The Jordan Peterson You Don’t Know: The globally bestselling author of The 12 Rules for Life reveals to Christina Hoff Sommers & Danielle Crittenden the secrets of his long marriage, why dating apps suck, how to handle a belligerent toddler, why his feminist critics are wrong, and more in this podcast recorded before a live audience at the American Enterprise Institute.
Danielle: So this is gonna be a live recording. Well, not a live…A recording of our podcast, before a live audience. These are the interns, right, of The American Enterprise Institute?
Christina: Interns, and senior staff, and…president…
Danielle: We didn’t actually invite them, but they heard you were here, and in their way they just all showed up.
Christina: We ended up in this room. We were gonna be at our dark studio.
Jordan: Awesome. No, well this is nice. It’s good to have… It’s nice to be in front of all you people, so…hypothetically. We’ll see how civilized you are.
Jordan: And all of that.
Christina: Is Antifa here? No Antifa? Okay.
Jordan: No, it’s good. Good.
Danielle: All right. So, we ready?
Jordan: It’s really nice to see you, by the way.
Christina: It’s so nice to see you. Okay, start. Go.
Danielle: Welcome to “The Femsplainers.” I’m Danielle Crittenden.
Christina: And I’m Christina Hoff Sommers, and we are thrilled to have the father of all mansplainers in our studio today.
Danielle: Chris, you know, I think he’s actually more of a man whisperer.
Christina: Yes, a man whisperer, the mad genius behind the intellectual dark web, whatever. Welcome to “The Femsplainers,” Jordan Peterson. Jordan: Thank you very much.
Christina: So delighted to have you, and it’s just…
Danielle: It’s an honor to have you.
Christina: …an honor. It’s amazing.
Danielle: And a note to our listeners, we’re recording this in front of a live audience at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., where Christina is a resident scholar. And there’ll be video of the podcast as well, and we will let you know where to find that, when it’s ready. And we’re also grateful to AEI every week for the use of its recording studio for the podcast.
Christina: And now for an introduction, though he needs no introduction to the people here. But, Jordan Peterson is a professor at the University of Toronto, and author of many books, and poster of many fantastic lecturers. His most recent book has…I can’t keep track of how many languages it’s been translated into, and the sales, just a phenomenally successful book tour. In fact, my first question is really about your tour. You look pretty good for somebody who’s visited, what, 100 cities in the past year?
Jordan: Mm-hmm. Since January 23rd.
Christina: I don’t know how you do it. And…
Jordan: Mostly flying.
Christina: Well, what do you do for fun? Do you ever get to relax
Jordan: In brief moments.
Christina: And what do you do? Go on Twitter and get…
Jordan: Oh, God yes, although I wouldn’t qualify that as relaxing. And I try to, you know, forestall that temptation as much as possible. Well, I have the odd amount, bit of time that I can spend with my wife. She does travel with me, and so, you know, we’ve had…we try to take some time to walk around the cities that we’re in, and see what we can. We’re usually not at any given place for more than a day or two, and they’re usually pretty packed up with…well, whatever is associated with the lecture, and then with press, that the publishers usually arrange.
Christina: Oh, I heard you interviewed in Sweden, you were in Stockholm. And you had a half an hour to visit the city with your wife.
Jordan: Yep. Yeah.
Christina: And you loved it, but that…you know, it’s very tiring.
Jordan: Yeah. Well, you take your breaks where you get them. Well, the thing is is that the lecture tour is unbelievably positive. And a lot of this is ridiculously positive, you know? Like, so if I’m going out on the streets now, or in cafes, or, you know, airports, I meet people all the time, and they’re always polite, and they’re always happy to see me. And they always have some very touching story to relate. And then the audience’s themselves are very positively predisposed to whatever it is that we’re doing together. And so that makes it a lot easier to stay motivated, and to continue
Jordan: You know, I mean, it’s demanding, because everything’s scheduled so tightly, and I do a different lecture every night, every time I go…
Christina: I know. I find that amazing, because I give a lot of lectures that I anguish over every word, and then I have another one… And you go up without notes.
Jordan: Yeah. Well, I have a large collection of, you know, things that I know how to talk about, and usually what I try to do is to formulate a problem before the lecture. So I’m addressing a specific problem, and then I can track how I would set up the argument, and then I walk through it. But part of it’s also an attempt to formulate the argument on the fly, you know, to make the question…what would you say, to formulate it more precisely, and to make a more precise and engaging answer. And then I can use the audience to judge whether or not that’s happening. And so it’s also a real challenge to do that, so I enjoy that. And it’s an excellent intellectual workout. And I’ve been recording the lectures, and I’ve been using some of them to write the first draft of the chapters for my next book, and for books after that. And so, you know, I’m able to maximize the, what would you say, the utility of doing this at each event. And my wife seems to be particularly well suited to traveling like that. She actually enjoys it quite a bit, and is a very stable person. And so that’s also helpful, and, you know, it’s nice to have an extra brain along, because things are scheduled so tightly that we don’t ever have any room for error.
Danielle: Yes. Well, we’re going to… I don’t know how intellectually rigorous we plan to be with you today, because we know that whenever you’re on one of these platforms, you’re talking about your ideas. But on “The Femsplainers,” we wanna hear a little bit more about Jordan Peterson. Desperately and definitely wanna hear about your wife, Tammy.
Danielle: And also, you’re so well known for your views on men, or how your ideas have been taken up so enthusiastic by young men, but we wanna talk to you about women.
Jordan: Yep, that’s good.
Danielle: So, but one of the things you and I share is that we both grew up in Canada. I promised Christine I would not do my Canadian accent while you were here. But you grew up in rural Alberta, I grew up in Toronto. And you are, what, the country’s most famous guru now, since Marshall McLuhan. But does the fact that you came from Canada have any effect on your views, do you think? Has it formed you in any way? I mean, would it be the same if, you think, you’d grown up in rural Texas? How has Canada contributed to your worldview?
Christina: She’s always looking to promote Canada, so go for it.
Danielle: For the Canadian angle. Hey, we have listeners in Canada.
Jordan: Well, I think the particular part of Canada I grew up in probably was formative, to some degree. I mean, the town I grew up in was only 50 years old, you know, and the particular part of the world that I grew up in was really the last settled part of the North American prairie.
Danielle: This was outside of Edmonton, correct?
Jordan: Yeah, about 400 miles north of Edmonton.
Christina: Oh, 400 miles?
Jordan: Yeah, yeah, it’s right at the tip of the…
Danielle: That’s a short distance.
Christina: A short distance?
Christina: A suburb.
Jordan: So, the prairie stretches up that far north, it stretches up farther north in Alberta than it does anywhere else in the North American continent. And so we were at the tip of viable farming, essentially. And so it was a new place, and it was a rather raw place. And it was a rather harsh place, in many ways, especially because of the winter. And it was fundamentally a working-class place, although a prosperous working class place, right? Because most of the industry there was related to the oil and gas industry, and although it was cyclical, when things were good, working-class people could make a very good living.
Danielle: This is during the ’70s, so through the whole…
Jordan: Yeah. Yeah, that’s right.
Christina: Was it fun to be a kid in…400 miles outside a small town?
Jordan: Yeah, I liked it when I was a kid. I wouldn’t say it was as fun when I was a teenager.
Jordan: But I’m not convinced that, you know, the majority of people who are teenagers necessarily have the most wonderful time of it. I think adults often look backwards at the past through rose-colored glasses. I think that’s what the cartoonist Trudeau accused Reagan of doing, continually. Garry Trudeau.
Christina: Here at the American Institute! Don’t insult Mr. Reagan.
Jordan: No, no. No, no.
Christina: I’m kidding, I’m kidding.
Jordan: I’m definitely not.
Danielle: I think the words you used for it in your book was teenage wasteland, I think is what you called it.
Jordan: Yeah, yeah.
Danielle: But its Canadian-ness, how does that formed you, or affected you, if at all? Maybe it didn’t.
Jordan: It’s hard to say. I mean, I’ve lived in lots of different parts of Canada, now, and Canada is quite different. I lived in, well, Alberta for a while, and it had this particular flavor of existence. I mean, mostly in Fairview I was striving to leave and to move ahead, let’s say, or to move…I hesitate to say up, but somewhere different, somewhere more urban. But that’s the case with many people. I mean, the small towns all across the west in the U.S. and in Canada are dying. I mean, they’re down to nothing, because everyone’s moved to the cities. I lived in Montreal for a good while, and that was interesting because it was a very, very different culture. It was a culture that was, to some degree, stratified by language and by class. And none of that was true in Alberta, because it was so new that there’s no class structure. So that was quite interesting,
Danielle: Right, and you worked… What I loved…I pulled a passage, because I think, as you say, people are born in small places everywhere, and some wanna leave and some don’t. You said, “I wanted to be elsewhere. I wasn’t the only one. Everyone who eventually left the Fairview I grew up, knew they were leaving by the age of 12. I knew, and my wife, who grew up with me on the same street, knew.”
Danielle: What was that thing? What would you call that? What’s the thing that makes you wanna leave, and sets you off? Because as you point out, there was no class system, education was cheap in Canada, compared to the United States…
Jordan: Yep. Oh, yeah, it wasn’t cost that was stopping people.
Danielle: You were from a, what, middle class, were you? You worked in a paper…
Jordan: Yeah, my father was a teacher, and my mother was a librarian, though she had trained as a nurse. So, you know, we had a comfortable…I would say a suburban lifestyle, essentially. You know, a moderate, middle class, suburban lifestyle. That’s what Fairview looked like, it looked like a suburb that was built mostly in the, say, between the 1950s and the 1970s. So…
Danielle: Mm-hmm. But the young Jordan, and the then young Tammy, and you have to tell us that story, how you met. But, wanted more…
Jordan: Well, you know, I think that’s one thing that is different, to some degree, about class. My father and my mother had both left the towns they were from, and they were forward, future looking people. And, you know, most of my friends who quit school and who didn’t attend university, they didn’t have that sense, I would say, that more developed sense of a world outside of what they knew. And the other thing is that my father took us on long trips when I was a kid. He was a teacher and so he had summer holidays, and we drove all over Western Canada, and down into the U.S. Long driving trips, thousands of miles. And, you know, that also gave us the sense that the world was a bigger place. But I knew way before I was 12, I believe, that I was off, at least to university. And I think generally, in your family, if you’re liable to go to university, people don’t even really talk about it. It’s just a given that that’s what’s going to happen. It’s something that you take in with every breath, almost. It’s often an unspoken expectation, and maybe people make casual reference like, “Well, when you go to college…” but it’s not like there’s a question about it. Whereas if you’re from a working class background, especially if your family hasn’t pursued post-secondary education, that isn’t in the realm of unspoken or spoken expectation. And it wasn’t like lots of my friends, including many of them who dropped out before they hit high school, they weren’t, by no means, the dimmest people in the class. Like, they were plenty smart. But they weren’t oriented towards the idea of pursuing a career that involved intellectual…what, intellectual engagement wasn’t in their worldview. And, you know, when you hear people on the, let’s say, more socialist end of the distribution talk about barriers to education, they often talk about cost. And sometimes cost is a barrier, and it’s more of a barrier…
Danielle: Certainly in the United States.
Jordan: Yeah, and it’s more of a barrier…although, there’s still plenty of community colleges, state colleges, where you can get educated for a perfectly reasonable amount of money. But for my friends, it was never a reason. Money was never a reason they didn’t pursue post-secondary education. It was more like a truncated view of time, I would say. You know, there was more of an emphasis on the here-and-now.
Danielle: Well, and there were jobs aplenty, I guess.
Jordan: Well, there’s also that, yeah. You know, and well-paying jobs. Like, it wasn’t obvious that you were in better shape economically to go to university than you were to…
Danielle: Or probably worse.
Jordan: Oh, yeah. Well, especially if you were doing something like working on the oil rigs.
Danielle: Right, right.
Jordan: But, you know, that was rough, cold, harsh work. And it wasn’t…once you had an in, you could stay employed, but it wasn’t that easy to land an entry-level job, either. And so…yeah, well, it was wise for lots of working class people to work in those jobs, because they were unbelievably lucrative. And they should have been, because they were very difficult and dangerous, and frigid cold, and rough. So, you know, it’s not like the people didn’t earn their money.
Christina: Well, just tell us quickly, like, how you met your wife. You met her when you were seven or eight, or…a little…
Jordan: Yeah, in grade three.
Christina: In grade three?
Christina: And did you fall in love with her in grade three?
Danielle: In grade three?
Danielle: And was it mutual?
Danielle: Not in the beginning.
Jordan: She wouldn’t admit it, if it was. There were lots of the boys in grade three were in love with her. She had a whole little crew of guys that were perfectly willing to follow her around, and she was perfectly willing to exploit that. She was very good at it. Yeah, she was a very popular little girl.
Christina: It’s just so wonderful that you met as children, and…
Jordan: Yeah, we were friends for a long time. You know, we used to play chess together, and croquet. She was a vicious croquet player. She would…I don’t know if you’ve ever played croquet, but if your balls touch, then you can stand on yours and whack it, and then the other person’s ball will vanish off into the stratosphere. And she liked to knock it all the way down the street.
Christina: Oh, that’s mean. That’s mean.
Jordan: Yeah. And then she’d laugh, and you know… So she always had a good, vicious sense of humor. It’s one of the things I actually admire about my wife, when we’ve had our verbal disputes, which, you know, have certainly happened, she can string together a sequence of insults that’s so hair-raising that you have to laugh. It’s like…
Christina: Did she have brothers?
Jordan: She did. She has a brother, much older, eight years older. He’s quite a peaceful person. And she had two sisters…
Christina: I find girls with brothers seem to, can get along with guys. Because guys, they show love and affection by insults and jabs and jeers. And if you…and I had a brother, and I sort of learned, okay, I could… But if you don’t have brothers, girls are like, “Oh, that’s so rude. That’s so…”
Christina: So, she was…
Jordan: Yeah, well, she has a naturally…
Christina: Or maybe she came by it naturally.
Jordan: …acerbic twist… Yeah, she did. Well, and her father is quite sharp-witted, but he was a real town character. He’s still alive. And he was a real character in the town, a real hyper-extrovert, everybody knew him. And he had a pretty good wit on him, and she had some of that…well, still does have some of that. So she was a, you know…
Danielle: Well, aside from her acerbic humor and her ability to whack balls…and I just don’t wanna go further on that description. Many, many things that tells us about you that…
Danielle: But what else attracted… I mean, you’ve known her pretty much your whole life. So some of the other qualities that not just attracted you, but enable you to sustain. I mean, I think every young person in this room will wanna know, and maybe there isn’t one, but what’s the secret? What’s it like to be with someone that long? How do you sustain that?
Jordan: Well, I think if you’re fortunate, some of it’s good fortune, you know, and I would say this is true. I’ve watched people in their relationships, you know, personally for a long time, but also as a professional, because I’ve done a lot of clinical counseling. And I mean, there’s some things that need to be a given about the relationship, I would say. It doesn’t hurt to find the other person very attractive, you know, and that’s a mysterious thing. We’re not exactly sure what it is that produces, let’s say, chemistry between people, although chemistry is definitely part of what produces it. There’s subtle things that attract people to one another that are way below the level of consciousness. So for example, women don’t like the odor of men who have Rh blood factors, who if they had children with would be likely to produce a stillborn infant.
Danielle: Well, that’s definitely a category on Match.com. Like…
Jordan: Right. Right. Well, it’s so strange, though, because you know, you…
Danielle: How does that…how do you even know?
Jordan: Well, that’s a good question. And, you know by odor, apparently. And so there’s all…
Danielle: What if you’re wearing cologne, and you just…
Jordan: Well, that…then it would depend on what type of cologne, I guess. But…
Danielle: Rh, what was it?
Jordan: Right? Smell is a very strange sense, and it’s very deeply tied to very profound emotions, including memory. And so you find people attractive for reasons that you can’t always determine. And so, that was part of it. I mean, I’ve always found her very attractive, and that continues. And I liked her combativeness, you know? Like, I think that there’s…you want someone, I think, in a relationship that you can spar with. And it’s partly because you have hard problems to solve, and if the person that you’re with isn’t willing to put forward their opinion, then you only have half the cognitive power that you would otherwise have. Now, hopefully you find someone who’s interestingly different from you. Like, not so different that you can’t communicate, and you have to be careful of that. But interestingly different, and then hopefully they have the ability and the will to express their opinion. And then it’s, you know, then your interest stays heightened, and there has to be that tension in a relationship. You know, people think, well, I wanna get along perfectly with my partner. It’s like, no, you probably don’t. You’d just get bored, and then you’d go looking for trouble. And so you want a little bit of trouble in the relationship, and a little bit of mystery, and a little bit of combativeness, and the ability to exchange opinions forthrightly. And I trust her, which is a huge element. I mean, when we finally did decide to get together permanently, we were both in our later 20s. And, you know, one of the things that I had learned by that point, and insisted to her about, was that we had to tell each other the truth. And she took to that wholeheartedly, you know? And for better and for worse, because truths can be harsh.
Christina: Does that include like, does this outfit make me look fat?
Jordan: Yeah well, the truthful answer to that is I don’t answer questions that are likely to get me in trouble. Yeah. So…
Christina: I have a son who’ll answer honestly, and it’s infuriating. But then I realized, if you want the truth, talk to Tamler, he’ll tell you.
Jordan: Well, that’s the thing. You know, it’s useful to know.
Christina: Truth is empowering. Truth tellers are charismatic and, you know, actually, both my sons are, like, brutally honest. Which is disconcerting, but I can see that it’s made them very formidable. And because of it, people trust them, and the friendships…and just, it gives them a… And you’ve written a lot about this.
Jordan: Well, you know, if I tell my wife that she looks good in an outfit, she knows that I mean it.
Jordan: And so there’s some utility in that.
Danielle: And then if you’re silent and say, “I don’t answer questions…” she goes, and she…
Christina: She knows it.
Jordan: Well, sometimes, you know, she’ll say, you know, “Do you like this?” and I’ll tell her that I don’t. And, you know, that doesn’t necessarily make her happy in the moment. But, if I do say I like it, she knows that I mean it. And, you know, I actually like her sense of style a lot, so it turns out that 90% of the time it’s pretty easy for me to say, “Look, I think you look great,” and mean it. And you know, she’s a fairly harsh standard-bearer, too. Like, she’s insisted that I stay in whatever reasonable physical shape I happen to be in. You know, that was something that she’s very demanding of, and I would say that it’s the same from my side. And we’ve been good at negotiating, which is, you know, what do you want from a partner, fundamentally? What do you want and need? I mean, the first thing is is that, well hopefully, like I said, you’re blessed with the fact that you find each other attractive. And I think it’s very difficult for the relationship to begin or proceed or sustain itself without that. But having that, then what do you want? Well, you want someone that you can trust, you want someone that you can build a view of the future with, and you want someone that you can negotiate with. And that’s very hard, to negotiate with people, because they have to tell you what they think, they have to know what they want, or figure it out. They have to tell you what they want, they have to be satisfied when they get what they want, which is also a very difficult thing to manage. And you have to continually update that, because your life goes through different stages, and…
Danielle: Well, and your attraction wanes, as we all know at our stage of life. Not fatally, necessarily…
Christina: Speak for yourself.
Danielle: But no, but you will go… I mean, you will not be 25 forever. So that has to be renegotiated as well.
Jordan: Yeah. Well, and you have to work at that too, you know? And that’s something that people also don’t understand, Because they tend to think that, well, that all romantic interactions should be spontaneous. It’s like, well, if that’s your theory, then you might as well just give up right now, if you’re gonna get married. Because like, the only reason you can think that is because you don’t have enough responsibility to make romantic entanglement virtually impossible. And what happens when you’re married, especially when you have little kids, is that…and you both have a job, let’s say, is you’re so busy that the probability that you’re going to find time for spontaneous mutual interaction decreases to zero. And so, if that’s what you’re hoping for, then you’re never gonna have it. And so what you have to do is you have to make time for each other. And you know, if you’re dating, when you’re establishing a relationship, well, you put some effort into it, you know. You decide that you’re going to go out for dinner, and you dress up, to some degree. And, you know, you try to present yourself to each other in some half-ways, mutually acceptable manner. And you hope that there’s going to be a positive consequence of that, that you’re gonna find each other attractive. But then people somehow think that once they’re married, that the same amount of effort isn’t necessary, and that’s wrong. I would say more effort is necessary on the same front. And you have to think through, it’s like, you know, if you don’t wanna be bitter about the intimate element of your relationship, how much time do you have to spend together each week? And my rule of thumb, sort of derived from clinical observations, is that you need to spend 90 minutes a week with your partner, talking. And that means you’re telling each other about your life, and staying in touch, you know, so that you each know what the other is up to. And you’re discussing what needs to be done to keep the household running smoothly, and you’re laying out some mutually acceptable vision of how the next week or the next month’s are going to go together, right? So that keeps your narratives locked together like the strands in a rope. You need that for 90 minutes, or you drift apart. And you need to spend intimate time together at least once a week, and probably more like twice. And that has to be negotiated. And if you don’t negotiate it, and if you don’t make it a priority, then it won’t happen, in all likelihood. And then, well, then you don’t have it. And that’s a catastrophe, because there’s not that many things in life that are, you know, intrinsically, what would you say, engaging and meaningful and pleasurable, and also bonding, all of that. And if you let that go, then, well, part of you dies, and part of the relationship dies. And well, then there’s always the possibility of becoming attracted by alternative entanglements, which you would do if you had any spirit left, right? I mean, that’s the thing is if, well, if you’re not, if your relationship at home is entirely unsatisfying sexually, what are you supposed to do with that? Nothing? You’re supposed to just bear it? I mean, in one way the answer is yes, because it’s your marriage. But another way is, well, what, that’s all the fight you’ve got in you? You’re gonna just let the erotic element of your life die, and accept everything that goes along with that, because you’re not willing to cause a bit of trouble to ensure that it’s maintained? And you know, and we’re not very good at thinking these things through consciously. I mean, people are bad at negotiating, period, as far as I can tell, but they’re particularly bad at negotiating things that are deeply private. How much do you want your partner to know about you, anyways? It takes a lot of trust to have a real conversation about what you need and want.
Christina: Now, you have… In the press, people read that you have a following of young men. And I went to hear your lecture in Washington, D.C., and there were a lot of women there. And your book…and first of all, men don’t buy books that often, compared to women, so I’m presuming you have a lot of female readers. And I found it, Danielle and I found it completely readable and…
Jordan: Well, it wasn’t written for men.
Christina: So, you have this…
Jordan: It’s more like a delusional desire on the part of the radical leftists that the only people that could possibly be attracted to me are angry men.
Jordan: It’d be better if they were angry, young, white men, you know? Because then that fits the narrative completely, but…
Christina: But yet, you have a diverse audience, a diverse following, including many women. And…
Jordan: They’re also not particularly angry. I mean, I’ve been…I’ve talked to 200 and…
Danielle: I know. Well, you’re diffusing the anger. That’s the point of your book, is stop being angry, stop being resentful, right?
Jordan: Well, resentment, that’s absolutely crippling. Like, resentment…just, resentment, deceit, arrogance, that’s part of…I’m writing another book, and one of the rules is don’t allow yourself to become, resentful…
Christina: What is it again? Resentful…
Jordan: …deceitful, and arrogant. Yeah, those three things together.
Danielle: Yeah, but it could be rad if you just…
Jordan: Well, that’s supposed to be a good thing. So yeah, and I mean, there’s been 250,000 people, as I said, come to the lectures, and there hasn’t been a single negative incident. Not one.
Christina: This is what I find fascinating, is that I found you early on… I had no idea who you were, I just thought it was like, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Like, who is that guy? Who is that guy? Like, you were pretty good. And we were covering a lot of the same topics later on, and wow. And then, you know, I found out who you were. But it’s astonishing to me, is that there’s this amazing, just, split between the positivity of your audience, the diversity of your audience, the intellectual content of your message, and then you get with a snarky journalist with an agenda, and I’m not mentioning names, but this…
Danielle: Phoebe C…
Christina: No, Phoebe… No, this young woman from GQ…
Jordan: Oh, yeah.
Christina: …and it was just…
Jordan: She hated me on sight.
Christina: On sight. And it was just like gotcha, gotcha, gotcha.
Danielle: So did the BBC lady.
Jordan: Yeah, that was Channel 4. We don’t wanna blame the BBC.
Jordan: It was Channel 4.
Christina: You are a saint. And then I… And she seemed, you know, as often, she seemed intelligent and capable of insight, up to a point. But it’s almost as if something had seized her mind, and she…
Jordan: Oh, yeah. Something had.
Christina: Something had.
Jordan: That’s for sure. You bet.
Christina: Camille Paglia…
Jordan: Possessed by ideology.
Christina: Camille Paglia says that a whole generation, some of our most talented young women are incapable of thought, because of this ideology.
Danielle: Well, different thought, maybe you mean to say.
Christina: Or just an openness to… She couldn’t… And you were saying completely, like, interesting, fascinating, original things. Even to me, who’ve studied these topics. And I thought wow, and…
Jordan: No, it was quite the day. So I went to Baltimore, and…
Christina: You survived it very well. You acquitted yourself beautifully.
Jordan: Yeah well, it made me think a lot that day. Because I went there, and I had to go out of my way to do it. Not that I’m complaining, but there’s a reason for saying that. You know, so I go out there…
Christina: You had to go to Baltimore?
Jordan: Yeah. Well, I was talking in Baltimore.
Christina: Oh, okay.
Danielle: There’s the aquarium.
Jordan: And I showed up to the hotel room where this was all occurring. And you know, what you expect, generally speaking, even from journalists who aren’t…you know, who are more of the attack dog variety, or who maybe aren’t positively predisposed to you ideologically or personally, you expect a certain modicum of professional politeness. You know, because, well, you don’t have to be there, and you came, and you accepted an invitation, and all of that. And so, even with the Channel 4 journalist, Cathy Newman, she was quite polite and forthcoming in the green room, before the interview, you know. So she had at least that professional persona, which is…it’s not nothing, right? There’s something to be said for going through the motions professionally, in an appropriate manner. But when I walked into the hotel room in Baltimore, it was obvious that this interviewer had already made up her mind about me a hundred percent, and that she was absolutely, you know, negatively predisposed to me, with a personal animus. An animus is exactly the right word. And there was about a half an hour photography session, because it was GQ, and so I was in that atmosphere… The photographers were fine. I was in that atmosphere for about 45 minutes before we started to talk. And part of the reason that I’m so…I’m not as calm during that interview as I usually am, I’m a little bit harsher. And the reason for that is that, you know, it just started off instantly combative. And what I should have done… You see, it’s very, very difficult to be awake enough to do these things properly. And the interview progressed fine, although by the end of it I’d thought that I had maybe done enough interviews for a while, because I didn’t think I had regulated my temper as well during that interview as I might have. I was harsher.
Christina: You actually did.
Jordan: Well, it’s not so bad…
Christina: For the first few minutes you were getting angry, and then she brought up a question about anger. And I just saw you kind of adjust, and then after that it was smooth sailing.
Jordan: Well, that’s good, because it was touch and go, you know? And I thought, boy, you know, maybe you’re running out of patience. Maybe you, you know, maybe it’s time to dial back on the interviews. Because, you know, I’ve had many interviews like that, and they’re very…I find them… Like, and it takes me, like, three days to recover from an interview like that.
Christina: I know. And then you start thinking to yourself, like, what I should have said, I should have said that. And I drive myself mad. No, but you did very well. But it’s so interesting that…what it told me was how parochial she was, and she lives in her own little world.
Danielle: Well, Christina, isn’t it more a little bit about the ideology of our time? And gosh, you encounter this everywhere, and I used to write about this, wisely, I would I encounter it. I mean, I think part of the issue is that you will acknowledge that there are differences between the sexes. That seems to be…
Jordan: No, that’s a hell of a sexist thing to do, really.
Danielle: …the heresy. No, that’s a heresy. Because when I was reading your book, there’s nothing about it that is anti-female… In fact, you do a lot of examination of the Adam and Eve story, and you have this wonderful passage about, like, Adam, being the originally aggrieved man who throws the woman under the bus, you know? And…
Jordan: Yeah, yeah, no. Immediately. It’s her fault.
Danielle: Yeah, it’s her fault.
Jordan: And God, you too. You made her, it’s your fault, too, that I’m hiding. Yeah, it’s really funny.
Danielle: So there’s nothing in this. And the rules, such as they are, you know, they seem very common sensical, they could apply to anyone. So is that a fair surmise of why you get so attacked? That just the very fact that you’re willing to speak about the sexes as being not unequal but different…
Christina: Different but equal.
Jordan: Well, you know, I would say that that’s part of it, because there’s a threat there. So, one of the things that happened when I was in Scandinavia, I just wrote a column about this, actually. It was interesting being in Scandinavia, especially in Sweden, because they’ve pushed the equality of opportunity doctrine farther than any other country in the world.
Christina: They invented it. It almost started there, like, in the U.N., in the original, you know, charter, the Swedes were there. And they’ve never given up.
Jordan: No, no. And so, the week that I was there was the same week that two articles were published on gender differences in temperament, and in interest. And the biggest sex differences that we know of that aren’t morphological are in interest. So women are more interested in people, by and large, and men are more interested in things, by and large. And the difference is actually large, it’s one standard deviation. And so that means if you’re a man, you would have to be more interested in people than 85% of men to be as interested as 50% of women. And if you’re a woman, you’d have to be more interested in things than 85% of women to be as interested as the 50th percentile male. So the difference is actually quite substantial, and it’s certainly large enough to drive occupational choice differences, which it does.
Christina: And it explains a lot about the configuration of people in the workplace.
Jordan: Oh, absolutely. Well, and you know, we’re approaching parody, in terms of overall workplace distribution of men and women. But there’s massive differences in occupational choice. Like, it’s very interesting, for example, to go to the website of the U.S. Labor Department and look at male and female dominated industries. And you know, the top 10 male dominated industries have basically zero women in them. So, bricklayers being one of them.
Christina: People…like, people, they’re people-free zones, according to Camille Paglia, that you find just a lot of men in the people-free zones.
Jordan: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Yeah I…
Christina: And the women are…and you ask a group of women and men, “Would you rather spend the next three weeks taking apart a machine and putting it together, or helping a group of people work out their problems?” And the pool of people who wanna do the ma-…it’s just far more men than women…
Jordan: Well, and there’s more men in women-dominated industries than there are women in men-dominated industries, at the extreme. So that’s kind of interesting…
Danielle: So you mean, like, would that be like nursing?
Jordan: Nursing, yeah. So, there’s way more male nurses than there are female bricklayers.
Christina: But the male nurses…I’ve studied these male nurses. And already, you know, gender activists are upset because they earn more than women.
Christina: And a professor of nursing at University of Pennsylvania tried to find out why, and she found out they immediately find out what’s the best paying field, sub-field. So they go into, like, nurse anesthesiology. It pays a lot more. The men are there in disproportionate number. And they’re willing to work, you know, insane hours, they’re far more willing to move to a higher paying…
Jordan: To move. Yeah, it’s the same thing Farrell with gender differences, is that men are more willing to move, they’re more willing to work longer hours… Yep, they’re more willing to work outside, they’re more willing to take on dangerous tasks, they’re more likely to work in scalable industries. So like, you can’t scale personal care, it’s very, very difficult. They’re much less likely to work part-time. If they have small businesses, they’re much more likely to work full-time in the small business, rather than part-time. And I mean, women have their reasons to wanna work part time. And Farrell also pointed out that if you work 10% longer hours, you make 40% more money, in non-linear return on overtime. That’s something that’s really useful to know, you know, in terms of your career planning.
Christina: It’s hugely beneficial to an employer. That, have someone…
Jordan: Well, it also marks you out, you know? Like, if you have 10 employees, and they’re all doing a reasonable job, let’s say, but one of them is working an extra half an hour a day, or 45 minutes a day, and you can observe that every day, then that gives them an edge with regards to potential promotion. And the return on those edges is non-linear. And so, anyway, so I went to Scandinavia, and it was the same week that two studies were released, showing what had already been established beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the personality differences between men and women, and the differences in interest as well actually get bigger as your society gets richer, and as it gets more egalitarian. And not just a little bit, either. That’s the other thing that’s so interesting, is you might think, well, the effect is…it’s the opposite of what the social constructionists would predict, first of all. So that’s the first thing to point out, is it’s not only that their hypothesis wasn’t supported, it was decidedly refuted. And none of them have come to terms with that. And it’s not a small effect. The difference between personality, between men and women in Scandinavia, is a lot larger than it is in non-egalitarian countries.
Christina: Like in rural Botswana.
Jordan: Mm-hmm, yeah.
Danielle: But that’s also true in the United States. The richer the demograph of your household, the more likely the woman is to take time out, and be at home with the kids, because she can afford to do it.
Jordan: She can afford it, yeah.
Christina: She can afford to do it, and she can afford to major in odd, you know, low-paying fields, like, I don’t know, feminist dance therapy, or something.
Jordan: Well, the other thing you see, too, is that…one of the things that’s also interesting, I think, is that, you know, there’s this idea that marriage is a patriarchal institution, you know? That’s primarily put there for the utility of the male. And like, I think that’s complete, bloody rubbish, and I don’t think there’s any evidence to support it at all. But I think the best counter-evidence is that, well, if that’s the case, then rich people shouldn’t be getting married, because they don’t have to oppress themselves. But the truth of the matter is is that the higher your demographic position, the more likely you are to be married. So marriage has falling apart among, you know…
Christina: And the more likely the wife is staying home. But not…I mean, she has all sorts of pursuits, but she’s not…
Danielle: Well, there’s an old saying, “Any woman who marries for money, earns it.”
Danielle: But now, let me just… Okay, this is where you might get in a little trouble. Because in your book, you call men order and women chaos. And you say, “Order, the known, appears symbolically associated with masculinity, and chaos, the eternal feminine, is also the crushing force of sexual selection.”
Christina: Yeah, what’s up with that?
Christina: Are we chaotic?
Danielle: Do you find us chaotic?
Jordan: Well, it isn’t men and women that are order and chaos, it’s masculinity and femininity, symbolically. And so what’s happened, fundamentally, is that our brains are wired for social cognition. So we’re not natural scientists, we’re natural sociologists. That might be a better…even though I shudder to think that that might be true.
Christina: Especially given the state of sociology.
Jordan: Maybe… Yes, well, that’s…yeah. Hello.
Christina: Okay, triggering. Triggering.
Jordan: Yeah. Or maybe we’re more naturally people who observe through the lens of fiction, and that what we see as the world, as characterized. And the world, obviously, is made out of men and women and children, and those seem to be our fundamental cognitive categories, masculinity, femininity, and then the category of children. And those categories have expanded to take on connotations outside of pure person perception. And so, you know, it’s for this reason that if you go to a movie, and maybe it’s a Disney animated movie, and I like to talk about those because they draw in a very deep, symbolic well, it’s perfectly reasonable to see a witch that lives in a swamp, because those go together. Like, it makes sense, you know? The witch doesn’t live in a gleaming chrome high-rise. You know, she lives in a swamp, because that’s…and maybe in a shack…
Danielle: Oh, it would be handy for her broom, I think. She could just fly out the door.
Jordan: Well, that’s it…that’s… Well, the high-rise would be better for the broom, right, because you could take off better. But there are categories of symbolic association that are natural to the way we think. And the fundamental elements of those categories seem to be gendered. And so this is partly why I make reference to Taoism, for example. So for the Taoists, the world is made out of chaos and order. And chaos is the domain that you don’t understand and that emerges unpredictably, but also the domain from which new forms emerge, right, because it’s from novelty that the new emerges. And I think the fundamental association between femininity as chaos is the association between what’s unexpected and novel, and what’s new. Because new forms emerge from chaos. And it’s not that chaos is bad and order is good. That’s not…
Christina: No, both have their pathologies, and their virtues. Yes, of course.
Jordan: Both have their pathologies. Yes, and what you’re looking for, and this is what the book concentrates on above all, is that you’re looking constantly to find the balance between those two. So for example, formally speaking, the domain of order is that place that you are when what you’re doing is producing the results that you want to have produced. So imagine…think about the preconditions for not being anxious. Okay, so the preconditions are that you’re constantly making predictions about what’s going to happen next, and those predictions are tied tightly to your behavioral output. So you act in a certain way, and you presume that a certain thing is going to happen. And if your actions produce the results that you desire, then you assume that you know, where you are, and you know, what you’re doing, and that your plan is intact, and that the environment is secure. And that keeps your anxiety under control. That’s order. And then, you know, maybe you’re at a party and you don’t know anybody, and you tell a joke, and everybody looks at you, like…what you said was not only not funny, but also downright offensive. And then all of a sudden, you’ve moved from the domain of order into the domain of chaos. Because you thought you were somewhere, and you thought you were someone, and you thought you were with people that were of a certain type, and you got all that wrong. And so it calls…
Danielle: Well, you’re also suggesting it is gonna be the woman who says, “I find that really offensive.”
Jordan: I’m not suggesting that, but…
Christina: But you know, it probably is.
Danielle: It probably was, yeah.
Christina: Never mind.
Jordan: But women are also more sensitive to negative emotion, so there is some slightly higher probability that that might be the case. But then I think women are also associated, at least in men’s imaginations, with nature, which is part of the chaotic domain, say, as opposed to culture, because they’re sexually selective. So you gotta think, what is nature? I mean, we have that as a cognitive category, right? We think of the natural world, and we think of nature vs. culture, it’s a fundamental opposition. What is nature? Well, nature is trees and landscapes and animals, and all of that. But that isn’t what nature fundamentally is. Nature, fundamentally, is that which selects from a genetic perspective. That’s nature, that’s the fundamental definition of nature. And it is the case that human females are sexually selective. And it’s a major component of human behavior. So the evolutionary theory, roughly speaking, is that the reason we diverged from chimpanzees eight million years ago, seven million years ago, is at least in part because of the differences between sexual selectivity between female humans and female chimpanzees. Female chimpanzees are more likely to have offspring from dominant males, but it’s not because of their sexual selectively. So a female chimpanzee has periods of fertility that are marked by physical, by observable physiological changes. Not the case with human females. Human female ovulation is concealed, so that’s a very profound biological difference between human females and chimpanzees. And the chimpanzee females will mate with any male, but the dominant males chase the subordinate males away. But human females are sexually selective. And it’s not a trivial fact. So you have twice as many female ancestors as male ancestors. You think, well, how can that be? Well, imagine that on average, every single human female has had one child throughout the entire course of history, which is approximately correct, by the way. Then imagine that half of the men had zero, and the other half had two. Okay, and that’s roughly the case. So, half of males, historically speaking, have been reproductive disasters. And the reason for that is because of female sexual selectivity. So it is actually the case that female humans are nature. It’s not only that they’re associated with nature symbolically. As far as production is concerned, they are the force of nature that does the selection. And so they’re nature, in the most fundamental way. And there is a chaotic element of that, at least in relationship to men. And also in relationship to women, because a lot of the female-on-female competition is competition that’s chaotic for the right to be sexually selective, right? Not only with regards to men, which drives a lot of politicking, but also in relationship to each other. Because part of what human females do is jockey for position in the female dominance hierarchy for the top position, which is the woman who gets to be most sexually selective. And so that drives female-female competition, and it’s a different dynamic. There’s similarities between female-female competition and male-male competition, but there’re also differences, and they’re pronounced. So men, for example, well, men are more likely to compete for socio-economic status, and that’s partly because that drives female mate choice. So the correlation for men between socio-economic status and sexual success is about .6. And for women, it’s zero. Zero. In fact, it’s actually slightly negative. And that’s a huge difference between men and women.
Christina: Do you know the anthropologist Sarah Hrdy? H-R-D-Y. And she’s, like, my favorite feminist theorist, although as she would say, “I’m a theorist who happens to be a feminist.” But she studied primate behavior, and she watched, she looked at the women very care-… the females, not women, very carefully, and looked at chimpanzees and gazelles, and stuff like that. And found that the female… Initially, like, male primatologists would look and say, oh, the males are dominant and females are so cooperative. She looked more carefully, and saw the females weren’t exactly cooperative. Like, they would pass around their infants, their baby, you know, whatever they were, and would find… And so the male primatologists would say, oh they’re so kind and caring. She found out that when it was not hers, they would take, like, little tufts of hair that would come, or they’d do something to the eyes, and the baby would, like, be injured. And she saw all this violence that was covert…
Jordan: Especially true when there’s status differentiation.
Jordan: So it’s much more likely that’ll happen when a higher status female is taking care of a lower status infant.
Christina: Exactly. And she said the great tragedy…well, not tragedy. She said the reality of our species… And in fact, the subtitle of her book is “That woman who never evolved.,” We didn’t evolve for niceness and cooperative, there’s immense competition. And we can according to her, we are…it’s indelibly, you know, marked in our nature to compete for the dominant males.
Jordan: Oh, yes. No doubt about that. And that seems true cross-culturally as well. That does flatten out a little bit in the more egalitarian societies. So instead of being exaggerated, it does flattened to some degree. So you could imagine that there’s a biological component, and a cultural component.
Christina: Of course. Both.
Jordan: And in that case, if you modify the cultural component, then that seems to decrease the overall… So like, let me be more clear about this. Women are less prone to mate across and up status hierarchies in Scandinavia than they are in less egalitarian countries. But they’re still prone to do it. So worldwide, for example, young women find men who are about four years older than them maximally attractive. And they tend to mate across and up status hierarchies. And so one of the consequences of that, for example, is that as women have entered the workforce, they have actually driven inequality because rich women will only marry rich men, men as rich as them, or richer, whereas rich men will marry women who are poorer than them. But women won’t. And so what that means is it’s another factor that’s pooling wealth in the hands of fewer and fewer people.
Christina: It’s a sortive of mating now, and you just find someone with your background, your… Whereas a doctor might have once married his secretary, he now marries another doctor.
Jordan: Yep, yep.
Danielle: Well, can I ask then, stepping a little bit back from primates as well, how does this selection work in the era of swiping right and left? What is your reaction to the way young people date today?
Jordan: Oh, that’s a good… I was really hoping we’d get into that. I was really… Because I…
Danielle: Well, you were very into the monkeys, so I didn’t wanna interrupt that.
Jordan: No, no… Well, I should close off the Scandinavian discussion just by pointing out, and this is something that the Scandinavians are really gonna have to wrestle with, is that if you institute effective policies to promote equality of opportunity, which the Scandinavians have done, you’re going to produce some equality. So, like a 50/50 distribution of men and women in the workplace. But you’re also going to exacerbate certain kinds of inequality, and you can’t get out of that. So you cannot have equality of opportunity and equality of outcome together, they don’t work together. And equality of outcome, essentially, quality of outcome doctrine, which is often described with the code word equity, is that at every level of every occupation, the people have to be represented by the same number that they’re represented in at the population. So if it’s not 50/50 men and women, in each occupation and in each strata at each occupation, then that’s sort of prima facie evidence for systemic discrimination. It’s like, nope, sorry, you have to factor in choice. And choice actually turns out to be a very important determinant. And as the society gets flatter and flatter, choice becomes a more and more important determinant. And so what that essentially means is that the most radical end of the left wing political agenda is logically impossible, apart from the fact that it’s impossible for a variety of other reasons.
Christina: And they should look at the data. I mean, it’s just a cliche now of in any group of activists, and they’ll say, oh, well, we need, in order for women to achieve equality, we need government funded daycare, and we need on and on. They have it in Sweden. Sweden has fewer women in managerial levels. American women are ahead. In fact, now they have quotas over there, so they need female CEOs and females on boards…
Jordan: That hasn’t made any difference to the…
Christina: They’re bringing in American women, because we’re so much further ahead. So it’s called…
Jordan: And it’s made no difference in the distribution of men and women, lower in the hierarchy.
Christina: No, it’s called the Nordic paradox, and…
Danielle: Okay, you guys are so wonky. I wanna get back to dating.
Christina: Okay. Okay, okay.
Jordan: Okay. So, yes. That’s good. Good.
Danielle: I think we all wanna get back to dating.
Jordan: Well, okay. So…
Christina: I wanna get back to these monkeys.
Jordan: Well, I was thinking this morning about… I was talking to a variety of political types, and we were talking about…
Christina: This morning?
Christina: In D.C.?
Jordan: Hard to believe, hard to believe.
Jordan: No, I’m not telling you.
Jordan: A bunch of Republicans here. And I’ve been talking to Democrats as well, but it was mostly republicans here. And we were talking about abortion. And I made a case that that’s really not a very productive discussion, because you’re talking about a problem way too late in the sequence of problems. So by the time the discussion starts to be about abortion, there’s 50 problems that have already emerged that no one has addressed. And some of those problems are…the fundamental problem is how human beings should regulate their sexual behavior. And that’s a big problem. And you think, well…and there’s an interesting thing that’s happening, because, you know, the people on the right would say, well, that’s easy, it’s like, don’t sleep around, and get married, and have sex with your marital partner, and that’ll solve the problem. So there’s strictures on sexual behavior, and those would be the traditional ones. And what you see on the left is that there’s this weird paradoxical demand, let’s say, that people should be allowed to express their sexuality in any manner that they choose, whenever they want, but that sex is so dangerous, that it has to be carefully regulated at every single stage of the interaction. And so, you know that many state legislators have now followed the example of university campuses, and put in affirmative consent legislation, so that every move you make towards physical intimacy has to be preceded by the instantiation of a verbal contract, essentially. It’s like, well, “Can I take your hand?” “Yes.” You actually, from what I understand, you actually have to say yes, like, nodding is not sufficient. And so each stage has to be preceded by affirmative consent. And, you know, which… Well, I won’t say anything about… Yeah, I will. It’s absurd. It’s absurd to assume that that’s how human intimate relationships are supposed to proceed. And then you have complicated laws emerging that are part of that, that, for example…this is the case in California, as I understand it, is that you cannot give affirmative consent if you’re intoxicated. Okay, so you think about that. It’s like, well, what does that mean?
Christina: It means that, like, a lot of sex has been illegal for a long time, including marital.
Jordan: Yes, that’s what it seems to me.
Christina: Including, like, on my honeymoon, okay? I’m rethinking it. I’m rethinking it.
Jordan: It seems to me, and I’m not, you know…it seems to me to mean, the California legislation, that if you have sex with your wife or husband and either of you is intoxicated, then you’re either one of you, or both, is guilty of rape. That’s what it looks like to me.
Christina: Actually, I was in a debate a few years ago at the University of Virginia law school. and I turned to my debate partner and said, “So, if what you’re saying is right, two people can rape one another.”
Jordan: Mm-hmm. Right.
Christina: She said, “Yes.” And I thought, “Oh, shit.” Like… I mean, how can that be?
Jordan: Well, that’s the question. Well, okay, so then I would say, well, it’s interesting. Because I think that a lot of this confusion has emerged fundamentally as a consequence of the birth control pill. So you know, because you got to think situationally before you think ideologically or psychologically. It’s like, it seems to me that the 20th century will be remembered for the hydrogen bomb, the transistor, and the birth control pill. And those are unbelievably radical technological innovations, and maybe the most…
Christina: Internet. Internet came in.
Jordan: Yeah, but it’s dependent…
Christina: My Fair Lady? My Fair Lady? Just saying…
Jordan: …it’s dependent on the transistor, you know, because it spawned all of that. So that’s the big technological innovation that spawned all that. And of the three, I would say the birth control pill is probably the bigger hydrogen bomb. Because it changed the fundamental biological nature of women and men. And because it gave women, for the first time in biological history, the option of choosing their reproductive status.
Christina: We like that.
Jordan: And that’s abs-… Well, yes and no. Like, yes, we like it. But it’s not something that’s come without a tremendous…it’s come with tremendous complexity.
Christina: Have you been reading Lionel Tiger? A fellow Canadian… Have you been reading Lionel Tiger.
Jordan: No. No, I haven’t.
Christina: Oh, I think you’ll find him interesting, because he writes about that.
Jordan: Well, and I’m not making a case for the abolition of the birth control pill, by any stretch of the imagination. But I’m pointing at its complexity. And so, because one of the questions is well, once you can regulate your reproductive function, what attitude should you have towards sex? And one answer might be the more of it under the more varied circumstances the better, because why not? And I would say that was actually part of the attitude that emerged in the aftermath of the birth control pill in the 1960s, right? And it was a reasonable response, in some sense, because it’s such a cataclysmic change that you don’t know what it implies. Well, what’s the consequence of that? Well, first of all, people aren’t reliable enough to use birth control in an entirely reliable manner. So even though it can work at near 100% efficiency, you have to take it extraordinarily regularly and in a disciplined manner for that to work. And so there was still the problem of unwanted pregnancy, let’s say. And then there was the problem of the proliferation of sexual epidemics, and that culminated in AIDS, which, you know, could have easily wiped all of us out, but didn’t. But there’s other sexual epidemics that could have had the same effect, but we’ve been fortunate enough to escape them. And then more recently, there’s been this weird inversion, especially on the radical left, that points to the reemergence of something like a set of sexual taboos, you know? Like, I think the idea that sex is casual, and that it’s a form of entertainment, is…I think it’s an absolutely preposterous idea. I think that it’s psychologically shallow beyond belief to hold that as a core proposition, because it forces you to, first of all, if it’s repetitive sex with multiple partners, it forces you to treat people as if they’re interchangeable. And I don’t see how that’s good for you psychologically, or for the people that you’re using interchangeably. It implies that you can divorce sexuality from play, from the desire for a relationship, from emotional fragility, from love, from family, from responsibility. All of those things that are part and parcel of everyone. And I don’t think you can, and I don’t think people’s experience indicates that you can, especially on the emotional front. And I think that’s partly what’s driving, and there’s also a residual sense that there’s something about sex that’s fundamentally dangerous. And maybe it’s dangerous, emotionally and personally, and maybe it’s dangerous socially and psychologically. Which it most certainly is, because it’s a powerful force. And the way the left is reacting to that is by insisting that all forms of sexual behavior are valid, and that it’s reasonable to manifest all of them, but that it’s simultaneously so dangerous that absolutely every aspect of it has to be state regulated, and in an increasingly draconian form. And so I think what needs to happen is that the left and the right have to get together and have, like, a real discussion about what constitutes valid sexual morality. And that’s the conversation you have to have way before you worry about solving, like, the abortion debate, which, you know, is very divisive and very intractable.
Danielle: But one of the things we talked about, actually just last week on the podcast, is this cover story in “The Atlantic” about the sexual recession amongst young people. That despite the advent of the birth control pill, abortion is going down. everything is going down.
Christina: …less hookups, fewer hookups.
Danielle: Have you looked into that? Do you have an opinion on that?
Christina: I can’t help but worry about that.
Jordan: Well, if you raise the cost of something, you decrease its prevalence, you know? And I think that it seems to be, you know…
Danielle: Dangerous now to hookup. You don’t know what’ll happen.
Jordan: Well, you know, I kinda think that it’s also a reflection of the same thing that Bloomberg reported on just a few days ago. They said that across businesses, men are thinking, “I’m not spending any time with a single woman that isn’t associated with me in some formal manner. Like, my wife. I’m not going to do it. I’m not going to mentor young women, I’m not going to be in a room alone with them. I’m not going to…”
Christina: Because I could face career annihilation.
Jordan: Absolutely. And instantly, you know?
Christina: They’re frightened of young women, now.
Danielle: But as Kate Julian said, that’s part of it. But we can over exaggerate the part. I mean, anxiety and depression is going up amongst both young men, and young women. Suicide is going up. It’s not just a… You know, most people, I think, are not… We’re talking about an elite demographic, who is into the consent and political correctness in the workplace. This is across the board, and its global. It’s happening even in Sweden.
Jordan: It’s really happening in Japan.
Danielle: Yeah, and Japan. Exactly. So, and that…
Christina: Weird things are happening in Japan.
Danielle: …and that speaks to, and especially Japan, people, especially young men, have given up on intimacy. That having sex is actually, I mean, too much trouble.
Christina: But have they given up on the sex robots?
Danielle: Right. No.
Jordan: Well, right. Right. Well, that’s the question. Well, and there’s pornography.
Christina: Yeah, lot’s of pornography.
Danielle: There’s pornography. But…
Jordan: Which is, like, basically zero-risk sexual behavior.
Danielle: But even when you allow for pornography, that men and women will sort of separate that from their actual sex. Like, but anyway, we’re seeing a whole, I guess, collapse of intimacy, let alone sex. And I don’t think that’s just explained by the political nature. So I’d be interested in your thoughts.
Jordan: Yeah, well, I don’t know the literature on the decline in sexual activity well enough to know if it’s valid or reliable. But I mean, I think that, you know, in a stable society, you take lots of things for granted. You take the fact that men and women are going to be sexually attracted to one another for granted. And…even though it’s more fragile than it appears, you know, and it’s suppressed more easily than you might think. And you take the idea that men and women are going to move together towards the establishment of long-term intimate relationships for granted. But that’s partly because you don’t understand what invisible preconditions exist to make that self-evident, you know? And when those invisible preconditions are disrupted by rapid technological or sociological change, then things shift underneath you, and you don’t know why.
Danielle: A lot of it is traced to the advent of the smartphone, especially in the Generation Z. Kate was explaining this to us, that you could see… It was broadband, internet, and the smartphone that led to this, you know, increasing fall off of relationships.
Jordan: Mm-hmm. well, maybe the abstract is more interesting than the proximal…
Danielle: Right, and that’s why…
Jordan: You see that when you’re having dinner with…
Christina: Hey, have you ever… I just wanna know the truth. Have you ever been with somebody you loved, you found them fascinating and all that, but you really wanted to get back to your smartphone? Has that ever happened?
Jordan: Yeah, well, it happens all the time.
Christina: It happens to me.
Danielle: Yeah, but she’ll never admit it.
Christina: No, it happens during our podcasts. I have to tell you to put your phone down.
Danielle: No, I’m researching things for the purpose of the podcast.
Jordan: Yeah. Well, they’re very addictive.
Christina: They’re very addictive.
Jordan: Yeah, they’re very addictive. You know, I read the other day that they preferred…
Danielle: They’re very alluring. Like…
Jordan: …they are.
Danielle: We’re kinda going together.
Jordan: The preferred method of interpersonal communication between young people now is texting, rather than face-to-face communication, you know?
Christina: Right. And the swiping. The apes don’t swipe.
Jordan: Well, that’s a very interesting topic, too, like, the Tinder phenomenon. Because that’s also a major technological revolution. Because what it’s done, I would say for the first time, is reduce the cost of rejection to males to zero, because it hides it. You know, the only people you ever hear from are people who haven’t rejected you.
Danielle: Although, they… True. But there was one man who had to make 300…he actually tallied it. He had 300 requests of swiping right, or whatever, to get one reply. So I think he had the sense of rejection there.
Jordan: Sure, sure, sure. But it’s massively attenuated, you know?
Christina: It’s not observed.
Danielle: Yeah, you’re not being humiliated.
Jordan: Not at all, not at all. It’s really at arm’s length. And, you know, you can swipe very, very rapidly. And so you can get all that rejection over with in a very short period of time.
Danielle: Right, it’s like losing the video game, or something.
Jordan: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. Well, less because…
Christina: Worse. I mean, not nearly as bad.
Jordan: So, and, you know, I don’t know what… And I mean, Tinder also reduces the… One of the other things that you wanna think about with regards to sex, and I think this is probably particularly true for women, is that to what degree is it in women’s interests to allow the cost of sex to fall to zero? Because pornography certainly does that, and it just seems to me that that’s not a very good long-term strategy for relationships between men and women. Because whatever sex is worth, the cost of zero is the wrong price. And so that’s… You know, I heard from…
Danielle: Well, you can go to The Bunny Ranch and pay quite a bit for it, anyway.
Jordan: Well, true, true. That’s true. But you know, you don’t have to. And you know, I’ve heard from a number of women, read blog reports on their frustration with their attempts to be relatively sexually selective. Like, let’s say they decide that they’re not going to sleep with their new partner on the first date. You know, they’re frustrated by the fact that to the degree that they’re being cautious in their sexual behavior, which I think is actually an admirable idea, that they’re instantly out-competed, especially if their partners are somewhat impulsive, by women who will say yes at the drop of a hat. And so… Well, again, I don’t think… You know, it depends on what the goal is. That’s the thing, is that there’s short term sexual gratification, but the literature indicates that married couples, for example, or couples in a permanent long-term, monogamous relationship are more sexually satisfied than single people. And maybe the single people have to be parsed out into those who are sexually successful, and those who aren’t. But I suspect that wouldn’t make that much difference. But, whatever. There’s the utility of relatively immediate sexual gratification, for whatever that’s worth, and the adventurousness that goes along with that, let’s say. The hunt and the excitement of having a new partner, and all of that. And maybe even the danger that’s associated with that, because people like to have a little bit of danger in their life. But what’s the goal? It’s like, what do people want? And I mean, there’s a great book called “A Billion Wicked Thoughts” that was written by Google engineers, and so it contains great psychology, because Google engineers don’t care about political correctness, and they just write down what they find and they don’t even notice that it’s politically incorrect. Hence, James Damore, for example. And what they found was that women use pornography just as much as men, but the pornography that women use is verbal. It’s not imagistic. And that pornographic novels, essentially, follow the same extraordinarily standard plot-line, to the degree that publishing houses like Harlequin, which is…
Christina: I was gonna say, it’s the bodice-rippers, the romance novels.
Jordan: That’s right, yeah. Right. So in the Harlequin series, you have, you know, the ones that were published, like, in the 1970s that are pretty…they’re tame. There’s a small bit of…
Christina: They’re pretty hot, actually.
Jordan: Well… There’s a variety.
Christina: Yeah, no. I haven’t read them. I haven’t read them.
Jordan: They range from completely tame to, essentially, to hardcore pornography. But the plots are quite similar, and the plot is, you know, young, relatively innocent woman finds powerful, interesting, dangerous male, tames him, and then they live happily ever after.
Christina: Everlasting love. Yes.
Jordan: Yeah. Yeah, and it’s the “Beauty and the Beast” plot, which is a fundamental…
Danielle: Wasn’t the biggest search for women on Pornhub, we discovered…we did an episode on porn…was for women, it was rape? Wasn’t that, like, the…
Christina: No. Lesbianism. Or at least, that was your porn. That was your search.
Danielle: That’s not me.
Christina: Oh, okay. I don’t know. I don’t know, I didn’t see.
Danielle: You know what my porn is? Going to the Williams-Sonoma store.
Christina: I know. It is. It is female porn.
Danielle: All those pots…
Christina: Oh, the pots and pans.
Danielle: But seriously…
Jordan: Call down. Calm down.
Christina: No, but Bill Maher, the philosopher Bill Maher once said that men and women should never tell one another their fantasies, because women are outraged by what we say, and we’re totally bored by what they say. And I thought, like, women have kind of these scenarios, and you know…I don’t know, unicorns? I don’t know what they’re doing…
Christina: Storylines. And men are just like…
Christina: …I don’t wanna say this to you, but there’s a lot of, just, close ups of female body parts.
Jordan: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. Yeah, well, men are much more visually oriented, sexually. And we…
Christina: I know. But now they’re being shamed. I mean, now it’s called the male gaze, and so there’s all of this, like, “Oh, my God, the Sports Illustrated is exploiting the female figure.” I say, yeah, bit I mean, men like it. And I’m worried that now, sort of, the way in the past sexual sub-…you know, gays were shamed, we’re now reversing and shaming, like, heterosexual…
Jordan: Yes, that’s definitely happening.
Danielle: Well, remember we had the young woman who complained about being whistled at? And I said, “Don’t worry, it stops.”
Danielle: Do we have a little bit of time for a couple more topics with you?
Jordan: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.
Danielle: Because one of the things that is coming out of this younger generation, and you have a chapter of it in your book, which I don’t…
Jordan: Oh, sorry. I wanted to finish the line that we were pursuing. I should do that.
Danielle: Oh, sorry. Sorry.
Jordan: Well, with sexual behavior, the question is what’s the end game? And this is what people have to ask themselves. It’s like, one of the corollaries to the female pornographic romance is actually the establishment of a long-term relationship. And the question is… You know, it’s so funny, because I got pilloried in “The New York Times” for talking about enforced monogamy.
Christina: I know.
Jordan: It was quite interesting, because I talked to…
Christina: That gets brought up, like, in every snarky interview…
Jordan: It was so ridiculous.
Danielle: What is…?
Jordan: I talked to that woman for two days.
Christina: I know, and it was just like a little side comment, and then that became, like, the showcase…
Danielle: Can you just explain, like, enforced monogamy? You mean forced marriage, or…?
Jordan: No, I mean that… It was an anthropological term, which she knew perfectly well, because she’s a very smart person. And all it means is that there’s a pronounced proclivity in human societies around the world to enforce monogamous relationships at multiple levels of the sociological hierarchy. You do it culturally, you do it in expectation, you do it legally. You know, enforced monogamy… So, my son was just married, and if he came to me next year and he said, you know, “Hey, Dad, guess what? I’ve managed to have four affairs in the last year with hot women, and my wife hasn’t found out about any of them,” I’m not going to pat him on the back and say, “Good job, kind.” You know, I’m gonna say, “What the hell’s up with you?” you know, “You violated the vow that you took, you’re putting your whole future at risk, you’re betraying yourself and your wife, and…” Well, that’s enforced monogamy. You know, the idea is that the social norm is the establishment of a long-term monogamous relationship, and that there are strictures put in place to support that, but also to punish deviation from it. And you say, well, you know, maybe not so much on the punishment end, but… You gotta… It depends. It’s like, what do you want? What is it that you want? You want a long-term, stable relationship, or not? And if that’s the goal, then your behavior should be devoted to whatever it is that facilitates that goal. And I don’t see that…I certainly don’t see that casual and impulsive sex fits that bill, not in the least. And all of the evidence, with regards to living together, shows that that’s actually detrimental to the establishment of a long-term relationship. So first of all, common-law marriage, people who are in a common-law marriage are much more likely to be divorced. That’s the first thing. The second thing is, people who live together before they get married are much more likely to be divorced after they get married. So the idea that, well, you can try someone on for size and see how it works, and then you’re gonna see if you’re compatible. It’s like, that’s one story. Another story is, well, how about you and I live together for a little while, and, you know, if you’re… you’re not so bad, but maybe I can find someone better. And if I do, you know, in the next year-and-a-half or so, because we’re not hooked together in any formal way, I can just trade you in. It’s okay, you can do the same to me. But I don’t really see that as the sort of complimentary mutual interaction that leads to the formulation of long-term trust. And I think it’s a better story for interpreting what constitutes living together than, well, you know, we’re gonna try each other out, because that’s what mature people would do.
Danielle: It’s a lease or a rental.
Jordan: Yeah. Well, that’s right.
Danielle: They never wash the rental cars, right, and you…
Jordan: Yeah. Well, that’s it. But most importantly, the data indicate that it doesn’t work. It’s that you’re more likely to get divorced, not less likely. Because maybe the right attitude is, well, you’re probably about as flawed as me, and you know, we’re lucky that we found each other. And so let’s see if we can make a commitment, because we’re engaging in something that’s very risky, you know, an intimate relationship. And we’re gonna commit to each other and see if we can build something of value across time. And there’s a definite, a risk in that, but there’s a compliment to your partner. It’s like, well, I think you’re worth making a sacrifice for. And what’s the sacrifice? Well, it’s everyone else. It’s a big sacrifice. And if you don’t see that as a compliment, then I don’t think you’re thinking. Because not only is it a compliment, it’s sort of like, the ultimate compliment. And maybe you don’t get to have a marriage that works without that compliment. Maybe it’s so difficult to establish a long-term relationship that’s functional, that you have to make a walloping sacrifice very early on in the relationship in order for that to even be a possibility. And, you know, maybe not, because what the hell do we know about what binds people together? But it’s not that easy to stay with someone for a long period of time, you know? It’s a real commitment. It takes a tremendous amount of effort. So, anyways…
Danielle: Yeah, but that… Actually, you’re bringing us back to the beginning, and your time with Tammy. And one of the things about… I think, I’m gonna guess this is a bit of an overlooked part in your…chapter in your book, but I just, it was, like, one of my favorites. It was your book on modern parenting.
Jordan: Oh, yes. That’s the one I thought I would get in most trouble for.
Danielle: I know, but it remind-…
Jordan: My critics don’t read that far into the book, though.
Danielle: Well, my mother, when I had my first child, gave me a 1950s copy of Dr. Spock. And he was considered so controversial. And yet, he’s just, like, the most sensible person, knew children very, very well, was a pediatrician. And your rule for parenting is do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them. And you, kind of, in that one chapter, and it’s not even one of your longest chapters, just did this wonderful, sweeping overview of modern parenting and the problems…and in some ways, that we’re producing, maybe, some of these kids who are prolonging adulthood, prolonging the markers of adulthood. That you feel that parents… You said you see today’s parents as terrified by their children, not least because they’ve denied credit for their role as benevolent and necessary agents of discipline, order and conventionality. And then you told some hilarious stories about when your wife ran a daycare center out of your house. And you would get into tests of wills with some of the two-year-olds, but…
Jordan: Mm-hmm. Yeah, they’re tough, man. Two-year-olds can be really tough.
Danielle: Yeah, you described your own son as ornery. I’m glad to hear he got married, congratulations.
Jordan: Oh, yeah, man. Tough, tough kid. Yeah, he still doesn’t wanna do anything he doesn’t wanna do. He’s very charming, and very emotionally stable. So it’s like he’s easy to get along with, but trying to get him to do something he doesn’t wanna do, it’s like… He had my wife defeated when he was nine months old. And she’s tough. Like, seriously, she’s no pushover. But he would just sit there with his mouth closed and glare at her. It’s like, I’m not eating that, and I can take more than you can dish out. It was really something to see, you know? To see that kind of force of will in someone that small.
Danielle: Talk a little bit about that, and just the modern roles between men and women. I mean, we’re less… You know, you don’t really, you’re not really supposed to distinguish between fathers and mothers, even though that seems to inevitably happen in most…
Jordan: Well, it happens in large part because the children differentiate between them. Like, parents are under the delusion that most of what you do with your children is driven by what you want to do with your children, when in fact, it’s driven to a massive degree by what your children want you to do with them. And so there were studies done 30 years ago on feminist parents who decided that they were going to raise their children in non-gender-differentiated manners. And when they were studied, they found that the parents who had that explicit philosophy were just as gender-differentiated with their children as the parents who didn’t have the philosophy. And the reason for that is that if you’re a parent that has any sense at all, you don’t respond to your children as a rigid ideologue, you respond to them as whatever it is the child manifests him or herself as. Like, you know, with any individualized relationship, you take your cue from the person. And you might think, well, a child has no intrinsic nature. But you know, if you think that, you either don’t have children, or you’ve never seen a child, or you’re so blinded by your ideology that you don’t have a child, you just have a blank projection screen onto which you project your presuppositions. And then Heaven help your child, you know? So a lot of the gender-differentiation is actually driven by the children’s demands, and that’s all for the good. That chapter, I thought I would get into tremendous trouble for writing that chapter, because it’s contentious right on the surface, just the rule. Because the rule first implies that children can be dislikeable, and then I would say again, you know, it’s like…have you met children?
Danielle: Yeah, exactly.
Jordan: Were you ever a child? Were there children you didn’t like? Well, obviously. And so lots of children are dislikeable, but it’s taboo to admit that because they’re all sweetness and light and innocence, ever since Rousseau. But you know, Rousseau put all five of his children in an orphanage, where they all died.
Christina: Oh, he was diabolical.
Jordan: So maybe we won’t talk too much about Rousseau. And then the next taboo is, well, that parents can dislike their children, but if you’re a clinician and you don’t think that parents can dislike their children, well then, you’re not a clinician. Because one of the things you constantly see is that pathology within families is an incredibly common source of psychological destabilization, right? And it’s terrible tension between parents and their children, and between siblings. What I suggest in the in the book, which I think is radical by today’s standards, is that your fundamental job as a parent is to ensure that by the time your child is four years old, that they are maximally desirable to other children and to adults. Because what happens is that after the age of four, you aren’t the primary agent of socialization, the social world becomes the primary agent of socialization. And if your child is the sort of child that’s invited to play by other children, because your child is capable of forestalling gratification, and taking turns, and playing someone else’s game when it’s necessary, and abiding by the rules, and not having a temper tantrum when they lose, and not getting too, you know, high on their horse when they win, then many children will invite them.
Danielle: Sorry, I wasn’t…I was doing false signals…
Christina: But we have all these signals, I don’t know what you mean. Just say it. What do you want me to do.
Danielle: No, I know our limited time, and so I just wanted to… I was actually saying do you have any more questions?
Jordan: Any more questions?
Danielle: But this is great. It was selfish of me, because I really wanted to hear you talk about parenting.
Jordan: Well, I’ll follow…
Christina: I know, I just wanna let him, like, take…
Jordan: I’ll take 15 seconds to wrap that up, and then stop.
Danielle: Yes, please.
Jordan: Well, so look. You get married when you have your children, and you’re flawed, and your partner’s flawed. And hopefully you’re flawed in different ways. And so you put the two of you together, and you make one approximately normal person. And then… Hopefully. And then your child has to interact with that dyad that is a reasonable representative of social norms. And if your child disappoints you with their behavior, the probability that they will disappoint other people is very high. And so you have an ethical obligation to ensure that your child is behaving in a manner that makes them optimally desirable to their playmates, and also to other adults. Because then, the kids invite them to play and they get to be socialized, right? They have friends, for God’s sake. It’s like, what do you want for your kids? How about some friends? Wouldn’t that be nice? And maybe what you’d like is that they regulate their behavior well enough so that when you take them places, restaurants, to see your friends, to see your relatives, they behave in a manner that’s sufficiently civilized so their intrinsic charm wins over the adults, and everywhere they go people are smiling and welcoming, instead of wishing, with fake smiles, that the damn brat would leave, along with their foolish parents. Which is not a good…that’s not a good environment to have your child constantly exposed to. No friends, because they’re too selfish and immature. And irritating to adults, so that they’re barely tolerated under the mask of false smiles. It’s like, you have an ethical obligation to regulate your child’s behavior so that they’re optimally acceptable socially. And that is not how people look at children in the modern world. They think, well, you’re raising their self esteem, or you’re enhancing their creativity. Or you don’t wanna put constraints on their behavior because you’re going to interfere with the flowering of their intrinsic self. And you know, it’s all Rousseauian nonsense, and there’s no evidence to support it.
Danielle: And he’s no expert.
Jordan: And he’s no expert. That’s right.
Christina: Oh, my God, he was the worst father in history.
Jordan: Yeah. Yeah.
Christina: And such a corrupt… And he had these babies with this poor scullery maid, and left them all in a…actually, a place where they would just languish and die.
Jordan: Yeah, right. Five of them.
Jordan: Yeah, I know. I know. Yeah, exactly. Man is intrinsically good. Yeah, well, except for Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
Christina: Yeah, well I just remember a few weeks ago I was reading about you, and somehow I got onto somebody’s Twitter feed, whom I will not mention, because oh, my God. But anyway, a difficult person. And she was attacking you, and had a selection from your book where you had called two-year-olds little monsters. And so suddenly, all of these distraught Twitter followers of this feminist were saying “He called them monsters?” you know?
Jordan: Little monsters.
Christina: Yeah, little monsters. And everybody…and then occasionally there’d be a parent who would say, “Two-year-olds kind of are monsters,” you know? And then there’d be “Agghhhh!!!” and then, “They kind of are…” And they had taken this out of context and shown it like something to deplore. And it was so amusing to me, this little game…
Jordan: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. Hopefully they’ll soon be cursed the some two-year-olds.
Danielle: Right, right.
Christina: They’re gonna get their own little monsters. My son, I won’t say which one, was two years old and had…he was a good boy. But he had an insane meltdown in a supermarket. I was with my mother, we both pretended we didn’t know him. We didn’t wanna be the parent, you know?
Jordan: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.
Christina: And we heard people say, “Oh, my God. Look at that child “Oh, oh my god!”
Jordan: Oh, have… Watching a two-year-old have a tantrum is…it’s a real little miracle.
Christina: It was terrifying. I didn’t wanna be associated with him.
Jordan: We had a boy who used to be in…like, when my wife was taking care of more kids than ours, there was a little boy who had learned to throw a pretty decent tantrum. And he would do that, and it didn’t work in our house because we’d just leave him. Have his tantrum, and go into a different room. And then he’d kind of wake up out of it, and there wouldn’t be anybody around. And so that… Like, if you put all that work into a dramatic display, and you have zero audience, you’re not gonna sustain it. Anyways, he could actually hold his breath until he turned blue. So you should try that. Go home and see if you can do that in front of the mirror, man. Like, it’s hard. It’s very, very… You have to be…
Christina: You gotta admire it.
Jordan: You do. It was impressive. And you know, two-year-olds are very impressive. They have unbelievable outbursts of rage, and dis-inhibited emotion. And your job is, you know, they’re driven by these underlying motivational systems that are unbelievably powerful. And it’s part of what makes them delightful, because when they’re happy, they’re insanely happy. And when they’re playful, they’re incredibly playful. And so the positive end of them is way exaggerated compared to, you know, a rather drab adult. And so it makes two-year-olds extraordinarily interesting. But the same is true on the negative emotion side, they’re completely dis-regulated, and it’s really hard on them. Like, to have a two-year-old who isn’t in control of their emotions means that you have a child who’s developing central personality. You know, their ego, for lack of a better word, is constantly being swamped by these powerful underlying emotional systems. You know, what it’s like. If you are enraged for any period of time, or if you’re engulfed by grief, like, it’s exhausting. It’s demeaning, and it’s exhausting. And it’s the same with a little kid. It’s like, it’s a real defeat for the developing integrated individual to be subjugated by those catastrophically powerful emergent emotions. And part of your job as a parent is to scaffold the part of the child that can regulate and inhibit those powerful underlying systems. So with my son, for example, when he used to misbehave, I would count and say, “You’re gonna go sit on the steps.” He’d say, “Oh, no, I’m not.” I would say, “Oh, yes, you are.” And then usually I’d have to chase him around, because he wouldn’t go sit on the steps. And so I’d put him on the steps and say, “You’re gonna sit there until you’ve got yourself under control.” And so he’d say, “No, I’m not,” and I’d say, “Yes, you are, ” and then he’d try to get up, and I’d just hold him and say, “You’re gonna sit there. I’m gonna hold you ’til you sit there.” “No, I’m not.” It’s like, I could out-wait a two-year-old. So I usually won those battles, and then he’d sit there, and I’d say, “Look, kid, this is the deal,” I’d say two things. “Like, do you wanna have a bad day, or do you wanna have a good day? You think about that. Because if you wanna have a good day, we can just have a bad day.”
Danielle: A little Clint Eastwood of you with them.
Jordan: “But if you wanna have a bad day, we can have a bad day. So you sit here, and as soon as you can control yourself and you ready to be civilized, then you can come back and we can have a good day.” So he’d sit there, just, just…it was unbelievable to watch, Just enveloped with rage, you know? Just argh, trying to get himself under control, you know? And so I’d come back 30 seconds later, and I’d say, “You know, have you got yourself, got your act together yet?” “No! Not yet!” And So I’d wait, and usually it took him two or three minutes, and he’d calm down. And then he’d come back out and he’d say, “I’m ready to have a good day,” and he meant it, you know? And I could tell he meant it, too, because whatever resentment I was harboring towards him for his misbehavior, and you have to watch that when you’re an adult, would vanish because he’d come, and he was done. He was ready, just, you know, to proceed on a civilized basis. And it was really interesting to watch that because it took him…every time he sat on the steps, it took him a shorter and shorter period of time to attain mastery, right? Until, you know, it got to the point where he could only have to sit for 15 seconds or so, and he would bring himself under control. And that was a victory. Like, if you imagine the neurological systems develop that are responsible for personality integration, it was a victory for those systems because they were attaining the ability to regulate the lower order spontaneous emotions. And you know, he turned into an individual who’s capable of a tremendous level of self-control. And you know, and he had large demons to fight with. Woman: Good for his wife. Thank God for his wife.
Jordan: Yes, absolutely. And well, it turned out well for my daughter, too, because she ended up being very ill, and he ended up being extraordinarily level-headed and reliable, and thank God for that.
Christina: Could you come to my house and do that for my little Maltipoo, Izzy? Because I can’t…I can’t train her. She’s like a w-…
Danielle: well, maybe that’s the next book. The dog…I would love a…hopefully…
Jordan: Twelve rules on how to train your dog?
Danielle: Yeah. Except you like cats. You like cats, what’s with that? Okay, we can’t, we cant…
Christina: Yeah, that’s the one rule I objected to. Like, what’s with petting the cats?
Jordan: I wrote about dogs for two pages, to begin with, just to satisfy the dog people.
Christina: It didn’t satisfy us, because…
Jordan: Yeah, well, they’re not satisfiable. You can’t satisfy them.
Danielle: All right. Well, we can’t thank you enough for coming here. I know the AEI audience is just so delighted to have had the chance to hear you in person.
Jordan: Well, I’m really happy that we got the chance to talk finally.
Jordan: For some length of time, yeah.
Christina: We finally… I’ve only met you, like… Well, once we met in D.C., but I’ve just seen you on the internet…
Jordan: We’ve passed electronically.
Christina: Yes, yes, yes.
Danielle: Oh, you’ve swiped past each other.
Christina: Oh, yeah. Well, there was that. We’re not going into that.
Christina: Thank you, everyone.
Danielle: So, thank you. Thank you, Jordan Peterson.
Christina: Dr. Peterson…