years ago

He has frequently pointed out the reasonable gender balance of his audiences. Usually in response to the latest unfounded an pointless “explain your appeal to angry, young, alt-right incels, Dr Peterson”

Judy Simpson
Judy Simpson
3 years ago

I didn’t realise I was in such an exclusive group until the author told me so. But that’s post modernism for you, I feel it, I want it to be true, so it must be true.

Ruth Lansdell
Ruth Lansdell
3 years ago
Reply to  Judy Simpson

Exactly. Modern feminists don’t let the facts get in the way of their arguments, i.e. that many women see the sense of JP’s points and we are far from an exclusive group.

Laura Martini
Laura Martini
3 years ago

I too appreciate Jordan Peterson! His thoughts balance out nicely the relentless dogma I hear everywhere. I am personally uncomfortable with the collective claims of victimhood.

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
3 years ago

The subtitle is ‘eccentric philosopher of male supremacy’. Have you listened to or read any Jordan Peterson? If you have, have you bothered to understand it?

M H
M H
3 years ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

Exactly. One example of many – Peterson’s use of Jung is not “gratuitous”. It pervades much of his work and is central to many of his ideas. (You don’t have to like or agree with Jung. He is not the messiah. But Peterson does not just toss him about as a kind of name dropping.) This author’s view of Peterson is so superficial and full of sarcasm, it is almost embarassing. Rather than say there are more pictures of dragons than coherant sentences, it might be nice to make sure the problem understanding the sentences isn’t with the reader who can’t comprehend them or doesn’t have the patience to do the work to understand them.

Mark C
Mark C
3 years ago
Reply to  M H

Agreed, I find Ditum’s writing superficial – flowery prose in an attempt to appear intelligent.

Peter Dunn
Peter Dunn
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark C

Ive just heard her discussing student “sex-workers”..a wilting unimpressive voice.

marylala.lansrud
marylala.lansrud
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark C

I had the same feeling! I’m 75, love his talks; he’s actually really been a hugh source of inspiration to me personally during this pandemic. Not sure she read his book.

Derek Boyes
Derek Boyes
3 years ago

There’s a reason why Peterson talks in the ‘language of existential struggle’. He’s not being pretentious, he’s being genuinely deep and meaningful. He didn’t come up with the concept of feminine/malscumine chaos/order. It is well documented within the history and mythology of many other cultures. Such dualism can be easily understood in evolutionary science too (opposite or contrary forces are often complementary, interconnected, and interdependent within the universe). The word ‘Chaos’ is seen negatively in Western culture but in the East it means Creation, which universally has very feminine and positive connotations. Creation and Order are symbiotic and necessary for life. Although seemingly obvious, this is incredibly profound. He’s not teaching people to be masculine or feminine. In order to be a balanced human being, you have to nurture both qualities equally. Such flitting articles like this are incredibly frustrating and unhelpful and are a sad example of what is so wrong with this epidemic of shallow thinking in our society.

Robert G
Robert G
3 years ago
Reply to  Derek Boyes

The word “chaos” may not have the same negative connotations in the Eastern tradition where it is synonymous with “creation.” But there’s no way around the fact that Peterson’s book is an “antidote for chaos,” suggesting he is operating under the Western framework where chaos is not a desirable condition. Unless you contend that the book is intended as an antidote to creative energy.

David George
David George
3 years ago
Reply to  Robert G

He says the meaningful (in both the feeling and practical reality sense of the word) life is to be found on the border of order and chaos – the Tao or the Way They are both desirable and undesirable, positive and negative.
His new book “Beyond Order” is, I believe, a look at the problem of excess order.

Derek Boyes
Derek Boyes
3 years ago
Reply to  Robert G

Not at all. The word has a different meaning depending on the context. When he is referring to it in ‘Order and Chaos’ he means within the greater universe and mythology, where as the ‘Chaos’ used in the title, is referring to the mind. Both are an organic growth without structure.

clements.jb
clements.jb
3 years ago
Reply to  Robert G

I think it’s just “too much chaos” that is undesirable. Each individual, each culture and society has different limits, but it’s when chaos goes from disruptive / creative / whelming to dystopian / destructive / overwhelming that a new order is required


jacoblarkin64
jacoblarkin64
3 years ago

Such a lamentable piece.

A N
A N
3 years ago

The shallowness of this piece makes it a standout here at Unherd, where I’ve become used to better. Ditum simply doesn’t know Peterson’s work or positions, cherry-picks a few of the usual apparent oddities out of context (Lobsters, steak eating, etc) from a career of multiple decades and- like so many before, deliberately misrepresents him and his readership at every turn. Like Cathy Newman, Ditum is simply unable and unwilling (afraid?) to engage with what Peterson actually says. Instead we have what reads to me like a petty and malicious schoolgirl spreading ugly rumours about Peterson behind his back. This latest Newman-esque attempt at wilful obfuscation belongs in the Guardian.

judybaker
judybaker
3 years ago

I’m struggling to fully understand this article. I’ve never noticed any sexism in Jordan Peterson’s talks +- only common sense.

Jeremy Poynton
Jeremy Poynton
3 years ago
Reply to  judybaker

Quite.

Anna Tanneberger
Anna Tanneberger
3 years ago
Reply to  judybaker

When did we go back to the middle ages? When I was a kid in the 60s I believed there is absolutely no difference between boys and girls. Well, a few biological things, but which are of very little importance regarding your intellect, which is, after all, what distinguishes us from animals. You can be and do anything. Not that I needed to be encouraged. I was a voracious reader and read everything I could get my hands on, including my brothers’ books. I particularly loved the Biggles stories. At the same time I loved the books about Vicky Bar Air Hostess and the girls at Sadlers Wells Ballet. Actually I rather pitied my brothers that they could ONLY enjoy books like Biggles and magazines like Boys’ Own and comics like The Hulk. It was verboten to them to page through a coffee table book with glossy images of ballerinas en pointe.
So with the same innocence still, I enjoyed Jordan Peterson and enjoyed his common sense, thinking it’s high time someone got back to basics. I loved his university lectures which he set up in class, analysing Pinocchio and the dangers of lying, and the story of the dragon in the house which everybody ignored until it became too big for the house. Anyhow, this is the first time I’ve heard that Jordan Peterson is “for Men Only” and a few freakish women. Gosh, what a disappointment.

Ruth Lansdell
Ruth Lansdell
3 years ago

Absolutely.

Frank Leigh-Sceptical
Frank Leigh-Sceptical
3 years ago

“For all that he’s regarded in some quarters as the house philosopher of male supremacy” those quarters being populated exclusively by people unable or unwilling to properly analyse what he says and understand what he means?

Joff Brown
Joff Brown
3 years ago

“What he’s actually saying here is that he’s going to continue perceiving ” and probably referring ” to people as male or female, depending on how they appear to him. “

Not what he said at all. He objected only to being compelled by legislation to use particular pronouns. If I remember correctly, he has actually once said he was happy to call people what they wanted.

Just one of a number of misrepresentations of Peterson in this article. Not that I’m a massive fan of his, but he is not the right-wing bogeyman people claim he is. I took the trouble to watch a load of his lectures and to read 12 Rules, and he is absolutely not what his enemies want to portray him as.

I also find the glee that many people have taken in Peterson’s own mental health issues extremely distasteful.

Alex Wilkinson
Alex Wilkinson
3 years ago
Reply to  Joff Brown

Exactly. A ton of willful misrepresentations a la Cathy Newman.

Why are they so threatened by JP?

Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Wilkinson

If you look at Leftist belief systems, one of the main ones is that you are powerless as an individual, and need a collective (aka government) to do things for you. Jordan Peterson threatens that dogma as do black conservatives like Thomas Sowell, Shelby Steele and Candace Owens, because they have become successful without a political party ’empowering’ them.

Ruth Lansdell
Ruth Lansdell
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Wilkinson

Because their points can’t be substantiated. Cathy Newman was clearly the loser in this debate: Peterson made her look like the bigoted amateur she is. I always find that when someone’s viewpoints can be easily dismantled, they feel very threatened and resort to ad hominim arguments. After all, when you believe in your viewpoint and can defend it, you just stick to your point with no need to feel threatened, get upset or name-call. It’s just adults having a rational debate: no hard feelings. Involve the modern feminists and it all gets very childish very quickly. Which basically means they can’t actually defend their own viewpoints.

Martin Cev
Martin Cev
3 years ago

You were right in saying that: “Who you think wins depends greatly on who you agreed with at the start”. In this case, what you think of the subject depends greatly on what you thought from the beginning. You cannot help but to expose your own biases -and limitations. Try getting your head around the concept of synthesis and you’ll see how the contradictions that you’re only able to see have indeed been resolved and integrated by a person standing where he is.

Time to drop your safety scissors Sarah, start thinking like an adult and be more responsible of what opinions you throw out to the world when you write in outlets like this.

Nancy Corby
Nancy Corby
3 years ago

An outrageously ignorant article. She has not read Peterson at all, and misrepresents him on every. single. point. she alleges about him. It is unforgivable that she should deride him as an academic (one book published 18 years ago)!! – he is a towering academic in his field. He has so many detailed scientifically researched and argued and peer-reviewed academic papers, every one of them showing his mastery of his discipline. And what is particularly egregious is the constant misunderstanding of people like Ditum – as Peterson says in one memorable video “What do I think? It doesn’t MATTER what I think – it’s not me saying that this is so; it is the SCIENCE that is saying this is so. The data is in! It’s all been put to bed! It’s the SCIENCE I’m describing, not my OPINION.” And, by the way, the suggestion that Peterson has a few scatterbrained aberrant female supporters is equally egregious. Look at the comments littered across the internet. He has a HUGE fan-base of mothers, daughters, wives, nieces and aunts. Open your eyes, Sarah Ditum. There is NO doubt about the Newman-Peterson contest. If you think there was a Newman winner in that contest, then you’re in need of serious help.

Oliver Steadman
Oliver Steadman
3 years ago
Reply to  Nancy Corby

[delete]

Pete Kreff
Pete Kreff
3 years ago

What he’s actually saying here is that he’s going to continue perceiving ” and probably referring ” to people as male or female, depending on how they appear to him.

I am sorry to say this, but to have written that sentence means you either know extremely little about Peterson or you’re a liar.

His position is that he would refer to people – and has and does – the way they want, unless he feels that the other person is acting in bad faith.

Secondly, his mentions of the “foundation of western civilisation” and “silent slavery” are entirely in line with his view that no government has the right to dictate which words you will use. A government may say which words you should not use, but not which words you must use.

You may be fine with having a government impose forced speech on you, but Peterson – and I, for that matter – regard it as a form of slavery. It is the kind of enslavement by the state suffered by people in communist countries, where you must always speak of the country as successful, prosperous and populated by happy people.

kinelll086
kinelll086
3 years ago

I Just watched the Newman interview for the first time, she had an agenda and he took her apart. I shall read his book, maybe i will agree with some of what he says maybe not but he seemed to make a lot of sense. If the lefties hate him then i am all ears

CL van Beek
CL van Beek
3 years ago

Quote ” What he’s actually saying here is that he’s going to continue perceiving ” and probably referring ” to people as male or female, depending on how they appear to him”.

Are you trolling? He is not actually saying that at all. The whole fuss had nothing to do with pronouns. It was about the legislation.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago
Reply to  CL van Beek

the “what he’s actually saying” is straight out of the Newman interview that is referenced. She must have said a hundred times “so what you’re saying is…” when, in fact, that’s not what he said at all.

Trishia A
Trishia A
3 years ago
Reply to  CL van Beek

He has stated exactly that multiple times. He is not against transgender people at all. What he does say is that if someone looks the part, he’ll use the pronoun of the part, but he will not be compelled to use the other pronoun for a person he deems does not look the part. His criticism of the law is 100% correct. No one should be compelled by governments to lie. His is not a “gender” criticism, it is a legal criticism.

Sarah Packman
Sarah Packman
3 years ago

I can see that this article created quite a lot of heat, although I didn’t personally find it particularly ‘anti-Peterson’.

Full disclosure: I consider myself a feminist (small ‘f’) but have educated myself vis a vis Peterson ever since I saw the rabid rantings of the lefty loons on social media. My conclusion? He’s alright.

In my opinion, Peterson is a benevolent kind of traditionalist… I’m purposefully avoiding the term the author chose,’sexist’, because I think it’s too strong. In fact I wish we’d stop bandying about terms like ‘sexist’ and ‘racist’ because anyone with any knowledge of psychology knows that we are ALL sexist / racist / ageists etc. That’s not what’s important. What’s important is whether we disadvantage another human being because of these biased perspectives. Peterson doesn’t say (in anything I’ve read) that women should cover the heads in a bag and walk three feet behind their man, and so I have seen no evidence that he wishes a lack of opportunity upon us. He’s a traditionalist. Probably. He’s married to a traditionalist. Probably. So long as he doesn’t expect me to live that way, I’m okay with that.

I have spent the past diabolical 10 months broadening my perspectives and building my tolerances. Why? Because I can see that some psychopathic billionaires are trying to polorise our society for their own financial gain. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then you need to turn off the ‘Stupid Box’ and start reading. As soon as I stopped watching the telly the most amazing thing happened; I became more moderate in my views and way more tolerant of opposing views.

In conclusion, there are some people who think this is a vile article, and as a lover of free speech I think that’s okay. It creates debate. The authors assumptions are exposed. Her own biases hung out on the washing line for all to see. That’s as it should be. Pretty sure Peterson would concur.

Let’s give both Peterson and this author their dues though; they are both very funny at times.

Marilyn Veach
Marilyn Veach
3 years ago
Reply to  Sarah Packman

Spot on.

tc.davies
tc.davies
3 years ago
Reply to  Sarah Packman

I’ve always thought that the labelling of people as sexist, racist, ageist etc is futile but also cowardly as there is no way to prove to the contrary. Not that it matters, but I agree with your assertions that we all hold these biases and often feel that it is the ‘far/left/progressive/woke’ types who come out with terms such as ‘anti-racist’ almost because of a deep effort to deal with their own hidden racial prejudices.

Interesting times and, yes – the TV is just for idiots who need to be lectured by the money men.

John Jones
John Jones
3 years ago

“More curious is that he became the world’s most significant public intellectual having published precisely one book eighteen years ago” according to Dittum.

A quick Google search shows that Peterson has an h score of 51. “h” is a score used in academia to measure the academic achievement of professors. It is based on the number of publications in academic journals over a 20 year period. A score of 20 is average, 30 is good, 40 exceptional. The average h score of Nobel prize winners is 60.

Peterson also has over 11,000 citations in works by other academics, another measure of academic standing.

So Peterson’s reputation as one of the world’s leading academics is not without foundation, in spite of Ms Dittum’s claims to the contrary.

It took 20 seconds for me to find that information on the net.

This raises an important question: why did Dittum not even bother to fact-check her claim? Is it because the facts don’t suit the feminist narrative of Peterson as some kind of crank?

That wouldn’t be surprising, given feminists’ failure to bother with facts in so many other instances, such as domestic violence and the mythical “pay gap”.

No wonder the extreme left is against free speech. It has a habit of revealing that the woke Emperess has no clothes.

Jo Brad
Jo Brad
3 years ago

What JP communicates to people, not just males btw, has gone right over Sarah Ditum’s head. This is a disappointing pointless piece. Maybe it’s all just too painful and uncomfortable for her to actually listen to what he is saying?

Greg Eiden
Greg Eiden
3 years ago

Maybe the Unherd editors are being clever here: why not publish someone who can so neatly expose the emptiness of the opposition’s position? We certainly don’t want to only hear views congruous with our own.

And in today’s world where the views of so many are so baseless and misguided, knowing how many of those folks are out there is also useful to calibrate us on the magnitude of the challenge we face in reversing 50 years of Marxist indoctrination.

Pete Kreff
Pete Kreff
3 years ago
Reply to  Greg Eiden

Maybe the Unherd editors are being clever here: why not publish someone who can so neatly expose the emptiness of the opposition’s position?

Ah, but is Sarah Ditum a co-conspirator or a patsy?

Bengt Dhover
Bengt Dhover
3 years ago
Reply to  Pete Kreff

Based on Ditum’s previous articles, my money is on patsy.

timlott
timlott
3 years ago

Peterson doesn’t suggest Order must defeat Chaos. Only that they must be kept in balance. And he doesn’t pluck the male/order female/chaos out of nowhere. If his examination of mythology is to be swallowed ( and you may or may not wish to) then it is lodged as a historical meme. He doesnt think Order is good and Chaos is bad. Too much order can be a bad thing as much as too much chaos. Another article by a writer who hasn’t done their research.

Pete Kreff
Pete Kreff
3 years ago

Who you think wins depends greatly on who you agreed with at the start, but there’s no Frost/Nixon killer blow here.

Cathy Newman blatantly tried to misrepresent all Peterson’s statements, and Peterson, patiently at first but then with understandably growing exasperation, explained that her interpretations are wide of the mark.

Newman was so incapable of correctly understanding what he was saying (or so reluctant to, perhaps for the sake of making the interview more combative), that “Hi Cathy Newman and welcome to the discussion” has become a meme that is deployed whenever anyone in an online discussion gratuitously and blatantly misrepresents another person’s position.

One of Peterson’s points about succeeding in high-profile roles is that it requires people to be very pushy and extremely ambitious, and that these traits are, ON AVERAGE, more prevalent among men. So when Newman boasted that she had to work damned hard to reach the position she was in, Peterson congratulated her! She seemed to have no idea that she was agreeing with Peterson’s proposition: i.e. that men have tended to fill these high-profile roles because reaching that level requires a great deal of determination, even to the point of monomania.

John Rumpole
John Rumpole
3 years ago

Jordan Peterson: “To men, women have the ability to choose who procreates, and so symbolically represent the force of nature itself.”

Sarah Ditum: “So what you’re saying is, women are literally dirt?”

Jim Packingham
Jim Packingham
3 years ago
Reply to  John Rumpole

Brilliant!

Rob Newman
Rob Newman
3 years ago

To boil down Peterson, his words and lectures, into this superficial flimsy article is to do exactly what the article suggests Peterson does – nothing new. Sarah Ditum does have an interesting point about Peterson manifesting something akin to maternal guidance, but it’s a real shame she didn’t delve into that by taking Peterson more seriously. She had foundations for a really good piece, as opposed to what she has ended up with: a frivolous, contrary article, seizing at spurious, paper-thin conclusions from Peterson’s multi layered thought. And as an aside, referring to his diet as ‘faddy’ is clearly absurd considering it has completely cured his daughter of her very severe auto immune condition – so genetically it made a lot of sense for Jordan to try it. It is also not a diet his daughter conjured up, it is a recommended diet for many auto immune conditions … On the plus side, I did manage to read all the article, so Sarah Ditum can clearly write well.

Trishia A
Trishia A
3 years ago
Reply to  Rob Newman

But you missed the point, the article is not about Peterson himself, but about the popular call for a female Peterson for females, of which we already have 100s. 😉

Rob Newman
Rob Newman
3 years ago
Reply to  Trishia A

It doesn’t matter what the purpose of the article might be, all my points are valid when it comes to her simplistic and dubious reflections on and of Peterson. I do get your point, though.

Gintautas Australas Kaminskas
Gintautas Australas Kaminskas
3 years ago

Why is Unherd publishing hateful rants from rabid left-wingers?

Rob Newman
Rob Newman
3 years ago

I think it’s good Unherd and important that it publishes differences of opinion from left and right. The sadness is that it’s such a feather light and unsubstantiated piece, full of bizarre meritless conclusions.

Andre Lower
Andre Lower
3 years ago
Reply to  Rob Newman

Well, if we are to measure the opposition’s substance by the likes of Sarah Packman, there’s little value in publishing “differences of opinion”…

John Hodgson
John Hodgson
3 years ago

This seems a tad strong. You don’t characterise someone you hate as “admirably honest”. And the language is too measured to qualify as a rant.

Pete Kreff
Pete Kreff
3 years ago
Reply to  John Hodgson

Hateful rant is indeed an inaccurate description of the article.

“Evidence-free sniping where every attempt at making a point or a joke misses the mark” would be a more accurate description of the article.

Micheal Lucken
Micheal Lucken
3 years ago

His new book isn’t even out yet and the Guardianistas are panicking. Still frail and in recovery from his long illness they are once again lining up to attack him, presumably to try to finish him off before he gets back to full strength. Article after article denouncing him with ever more imaginative and florid insults. Still not back to the several a day level we were treated to a year or two ago but getting there. They sure are worried.

Joff Brown
Joff Brown
3 years ago
Reply to  Micheal Lucken

It certainly does seem that Peterson frightens many on the left. His popularity threatens to undermine the progress they have made in enforcing their way of thinking and speaking,.

John Jones
John Jones
3 years ago

Absolute nonsense.

I won’t bother deconstructing most of the obvious ad hominem “arguments” here, except to say it’s pretty much the same old same old tripe routinely rolled out by feminists, like Cathy Newman, desperately trying to find some means of attacking Peterson.

But two misunderstandings stand out.

The first is the usual misrepresentation of Peterson’s stance on the trans issue. Peterson has never expressed any hostility towards trans people, nor is he opposing “enshrining gender identity in Canadian law”, as much as his detractors would like to pretend he is.

What he actually said was that he thinks the government has no right to mandate speech, a move which he thinks, correctly, is a form of tyranny, along the lines of 1984. The fact that his detractors never want to debate that issue directly is telling of their true motives.

The second point has to do with the issue of Peterson’s reference to hierarchy in lobsters. The point he made is that hierarchy is not a “social construct”, but one that can be found throughout the animal kingdom; even creatures as far removed from primates as lobsters create hierarchies. He was not suggesting that we ought to arrange our social lives like lobsters: the point is that such hierarchies, in contrast to feminist claims, are natural.

Nowhere does he commit the logical fallacy of asserting that what is natural is desirable, only that we need to be aware of our evolutionary heritage if we are going to surmount it.

The fact that feminist pundits like Ditum need to descend to this kind of misrepresentation concerning Peterson should make all of us much more suspicious of all of their claims.

Pete Kreff
Pete Kreff
3 years ago

Its lessons are fundamentally prosaic ones about self-reliance

The lessons about self-reliance would be utterly prosaic, were it not for the fact that there are so many voices claiming that nobody really bears any responsibility for their situation and that everyone is entirely the product of society.

Oh yes, and order is “masculine” (“symbolically”, he hedges, unconvincingly), while chaos is “presented imaginatively as feminine”. There isn’t, it should be noted, any particular reason for this gendering: it’s just the way Peterson has decided things should be.

Incorrect again. This is becoming as cringeworthy as Newman’s interview.

This is where ” however much he might pirouette around it ” the sexism of Peterson’s worldview comes through, because if men are order and women are chaos, and order needs to dominate chaos

In your previous paragraph you concede that Peterson talks of balance between order and chaos. Peterson readily admits that too much order leads to rigidity and a lack of creativity.

For some of Peterson’s fanbase, the sexism is surely the point

Have you really not noticed the trend in recent years to describe masculinity as toxic or problematic? What Peterson is calling for is balance, which means an end to the demonisation of masculinity. It’s got nothing to do with sexism. You have presented no evidence at all that Peterson and his ideas are sexist.

Being a lifestyle guru is woman’s work, even if you are a man and you throw around some gratuitous Jung.

Judging by the appalling standard of the article up to this point, it’s hard to tell if you’re being sexist knowingly or unknowingly.

Campbell P
Campbell P
3 years ago

Fairly typical of some but not all Guardian columnists who decide the outcome and cherrypick the evidence before writing their articles. I suppose that approach might be taken by some as ‘freedom of speech’; it’s just a shame that it so misrepresents the man, not to mention the enormous help he has given both men and women. No he doesn’t fit with the new totalitarianism masquerading as generous egalitarianism, but he does a very fine job at demonstrating the irrational, incoherent, and non evidence-based arguments of the contemporary libertarian Left and their weasely, woke, nonsense.

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
3 years ago

I expect better from Unherd than an article that fundamentally misconstrues the arguments. If you’re going to throw around the word “sexism”, it would be best to first define it, and then say how Prof Peterson ticks the boxes. This kind of mindless labelling is so tiresome, and I find I just learn nothing from reading articles like this.

Lady Marchmain
Lady Marchmain
3 years ago

Ms Ditum’s article brings to mind C.S. Lewis’ warning against flippancy:

“Flippancy is the best of all. In the first place it is very economical. Only a clever human can make a real Joke about virtue, or indeed about anything else; any of them can be trained to talk as if virtue were funny.

Among flippant people the Joke is always assumed to have been made. No one actually makes it; but every serious subject is discussed in a manner which implies that they have already found a ridiculous side to it.

If prolonged, the habit of Flippancy builds up around a man the finest armour plating against the Enemy that I know, and it is quite free from the dangers inherent in the other sources of laughter.

It is a thousand miles away from joy; it deadens, instead of sharpening, the intellect; and it excites no affection between those who practise it.”

Quite.

Stephen Tye
Stephen Tye
3 years ago

“This is a typical bit of Peterson rhetoric. What he’s actually saying
here is that he’s going to continue perceiving ” and probably referring “
to people as male or female, depending on how they appear to him”.

I thought the idiots would have learned from the Cathy Newman debacle that to say ‘what he’s actually saying’ is stupid. What he’s actually saying is what he actually said.

BTW Peterson said he would address any individual in whatever manner they wanted – but he fought against any law that told him how he should address individuals.

billhickey105
billhickey105
3 years ago

Incredibly, Sarah Ditum wrote these words in her article on Jordan Peterson: “What he’s actually saying here is that…”

timlott
timlott
3 years ago

Also I think there are a lot of female fans of Peterson, if the audience i joined at the Hammersmith Eventim were anything to go by. Maybe 30 per cent.

David George
David George
3 years ago
Reply to  timlott

Welcome aboard Tim, especially so if you’re the Tim Lott that had those excellent discussions with Jordan (“Am I a Christian”) and on Rebel Wisdom “Jordan Peterson, censorship and the left, with novelist Tim Lott”. Both on Youtube

Martin Price
Martin Price
3 years ago

Sarah, like many of the comments so far I am tempted to address your criticism and sarcasm point by point. However lets cut to the chase Peterson through his work seems to have helped tens of thousands of people deal with a fast changing world. How about you?

Michael Hobson
Michael Hobson
3 years ago

What a trite, poorly informed and ill-written piece of journalism. You can’t find any ‘legible’ sentences in the book Maps of Meaning – what were you trying to read it under water? As for your ‘unusual female fan’ – according to Dave Rubin, the compere of the recent world tour, about 30% of the audience were women. But the main problem is you make no reference to the hours of available online lectures, classes and papers on philosophy, history and the bible etc. …The debates with Sam Harris, the interviews and discussions with Rogan and the Weinsteins etc. etc. Such ignorance really isn’t the basis to try and launch this sort of would be smart aleck attack.

Grenville Smith
Grenville Smith
3 years ago

Here’s an idea for a good YouTube clip: A hour-long interview with JP on one side and Cathy Newman and Sarah Ditum asking the questions on the other. And someone to count the number of times the phrase “So, what you’re really saying is ….” come up Could even run a sweepstake for the winner. I’m in for a fiver.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
3 years ago

Cathy Newham came out of the interview with JP so badly as she constantly put words in his mouth and interrupted. Consequently it is foolish to cite that interview and reflects badly on the author of this article amking her look as if she has poor judgement.

borrieboy
borrieboy
3 years ago

“The eccentric philosopher of male supremacy…” is Ms Ditum’s rather poorly substantiated sub-heading opinion before we even get into the body of her equally poorly researched article.
Such articles merely demonstrate a fear of both truth and reality. Things which Ms Ditum seems unacquainted with if this hit piece is anything to go by.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

So Sarah, what you’re actually saying is…

Frances Mann
Frances Mann
3 years ago

What a depressing and silly and showy offy article.

There are lots of female Peterson fans and
!2 Rules for Life is so much more than a ‘self help book’. I could got on but luckily I see that lots of other people are doing that…

Athena Jones
Athena Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Frances Mann

As a female who has read a lot of psychology, spirituality, religion, sociology, history, anthropology, mythology and psychology, I found Peterson’s voice a valuable variation on the themes and thoughts others have raised. He manages to weave together themes from all of these genres and he does it extremely well.

Susie E
Susie E
3 years ago

If you look in Unherd’s ‘The Post’ there is a much better article on this topic. As I said there, we (I’m a young woman who has followed JP since Bill C16) don’t need a female JP. Girls and women need father figures as much a boys and men do and if, like me, your father was quite distant and could have done with some advice from JP himself then his work is immensely valuable. It has helped me to leave behind my victim mentality and become a better mother to my own children.
I was also reminded in the comments of one female writer (who often bases her work on JPs) who has also had a huge impact on my life. Philosophyofmotherhood dot wordpress dot com has also helped me immensely in my journey through life, but I wouldn’t claim that the author, Ally, is a female JP. She is her own person.
In my opinion, we don’t need another JP; those calling for a female JP need to stop being so sexist and just listen to what he has to say and see if it might apply in some small way to their own lives.

Alex Wilkinson
Alex Wilkinson
3 years ago

The whole article is just p***s envy.
And then the author let’s fly her ultimate criticism – Peterson is a woman!
Way to expose yourself, love.

Dan Poynton
Dan Poynton
3 years ago

Sarah Ditum – I have often learned great things from your writing but this article is as petulant as a 12 year old school girl and grotesquely sexist. Please, some brave warrior or warrioress in these pages, point out the screaming fallacies of this article in almost every paragraph, starting with her accusations of “male supremacy”.
(FYI Sarah, Peterson’s new book illustrates perfectly one of your fallacies: it addresses the danger of too much order, while the former addressed the dangers of too much chaos. Contrary to your shoddy claim, Peterson has always gone into great detail as to why he sees chaos as a feminine archetype and order as a male one, whether you or I agree or not. As obviously an intelligent person, how you missed this is beyond my modest brain.
Please Sarah, learn to read and “re-educate yourself and do better” – as our Woke friends are always telling the likes of Peterson. Have you considered a job at Vice or the Huffington Post?).
A severely disappointed – and slightly amazed – Unherd devotee (and no Jordan P fanboy)

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
3 years ago

Sorry Sarah but this is drivel of the worst kind which does your hate Peterson campaign no favours. You should have titled it why I hate Jordan Peterson then everyone who does not hate him would not waste their time reading it.

For those who thought from the title this would be about a female equivalent and is bemused why it is just why Sarah hates Peterson, there is this utter nonsense hidden in the middle “the weirdest thing about Jordan Peterson is that he is actually a woman.” which is then contradicted and never justified why the original statement makes some kind of weird sense to weird Sarah.

Anyone who tries to argue that feminists are not irrational, illogical, vindictive man haters would have a really hard time after this.

hectoribal
hectoribal
3 years ago

Peterson makes the case that the root of suffering is embeded into a larger-than-life constant struggle of meaning versus nihilism. That is not pretentiousness from his part as the author is intending to argue. He is basically putting our problems into the important conceptual philosophical framework they deserve. That way the readere are able to articulate more clearly their problems and aim at the correct objectives that lift up Self, as Peterson calls it, as the manifestation of society and individual. EVEN if what he has to say is “prosaic”, it needed to be said in a way that lifts up the spirits of men (and women of course) and, in a way, save the world.

Andrew Baldwin
Andrew Baldwin
3 years ago

Sarah really didn’t bring her A game to this op-ed. She is better than this. No it wasn’t a banal pronouncement for Peterson to say that he would continue referring to people as male and female, in the context of an authoritarian law put forward by the world’s most famous blackface hobbyist that could send someone to jail for doing that. Peterson wasn’t being melodramatic in saying that this was a form of slavery and opposed to Western civilization. He was just stating the facts. The pity is that there are not more social conservatives in Canada who are willing to take his lead. Peterson is high-strung and I have no intention of following his diet, but I honour and revere him. He is our Canadian Sakharov.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago

That Newman interview is incredibly entertaining. I felt sorry for her about halfway through, she was in so far over her head. She gave the impression that she knew she was making a fool of herself and decided to just try to bludgeon her way through.

Athena Jones
Athena Jones
3 years ago

It is clear the writer has little grounding in mythology, psychology, biology and history, hence her misinterpretations of Peterson. The level of ignorance is profound, whether choice or chance.

Does the writer truly not understand the meaning of the lobster stories? They are not ‘just-so,’ but quite the opposite. He cites them as evidence of biological imperatives which are at work in humans as they are at work in lobsters. That is their meaning. Did Sarah miss this because she was so intent upon, somehow, in some small way, ‘cutting Peterson down to size?’ She failed.

While he comes across as black and white, he isn’t. And while he has a very literal way of speaking, this is not what he is saying.

When he talks about masculine and feminine he is not talking about men and women in any ‘written in stone’ sense. He is talking about those qualities, present in all human beings, which, generally, not always, but generally for a variety of reason, separate into more of what is called masculine in males and more of what is called feminine in females. That reality is not sexist. Peterson does not allocate superior or inferior assessments to masculine and feminine qualities, he simply acknowledges their existence and their biological allocation.

Carl Jung talked about these qualities in depth and many have raised the need for the heiros gamos, in each and every one of us, the sacred marriage, which unites our masculine and feminine qualities in a productive union, regardless of whether or not there is more of one than the other in an individual.

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
3 years ago

Watching Cathy Newman interview him for Channel 4 news is like watching someone show up to a knife fight with a pair of safety scissors: the more she tries to rattle him, the more rattled she looks, and all her efforts to get him to confess that he is in fact a massive sexist are easy for him to skirt around. Who you think wins depends greatly on who you agreed with at the start, but there’s no Frost/Nixon killer blow here.

I’m sorry but that is nonsense. It was an appalling interview. It was way worse that turning up to a knife fight with a pair of safety scissors, she turned up to a battle of wits completely unarmed.

She went into that interview badly under-prepared, convinced that she had the measure of a man who (she thought) she knew by reputation. She did not listen to anything he was saying, she inserted what she assumed he would have said, out of a general antipathy and a grossly undeserved sense of her own moral superiority..

When an interviewer starts the majority of her questions with “so what you’re saying is….” (or a variant of the same) and the interviewee has to start most answers with “No, that’s not what I’m saying, at all” that is NOT the fault of the interviewee.

It was a news interview that went viral and became a meme precisely because it was such an egregious attempt at misrepresentation. She was caught and called out for it and was exposed as someone with an agenda. She did not want to do her job, which was to elicit interesting and illuminating ideas from a controversial intellectual. She wanted to score points.

It was an object lesson in how not to interview someone and she became a laughing stock. If you knew nothing about either person you’d watch that and see that she could (and possibly should) have ended her career as a serious journalist right there.

Maria Anna
Maria Anna
2 years ago

This is not a good article. But I quite dislike Jordan Peterson. I find him insidious who is creating a war of the sexes. Just look at this thread. There is Susan, who actually says she likes him but she disagrees with certain things he says and you ripped her apart. (English not my first language, sorry for the simplicity) I read through half of the comments. JP might be intelligent but I do not trust him at all. What I see is a terrified man that his old world with good old values is disappearing. And the huge following must be due to the same fear. I found this article trying to find women who like him and feel that JP talks for them, too. I found another one already, written by a 3o year old mum and the article was about how 3o year old mums love him. Women like me, who do not want to be mums have no place in JP s world. Today I managed to watch 2 videos of JP. He seemed terribly biased and completely uninterested in being understood (why complicate your language like that?) I have spent hours reading the comments after his Twitter rage. I do not find JP a sane person. I think he should sort himself out and simplify his message a bit — but will he be left with anything to say then? Beethoven always said simplicity is best. I don’t believe anyone who takes on the role of a guru and I do not believe anyone who needs to hide in overcomplicated language. I spent quite a lot of time reading Jung, by the way, and I think he would laugh his head off at JP. The only good thing is that some people find Jung because of him. Nighty night.

Jane Robertson
Jane Robertson
3 years ago

Very enjoyable. I was wryly amused by my eldest son taking onboard the 12 rules, you have now explained why!

Jacquie
Jacquie
3 years ago

I am a woman and a Jordan Peterson fan. I am also a ‘girl gamer’, so I guess I am a double unicorn.

I love how Sarah writes her own prejudices and insecurities into the things Peterson says – I guess that because she says so they must somehow be true? As noted elsewhere, he has never claimed male superiority, and he is certainly not sexist. Just because he doesn’t pander to lefty wokeness, doesn’t mean he is either.

Sarah claims that his reference to the dichotomy of Order / Chaos being represented by men and women, somehow conjures him thus. Is she a woman? Does she know any ‘real women’? Based on her rhetoric I would say not. Don’t make me explain the nuanced use of language and metaphor to illustrate what is potentially one of the most unstable, explosive, and complicated relationships in the animal kingdom – that of men and women.

Women ARE chaos, and I say that as one (biological and otherwise). I want the menfolk in my life to have some tools to deal with the fraught experience that is women, and Peterson
provides them in the simplest terms. We are mystical, oestrogen-drenched, serpent-tongued harpies most days, driven to make men’s lives an unbearable rollercoaster of giddy euphoria one minute or abject weeping the next.

Seriously, have you seen us? Peterson is certainly not saying that the Chaos/Nature that is women should be dominated. He is saying that men need to mind our sensibilities by being upstanding citizens, in control of themselves and their own lives, un-besmirched by our crazy. What is wrong with that? That is exactly what I want for my menfolk. If you are honest as a woman, you might agree.

It doesn’t diminish women that men are stoically in control of their shit, and I think it is incumbent on we women to help men achieve that even keel. Men are basic creatures, and there is nothing more unsettling to them than female chaos/crazy. I mean, there is a Hot/Crazy matrix for a reason right?

This article is just a re-run of the Newman indaba (Google indaba if you don’t know what that means), masked in an allegedly informed opinion piece. Does Sarah realise that she is manifesting the exact ‘Chaos’ that Peterson refers to? Again, I suspect not. She even goes as far as to tell us how we ‘fans’ see a man that we admire and ‘get’ ““ as our mum. I don’t know if that is a jab at Peterson’s Kermit-esque vocals, it may be, but you know what they say about ad homs … you’ve lost the argument.

Susie E
Susie E
3 years ago
Reply to  Jacquie

As a fellow oestrogen-drenched harpie, I whole heartedly agree. I do think that women would generally be a little less chaotic and crazy if we took on some of Peterson’s advice, which would in turn make life a bit easier for the blokes.

joelmellinger
joelmellinger
3 years ago

Oh yes, and order is “masculine” (“symbolically”, he hedges, unconvincingly), while chaos is “presented imaginatively as feminine”. There isn’t, it should be noted, any particular reason for this gendering: it’s just the way Peterson has decided things should be.

I don’t know why you say he’s decided that this is how things should be. Chaos, or the unknown, is represented as female because, as you acknowledge in the previous paragraph, it gives birth to the new. Peterson didn’t invent the term Mother Nature for example. Ancient cultures gave these things masculine and feminine characteristics. It’s not sexism to note that.

Nick Peters
Nick Peters
3 years ago

Banal nonsense. You are picking headlines without studying the text. All the ‘Mum stuff’ you refer to is about growing up, taking responsibility, owning emotions, being accountable.

You can call that, with some justification, a ‘feminine’ message, but only in as much as it is asking young men to tone down/disown the toxic masculinity they are surrounded by in sport and media.

A truly strong man owns emotions, is emotional, cries when hurt and is fierce (not angry) when protecting those he loves.

There is much to celebrate in what the man says, should you choose to look for it.

Walter Fawcett
Walter Fawcett
3 years ago

Pretty basic theme in his work that you have missed entirely: if you don’t like yourself how can others like you, if you are not achieving what you want change what you are doing. It all comes from within. Trying to make him about male/female themes or memes is just kind of weird! Can’t you take a man’s word on face value?

David C.
David C.
3 years ago

This is quite a brilliant article. It’s the first critique I’ve read of Peterson from someone who’s actually read his books and employed some creative critical thinking. I’ve tended to take Peterson’s side in these debates because the criticisms of him from the Authoritarian Left (who are not liberals) are hysterically nonsensical–they won’t even read his books or quote what they find objectionable. When I’ve seen Peterson talk at length on Joe Rogan or wherever, I find him sometimes brilliant, sometimes daft, but never offensive. Yet, I’ve never read his books either, so it was nice to get a sober analysis of what’s in those pages. If Peterson needs to be taken down a notch, it needs to be done in this spirit of journalistic dialogue, not in banning or hectoring him. Thanks for an enlightening and funny read.

Susie E
Susie E
3 years ago
Reply to  David C.

I think that if you read 12 rules for life or at least the first chapter and a half (which is about as far as Ditum seems to have got) then you’ll find she still takes a very simplistic and un-nuanced view of his work, so I don’t agree that her critique has employed much critical thinking… Your experience of watching JP on youtube seems to back this up!

C D
C D
3 years ago

Order isn’t meant to dominate chaos, as you put it in the article. Too much order is tyranny, too much chaos is meaninglessness – it’s about finding balance. Men and women can and do embody both concepts, with general trends that are not set in stone.

karen.scott.gagne
karen.scott.gagne
3 years ago

Wrong!:

What he’s actually saying here is that he’s going to continue perceiving ” and probably referring ” to people as male or female, depending on how they appear to him.

What bothers me most about the roots of Peterson’s rise is all of the misinterpretations of what his stance was based upon. In fact, it was free speech at risk and as a human and a Canadian I am proud that he stood up, even though he lost. His point was, just because someone decides they want to be addressed as Miss or Zer or whatever the pronoun of the day may be, doesn’t mean we should be forced to use the title when speaking to them. For example, in my office, no one uses a title. Imagine how weird it would be if one person decided that they should be addressed as Mister X every time we called their name. Well now, by law, we must do that in Canada. It would be ridiculous, but true. So call yourself whatever you want, but don’t force me into the discomfort of having to use that name every time I ask if “X” has gone to lunch! Speech should never be mandated and indeed, some of my freedom was lost with the passing of this bill. Hopefully we will never encounter the need to bend to such a ridiculous request.

Nicolas Jouan
Nicolas Jouan
3 years ago

“At bottom, what he’s recommending is basic good citizenship.”

No, but nice try.

Jeremy Poynton
Jeremy Poynton
3 years ago
Reply to  Nicolas Jouan

Yes he is. Basic good citizenship means taking responsibility for your life. A notion now largely abandoned.

Nicolas Jouan
Nicolas Jouan
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Poynton

This has close to nothing to do with the notion of citizenship, which is only one of the countless ramifications of the individual.

Jeremy Poynton
Jeremy Poynton
3 years ago
Reply to  Nicolas Jouan

So you say. A citizen with no responsibility for him or herself is no citizen. Simple really. You simply confirm what I say by denying it.

Nicolas Jouan
Nicolas Jouan
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Poynton

It’s not because x is found in y that y is basically x. Bizarre that this lecture seems to get traction.

Brigitte Lechner
Brigitte Lechner
3 years ago

Ditum is so funny. And she is right in that she describes my son and grandson to a T. Is it me or is she hinting that JP is really a woman because he is as chaotic as the next man – or woman?

renegateknight
renegateknight
3 years ago

Sarah Ditum never fails to disgrace herself with every article she writes. Keep up the bad work Mrs. Ditum your articles are really amusing.

Simon Newman
Simon Newman
3 years ago

Trouble with Peterson is that while he is highly flawed and could be rightly criticised, he is a lot smarter than his journalist would-be critics. So they just make themselves look silly.

When you happen to actually know about an area he’s discussing, his apparent erudition is a lot less impressive. It tends to be facile and contain some pretty obvious errors. He basically takes a journalistic approach to knowledge. But you have to know a lot more than any journalist does to see this failing. I just happened to be an academic & know about a particular area he was discussing. It did temper my admiration – but what he does is still impressive. Cathy Newman (no relation) style attacks on him are water off a lobster’s back.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Simon Newman

‘Trouble with Peterson is that while he is highly flawed and could be rightly criticised, he is a lot smarter than his journalist would-be critics.’

Over the last 20 years I have come to the conclusion that the average bag of crisps is smarter than the vast majority of so-called journalists. And a lot more useful.

Jack Henry
Jack Henry
3 years ago

Things are getting weird, yes. This article is decidedly weird and rather incoherent.

Billy Wong
Billy Wong
3 years ago

This kind of snarky feminist “take” belongs to the Guardian.

Nick Lyne
Nick Lyne
3 years ago

JP’s global fame merely highlights the mediocrity of public debate and ever-lower intellectual standards. What a dullard.

Kevin Ryan
Kevin Ryan
3 years ago
Reply to  Nick Lyne

I think you’re just trying to wind them up. I am amazed though at the list of angry comments below, one after another. It’s not even that critical an article, imo it’s mainly complimentary with some light mockery of a character who takes himself a bit too seriously.
I’m trying to think who else would get this mob so riled. Not Trump, Farage, Johnson. Thatcher maybe? I wasn’t taking Peterson seriously before I saw all this. But this is cult behaviour writ large. It’s nearly worrying.

Jordan Flower
Jordan Flower
3 years ago

Nearly your entire thesis is based on “if men are order and women are chaos, then”Š”
If you actually read 12 Rules, or watched even a cursory hour of his lectures, he makes clear that masculine/feminine do not map to male/female 1:1. There is significant overlap.

This is how we critique the world now: jettison what someone “claims to be seeking”Š” in favor of your pseudo-Freudian analysis where you possess special goggles that allow you to decode the ciphers and determine when “the sexism of Peterson’s worldview is coming through”. I find it strange that followers themselves never seem to possess these goggles, who despite being characterized as a frothing cabal of chauvinists, all seem to reject every one of the claims raised. It’s always the detractors with the special lens, and who are perfectly skilled “ism” and “phobe” hunters, never returning home from a hunt empty handed.

This piece is run-of-the-mill Petersonphobia. It’s like some cheap manufacturer has been making Straw Petersons, selling them to LARPers who then proceed to beat them down, all while knowing they’re not contending with the real thing, but are addicted to the performative delight they get out of knowing some people think they are.

I have a hard time believing you took the time and read Maps of Meaning in its entirety. It’s dense, probably equivalent to 4 or 5 average pieces of literature. But that’s another favorite Peterson slam: “he only had one book before 12 Rules!” As if he couldn’t have rattled off nine or ten 150-pagers to get his “book count” up to please the activists who wouldn’t read them anyway.

It’s the same thing over and over with the Petersonphobes. Vast, sweeping pejoratives like “philosopher of male supremacy” may sound good when you’re having Friday happy hour cocktails with your fellow progressive pals. But not once in any piece of writing, or in his endless hours of lectures available on YouTube, does he advocate for male supremacy. In fact, I could think of several videos off the top of my head where he facetiously refers to men as “useless” and “pathetic”. Never does he speak of women this way, even in jest.

He’s made clear he would use someone’s preferred pronouns if they genuinely requested him to do so. His stance here has always been clear cut for anyone with ears and a working brain: he is against legislated speech.

“He shills eating plans””I have a feeling this statement would have been omitted if he was equally lauding the “benefits” of a vegan diet.

“Being a lifestyle guru is women’s work”. Dave Ramsey, Tony Robbins, Zig Ziglar would beg to differ. Not even sure what this statement means. Talk about sexist. Find me a single instance of Peterson saying something equivalent about men.

At the end of it all, your argument basically hinges on a subjective perception that it’s only moms who lay down the law with their kids”so, you know, therefore, Peterson is like basically a chick, am I right??

Only someone who was raised in a home with an absent or inactive father would come up with an idea like that. And maybe that’s at the root of this whole mess of an article: you running from the fact that Peterson is the father you wish you had. Not fair, right? Doesn’t it stink to be at the receiving end of a pseudo-Freudian analysis of your unconscious biases?

P.S. to use your logic, no one ever recommended getting “beyond” something they thought was good. So in light of his next book, I guess Peterson has switched to female supremacy.

marietjieluyt
marietjieluyt
3 years ago

This is wonderful. I have been wondering why Mr JP annoys me so consistently, but there you have it: he’s my long-dead mom, nagging me to clean my room and stand up straight.
It also explains my irritation at the querulous and hectoring tone of voice JP adopts whenever he embarks on yet another endlessly aggrieved but grandiloquent tirade about this or that.
A further source of déjà vue: memories of my iong-gone theologian husband, going on and on about not Jung, but Nietzsche, the Great.
Mystery solved!