This article by Fionn Shiner, the second most widely read in our TCW Encore series, in which he defends Jordan Peterson against the New Statesman’s Helen Lewis, speaks for itself.
Peterson has made it his mission to stand up for men. On virtually every indicator men in the West are performing badly, though this is not new – the descent of men can be traced back some 40 years. What is new and what disturbs him most is the narrative of blame. Today men cannot win in face of feminist accusations of toxic masculinity and patriarchy. They are damned if they ‘man-up’ and damned if they don’t.
Geoff Dench was right when he observed in 1996 that ‘we have such an accumulation of policy errors to deal with that we require a through reorientation of public discourse’. (Rediscovering Family, P41). He went on to say:
‘The sort of shift we need encompasses a moral reinstatement of at least some elements of the sexual division of labour, probably grounded in stronger marriage institutions, and certainly linked with a conceptual unscrambling of the private realm of interpersonal relations revolving round families, and the public realm concerned with the impersonal organisation of collective life.’
This shift, more than twenty years later, is exactly what Jordan Peterson is bringing about. Unless adult men are given clear roles and duties their attachment to society becomes tenuous. Nothing demonstrates this better that the rising gang crime and violence amongst young men.
Even opening up such discussion, has been enough to bring down feminist ire on Peterson’s head, as Fionn explains below.
First, it is worth listening to what Jordan Peterson say about it himself. Many of you will have seen the Cathy Newman train-wreck interview in which he calmly and coolly stood his ground and exposed her illogic. You may not however have seen another interview, on the BBC’s Radio 5 Live, in which he was given the airtime to express his feeling about feminism and the plight of young men. The last few minutes were filmed. In-between giving vent to his frustration – at the nonsensical feminist view of Western culture as an evil, corrupt patriarchy and at feminism’s politics of resentment – he keeps repeating, ‘it is so sad’. It is.
As ubiquitous as the man himself are the frequent mischaracterisations of Jordan Peterson in Left-leaning publications. The latest on offer is from Helen Lewis at the New Statesman. Her attempted takedown seems to scuttle along haphazardly, not failing to mention that he is white and male (yuck) and to demean his followers.
The most telling sentence from Lewis is: ‘But because he’s writing for sad young white men – and their problems are, you know, real problems, not like anorexia or rape or sexual harassment at work – he’s a public intellectual.’
That encapsulates Dr Peterson’s popularity. He is acknowledging and validating the issues that face a number of young men in the Western world when the rest of the intelligentsia are telling them their problems aren’t real because their magical male privilege will get them a good job.
That men have problems in the modern world doesn’t mean that women don’t, and vice versa. And I would not be interested in getting into ‘who has it worse?’ because I believe every human being on the planet suffers in some way. However, men do face problems and that is why Peterson is so popular.
For example, men in the UK aged between 20 and 49 are more likely to die from suicide than any other natural cause; 30,000 more women than men go to university in the UK; in America men account for 93 per cent of workplace deaths; 71 per cent of homeless people in the UK are men.
Why Peterson’s success has led to so much hand-wringing on the Left is because it has thrown a spanner in the works of their view on life. ‘Man has it good, woman has it bad’ – yet Peterson has come along and said: ‘We all struggle’ and this does not compute. To acknowledge his appeal to young, white men would be to acknowledge they need help, which is confusing. Why would they need help when they have their super-duper-mega-white-male privilege?