My Thoughts On Jordan Peterson

Disclaimer: This isn’t a “for or against” post, but a discussion on the impact Jordan Peterson has on society. It isn’t an exhaustive essay on everything he speaks about and it will focus more on his obsession with traditionalism.

Jordan Peterson has become well-known over the past few years. I promise this is going to be as balanced and fair as possible while pointing out the harm he is doing. He’s a psychologist and university professor who has become a media personality. He specializes in speaking to young single men who feel rejected and/or marginalized.

As someone who has a background in mental health training, I think I can bring a rational viewpoint to the table.

What I Like About Jordan Peterson’s message

#1 He promotes mental health awareness

I’ve heard him talk about mental health several times and he seems to have a genuine empathy for those struggling with depression. Unlike Andrew Tate (another public figure who denounces any sort of “feminine” quality), Peterson shows kindness toward men and advocates for people to seek help when they are feeling depressed. This is important for young men to recognize that it’s okay to seek help and it’s okay to not be okay. As we know, telling guys to just “man up” achieves nothing and does more harm than good.

#2 He speaks out against cancel culture

I don’t agree with cancel culture either. It’s essentially the modern day book burning where a big group of “woke” people think they can cancel someone because they dislike their message. I feel this is wrong for two reasons: 1) You can’t literally cancel people just because they said something you disagree with and 2) You’re making people who are sending harmful messages more famous by drawing light to how much you dislike them. A lot of controversial people have literally built their careers on cancel culture.

Love him or hate him, he brings up a valid point that you can’t just cancel something because you don’t like it. If anything, it makes left wing people look spoiled and weak when they try this. If everyone stopped hating on this guy he probably wouldn’t have been as popular as he is now. There are a lot of great psychologists/therapists with a more inclusive message who could be more prevalent role models for young men, but instead we see more of Jordan Peterson’s heavily biased messages about how people are meant to live.

What I Dislike About Jordan Peterson’s Message

#1 The old-fashioned one-size-fits-all message

He uses his education and clout to spread dated and/or suppressive ideals. Essentially, anyone who says there’s only one proper way to live (In his case it’s about getting married and having kids in your 20’s) is ignorant of other people’s needs. People’s lives are not linear and many of us want to explore or try different lifestyles before fully settling down. Others get married but don’t want kids.

Even if everyone deep down believed that the ideal life was to be married with kids by age 30 (For argument’s sake), life doesn’t usually operate how it’s expected to on paper. In some marriages there is abuse, cheating, divorce, differing values, or a young couple outgrows each other. It’s this reason why society realized education is important for women so they can have more choice on how their life goes.

It is totally fine if someone wants to go the traditional route – I know people who have done this and they are very happy (Others regret it). Others prefer a life path that isn’t so linear and takes a lot of interesting twists and turns. For example, I know of several women who got married in their 30s/40s and had a kid (often with a guy younger than they are) – they’re happy and thriving. There’s no wrong way to live a happy life and everyone’s timeline is different.

Food for thought: If everyone really wanted the 1950s family model, no one would have deviated from it. There’s thousands of different lifestyles one can lead and it’s okay if you embrace your right to choose what makes you happy.

I’m one of those people who didn’t want kids in their 20s/30s and preferred to focus on travel, writing, and self-improvement. I do want a relationship with the right guy (and have for awhile) and I recognize it’s better to wait for a wonderful relationship where both people are crazy about one another than settle down just for the sake of settling down.

What Peterson is saying is people who don’t follow the 1950’s model aren’t doing things right. It creates a narrative where “women focusing on their career and independence are the reason why men are so unhappy today”. It’s placing the blame on women not settling down when they’re very young; some men who listen to J.P. might start to think in line with this ideology and not take responsibility for their own choices.

#2 He loves straw man arguments

This mostly applies to when he’s blasting post-modern ideology. For example, he was having a discussion with a professional woman about closing the gender wage gap and he was using the line of reasoning that men work in more dangerous or more physical jobs which is why they get paid more. It was such a foolish point because a) he’s assuming most men work in physical jobs and b) he’s ignoring that some women enjoy working physical jobs and c) he thinks only physical jobs are worth a high wage. It’s a complex issue and while I get the point where people with risky physical jobs should make more money than people working in service jobs, the way he presented his point was clearly intended to dominate the conversation. He seems like someone who enjoys arguing just for the sake of arguing rather than forming a logical solution.

All in all, I think he’s an empathetic person who genuinely cares about men’s mental health (which is much needed in our world), but if he could not get so caught up in pointless gender arguments, more people could respect the work he does. One of the basic principles of mental health work is treating a client like an individual and not assuming your own values on them, so in that aspect he fails as a therapist.

To Conclude

A big part of maturity is recognizing that different things work for different people. Your idea of heaven could be another’s idea of hell. When people like Peterson attack others (or society as a whole) for being “post modern” and getting married too late and not having kids before 30, it shows they have a lot of growing up to do. It would also be wrong for someone to say no one should have kids or be married before age 30. When you’re mentally healthy and mature, you’re more accepting of other people’s lifestyles. If someone is upset because women are having kids later in life or focusing more on their career, it shows they’re either jealous or insecure in their own beliefs.

Should he be hated on and cancelled? No. Of course not. Unfortunately when you attack someone like that, all they’re going to do is respond with defensiveness or derail the conversation to avoid the real issue – their bias.

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Thanks so much for reading today! I’m sorry for writing about something so controversial (something I usually stay away from), but it’s been on my mind for a while. I don’t agree with the hate he gets yet I’m genuinely concerned with the messages he teaches, especially to young impressionable people who don’t know better. It causes confusion and unnecessary blame on people who don’t deserve it. However, the fact that he’s saved lives needs to be acknowledged. As I said, when I’ve heard him speak about mental health there’s a genuine kindness and concern there which is much needed.

I hope my blog post shows that you can have a balanced view about something – seeing the good someone does in one area while acknowledging the harm they do in another.

Thanks so much for reading today!

4 comments

  1. I have to admit I don’t know much about Jordan Peterson. It’s just not the kind of news I am interested in. However, I pay attention to psychology from time to time. I’ve listened to several of Dr. Todd Grande’s videos. I think your post was very interesting reading. It is risky to post about controversial topics but if it is done in a thoughtful, restrained and intelligent manner it is fine. I loved your very thoughtful post.

    • Thank you so much! πŸ™‚ I’m glad you think so. It means alot. It’s funny Jordan Peterson keeps popping up on my tik tok feed so I thought I might write about it since he’s gaining traction with alot of millennial and Gen Z people.

  2. A very thoughtful piece that’s evenly balanced, considers his appeal to the wider audience while still highlighting his key shortcomings in his advice to young adults. Really enjoyed your personal take on it considering his growing popularity/infamy πŸ™‚

    • Thanks so much for reading and I’m really glad you like the article! Made my day. 😊 And yes his work in mental health is really phenomenal despite some of his biased opinions.

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