And by that, I mean no one should ever fuck this guy. Especially now he’s gone full male supremacist, spewing some “enforced monogamy” bullshit because he thinks the way to stop violent attacks is to ensure equality of access to vaginas via societal pressure to slut shame women into becoming a man’s sexual property.
What’s a “men’s rights activist”? For starters, many MRA organization have been deemed hate groups. In short, they believe “feminism swung the pendulum too far the other way,” and now men are the true oppressed and we need to fight back.
And Jordan Peterson essentially outed himself as MRA to the New York Times.
Much has been written about Jordan Peterson, a significant amount negative. The most thorough exposing of the depths of Peterson’s dumbfuckery is this piece in Current Affairs. But now we have an exclusive interview with Peterson in NYT that gets the stupid straight from the demagogue’s mouth.
Of course, the Peterson faithful will say he’s been quoted out of context and you need to watch 500 hours of YouTube videos in order to truly realize his genius.
Is there some genius to Peterson? Meh.
He says, “grow the hell up, accept some responsibility, live an honorable life.”
Peterson told this to the NYT reporter, and it’s not bad advice. There could be more stoicism in the world.
In this, Peterson and I are like-minded. For years, I’ve advised people to strive to be better, become more. My most recent post was about the quest for greatness and the mindset required to find a purpose in life you can be passionate about.
Beyond that, Peterson and I diverge.
I’ve written extensively about men’s rights “activists.” My piece about them for TIME Magazine blew up, even getting a mention on CNN Television. I referred to the men’s rights movement as “a toxic slew of misogyny,” because it is. Their hatred of women is on proud display.
And Peterson has, perhaps unwittingly, revealed himself as an MRA to the New York Times. I’d long had my suspicions, and I’m not saying he goes to meetings, but if it walks like an MRA, and quacks like an MRA …
From the NYT piece:
Violent attacks are what happens when men do not have partners, Mr. Peterson says, and society needs to work to make sure those men are married.
Bullshit. As I showed in this piece, women are most likely to be stalked, beaten, or raped by an intimate partner. Boys need to be raised to not see violence as a way to solve problems or get what they want.
More Peterson bullshit:
“He was angry at God because women were rejecting him,” Mr. Peterson says of the Toronto killer. “The cure for that is enforced monogamy. That’s actually why monogamy emerges.”
Mr. Peterson does not pause when he says this. Enforced monogamy is, to him, simply a rational solution. Otherwise women will all only go for the most high-status men, he explains, and that couldn’t make either gender happy in the end.
“Half the men fail,” he says, meaning that they don’t procreate. “And no one cares about the men who fail.”
The Toronto killer mentioned was an “incel,” a so-call “involuntary celibate” I wrote about here. They’re an extremist faction of MRA.
MRAs have languished in relative obscurity. The primary MRA website, A Voice for Men, is overrun with sexist trash, founded by a garbage human and deadbeat dad. They had a men’s rights conference in 2014 that was such an underwhelming failure populated by overtly sexists losers that the following year it was cancelled.
Peterson is changing the plot, helping to take men’s rights mainstream while not directly proclaiming himself to be one of them.
He’s changing the plot because he’s not the typical MRA loser, and he’s less overt in his misogyny. He’s a successful professor of psychology who taught at Harvard. He wraps his defense of men and the patriarchy in mysticism, outdated psychological theories, and a misreading of a hodgepodge of philosophical thought.
Beyond the excellent Current Affairs piece linked earlier, if you want the excruciating details of how incredibly full of shit this guy is, here are some writings in major publications by knowledgeable people: link link link link link link link link link link link link link link link.
Of course, there are plenty in the media who laud the man. But as James Hamblin, a physician and senior editor for The Atlantic, recently tweeted, “The safest route to popularity in media is telling powerful people they’re oppressed.”
It worked for Milo. It worked Mike Cernovich. It worked for Trump.
My biggest issue with Peterson is how he professes to help the poor, victimized white males via the promotion of bigoted ideas. In my first piece about Peterson, I focused on two things: His opposition to bill C-16, and his denial that white privilege exists.
Going through Peterson’s largely mindless drivel is about as much fun as having a kidney removed via your urethra. Which is why, despite numerous writings and YouTube videos, he rightly languished in relative obscurity for years prior to a signature event: the move to make bill C-16 part of Canadian law.
As I’ve written before, most people don’t understand what free speech really entails. That piece also provides research regarding how those who hold bigoted beliefs have lower intelligence scores (just, you know, FYI). Which might explain why those who jumped hard on the Peterson train for his opposition to the bill couldn’t see his position for the utter bullshit it was.
The bill was about adding protection for gender identity under Canadian human rights law. Peterson made a stink that this was about “compelled speech” and that people who didn’t use someone’s preferred pronoun might go to prison. This despite the fact the bill has nothing to do with pronouns. (Read the bill here.)
Yeah, no. Legal experts weighed in to shed light on the ridiculousness of Peterson’s argument. It’s considered hate speech to say, “all black people should be killed.” The new law puts gender identity in the same category, so it’s also hate speech to say, “all trans people should be killed.”
It can also prevent discrimination in the workplace based on gender identity, which is a thing that happens.
I had a lengthy and heartbreaking interview with a transgender woman for my next book. She was raised in a small town as a conservative catholic. Imagine what it was like for her growing up.
Working as a nurse, after finding the courage to go against family and church to transition, many in her place of work refused to acknowledge it. She was derided, referred to by her old name and continuously called “he”. Eventually, she felt the need to get away from the discrimination by moving to another town to work for a more enlightened and accepting institution.
Did she not deserve some protection against such bigotry? The Globe and Mail reports, “A 2014 study found that transgender and gender non-conforming people who were repeatedly and intentionally misgendered at work were 37 per cent more likely to have attempted suicide.”
But there are a lot of people who think political correctness has run amok and want to be able to say whatever dafuq they want without fear of consequences. Peterson made it seem like refusal to use “zhe” or “zher” pronouns (the above Globe and Mail piece states: “In their lifetime, the average Canadian will encounter no one who uses a neo-pronoun.”) could land someone in prison. Like I said, it’s bullshit, but “stoic” Peterson was stoic in his resolve to show bigotry against transgender people.
Ka-boom. Instant fame. And much of the new fan base was people who embrace such bigotry. They saw Peterson as one of their own: a holy warrior against liberalism. The 50s were the good old days, when white men ruled with an iron fist and everyone else knew their place.
What does this have to do with MRA?
As I wrote here, MRAs don’t give much of a shit about issues that affect men. Rather, they deviously coopt them for the sole purpose of spreading anti-woman hatred, just as opposition to bill C-16 was really about hatred of transgender people. It wasn’t presented as bigotry, but such illogical twisting of reality makes it clear that’s their motivation.
A former close friend and mentor of Peterson wrote in the Toronto Star of how he now considers Peterson “dangerous.” It is a scathing exposé by the man who fought to get Peterson his job at the University of Toronto, and let Peterson and his family live with him for five months while Jordan’s house was being renovated. Peterson shared the article on his Facebook page, writing only “Bernie Schiff, my good friend…”
The most popular comments give insight into his fan base. Look at how many likes this one got. Peterson has let the comment stand unchallenged by him. He appears okay with this type of anti-trans nonsense being on his Facebook page.
Peterson’s quotes in the recent NYT piece reveal him as the champion of the incel with his enforced monogamy bullshit. The Los Angeles Times reported the recent school shooter in Texas had been harassing a girl at school for months, not taking no for an answer, and specifically targeted her for rejecting him.
It goes beyond his feelings of rejection; he used a gun to claim her for himself. He took her life like it was a trophy to ensure she would never belong to anyone else, including herself. That is the true horror of the crime he committed. He treated her like a commodity to be consumed, which is the way incels—and perhaps even Jordan Peterson—view women.
But men just can’t control themselves, right? Distribute that sex and all will be chill. But don’t appear sexy in the workplace. Wait, what?
In this video interview, Peterson provides additional insight into his archaic thoughts:
- “Things are deteriorating very rapidly at the moment in terms of relationships between men and women. We don’t know if men and women can work together successfully.” (at 0:13). Oh, for fuck’s sake. Someone needs to watch the first couple of seasons of Mad Men if he thinks things are deteriorating. My mother worked in a bank in the early 60s. I asked her if that show was how things were. She said that’s exactly how they were. He just can’t handle that it’s becoming more difficult for men to act like total horndogs at work. To him, that’s “deteriorating.”
- “we don’t know how to have an adult conversation about sex.” (at 3:20) No, YOU don’t know how.
- The interviewer asked at 5:05: “Do you think men and women can work in the workplace together?” His reply was, “I don’t know.” Then 20 seconds later he says of men and women working together: “We don’t know what the rules are.” Uh, how about don’t sexually harass women as a rule? Nope. Peterson has a different idea, saying, “Here’s a rule: how about no makeup in the workplace? Why should you wear makeup in the workplace? Isn’t that sexually provocative?” Then: “Why do you make your lips red? Because they turn red during sexual arousal. That’s why. Why do you put rouge on your cheeks? Same reason.” He then said high heels are “to exaggerate sexual attractiveness.” Then says, “I’m not saying people shouldn’t use sexual displays in the workplace.” THEN WHY SAY ALL THAT BULLSHIT IN THE FIRST PLACE? And just to make sure you know how he feels, he repeats at 9:48: “Makeup is sexual display. That’s what it’s for.” NO IT FUCKING ISN’T! HAVE YOU EVER TALKED TO A WOMAN ABOUT WHY THEY WEAR MAKEUP? THEY DO IT FOR A LOT OF DIFFERENT REASONS! Yes, some women will wear it as a “sexual display,” but you cannot categorized all women that way. And you can’t say women aren’t allowed to wear it at work because men can’t control their penises if a woman has red lips. I can’t believe people idolize such idiocy.
- At 9:30 the interviewer asked if a woman doesn’t want to be sexually harassed in the workplace, is she being a hypocrite if she wears makeup. Peterson replied with, “Yeah. I do think that.”
- Repeating what he said earlier, at 15:40: “I don’t think we’re capable of having an adult conversation about it (sex).”
Do you know how many women, including my wife, have told me how hot they think a man looks in a nice suit? Do we also ban men from wearing suits in the workplace because it’s a “sexual display”?
Tabatha Southey asked in Maclean’s Magazine, “Is Jordan Peterson the stupid man’s smart person?” The Current Affairs piece elucidated it was more that Peterson attracted desperate men. I think it’s a bit of both. I linked an article of mine exposing how bigots are often less intelligent, but it can go beyond that, which is why Peterson’s “debunking” of white privilege got so much traction.
White privilege isn’t the best term, because there are plenty of white folks living in desperate circumstances who don’t feel the least bit privileged. Yet their unfortunate circumstances aren’t due to them being white. Rather, on average, it is not being white that can bring all sorts of disadvantages.
Nevertheless, it’s not as easy to be a white man today as it was in the 50s. In other words, things aren’t as wildly unfair as they used to be in their favor.
For the group who has always been on top, movements towards equality can seem like oppression. Peterson has milked those feelings for a fortune in book sales, speaking engagements, and a high revenue stream via Patreon.
Not everyone who loves Peterson is a bigot, an idiot, or desperate. But there is no denying such people make up a considerable part of his fan base. As was pointed out in the Current Affairs piece, the commenters on Peterson’s videos often say horrible, violent things about women, and these get hundreds of upvotes.
If you are a fan of Jordan Peterson, and don’t hold bigoted or sexist beliefs, then does it not concern you that so many people who adore him have these beliefs?
Another example of Peterson fans’ toxicity is in their reaction to my first article about him. I’ve long been an exposer of various types of bullshit in my years of writing, and have come under relentless attack for doing so from cancer “cure” frauds, anti-vaccine and anti-GMO crusaders, racists, sexists, gun nuts, sellers of weight loss snake oil, Jillian Michaels fans, keto diet zealots …
My first piece about Peterson took the James Fell bashing to a whole new level. A parody Facebook profile was made as “Fames Jell,” and dozens of people friended it. In the week it was active, numerous homophobic and racist jokes were made with the intent of maligning my character for having dared to write about Peterson in an unflattering light.
Like Mark Twain (might have) said: “It’s easier to fool people than convince them they’ve been fooled.”
Peterson is considered some kind of self-help guru, but what is he really helping with? For some, he’s helping confirm their biases against women, trans people, and other marginalized groups by alleging political correctness has gone crazy (I agree there are people who take things too far, and gave an example of this in my previous Peterson article) and that white men are the true oppressed.
On that note, Desmond Tutu said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”
This is why even more annoying than his diehard fanbase are the fence-sitting Peterson apologists who, fearing backlash from the former, proclaim he’s not all bad. He gives some good information. This is reminiscent of Bruce Lee, who said, “Absorb what is useful. Reject what is useless. Add what is essentially your own.” The problem with Peterson is that it’s not “useless” information intermixed with the bit of good, but downright toxic proclamations that can sway people towards bigotry.
Perhaps Peterson helped you be more stoic, but what kind of stoic? How many toxic anti-woman and anti-trans and other bigoted ideas did he sneak in with it? Author Conner Habib recently tweeted that Peterson isn’t “just fulfilling a need for poor, lost men.” Rather, “he is stimulating their rage and longing first and THEN fulfilling the need he has created or exacerbated.”
Did Peterson really help you, or did he implant or affirm some prejudices? There is a reason why one reviewer of Peterson’s 12 Rules referred to it as “a self-help book for assholes.”
Don’t be an asshole.
You don’t need him. There are better people to seek life advice from. If it’s stoicism you’re after, I’m a fan of striving in the face of adversity. I’ve written about the art of sucking it up, have a popular motivational piece called The Exerciser’s Creed about not quitting, and have examined the science behind finding your way past obstacles to success.
I’ve been critical of Tony Robbins, but I’d far rather see you seek guidance from him than Peterson. Tony’s followers don’t have a tendency towards bigotry, and actively fought back against their guru when he challenged #metoo. Sam Harris has had his share of douchey moments, and yet I think there can still be value found in some of his teachings.
But Peterson crosses a line into unapologetic toxicity. Stoicism is supposed to be taken beyond the self. Stoics value justice, and that we should seek not just to triumph for ourselves, but for the benefit of the collective. From that link: “It takes courage and self-control not to turn the other way when you see gender-based discrimination at work, especially when your promotion depends on appeasing a bully.”
Seek better mentors.
I’ll reaffirm how Peterson came to be internationally recognized, being “stoic” in his hatred of trans activism.
But how stoic is that? Oh, someone might one day want me to use a word I don’t like so I’m going on a tirade to decry one of the most maligned and marginalized populations on the planet with a shockingly high suicide rate because one day my feelings might get a little bit hurt.
That’s some display of manhood.
Seek to help and protect those who need it most.
FUCK Jordan Peterson.
In the New York Times, Peterson says, “The masculine spirit is under assault.” It sure is. BY HIM! He spews nonsense like “order is masculine” and “chaos is feminine.” What kind of moron believes this bullshit? An MRA, that’s who. In the same piece he suggests men are in charge because we’re better at it, proclaiming, “The people who hold that our culture is an oppressive patriarchy, they don’t want to admit that the current hierarchy might be predicated on competence.” Uh, no. Men have always been in charge because, as I wrote here, brutality has been rewarded throughout history. The greater size and strength of men has enabled my gender to rule unchallenged since the dawn of humanity, much to society’s detriment.
Richard Poplak accurately portrayed that Peterson thinks, “the world is a hard zero-summy type of place, with alphas and betas and gammas all vying for the same hot chicks.” And it’s the same kind of bullshit you’ll see spewed time and again from the men’s rights crowd, which is why MRAs love Jordan Peterson.
We are witnessing the JP train go off the rails. Jump off now before it crashes.
Life is not a zero-sum game.
For you to win does not mean others must lose.
James S. Fell, MBA, writes for the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Women’s Health, Men’s Health, AskMen, the Guardian, TIME Magazine and many other fine publications. His first book was published by Random House
Canada in 2014. His next book, which is about life-changing moments, will be published in January 2019.