That’s really interesting about the client. Thanks for putting that into the mix. I had read that he was the eldest of three and that his mother was a librarian. I wonder if he felt like he didn’t get the “mommy time” he felt he deserved because she was also working outside the home as well as dividing her mothering time. He probably had her all to himself for a while there, and perhaps didn’t like that being disrupted.

I actually see Peterson as doing a huge amount of harm and just a small amount of good in part because I feel he is reinforcing harmful stereotypes about women and claiming those as “natural” — and a bunch of young men are buying into that. When he says things like he doesn’t know whether or not men and women can ever really work together without issues and that women wearing lipstick in the office are signaling sexual availability so this may lead to harassment -it’s really detrimental. First of all, as he ought to know (whether he does or not is in question), harassment isn’t about sexual interest; it’s about exerting power and dominance through sexual means, so the lipstick comment is completely off base. However it serves to reassert the notion that women are at fault if they find themselves being harassed. They should have dressed differently, they should have blah, blah, blah…..

He also essentially blames people of color for any negative things they have had to contend with, since racism either isn’t a real factor anymore, or (perhaps on a different day — he vacillates) is unfortunate, but can only be addressed as an individual. As if any social ill has ever been effectively changed by one person acting on their own! The issues with outrage culture and overzealousness among SJWs doesn’t mean that individuals with the same wounds and concerns shouldn’t work together to try to create a better society. It’s throwing the baby out with the bathwater to do so and turns a blind eye to a lot of actual societal issues. To reflexively loathe feminists without acknowledging that they have have some legitimate concerns is just inexcusable.

He claims that the patriarchy (if it even exists, again, it depends on the day) is a competence based system! That’s just laughable. If that were so, you’d not have the concept of an old boys network, nepotism, cronyism, laws on the books until 50 years ago or less which kept certain classes of people at a disadvantage. Again, this blind eye to the realities and the insistence that dominance hierarchies are valid and beneficial — I see that as very harmful, particularly when you get a worldwide following of young men to agree. Actual competence and healthy competition does have a value, but that’s not what patriarchy or dominance hierarchies are.

My friend Lorelei wrote this great piece about his positions on women in law firms and how short-sighted it actually is, and that’s how I see most of his social commentary. I think Peterson would essentially like to take us back to the 1950s, when what we actually need is to let people be who they actually are. He says something in his recent book about “don’t be a girlie man” and attributes it to Arnold Scharzenager, even though that’s a line from his character in the SNL Hans und Frans skits and not an actual quote. That’s very harmful rhetoric. There are a million ways to be a good and decent man, with varying blends of stereotypical masculine and feminine traits in the mix and trying to police men (or women) into behaving in only a certain narrowly defined measure of what their gender should be is kind of the dictionary definition of toxic masculinity.

If he’d stick to mythology and personal growth, I’d have no problem with him. In fact, I was quite impressed with him initially, but I don’t really care if people stand up straight and clean their room if they have no empathy for their fellow human beings. He once told a reporter that we would consider calling a trans person by their preferred pronoun if he determined that they didn’t have a political agenda. That just really sums it up for me right there. The feeling that he is completely justified in denying someone else their personhood and dignity just because it may not pass his sniff test. And then he tells other people that this is an acceptable way to behave? I find all of that really offensive and inexcusable.

Sorry for the rant, but I would be interested to hear your take on any of this if you have time/inclination.

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Dispelling cultural myths with research-driven stories. My favorite word is “specious.” Not fragile like a flower; fragile like a bomb! Twitter @ElleBeau

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