This post is dedicated to my deceased sister, Sherry, who would have turned 67 today –
“A Power Frau”
If you have not yet heard of Jordan Peterson, Professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto, author and culture critic, now you have. I only became aware of his existence this February when visiting Edinburgh, Scotland and an emancipated, career woman, mother of a boy much like myself recommended his book, “12 Rules for Life”*. She excused some of his controversial notions about women and warned me that he is particularly appealing to white males feeling challenged by developments or trends in society including the liberated woman. Peterson’s rules in particular, she thought, would be helpful for our young adult sons on their lives journeys.
Then a man I admire greatly told me how he discovered Jordan Peterson in a Spectator Magazine article. After reading the article, he bought the book and listened almost non-stop to Peterson’s podcasts/youtube lectures. This made me more curious and so I have ordered the book, listened to only a couple podcasts and started my own exploratory journey.
This link to the Economist Open Future podcast interview with Jordan Peterson on modern liberalism captured my attention, partly because it is a woman, Anne McElvoy, leading the interview, a bit provocative, but also curious. She also coincidentally worked earlier for the Spectator.
I shared the link with friends and got this reply from a woman, who may consider herself a feminist. She introduced an interesting side controversy regarding the partisan trend esp. pronounced in America: conservative Republicans vs. liberal (in the American sense of the word) Democrats or the appeal of Prof. Jordan Peterson vs. Harvard Prof. and author, Steven Pinker.
“I just listened to the podcast while drawing. I found his ideas consistent with Steven Pinker, Harvard psychologist, who is much more positive in his outlook and presents his research well. I’m listening to his book “Enlightenment Now” which transformed my (male) partner from a pessimist to an optimist for the future and even gets into all the current issues with Trump’s rise. You can find some of his lectures on line, but the book is full of proof of how life is better and hope for mankind addressing the problems that confront us and the earth. It’s a long book. Enlightenment doesn’t refer to spiritual as much as the Age of Enlightenment which was the beginning of humans transforming their lives for the better.
Jordan rubbed me the wrong way, as did his interviewer, yet they covered some of the same material as Steven Pinker. Jordan is much more angry and defensive, probably because the interviewer was a bit rabid and singularly focused on feminism, which I think illustrates what he blamed as how radical liberalism is the undoing of academia. Steven Pinker refers to that as well.
“The democrats have to get their act together with a strong positive message/person … The divisiveness is so scary and so promoted by the media.”
The Economist described the interview as follows:
“The controversial author of “12 Rules for Life” and pundit of anti-political-correctness tells us what he thinks is wrong with modern liberalism in our podcast. We ask him about #MeToo, whether people should date their co-workers—and we endure an excruciating silence after asking which feminist he most admires.”
Throughout the interview, Peterson repeated many times how he is against -isms of all kinds and is rather a promoter of the individual and the accompanying responsibilities of being an individual. The question asking him who his favorite feminist is was, in my opinion, unfair, because he would not necessarily admire any person, woman or man, identified with an -ism, not just feminism. He also emphasized throughout the interview how careful he is in his pronouncements. So try to find an admirable woman and there are many, who is not associated with an -ism, be it feminism, politics, philosophy, etc. and that might explain the long pause. He has a good answer and it wasn’t Madame Currie, but that answer might have been a good one too!
Take a look at the two links below of earlier IAV posts: one on how discriminating Economic Academia is against women and then on how Silicon Valley and Tech companies tend to be male dominated. Academia is notoriously liberal and yet being liberal is not necessarily fair either when it comes to women and minorities. Food for thought…