Jordan Peterson is Coming to Town And Wants to Wrestle God 


ed. note: This is a Letter to The Editor and does not necessary reflect the views of RVA Magazine or its staff.

Peterson gained prominence in 2016 when he refused to use gender-neutral pronouns to address one of his students. He was subsequently fired from the University of Toronto, but his crusade against political correctness quickly made him a recognizable figure within the far-right media landscape. His self help books are now canon within the manosphere, a toxic network of misogynists.

For Peterson, he is at war with “cultural Marxism,” a term derived from Nazi-era anti-Bolshevism, which spread conspiracy theories against progressive movements and Jews. Peterson defines cultural Marxism as an amalgamation of identity politics and anything politically left that he views as a threat to the stability of modern Western civilization. His attacks reference a “global elite” trying to control society, be it through climate change policy or the Great Replacement, a conspiracy theory about how minorities are replacing white people in the US. The phrase itself is a cover for the promotion of patriarchy, white nationalism, transphobia, and antisemitism. 

Peterson’s incessant anti-trans rhetoric gained national attention again after attacking Elliot Page’s Twitter account for promoting Pride month. Peterson doubled down on his denouncement of Page with a video refusing to apologize. Twitter then suspended Peterson’s account but later reinstated it after Elon Musk bought the company. Musk himself is anti-trans and tweeted in support of Peterson’s suggestion to criminalize doctors. Peterson’s public persona has troubled Ontario, Canada’s court system, which recently ruled that Peterson must undergo a professional media training course or potentially lose his practice license.

Peterson’s ability to regain traction is due in part to the increase in male loneliness, especially since the pandemic days. The manosphere and its ilk (pickup artists, incels, red pills, Andrew Tate followers) prey upon these boys and men who suffer from feelings of isolation, emotional detachment, and lack of access to mental health services. Drawing on men’s rights organizations, they blame postmodern feminism for creating a society that strips away their male entitlement. 

Their vision is a return to the fantasized 1950s, with subservient women in a white male-dominated society. Peterson’s promotion of these toxic traits (misogyny, unbridled capitalism, and cultural supremacy) as the solution for men’s problems reinforces the repression of male emotions and shifts the blame for their problems onto others. Through scapegoating and othering, he turns men into victims of society. This false hope takes away the male agency to seek therapy, increase emotional availability, and heal.

His new We Who Wrestle with God Tour is a shift toward something more religious. As stated on the Atria website, Peterson’s new biblical series is being published on The Daily Wire, a far-right media source. 

So, what kind of god is Peterson wrestling? Will Peterson’s ideas reverberate within the glass business towers and political halls of Richmond? As of now, whatever god exists in Richmond is probably queer, and I hope they show Peterson’s vitriolic rhetoric for what it is: hate speech trauma for broken men.

John Brown Junior

John Brown Junior

John Brown Jr., son of the famous abolitionist, led a complex life intersecting with key moments in American history. He moved to Kansas in 1855 during the struggle over slavery in the territory. Though not involved in his father's Pottawatomie Massacre, he was imprisoned and beaten, triggering a mental breakdown. Later, he served as a crucial liaison for his father's ill-fated Harpers Ferry raid. During the Civil War, Brown Jr. recruited abolitionists and led a cavalry company before resigning due to rheumatoid arthritis.

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