“A young, mainly female demographic with strong political views, dominates every level of publishing”
James Innes-Smith – Publish of be damned, The Critic July 2021
If we classify the extremes of maleness as toxic masculinity it is worth asking what form the extremes of female behaviour or toxic femininity might take? This matter has been discussed in two previous blog posts. First, when Jordan Peterson waded into the subject see Jordan Peterson and Toxic Femininity. Second, following an article in Areo, Social Justice Culture and Toxic Femininity by Freya India Ager. My blog post in response to that article can be found here.
Freya India Ager argues that predominantly male or female traits taken to extremes can become sins. There has been great deal of discussion of male traits taken to excess but much less discussion of the problems associated with female traits taken to excess. Freya India Agar argues that female traits taken to extremes would look a lot like social justice culture; a culture that prioritises feelings and lived experience over empirical methods, and a culture that does not value free-enquiry and the values of the enlightenment. There is evidence pointing in this direction. For example, the references section of Helen Pluckrose’s book Cynical Theories reveals an overwhelming preponderance of female academics. The recent Policy Exchange report on academic freedom that you can find here also sheds light on what toxic femininity might look like. The report revealed a chilling lack of cognitive and viewpoint diversity in academia and a willingness of academics to discriminate against those holding different political views. It wasn’t that those on the left or the right were better in this regard but there were so many more left-leaning academics that there was a chilling effect on speech originating from the right of the political spectrum. One finding that was rarely commented on was the difference between male and female academics. The latter showed a much greater willingness to discriminate against the job application of candidates with different political views.
There is a similar problem in publishing. For example, Hachette’s David Shelley alerted the House of Lords to the growing problem with censoriousness in the industry. In this day and age, however, this does not arise from sexual prudishness but from ‘social justice’ culture. Writers whose work departs from the prescribed narrative can face cancellation. For example, an author who departs form the narrative that masculinity is toxic will struggle to be published. Author Lionel Shriver has even described the problem as a ‘quasi soviet phenomenon’. At the root of this is the feminist workforce that dominates publishing. To quote from the article in The Critic, ‘a young, mainly female demographic with strong political views, dominates every level of publishing’.
When Random House in Canada tried to publish Jordan Peterson’s work Beyond Order staff members were crying about how “Jordan Peterson had affected their lives” and at least 70 members of staff wrote anonymous messages to Canada’s diversity and inclusion committee. This is frankly absurd and elevates Jordan Peterson to the status of a folk devil. If anything, his book is somewhat banal and it certainly contains nothing to fear. You may say that Jordan Peterson’s book did get published, despite this furor; however, he was too big to cancel and for every figure like Jordan there are likely to be many more who do not get published because their views conflict with orthodox social justice liturgy or who have to moderate their views to conform with the prevailing orthodoxy.
In a previous post, I discussed the problem with the English Literature degree at our elite universities (here). Unfortunately, it is not an entirely dead-end degree and many of the ill-educated products of these degree courses end up in journalism and working behind the scenes in publishing. In turn, this leads to problems with activists seeking to control what can and can’t be published. Feminists have a disproportionate influence as the gatekeepers controlling what can and can not be published.
*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.