The New York Times Womansplains Jordan Peterson, Slandering Him as Pro-Patriarchy
On Friday, The New York Times ran a disgusting hit piece against Canadian psychologist and university professor Jordan Peterson. Reminiscent of the infamous interview with British journalist Cathy Newman from January, Times writer Nellie Bowles forced Peterson into her own preconceived idea of a sexist patriarchal bully and slandered him with every paragraph.
Bowles's headline said it all: "Jordan Peterson, Custodian of the Patriarchy." Many rushed to Peterson's defense, but the psychologist himself took the attack in stride.
"The usual suspects on Twitter are having a conniption fit about [the story]. I actually quite liked [Nellie Bowles] (the writer)," Peterson quipped.
While Peterson took the attack in stride and criticized some of his defenders as having a "conniption fit" about the story, in the interest of his eighth rule for life ("tell the truth — or, at least, don't lie."), I have decided to respond to Bowles's smears on his behalf. My wife and I have read and thoroughly enjoyed his best-selling book, "12 Rules For Life: An Antidote to Chaos," and consider the Times piece a violent misunderstanding of Peterson's philosophy.
According to Bowles, Peterson defends the patriarchy to an absurd degree, attempting to reverse all "social progress," blaming women for violent murderous "incels" (involuntary celibates), and pushing a government-enforced regime of involuntary marriage. The Times writer presented the psychologist as a malicious kook who decorates his house with violent images and believes flesh-and-blood witches and dragons are lurking around the corner.
In his book and elsewhere, Peterson follows Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung in asserting the psychological importance of archetypes. The masculine and the feminine, like the yin and the yang, are powerful explanatory archetypes that help people make sense of their world. Peterson does indeed identify the masculine with order and consciousness and the feminine with chaos, and his bald statements about them seem shocking to modern ears.
This does not mean, however, that Peterson has identified femininity as the fundamental threat to modern society. The psychologist is far more nuanced than that. His chaos is not merely feminine, nor his order merely masculine. He opposes efforts to ensure equality of outcome, but he does not discourage women from pursuing positions of influence and power in society.
In her article, Bowles emphatically declared that "most of his ideas stem from a gnawing anxiety around gender." She explained, "In Mr. Peterson's world, order is masculine. Chaos is feminine. And if an overdose of femininity is our new poison, Mr. Peterson knows the cure. Hence his new book's subtitle: 'An Antidote to Chaos.'"
"The messages he delivers range from hoary self-help empowerment talk (clean up your room, stand up straight) to the more retrograde and political (a society run as a patriarchy makes sense and stems mostly from men's competence; the notion of white privilege is a farce)," Bowles argued. "He is the stately looking, pedigreed voice for a group of culture warriors who are working diligently to undermine mainstream and liberal efforts to promote equality."