Jordan Peterson and Toxic Femininity*

*Mystery Man Muses has just written very thoughtfully on this subject in his blog post of October 6th that you can find here. He differs over some aspects of this topic and I hope you read his post as well as mine.

It is interesting to see Jordan Peterson wading into the concept of toxic femininity in the video below.

I previously touched in this subject in my post of January 29th that you can find here. That post was based on an article by Freya India Ager in the online journal Areo that you can find here. She acknowledged that neither toxic masculinity nor toxic femininity is a particularly useful concept. However, if we describe the extreme manifestation of male traits as toxic masculinity it is worth asking what form the extreme manifestation of female traits or toxic femininity would take. She argues that some aspects of ‘social justice culture’ are an expression of extreme female culture. Emphasising feelings and ‘lived experience’ over empirical evidence, for example.

Helen Pluckrose’s book Cynical Theories (how activist scholarship made everything about race gender, and identity and why this harms everybody) exposes the shallow and at times frankly toxic intellectual underpinnings of ‘Social Justice Theory’. Looking through the names of the originators of the craziest fringes of this theory reveals a preponderance of female academics. It seems that Freya India Ager may have a point.

From early childhood, male and female aggression may take different forms. Boys are more likely to physically aggressive whereas girls are more likely to engage in relational aggression such as reputational destruction, spreading rumours and social exclusion. Do these differences continue into adult life? I suspect that they do and you only have to look at the treatment of Jordan Peterson in the media following his interview with Cathy Newman for evidence of this.

You can find the infamous interview on YouTube here (29 million views and still rising!). Cathy Newman adopted an adversarial approach to the interview and according to most commentators came out of it very badly. At one point having backed herself into an intellectual cul-de-sac, Cathy is lost for words (23.0 minutes into the interview). What is interesting to me, however, is how Cathy’s intellectual peer group responded. Cathy, like so many media feminists, comes from a private school, ‘Oxbridge’ English literature background and sure enough journalists from the same background came to her aid with ad hominem attacks on Jordan Peterson. Marina Hyde at the Guardian suggested that ‘he looked like he could urinate through his face’. Hadley Freeman at the Guardian thought that he looked angry. Helen Lewis has attacked him because of the sort of people who commented on his YouTube videos and Laura Bates has accused him of hating women (his wife and daughter see it differently). What none of them did was engage with his actual arguments. Toxic femininity perhaps?

There is also evidence of toxic feminity in academia. For example, the Policy Exchange Report – Academic Freedom in the UK revealed a disturbing state of affairs in our institutions of higher learning where left-leaning academics predominate. The report revealed that academics, in general, are prepared to openly discriminate against colleagues with a different point of view. What the figures also showed was that female academics were twice as likely as their male colleagues to support discrimination against a leave-supporting academic in a job application (see figure below). Once gain, toxic femininity?

  • *Mystery Man Muses has written very thoughtfully about this topic in his blog I hope my comments will be read alongside his.

By femgoggles

I was abandoned by my parents in the black mountains and raised by timberwolves. On my return to the 'civilised world' with questionable table manners, I became a detached observer of human behaviour in general and gender relations in particular. This blog is the product of those observations.


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