What is this, Gender Pronoun Day?
Jordan Peterson, a professor at the University of Toronto, is railing against “political correctness”, generally a good sign that we’re dealing with a right-wing wackaloon, depending on what has gotten them wound up. In this case, it’s safe to say he’s an outraged wingnut, because this is what has got him upset:
Gender identity is defined by the Ontario Human Rights Commission as “each person’s internal and individual experience of gender. It is their sense of being a woman, a man, both, neither, or anywhere along the gender spectrum.” The commission defines gender expression as “how a person publicly presents their gender,” which can include behaviour and outward appearance such as dress, hair, make-up, body language and voice, as well as a person’s name and the pronouns they use.
Yes? Seems like plain old ordinary common sense to me — gender is complicated and messy, and a matter of personal experience as well as biology. All I should care about is how a person presents themselves, and I should respect that.
But no, not to Jordan Peterson! This is unadulterated crazy talk.
Peterson is critical of these terms and their definitions as outlined by the commission, and compares the changes Bill C-16 would bring about to the policing of expression in “totalitarian and authoritarian political states.”
I think he’s got it backwards. Demanding that individuals conform to one of only two gender roles is the totalitarian/authoritarian position.
He also argues against the existence of non-binary gender identities, or those that are not exclusively masculine or feminine, saying “I don’t think there’s any evidence for it.”
By the way, he’s a professor of clinical psychology.
You could try typing evidence of non-binary gender identities into Google Scholar and see what comes up. Do you think it might be a blank page? It isn’t.
Peterson said that if a student asked him to be referred to by a non-binary pronoun, he would not recognize their request: “I don’t recognize another person’s right to determine what pronouns I use to address them. I won’t do it.”
Amazing. Why? So it would be OK for me to address Jordan Peterson as “she” or “her”? He seems to be saying the subject of a reference is not to be allowed any say in how they are addressed. I also wonder if he’s one of those professors who insist that students address them as “Professor” or “Doctor”.
It’s common courtesy to ask how someone wishes to be addressed, and especially in a formal relationship, to respect that. There’s nothing wrong with a professor insisting that they be addressed by title, or by first name — and students should respect that convention. Would it be OK if, against his wishes, I addressed Jordie-boy as “Maximum Sphincter Peterson” in the classroom?
Peterson told the National Post that he decided to make the video and go public with his views after receiving a memo from university HR outlining new mandatory anti-racist and anti-bias training. “That disturbs me because if someone asked me to take anti-bias training, I think I am agreeing that I am sufficiently racist or biased to need training,” he said in an interview.
Yes, Maximum Sphincter Peterson. You are sufficiently biased to need training. We all are. I have a terrible habit of calling an awful person a “sphincter”, and I could probably do with a little conversation about how it makes others feel.