Author: Vernon Meigs
Back in late October, I saw a sponsored advertisement video on Facebook entitled ‘Jordan Peterson On Marriage’. The advertisement, sponsored by DailyWire+, was of a new series to be released exclusively on the their platform and based on the title and what we already know about Dr. Peterson. It is easy to guess what it’s about without watching the ad; he’s trying to sell marriage to young men once again.
Out of curiosity I’ve decided to check out the ad video. The part that he wants men to marry is nothing new, no surprise there. The ad however shows us that Dr. Peterson has decided to fully ignore what he seemed to acknowledge in the past regarding the perils of men in divorces, and family courts. He heads onwards instead to condescend about men who do not plan on getting married. He never would have used the strawmen he did if he had taken into account what he learned previously from speaking with his own clients, or from the backlash he received from an earlier diatribe he made about Men Going Their Own Way.
It is in fact those strawmen, and Dr. Peterson’s willingness to shame men out of their own aspirations that do not involve submitting to a gynocentric legal contract, that warrants this reaction essay. As an integral attraction on The Daily Wire, he now has a racket to maintain at the expense of the truth. Although I am not a subscriber to DailyWire+ and I have no plans of being one, I think we can take apart his intent by this ad alone.
The transcript of the ad video, spoken entirely by Dr. Peterson, is as follows:
“‘Who needs marriage?’ You’re above all that, are you? ‘It’s just a piece of paper.’ That’s your argument?
(a text still reads “Discover your best chance at happiness”)
“I’m going to tell you the truth.
“You might say, ‘Well, I want to be free to pursue what I want to pursue.’ Satisfying your lust. Satisfying your gluttony. Satisfying your envy. What makes you think that those aren’t gods that are ruling you?
“It’s not just a metaphor that marriage is the bedrock of society. It’s *actually* the bedrock of society.
“I was a therapist for a long time and I talked to a lot of people about their marriages. I’ve been married 33 years as of two days ago and it’s gone pretty damn well. You see what it would be like to care for someone. You see what it would be like to have someone care for you and value you.”
As we can see, from the get go we’re starting off with literally mocking men who aren’t wanting to marry. We all know there are plenty of ads out there in the world that insult the viewer’s intelligence by buttering them up in order to sell what they’re selling. Then apparently there are ads that…well, just plainly insult. That is in fact what Peterson is doing here because he knows, or should know, that family courts are hell. He could not claim ignorance a number of years ago and he could not now. Peterson looks down on men who don’t marry when there are multiple good reasons not to, and by wrongly accusing them of contrite reasons for not marrying, the insult is real.
Also, “It’s just a piece of paper” is not the argument Peterson thinks it is. Damn right, it is not just a piece of paper. It’s a document pronouncing a man to be beholden property of the state, and that of the wife he is married to. Or, that most certainly would be the case after she arbitrarily divorces him. And, who wants to bet that in the tradcon fairytale world, a man is always to blame for a divorce – be it the fact that he married the wrong woman and should have done better, or the fact that he didn’t support the poor fragile woman so it was so understandable that she would leave.
“You’re above all that.” Well, what’s wrong with a man being “above” a setup that can actually destroy him, and opting instead to crafting oneself as an individual human being of personal potential in exercise? Even if you do opt for a meaningful, organic relationship, what is wrong with rising above such a gynocentric institution, especially since those that advocate marriage so zealously are disinclined to spend as much energy trying to change misandric courts?
“You might say, ‘Well, I want to be free to pursue what I want to pursue.’ Satisfying your lust. Satisfying your gluttony. Satisfying your envy.” So, to Peterson, a man being free to pursue what he wants to pursue is everything that is, in his mind, tantamount to depravity. It is the basest of habits and behavior, the lowest of mundanity and trifles, and all within his unnaturally narrow disgust threshold.
This is no small matter, mind you. He is saying that a man who says “I want to be free to pursue what I want to pursue” is interested in only wasting his life. I’ll have some responses soon for the choice words Peterson used (lust, gluttony, and envy) to describe the pursuits of such men, but this obviously needs to be talked about first. Jordan Peterson is saying, right there, that the man who has dreams, visions, goals, even a bit of a hankering for some kind of experience for its own sake is pathetic and useless.
You might be saying, “Well, I’m sure that’s not actually what he means, he’s talking about the *real* pathetic people!” Here’s what I have to say to that: this isn’t some Cathy Newman so-what-you’re-saying-is moment in which I’m conjuring up nonsensical assumptions from a set of statements. This is me telling it exactly as Peterson is saying it. The condescension is clear, as is the fact that he looks down on men who opt out of marriage. A man couldn’t possibly have a good reason to not marry!
Now, to address the strawman arguments:
“Satisfying your lust.” Warning: this one will be a pretty long commentary. Does Peterson realize that it’s been generally understood that marriages tend to happen exactly for that reason? I’m not talking about more political motivations such as royalty merging family for the expansion and joining or property. Declining marriage rates aside, people who do in fact marry young do so for sexual motivations they obviously may not admit. Especially if their immediate religious culture has them obeying notions like “no sex til marriage”, they keep their motives hidden but they do marry so they finally get to have that sex.
The impulses of gynocentric romance coupled with understandable sexual desire is the motivation that young couples do get married, where the scrutiny from their peers are strong. The supposed motive to “take on responsibility” at such an early age is a pipedream in most cases, and would lead to disastrous situations where they rushed into something they weren’t ready for.
One would think that the imposition of chastity on both sexes (but especially the woman) is about upholding some notion about purity, but in fact it acts as a bait. Marriage-bent young women loudly proclaiming themselves as “traditional” and “submissive” rather easily withhold sex because whether they are religious or not, they are attuned at least at some level to how highly cartelized their female sexual value is.
The following is what goes on in these women’s minds: “We know you want your sex, you are disgusting pigs for it but we’ll be forgiving. It is a necessary evil and we will dole it out to you like food to a pet – only if you marry me and provide and protect me at your complete expense. I have the power of condescension to regard you as nothing if you don’t meet this standard, and even after marriage you are in perpetual danger of me arbitrarily declaring so. Oh, and you have to give me an expensive ring that I’ll pretend to be astonished to the point of tears and play it up like I don’t deserve it…but be sure you do it on your knees as I look down on you while you do it.”
Sex, lust if you will, is not in itself this evil force that one can simply suppress and pretend it’s not there. If this is what Dr. Peterson is doing, berating men for actually wanting their sexual desires fulfilled and just saying suppress it, then he is breaking one of his own rules: to not leave unwanted things in the fog. The driving force in life that is sex, especially for a man, is such that it is at best nonsensical and unfair to demonize him for needing the desire fulfilled peacefully in his own terms.
Any dire consequences for sexual activity in the modern era can be attributed to the fact that there is no delicate, balanced handling of the subject of sex and the legitimate education thereof. If sex is made sinful, at least outside of marriage, it is only in the context of sinfulness and depravity that sexual activity can happen. Personal responsibility goes out the window, and the consequences be damned.
Only the one who can take their sexuality into their own hands and know to let it flourish while knowing when to keep it under control will know how to mitigate the potential consequences rationally. If one really advocates for personal responsibility regarding sex, one has to balance telling the truth about it without demonizing it, and certainly without demonizing men for wanting it.
But, that is what is happening here with Dr. Peterson: he demonizes, or at least regards as pathetically low, the non-marrying man with the accusation of the supposed crime of being a seeker of sexual fulfillment. Once again, that is in many cases the motive for young people to marry, to have sex outside that sinful context. No doubt Peterson himself is likely to add “You want sex, well your marriage should get you all you need.”
The problem of course is that the sex can taper off, especially as the couple starts actually having children. Well, for the man it certainly is a problem, especially if he has a high libido. Women who cheat or leave their partner for a better lay is practically encouraged, and it is of course too easy to talk down on men who even think of doing the same. He’s only a man slaving hard in gynocentric society for their royal women, why should he get the sex he wants, that he personally deems important to himself?
“Satisfying your gluttony”. The big problem with sanctimoniously charged words like “lust” and “gluttony” is that it always assumes the absolute worst when it’s not up to par with the standards of those who make such accusations. You could have a second helping of soup and it’s gluttony. You can double the meat on your sandwich and it’s gluttony. Every so often you’d like something that actually tastes good and it can be gluttony. Revisiting Big Bad Lust, if a man likes a woman with a certain body type, it’s lust. If you like sex more than a few times a month it’s lust, and so forth.
What irks me however is why gluttony of all things is included among Peterson’s strawmen. Is he saying that men don’t want to marry because….they want to eat? Sure, gluttony can manifest itself in the form of compulsive, addictive eating habits and coupled with lack of fitness it would indeed be disastrous for him. However, what this has to do with marriage in itself is the confusing part.
Some might say “If you are all fat you can’t get married.” Do they realize that fat people do get married? You also don’t need to not be married in order to get fat. In some cases, not even limited to places like the United States, marriage is sometimes a one way ticket to get fat; now that one is married, they don’t have to do a lot of the high-maintenance activity anymore so they let themselves go. And again hypothetically, if you leave the woman for being fat then you’re “despicable”; if you leave the man for being fat then “you deserve better.”
Also let’s entertain the hypergamy narrative for a second: looks apparently aren’t a requisite for so-called success with women if you have money, prestige and status. If anything the less healthy you are, the sooner you’ll die off so the woman can cry all the way to the bank for his money. Any of this remind you of the trope of the fat guy who struck it rich and all of a sudden he found the right woman?
Then let’s flip it around and see how fat women apparently are so much more normalized and we have to accept their weight as “beautiful”, while a man must be perfectly fit and of a certain height to even be considered to go on a date. Peterson ought to know all about this; “body-positive” wokesters on Twitter went after him after he publicly stated, and I paraphrase, that a fat centerfold model is not attractive. Gluttony for me but not for thee is the attitude of so many women. Aside from that one remark, Peterson doesn’t expect to spend time talking about women’s gluttony; he’s apparently busy accusing men who won’t marry of being guilty of it.
“Satisfying your envy”. This is a bit of a tough one, as my opinion on envy is not so conventional. I don’t think envy is the worst emotion you can feel, so long as it doesn’t run your life or let yourself resort to negative reaction due to it. Sometimes envy can be a passing feeling such as “He looks fit – I should probably work out” or “He’s such a great and admirable sportsman, I gotta use that as motivation to get better myself.” In this capacity, envy is sometimes fine in my opinion. Where envy can go wrong is when it manifests itself as: “This guy has X, so I must have X. If he has 2 of Y, then I want 2 of Y. When he switches from Y to Z, I gotta make the change over to Z too.” Envy is bad when it means being beholden to conformity.
Now here is why it’s very strange that Peterson has envy as one of his strawmen: If anything, wouldn’t Peterson and the likes of Brad Wilcox be the ones to make the argument from envy as they try to sell marriage? “The happiest and most successful men are married!” “Men who are married have all the sex I promise!” “Don’t you want to man up and be like those married guys and get married?” What am I kidding? That’s exactly the argument from envy. Peterson is once again appearing to preach against one thing while utilizing it towards his own endpoints.
“What makes you think that those aren’t gods that are ruling you?” I’ll keep this short but it is clearly a hypocritical thing to say considering that it comes from the sort of person who would otherwise preach as a virtue a god of their own brand ruling you over; in essence, “those aren’t the gods that should be ruling you, mine is!” Peterson seems to liberally throw every style of argument at an issue and it makes him feel very inconsistent. Just as with accusations of lust and gluttony, this seems like a response based on one’s subjective standard as follows: If I like what you’re doing, then you must be perfectly lucid; if I don’t like what you’re doing, then those gods are ruling over you, bucko!
“It’s not just a metaphor that marriage is the bedrock of society. It’s *actually* the bedrock of society.” In case Dr. Peterson hadn’t noticed, that’s exactly what the whole bedrock thing is, it’s a metaphor. It’s as if one were to say “It’s not just metaphorically an elephant in the room, it’s actually an elephant! Okay, that is a nitpick admittedly.
As far as that statement goes, even if marriage in general doesn’t have a risk of dire consequences for the man, I still wouldn’t make a claim such as this. What, in my mind, actually makes a society strong in foundation? The idea of the individual. It is the belief in the individual that actually is what makes a society great, and the sheer lack of it is what causes the same society’s downfall as we are seeing today.
If Peterson had said that the family is the bedrock of society specifically then at least he’d have a better case, especially because I think the real purpose of the family is to raise an individual to think and act with self-ownership and attain his own pursuits. Family is not arrived at through the jettisoning of one’s own pursuits. Rather, a good family will be the result of one’s own earnest pursuits as an individual.
However, Peterson is making the argument from jettisoning one’s own pursuits to sell the idea of marriage. He appeals to self-sacrifice – in this case, abandoning one’s dreams and existential fulfillment through his own pursuits and self-interest. All of this, for being beholden to gynocentric service to a woman in the name of things like duty, acceptance, and “being a man”.
“I was a therapist for a long time and I talked to a lot of people about their marriages. I’ve been married 33 years as of two days ago and it’s gone pretty damn well.” If Peterson talked to a lot of people about their marriages then they do know how unfair the system can be for men, to the point that they could ultimately end up actually dead by their own hand. These sentences appear to be strung together in such a way that sounds like the latter is responding to a begged question of the former: “Well I had it good so the problem doesn’t exist at large.”
“You see what it would be like to care for someone. You see what it would be like to have someone care for you and value you.” Many things to unpack for this last bit. If it isn’t obvious, Peterson is clearly making the argument for marriage from a void of self-interest, and the argument from caring about another for being the other – altruism, in other words. As I’ve made clear before, this has nothing to do with love in any meaningful sense of the word, and certainly has nothing to do with a healthy relationship.
Being in a relationship in which one or neither side has any self-interest in the relationship itself is instead one of obligations, convention, duty, and means to ends. There is no organic personal bond as individuals that confide, respect, and relate to one another.
More to the point, Peterson in his video series will presumably sell the idea of marriage. That is, legal marriage, not pair bonding alone. In essence, what will happen is that if the idea of marriage is sold to a man watching his program, aside from being oblivious to the problems of the marriage and divorce industries the man is probably going to scramble to find a marriage partner after the fact. However, meaningful emotional attachment does not come easy, especially if one is starting from scratch relatively speaking. So, the man will be goaded into presenting himself as a protector and provider, and perhaps also as a wielder of money and status.
Money and status are not catalysts for an organic relationship. Peterson’s case of “You see what it would be like to have someone care for you and value you” should be read in another way: being a protector and provider becomes the first thing about a man a gynocentric woman will gravitate towards and “value”. This is not the beginning of a healthy relationship, but a relationship of host and parasite. The woman sees him as a resource object, and the law is set to support her if the man stops being her mechanism of resource and income.
In this case, devoid is any real regard of either side as an individual. The woman would see the man as a means to an end, a vassal, and a disposable unit, and to love him can be easily faked. The man may see the woman as a “prize” that does love him back, or at least he chances it or relies on wishful thinking. He sets himself up to be burned.
Self-interest, that is, genuine earnest interest and desire, is the basis upon which a relationship and the ensuing family must be established. The having and raising of children should likewise come from a spirit of self-interest. Why? Imagine having your parents tell you that they were never actually interested in having children, and they were only doing it because it is a public good or a social duty. Imagine them telling you they gave up all their dreams only to have you. Wouldn’t you rather they tell you that they were excited to have you and raise you, instead?
But that is what Peterson and the conservatives he’s appealing to are trying to sell marriage with: the argument from social duty. He spoke about the so-called bedrock of society. He spoke about marriage as “caring for others”. These are all arguments from duty and dispassion, also from social rewards and prestige. If you pretend for a second that what Peterson is advocating for is the family as opposed to the legal setup, then he’ll do very well to not make the argument from no self-interest. He will also be trying to speak to women instead of berating men all day, perhaps.
Those that want to have families will organically make families from their earnestly invested relationships. If you goad them into it, you will only make broken families. You can argue all day that there are anti-family elements in society and that is actually true enough, if the sociopolitical Left are any indication. But a bad family let by people not fit to raise a family can just as well destroy it. I make this point because in an accompanying status he stated that if a man is not thinking about marriage, “that is a problem.” Even if marriage caused no harm to men, not every man may want this.
Peterson in this ad video essentially ridiculed men saying they are worthless creatures if they opt out of marriage for their own pursuits. In the guise of imparting wisdom as to what is men’s best chance for happiness, he clearly implies that a man going his own way after his own dreams is traveling a road to unhappiness. He is therefore of no social use. Any semblance of anything from motivation to the spirit of play are to be found chiefly, if not strictly, through the gynocentric contract of marriage.
One is right to wonder, since when are many pursuits of men outside of marriage actually so useless to society? If anything the thing that both sustains society and skyrockets it are the men doing things outside the context of marriage!
Men have created wonderful buildings as Frank Lloyd Wright or Richard Neutra have done, and spacecraft and space technology as NASA did in its day and SpaceX is doing today. And even if it wasn’t so “useful to society”, who gives a damn? Who is anyone to allege to have a right to a man’s labor, his skillset, and his mind? Who is anyone to denounce it if it doesn’t serve them?
Climbing a massive rock face, done often strictly because the climber wants to climb it, is an astounding pursuit to accomplish. Music and paintings too are the result of pursuing vision; although yes, some might say that art does serve a societal purpose, who cares? Can art not stand alone as coming into being because the artist wanted it to become real? All of this can really be beneficial to society at least in the form of being inspirational to others, but that is not the first reason anyone does anything, nor should it be.
Since we are talking about men and masculinity here, I’d like to say that yes, there are myriad archetypes of masculinity as well as femininity. We also must speak of the common denominators of masculinity without mentioning the biological details, and this is what in my opinion masculinity boils down to: pursuit. That spirit of either wanting something to become reality or to claim something as his own by the unabashed act of earning it. If masculinity can be distilled into something, it is that.
And guess what Peterson is ridiculing. You guess it – it’s the very idea of pursuit. If you thought before for even a second that Peterson wants masculinity to flourish at its full potential, think again: he is advocating for men to subordinate it. Marriage as we currently understand it is nothing short of this subordination. If we haven’t already, it’s time we seriously reconsider what we think Jordan Peterson’s intentions for men are in the present day.
Original Story on AVFM
These stories are from AVoiceForMen.com.
(Changing the cultural narrative)