Tag Archives: feminism

Jordan Peterson and the New Masculinity

For some time I have considered writing about men’s issues in the modern world. I have not done so simply because I do not want to be drawn into the culture wars, and especially the gender wars. But something has now changed, and I believe that we can all begin to move forward in a positive way. A new wave of mature masculinity  beckons, and it is a very, very good thing.

My inspiration for entering the discourse is the arrival of Canadian professor and intellectual Jordan B Peterson into the public sphere. In this post I am going to explain why I think Peterson’s ideas and his success are so important. Secondly, I am going to outline what I believe to be a conscious and mature approach to men’s issues. Much of what I will say is equally applicable to women and feminism, as I shall point out.

I am going to use the word “empowerment” to describe this way of being. Jordan Peterson does not like the term, and I can understand why. It suggests having or wielding power over others. The truth is that any such “power” is transient, and I do not think it is wise to base our sense of self upon that which may rise and fall like night and day.

Thus, when I use the term “empowerment” it is more about an internal state, a wise and loving relationship we have with our minds and bodies. This can shift the way we move in the world and relate to others, including the opposite sex.

Years ago I worked with some very wonderful female spiritual teachers who were well aware that our dominant narrative on male-female power is simplistic. I have been deeply influenced by one of my greatest teachers, Jessica, a very powerful and wise woman with a mind so sharp and intuitive it could cut through you like a razor. A gifted intuitive, at times she could be terrifying, such was the accuracy of her perceptions. Jessica said that it was men, not women, who were being dominated and controlled within modern relationships, and also across certain aspects of society in general. I worked with Jessica and other dedicated healers who had a deep commitment to spiritual well-being. Healing personal issues with the opposite sex was a big part of what we did. As a result of what I saw there, I came to the conclusion that men have taken on so much guilt and shame that many are now simply unable to stand within their own power. They have become child-men. In the two decades since, I have not changed my mind.

This is remarkably similar to the conclusion that Jordan Peterson has come to today, in his role as a clinical psychologist, and now as something of a celebrity.

It is beyond dispute that women currently control much of the public discourse on gender relations, and men who offer dissent from the dominant narrative face severe repercussions, both personally and professionally. That Jordan Peterson has successfully managed to rebel against this power structure and come through the battle relatively unscathed shows that the climate has now shifted. We are at the point where open discussion of related issues is now at least possible. This is something that men (and women) should be grateful to Peterson for. A social fabric and public discourse which is founded upon the open shaming of masculinity is good for nobody – not for men, not for women, and not for LGTB people.

Jordan Peterson
In case you are not aware of who he is, Jordan Peterson has risen from the backrooms of Youtube to become a social media phenomenon, almost overnight. A recent interview of him on British TV, Channel 4, (conducted by Cathy Newman) for example, has generated over five million views within a few days. In the interview we see a relaxed and vibrantly intelligent man, but also one with a ready smile and compassion for his interviewer, despite the fact that she tries to detail him at every opportunity. I encourage you to watch this interview. I believe it represents a seminal moment in the evolution of the culture wars.

When Peterson first emerged on YouTube perhaps three years ago, he was a rather more severe-looking and nervous individual. Undoubtedly, the ad hominem attacks he received (and still regularly receives) as a result his criticisms of Bill C-16 were partly responsible for his awkwardness. That bill enshrined the “misuse” of gender pronouns into the Canadian legal system. Peterson could easily have become a casualty of the political correctness monster and had his academic career ruined.

But Peterson has survived, and indeed thrived. The attacks continue. He is regularly grossly misrepresented by mainstream media and the political left as “alt-right”, a white nationalist or simply a conservative. None of these is true. For example, after the previously mentioned Cathy Newman interview, the host station quickly released an article linking Peterson indirectly to alleged death threats that the interviewer had received. This appeared to be little more than an attempt to to deflect attention away from the fact that Peterson had come across as perfectly reasonable and indeed charming in the interview, and had intelligently addressed every point that the interviewer brought forward. Her inability to formulate adequate responses made her seem less than competent.

The Plight of Young Men
Approximately eighty percent of Peterson’s audience is male, and the Canadian psychologist is deeply concerned about the well-being of men, and especially young men. He regularly tells stories of lost younger males who write to him or approach him after his public talks, to thank him for helping them get their lives together. The passion that he has for them is clearly seen in this video, where he openly weeps when relating such interactions.

I agree with Peterson at we have to begin to address men’s issues. The problem is reaching crisis point.

Activism and the Shadow
Jordan Peterson does not let men off easily, however, and I believe that his ideas about masculinity can help herald a new era of a more responsible, empowered and ultimately loving masculinity. In this sense, there is a potential for the new wave of masculinity to be more genuinely empowered and enlightened than third-wave feminism. The latter, like virtually all social justice discourses, has become so focused on blame and projection at a perceived “evil other,” that it has all but abandoned introspection. There is a dark rage and highly destructive drive in modern feminism which should be being addressed by its leaders. Instead, the feminist movement tends to ostracise those female and male feminists and critics who display any dissent towards its often misandrist doctrines. It has lost its way. It is no longer about equality, but about power and control. It has joined the long list of hegemonic ideologies in human history, more concerned for the perpetuation of its own narratives than for truth or the greater good of society. This is admittedly a harsh judgment, but it is my honest perception of what it has descended into.

The new wave of masculinity must avoid such mistakes if it is to offer any genuine resolution to the current impasse between the sexes, and between the political divides. This is why Peterson offers hope. He is willing to be combative, is willing to stand his ground, but is also willing to assume responsibility for the shadow (the darker, suppressed impulses within the mind that we would prefer not see the light of day). He appears to be aware of how a failure to address the shadow can prevent integration of the trauma and self-limiting beliefs within a person’s psyche, and in doing so become downright destructive. When entire movements, groups and nations abandon introspection, they can quickly become delusional and destructive.

Cultivating a Love of Women
Shadow work is the missing link in today’s social justice movements, and I will include much of the men’s movemnt in this. It is for this reason that these movements inevitably descend into destructive delusion, adopting a victim consciousness, including addiction to blame and projection. The new wave of masculinity will have to include a greater degree of courage and commitment to truth than that displayed in the social justice movements we have witnessed in recent years. It will require a willingness to permit criticism and dissent. It must inculcate a high degree of emotional and social intelligence within men, such that the movement is able to offer dissent and criticism in ways that are respectful and mindful of those with differing perspectives.

It must not make the mistake of seeing women as the enemy. Instead it should have at its heart the goal of cultivating deep love for women; and for relationships between men and women. It must avoid the culture of blaming and shaming that delimited the greater good that feminism could have brought to the world. In making men the enemy, feminism has effectively stultified the healing of the collective male-female wound. It has developed a consciousness not of love, but of shaming and destruction.

Of course, all is not lost for feminism, nor for other social justice narratives. But there needs to be a greater degree of introspection and honesty if they are to move forward.

Peterson has a huge fan base. Judging by the comments sections under his YouTube videos, many of these people appear to be responsible and well-meaning. The trolls and haters are there, but they do not dominate the boards that I have surfed. Peterson himself seems to be bringing out the best in his audience, granting a voice to a segment of society that we have lost compassion for. That the online forums are relatively civilised is an encouraging sign, as the same cannot be said for all activists in the associated men’s rights groups.

For this reason, I hope that Jordan Peterson can begin to address the issue of healing relationships between the male and female collectives. To date, as far as I am aware, he has not said too much on how to develop genuine love for women, both in individual relationships, and in general. Hopefully in time he can begin to do so and cultivate this attitude in the mostly young men in his core audience.

A New Masculinity
As Peterson has stated, the new masculity will not entail the negative traits that today’s education systems and media typically attribute to men. Peterson’s healthy expression of masculinity is not about domination and control, colonisation, suppression and rape. These impulses, he states, must be acknowledged and incorporated within the psyche, such that the man develops the right relationship with them. Instead men can exhibit the noble qualities that truly healthy masculinity is capable of: high levels of personal responsibility, love and compassion, courage, doing soul-affirming work, sharing the wisdom of the father.

I am in complete agreement with this. I believe the new masculinity can be more restive, more embodied, more present. It will be deeply responsible. It will allow a healthy expression, not suppression, of sexuality. It will honour the fundamental impulses of men, but in a positive way. We must begin by encouraging men to believe in themselves, to create positive visions of their futures where they can embody the hero archetype, finding deep purpose and meaningful work. For meaningful work is a big part of what makes life worth living for men.

If this is done the right way, I believe we can create a generation of men who will exhibit a confidence and “charisma” that will be far more attractive, in every sense of the word, than the enfeebled, guilt-driven, virtue-signalling male that is often found today, an end result of generations of the shaming of men.

In order to do this, we need to begin to trust men again. And to trust them, we (especially women) have to allow a certain space for vulnerability. We will have to allow our psychological walls to come down, at least some of the time. All spiritually healthy relationships are founded on firm boundaries, but they must also allow those boundaries to soften, when friendship, love and intimacy beckon.

What this will look like in any given man will depend upon the characteristics of the individual. I see Jordan Peterson as a fine embodiment of such a creature. Like all of us, he is imperfect. But his exceptional courage, intelligence and wisdom mean that he has continued to grow as a man even into his fifties. Both men and women can now be the beneficiaries of this. Peterson is the right man at the right moment in history. His massive popularity is just reward for the courage and tenacity he has displayed in championing men in an age where it has become an effective taboo to say anything good about them.

Empowered, deeply embodied men and women are not a threat to each other. When Cassie Jay came to Australia in 2017 to promote her documentary The Red Pill (about men’s rights groups) she was savagely attacked by the media, feminists and even men. The savaging was merciless. This destructive mentality is what we all have to rise above to move forward. We need to start listening to each other, being present with each other. Learning how to love again.

Now is the right time to begin. Let there be (genuine) empowerment for men. And women.

Why the World is Not Ending Anytime Soon

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How much of what you experience of the world and believe about it is really based on the truth of “the world,” and how much is actually conditioned into you by the virtual world created by media and social media? This is an important question, because many of us today are actually experiencing less and less of the real world. And it is our connection with the present moment and this real world and real people that nourishes the human spirit most profoundly.

I have made the point about the importance of presence many times, but there is another crucial aspect of our increasing attention on cyber space that I have mentioned less: the worldview the media presents is a severe distortion of the actual world, often passing off the world’s more fearful and violent aspects as “normal.” Much of the media and social media is also deeply, deeply pessimistic.

This includes not just news media. Even well-intentioned news and media sources which seek to advance human knowledge or awareness are often unconsciously distorting our perception of humanity. Human rights groups depend on their very existence in making sure human oppression is continually brought to our attention. Liberal publications tend to be obsessed with oppression and social injustice, including racism, sexism and bigotry.

There has not been a lynching in the US for fifty years, but this didn’t stop a recent suicide of a black man by hanging in a public park in the US going viral, communicated by many as a lynching. This is despite the fact that about 8000 black people commit suicide per year in the US, making suicide the more mathematically likely explanation for his death by about 400 000 to one. His girlfriend later tweeted her outrage at his final act being used as a kind of political stunt. She had his suicide note at hand.

Third wave feminism has also become deeply pessimistic, producing a constant stream of hyperbolic narratives about “rape culture,” “slut shaming” and victim-hood. Is this really an accurate representation of western culture in 2016?

Another relevant story last year involved students at Yale University publicly shaming and swearing at a professor because he had failed to accept their demand for him to provide a safe space for them at Halloween. These mostly female and minority students felt that getting dressed up as “other” cultures (such as indigenous, Chinese, black) was a form of cultural appropriation, and thus traumatic for them. They then tried to have the professor and his wife fired and removed from campus. How oppressed can someone studying at Yale possibly be?

Despite the great progress the “liberation” discourses have helped make, are they now increasingly enslaving us in an unrealistic and pessimistic worldview?

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I have not only become a skeptic of the doomsday media and its constant focus on oppression and what is missing. I have also chosen to act, and now watch it very selectively.

And I choose to take the time to listen to people and sources which include an optimistic, positive quality. Is technology robbing us of our souls and rendering us redundant, as many believe? Futurist Keven Kelly doesn’t think so. In his book The Inevitable he writes that robots and automation are giving us ever-more free time to explore what makes us authentically human, and this wonderful development will only become more pronounced. He could be right! Do smart phones actually render us more stupid by making us constantly distracted? Benedict Carey in the book How We Learn refers to scientific evidence which shows that spaced learning with regular breaks is actually the way the brain works best. Intermittent distraction may actually aid learning and memory! Mobile devices could be deliberately used to this end in education. Indeed, one university professor in Queensland, Australia breaks his lectures into ten minute blocks, with spaces for students to fiddle with their machines.

The truth is that most of us have never had it better, all things considered. Yet many of us still act like – or believe – the sky is falling. And media distortion is to blame for much of the error in our thinking. If you want to see the difference between worldly reality and media reality, just open the home page of your city online newspaper on your mobile device, then step out of your front door and into the steet and compare what you see and experience to that home page. Where are all the rapes, murders and terrorist attacks? Unless you live in Mogadishu, they probably do not inform part of your daily experience.

So why do we insist that the media and social media are more real than what we experience? Why do we (want to) believe that the world is a worse place now than what it was when our grandparents were in their prime? Is the world really so terrible, so unsafe? Is it really falling apart because of the threat of terrorism, Donald Trump’s politically incorrect rhetoric or the war in Syria?

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The answer is no. We have been brainwashed into thinking everything is turning to shit, that we are oppressed, that there are evil others controlling the world and preventing us from shining our light.

Sure, there are many problems. Some people have it rough. Real rough. But in the bigger picture we have never had more freedom, more access to knowledge and more opportunity. And we are mostly pretty safe, living long lives and dying in old age. It’s hard to believe, I know.

A few weeks ago I walked through an old estate here in Melbourne, Australia, not far from where I live. At one time the estate was effectively a small village, centered on fruit farming. I wandered along a forested area which led into a small cemetery containing a few hundred graves, most from the first half of the nineteenth century. I was shocked to see how many of the dead were infants. Scores were children under five, many just a few days old. Many bore the same surname, and one family had lost five children, all under the age of six. Many of the graves bore nought but a tiny plaque with a name and age, the only remnant of brief lives snuffed out the best part of two centuries ago, forgotten by all, their mourning parents long dead. In those days there were no antibiotics, no penicillin and doctors did not even wash their hands because microorganisms had yet to be identified. Many women died horrible, protracted, painful deaths giving birth.

Nowadays we complain about slow internet connections.

I leave you with an extract and a link to a recent article by Steven Pinker, who puts much of the pessimism of the modern age into perspective. He does this by taking an evidence-based examination of many popular misconceptions about the way the world is developing. I quote a section here. I highly recommend that you read the article, and reflect upon it.

Marcus

“The world is not falling apart. The kinds of violence to which most people are vulnerable—homicide, rape, battering, child abuse—have been in steady decline in most of the world. Autocracy is giving way to democracy. Wars between states—by far the most destructive of all conflicts—are all but obsolete. The increase in the number and deadliness of civil wars since 2010 is circumscribed, puny in comparison with the decline that preceded it, and unlikely to escalate.

Why is the world always “more dangerous than it has ever been”—even as a greater and greater majority of humanity lives in peace and dies of old age?

Too much of our impression of the world comes from a misleading formula of journalistic narration. Reporters give lavish coverage to gun bursts, explosions, and viral videos, oblivious to how representative they are and apparently innocent of the fact that many were contrived as journalist bait. Then come sound bites from “experts” with vested interests in maximizing the impression of mayhem: generals, politicians, security officials, moral activists. The talking heads on cable news filibuster about the event, desperately hoping to avoid dead air. Newspaper columnists instruct their readers on what emotions to feel.”

Marcus Anthony

 

Marcus T Anthony, PhD is the author of ten books about human awakening, including Discover Your Soul Template. He is also a life coach and teacher of profound intuition. His web site is www.mind-futures.com

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