Jordan Peterson (Image: AP)

That toxic masculinity gateway thug Jordan Peterson is back. In case you hadn’t noticed. The Canadian psychologist-turned-provocateur has staged a comeback after his life dramatically fell apart a couple of years ago. He put out a book earlier this year, Beyond Order — the update to his 12 Rules For Life has been dubbed “a ragbag of self-help dictums”.

And he’s back on YouTube, where millions devour his illogical word salads, vague platitudes, and turgid lessons for boys and blokes. Beyond his turn-down-the-bedspread inanities, he insists that the world is hierarchical, with men on top because they are … well, better.

His latest video revisits his hoary argument that the feminine is represented by chaos. You can see why he has become such a hero to incels and bitter men’s rights activists when he says things like:

Chaos, the eternal feminine, is also the crushing force of sexual selection. Women are choosy maters…

This weekend he started up again with the same old bullshit.

“Why is the feminine represented as chaos?” a fan asked. “My feminist friends often question that part of your teaching.”

(The 12 Rules subtitle is “an antidote to chaos”.)

Peterson snarls back: “Well, let’s throw something back at your feminist friends.” And so it begins. It’s a “foregone conclusion” that the patriarchy is represented with masculine symbols.

“And it seems an equally foregone conclusion that the patriarchy is order, so if the masculine symbolism is used by feminists themselves to represent order, what is left for the feminine to be represented by? Order? Well that’s already taken! And the reason your feminist friends object to it is … well, I would say fundamentally there’s two reasons: they object to everything and they don’t understand it and they don’t understand their own behaviour. So you ask them: well why is the masculine represented as order?”

Then he meanders off into Daoism (“Get your feminists to ask the Daoists why yin is feminine?”) before saying the feminine throws the masculine into disorder “primarily through rejection”.

It goes on. And on, and on, and on. And on some more.

It boggles the mind that someone with so little logic can be held up as a “father figure, philosopher-king, and prophet”, let alone one of the world’s greatest thinkers.

Calling something a “foregone conclusion” when it’s anything but would not cut it in a high school essay. Setting up a patently false binary that if the masculine is represented by order, feminine must be chaos is intellectually fraudulent. Saying feminists object to everything and don’t understand their own behaviour is a pathetic and childish taunt with no basis in reality. Deploying ancient Chinese philosophy as a rhetorical flourish is entirely vacuous.

And that bit about rejection? No wonder the incels love him.

Peterson’s mission creep from psychologist to self-help guru is audacious and frightening when his humourless pseudo-intellectual babble bolsters the bitterness of the men’s rights movement.

Cognitive anthropologist Chris Kavanagh and psychology professor Matthew Browne include him in their list of “secular gurus”. In an ABC piece on their podcast Decoding the Gurus Browne describes them as a “new breed” who promote themselves as being “uniquely qualified to provide a special source of knowledge”. They mimic reason as they create personality cults.

That’s Peterson. A solemn pronouncer-from-on-high, a mystical wordsmith, a tweed-clad pretender. Like all self-styled sages, he’s a bullshit artist.

We know what Tory Shepherd thinks of Jordan Peterson, but what do you think of him? Write to [email protected]. Please include your full name to be considered for publication in Crikey’s Your Say section.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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