Yes, I’ve listened to Jordan B. Peterson. And much though he tries to disassociate himself with conservatives, he sounds very much like the kinds of men I’ve heard disparaging queer perspectives for decades. Thirty five years ago, the discussion was whether or not different sexual orientations actually existed, or whether they were just a warping and distortion of “regular” heterosexuality. Even in “civilized” spaces, queer people were jailed and hospitalized. It was popular back then because it reflected the average person, it encouraged the majority and standardization. It was quite successful at making people like me feel like misfits, even if we never pursued our desires.
Mr. Peterson is on the same bandwagon, taking advantage of “the old ways of doing things”. Today we’ve accepted the reality of different sexualities, based on the testimony of men and women like me; now the “question” is whether gender identities really vary differently from one’s chromosomes. Mr. Peterson denies the testimony of thousands of trans men and women, relegating them back to darkness and closets.
I just wanted to comment on one of the short blurbs of him speaking, as recorded on the National Post. I think I’m quoting him accurately.
“[Bill C-16] risks criminalizing discussion about aspects of human sexuality that we need to discuss.” I think Mr. Peterson is here putting words in people’s mouths, exactly as he accuses them of deliberately misunderstanding what he is saying. I think what he actually meant are discussions of gender identity rather than “human sexuality”; but I won’t harp on that. The two should not be seen as equivalent (but I don’t what to put words in his mouth). More importantly, I don’t think anyone wants to criminalize the discussion of gender or sexuality; at least I certainly don’t. What Bill C-16 does do is to extend protections to people of varying gender identities against “discrimination” and “hate propaganda”. Which has nothing to do with civil “discussion”.
“Now that doesn’t mean there aren’t exceptions… in 98% of cases, if you’re biologically male then your gender identity is male… so that’s a pretty tight linkage.” Ummm… yeah? “Tight” maybe, but it’s not perfect. 2% is still… well, 2%. Those “exceptions” are exactly what we’re talking about. In a city the size of Toronto, that means over 50,000 people whose gender identity does not align with their biological makeup (all of whom Peterson has managed to piss off). So in spite of his argument (I think) that gender identity and biology don’t vary independently, here he admits that it does happen in 2% of cases. Isn’t that what even the most ardent activist is saying? I don’t argue it’s any more. Those 2% might be small in number, but they are still people with different experiences who have known discrimination. The Family Research Council claimed in 2002 (and maintain today) that only 2-3% of people are gay or bisexual (Gallup), yet gay people are still protected by the same legislation Mr. Peterson is up in arms against.
I would say here that he seems to be arguing that if a discriminated portion of the community is small enough (<= 2%) then they don’t need to be protected. They’re not really people; they’re “exceptions”.
But I don’t want to put words in his mouth.
I find much of his speaking to be the same. He’s a straight, cis, powerful male who reflects the limitations of his upbringing and encourages those like him at the expense of those who are different. That’s why his books sell. That’s why people support him… and those with more progressive perspectives don’t. Because he’s dragging us back to the world of the 1950s.