Jordan Peterson: Masculinazi?

I felt offended and appalled by Jordan Peterson’s attitude. I switched off almost immediately. I then returned to my friend and explain that I was not interested in watching the video. My friend  accused me of being narrow minded and childish, and the kind of ‘immature man’ or ‘overgrown child’ as the video suggested I – and most other men around the world – was. Later on that evening, another friend also sent me a link to the same video. Maybe I was missing out on something, being too eccentric or closed minded. I watched the video again and here is what I thought:

He was asked the question : “you have said that “men need to grow the hell up”, can you tell me why?” After a defining pause, he responded: “Because there is nothing uglier than an old infant”. “The Crisis of Masculinity”, he analyses and waned of, is a fault with each immature man, ‘old infant’ or ‘overgrown child’. He continued:

There’s nothing good [immature men}; people who don’t grow up don’t find the sort of meaning in their life that sustains them through difficult times – and they are certain to encounter difficult times – and they are left bitter and resentful and adrift and hostile and resentful and vengeful and arrogant and deceitful and of no use to themselves and of no use to anyone else and no partner for no woman and there’s nothing it is that is good. (He said shaking his head and grey hair).

Peterson informs us that he has clearly identified something he considers to be a “bad” or possible even an “evil” in the social world. For anyone studying the effects of individual value judgements in the social sciences might feel weary of such value judgements. We should assume to that as the researcher and expert in this area, then he represents a saviour, an ambassador, and the polar opposite of this “male-badness” or “male-evilness”, as a form of masculine good or source of male positivity, should we not? I mean, why wouldn’t we consider him on the better side of these ‘mature/immature’ ‘male/female’ dichotomies that he has drawn and thrown at our feet?

The most amazing this is that he did not explain what “growing up” actually entails; how do you define “growing up”? Does he mean put on a suit, slick your hair back, speaking in a serious and pensive demeanour, working in an office and wearing suits, arguing with women over gender-pay gaps? Does he mean, act more like an “sensible” adult white man? I mean, wouldn’t growing up for a young Ugandan, Paraguayan or Pilipino man mean something slightly different? What is the monolithic ideological construct he calls “growing up”? We all know, we cant all grow up at become successful football players, rock stars or drug dealers. We all know, that we will not all become managers or business owners. So what is this “grown up mature man” ideal type he refers us to? Become a bit more like him self?

Just as not all women are able to get equal pay, not all young men grow up in social and cultural conditions where simply throwing on a suit and speaking clearly and sensibly will get them as far as selling drugs, milking cows or hunting for wild animals. But anyway, according to Peterson, millions of young men watch his channel because he is the only person telling them that they need to grow up: “in fact the words that I have been speaking… have had such dramatic impact [that this] is an indication that young men a starving for this sort of message.”

If a woman presents Peterson the argument that there is a gender pay gap, he argues that there are so many different variables to take into account that the whole feminist gender pay gap argument is therefore debunked. Yet, he is able to present an argument that most men around the world, other than him self, are immature and the whole world is suffering as a consequence. His hypocrisy speaks volumes and goes unchallenged.

He also told the female interviewer (who is a woman with her own opinion) that: ‘Women deeply want men who are competent and powerful’ but then when asked what role women should play in fixing the ‘crisis of masculinity’, shrugs his shoulders and snaps: “Well it depends what [women] want!” Well Prof., you have already told us what (you think) women want ?! What makes him able to make such sweeping claims? “Because I’m a clinical psychologist.” Take a load of some of his other broad, general, sweeping statements:

“Power is competence.”
“You can’t dominant a competent partner.”
“Women are more agreeable than men.”
“[Having weak partners] makes women miserable.”

This is just testimony to shoddy, sensationalist egocentric (narcissistic), personality-driven academia. If I want to read about any for of crisis in masculinity then the library shelves of stacked full of books that will tell me about the humanitarian crises of alienation, species-being, dehumanisation, fragmentation, and so on. Although this author’s ego may allow very little room for discussion about these other authors, his message says little new.

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2 thoughts on “Jordan Peterson: Masculinazi?

  1. Blessed be http://www.duckduckgo.com that brought me to your website, instead of Google!

    I read your article and believe you are (were) missing a few points which could be helpful to your reflexion.

    1. What does he mean by “grow the hell up”. He actually does explain it: shoulder responsibility. Be useful. No, it doesn’t mean “wear a suit and take on a job you hate”. He never says that. Interesting that you should assume he means that. I used to think that it meant that – and that belief, which I chose, impacted my life awfully. This, by the way, is helpful for everyone who aspires to be an adult, whether man, woman, regardless of skin colour. As his says: figure it out yourself. Despite his hater’s bigoted attempts to reduce his views to him being a white male, his view is that each individual can decide for themselves. He’s a psychologist so is more likely to believe that individuals can be free if they chose, rather than be slaves of racist and sexist social categories.

    2. Yes, he informs the interview that “women want a specific type of men” because… that is what data shows. He has worked with many women and men and has observed it. Empirical evidence shows it. If someone disagrees with the evidence, unless they can show flaws in the data collection, their “opinion” doesn’t do anyone much good, aside from people who want to disagree with evidence. Same for the gender pay gap: it’s methodology is moronic even though it shows a gap we feel should exist. Discarding data we disagree with is dangerous and dishonest.

    3. Regarding bad and good: first, you can discuss how much utility you bring to the world. More so, he speaks of how helpful you can be, how you can have a positive impact. You could argue that “positive for some is normative and it is negative for others”. Sure, maybe. How about “without our normative world view of try to not harm others and make their life worse balancing their subjective point of view, our society’s norms and our own point of view, we do our best”? Sure you can say “everything is subjective” – but I promise you that LGBT refugees in Kenya who are hungry as I type this could really use some “normative and subjective help”. Maybe you could argue that they deserve to be hungry and die because you don’t like LGBT people. Then I would argue against your point of view and, hopefully, the majority of people would find my arguments more convincing than yours. Sure, it still is normative – but what point are we trying to make if we try to live without norms? Like in the latest Avengers movie when someone says “that word is made up”, Thor replies “all words are made up”. And they are. Either we try to play a game that benefits as many people as possible and harms as few as possible, or we refuse to play.

    Maybe trying our best to play that game is… what growing up means.

    Hope you find these thoughts useful, whether or not you agree, I enjoyed writing them because it seems to be that you are honest and sincere in your assessment of that interview, even though I disagree with your take on it. I hope you read this with an open mind and consider that, perhaps, your take on it lacked some nuance or understanding. Perhaps I wrote this because I’m sure that I too would have written something very similar some years ago.

    Very best wishes 🙂

    J

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