The Demise of the Left: from Liberalism to Marxism | Naomi Wolf | EP 351May 04, 2023
You should accept yourself as you are what that says about who I should become is that right now it's off the table because I'm already good enough in every way so I'm done or something get up get your act together take some responsibility put your life in order develop a vision unfold all those multiple possibilities that lurk within you be a force for good in the world and that will be the adventure of your life what happened in the 19th century not only with disease contagious but also typhus and The devastating cholera epidemics of the 1840s and early 1850s, wiping out people who would be sick on Sunday and dead on Wednesday, creating a pattern in Western history that allowed subsequent regimes to emulate the model of narrating danger. of infectious disease certainly using that element of disgust and contamination and existential threat as a pretext for what authoritarians always want to do, which is to eradicate freedoms and consolidate control, so I think it's happening on two fronts, it's happening organically on the front psychological, but then the state steps in and says okay, we can save you from this existential threat, just give up all your rights. hello everyone.
Today I am pleased to speak with a thinker on the progressive front. His first book, The Beauty Myth, questioned notions of attraction by arguing that they are socially invented. This publication became an international bestseller and confirmed that Wolf is one of the main spokespersons for the so-called third-wave feminist movement in recent years.
leftfor becoming an anti-vaxxer and a conspiracy theorist a strange fate for a progressive thinker who led
wolfto write her latest book the bodies of others the new covid-19 authoritarians and the war on humans eager to talk Dr. Wolf today to delve into the
left's hold on a reprehensible position in its esteem for the Marxist doctrines that became popular throughout the 20th century to understand how it came about and to analyze the role played by organizations such as the Chinese Communist Party I I guess the first question I have for you, Dr.
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the demise of the left from liberalism to marxism naomi wolf ep 351...
Wolf, is why did you agree to talk to me? Why shouldn't it? Well, a lot of people don't. I've been asking all sorts of people on the left to show up for years. on my podcast and that standard answer is now, by the way, I don't know precisely if you can be placed politically on the left, I know your views have changed dramatically over time and we're going to look into that, but no, I've invited people, especially left-wing political figures, to talk to me repeatedly, dozens of times with, uh, to no avail, let's say, so it's not a foregone conclusion, most scientists, etc., that I ask talk are with very few. exceptions say yes but that's definitely not true on the political side of more social commenting especially in the political realm but it wasn't that wasn't a problem as far as you're concerned well I guess I'd say first that I will talk to someone especially about Freedom and the Constitution and human rights and freedom um I think that's my job and it would be a very boring world if we only talked to people that we already know we are going to agree with and more importantly maybe um speaking to you because, well, for that reason, uh, but also because I know I see you describe yourself as liberal and well, from the outside it may seem like my views have changed in recent years.
I really feel like they've stayed exactly the same and the world has changed and um, I also see myself as a classical liberal, so even if I didn't, I want to talk to you because I like to learn things and I like to talk to people I like. maybe I don't agree, I could learn something, but either way, you know, since you seem to be concerned about human freedom and I'm concerned about human freedom. Besides, I wouldn't dream of not talking to you. I acknowledge your experience. Unfortunately I am now in a situation where I keep asking the left to respond.
You know the opinions I'm posting from other people on my news site. that I'm mentioning and I literally can't get anyone to talk to me and I used to be, you know, until like two and a half years ago and I was firmly entrenched on the left as a cultural figure, so I definitely want to dig into that because one of the things What I've really observed is that I think I'm reasonably neutral as a psychological observer of political behavior, I think, and certainly one of the things I've noticed is that the propensity to cancel is fundamentally a left-wing phenomenon.
I've had very few people on the right who they refuse to talk to me, that's for sure, and I've had many, including my friends on the left, and I've seen this in a relatively shocking way. I would say quite often they refuse to talk. to people who weren't in your jurisdiction I think one of the punishments actually this is weird, though one of the punishments for refusing to talk to people whose opinions differ from yours is to end up fighting with people who don't agree with you. you in your siding over smaller and smaller things, even with the same intensity, so it's not like you get rid of the need to disagree, you just find yourself, what did Freud call the narcissism of women? small differences? opinion which is kind of funny in a metaphysical way so let's start with your let's start with your childhood so tell me a little bit about your parents and what it was like growing up for you and i'm interested in how your intellectual interests developed for sure um I'll just point out before we do that that's a change i think dr peterson left um it didn't used to be the case just five years ago uh he was canceling we can talk about it later if you like it's very important i think these are non western norms that have been implanted in the western cultural discourse.
It would have been embarrassing to cancel an opponent instead of committing to him or her. um, I was born in San Francisco, I mean, I think I'm exactly the same age as you and I grew up in an academic household, I guess, my father was a professor of English literature at San Francisco State University, my mother was a graduating anthropology major as a kid um jewish uh middle class home um very creative environment my dad is also a poet and creative writing teacher so it was a very talkative clever environment um heavy imagination and you know i was surrounded by the ferment culture of the 1960s and 1970 in San Francisco, so when I was a teenager, you know the gay lgbtq community at the time was called the gay and lesbian liberation movement, the women's movement, you know, immigrant rights, uh, it was all kinds of um a lot of social justice movements around me growing up and it seemed like the world was going to get right really i mean i was very optimistic um very beautiful place to grow up and then i went to yale huh and that was a shock because i would never know i'm a California girl, so I had never experienced the elitist hierarchies of the East Coast and Semitism, you know, before the idiosyncratic racism of the Northeast.
I mean, if you grew up in California it's a very diverse culture, you know, it's not that we don't have racism in California, but it's different, it's a more inclusive society, it's less tied to class, so that was a shock, um, that's when you and you did a bachelor's degree at yale i was a yale undergrad in english literature and what what a year uh 1980 to 1984. 80 to 84. yeah okay yeah yeah so we almost perfectly overlapped in terms of date of birth Age and time of education and so what Exactly did you experience at Yale how that detrimental environment manifested itself for you and was it something that other people were also experiencing or was there something you think about its origin besides the Semitic element?
Was there anything about your experience? Do you think your experience leaned more in that direction? How much of that was situational and how much personal in hindsight? It's still a super sexist place um and uh and you know and a lot of casual um kind of date rape and what today we would call sexual harassment that wasn't, I think, I think it was only recently codified or hasn't been codified by yet complete at that point I'll have to check, but, well, you felt like you knew I wasn't the only woman feeling under siege. I mean, you know the parties at Yale in my day were described in the Brett Kavanaugh hearings and they were very familiar to me. you know people were raped and sexually assaulted at parties, um, you know very, very casually at Yale, uh, and there was, what do you think was the attitude of the typical male college student at that time?
I don't know if we would talk about the typical male college student or if we were talking about the more dangerous typical male college student, what do you think the attitude was towards women at that time and I mean I'm also interested in the problem of sexual misconduct from a variety of psychological standpoints? a big part of what fuels sexual misbehavior on campus is alcoholism, yeah I mean your language, I think that's an interesting difference between us, I would call it, um, criminal activity on campus, oh, okay, okay, I, I, no, I guess I'm trying to stress that that's not the case.
I've thought a lot about how universities can address and regulate those types of activities and they are fueled by alcohol to a degree that is almost unimaginable, so alcohol itself is responsible for about 50 percent of violent acts. crimes and it's the only drug that we know of that actually makes people violent so I wonder if the parties you're describing mean that we know full well that there is a party culture in American colleges and that it's fueled by alcohol and there is alcohol which is a very disinhibiting drug and so if you have a bias in a particular direction alcohol will knock out all the stops so if there is an underlying misogyny or resentment towards women then that will be amplified for an alcohol fueled event.
I am not trying to make a case for or against the presence of misogyny at Yale. I just wonder in retrospect when you look at that, what contributing factors do you see to what you experienced? yeah So I want to say we're diving into an incredibly annoying and difficult topic but I'm happy to take it up so you know I'm happy to take it up because that's one of the reasons I wanted to talk to you I know about your interest in the gender dynamics um and you know this is probably one of those areas where we could have a lot of interesting disagreements um so I would say categorically alcohol you can't blame the culture of sexual accepted sexual violence and sexual harassment at Yale at that time on alcohol or drugs um not at all uh what you can blame is the institutional tolerance of sexual harassment and sexual violence i mean in other words there was a culture of impunity people who knew nothing would happen to them acted as if nothing happened to them and i I have also studied gender Dynamic sexual assault sexual harassment on campus for many decades and for sure when there is a culture of impunity in any institution rapists rape abusers harass and when there is a culture of um consequences um that restricts um the tendencies that those people might have to rape or harass you know that for sure, but what the young people around us at Yale and the professors around us at Yale knew is that nothing bad would happen to them if they raped or abused women and categorically if you look at the cases At that time, you know that to this day, to some degree, the institution colluded to cover up rapes on campus, protecting athletes, especially those who assaulted women on campus, protecting faculty, so I personally was bullied by a famous professor, Dr.
Harold Bloom, when I was a young man and that was in a context where I didn't drink alcohol at all, it was a context where he and he had a long standing reputation. I didn't find out until later. of doing this to college women and two grad students um and tried to hold the institution to account decades later and it was just undercover undercover um how old were you when that happened? I was 19 and what effect did that have on you metaphysically well I think it had an ultimate lifelong effect on me metaphysically um it was pretty scary at the time um because it was in a way in no way can you blame this situation anymore you know anyone who didn't know exactly what she was doing um it was a situation where he was my advisor uh he was my professor for an independent study course that my academic advisor had recommended to a close colleague of his another famous academic John Hollander um was a I was writing poetry.
He was a very talented poet. He was getting a lot of awards and recognition for being a poet and, well, he encouraged me to take this independent study with him. He ignored and ignored and ignored my introductions for the entire semester. at the end of the semester without any evaluation and i did not come from a wealthy background i had to get ascholarship to get into graduate school i was going to apply for a rhodes scholarship so for many reasons including, you know i was a student i needed an evaluation finally he told me i you know i will come to your house where you live and i will talk about your manuscript of poetry at the time and that seemed almost normal because he was working with my roommate's boyfriend on a project an editorial project um so we all had dinner on his recommendation and then everyone left and I thought I was going to evaluate my poetry work. my semester as he had promised to do and he basically assaulted me and we were alone in a house and you know there was no one who could know i couldn't escape it was huge he was between the door and me it was scary you know i mean he didn't get very far , he put his hand on my thigh and I backed away and got as far away from him as I could and then he kind of got between me and the door and, I mean, finally, finally he was gone, but I mean, first of all, I had been raped as a child 11 years earlier so you know when I try to talk about assault on campus and you know professors creating a sexual assault environment on campus one third of underage women have been raped, assaulted or abused by trusted male role models by their fathers or father figures when they are 18 years old.
I was already terrified and in a situation like that also because I guess you are a good poet at that time you are certainly very excited that someone who is an eminent scholar is interested and is going to evaluate his work and looks forward to it. cravings on that front and then he finds himself in a situation where the exact opposite of what is supposed to be happening is happening, to put it mildly, and he also said that was reminiscent of the treatment you had received at the hands of another man much earlier in your life, so this is an important time where we're talking a little bit about, um, not on the same experiential plane because all of those considerations certainly would. emerge you know months or years later right but what I was worried about at that moment was surviving because I didn't know it would kill me you know why when women are raped or abused especially very young women you know you don't know that this person is not going to kill you right You don't know that you are going to get out of this situation alive and hopefully you know that everyone who runs the university hopefully understands that this is what it is like to experience someone who is in a situation of abuse or rape that, literally, you know they don't know if they're going to make it out alive because it's surrealism scary huh shocking um you know assault it's assault so joke after the fact you know that's why judges juries and administrators always misinterpret rape and sexual assault after the fact made. whatever it is but at that point it's literally like I'm going to die you know what he does he's got a knife he's got a gun I mean he's absolutely a terror that I can't even describe to you and probably would have been even if I hadn't been raped as a child, but you know there's no way to minimize how existentially terrifying it is to be picked on by someone bigger than you, um, standing between you on an outing in a house that's far away any kind of help, no one would have heard me if I had yelled, so yeah, well, I wasn't trying, I wasn't trying to reduce what you said to mere psychological consequence of betrayal, I was just trying. let's say in a sense amplify it by pointing out that this didn't just happen to you but it happened to you at the hands of someone you trusted and was entrusted with fostering your development and is the Gap part of what constitutes psychological trauma is the gap between the expected behavior and actual behavior and in a situation where you are in the hands of someone who has a stellar reputation and you are in an institution that is supposed to guide and develop you, then depth of being I mean if someone attacks you in a dark alley in a dangerous part of town, that's a terrible thing, but there's not that added element of betrayal of an entire institution and a whole path of development that goes with it, that doesn't mean it's not horrible it just loses a dimension of what terribly right so thank you dr peterson you're absolutely right i mean so sub so the initial trauma was just physical definitely terror terror the post trauma you know goes to what we were saying which allows for a rape culture on campus and you know that's when I brought this up to people around me including my my um my dean and basically the 360 degree response from the institution was he's well known for this don't do anything about it he'll ruin your career so um and you know other women tried to bring it up and their careers were destroyed so why didn't they destroy your career?
Well, I think my career was destroyed. I wanted to be okay, you know? I wanted to be an English teacher a teacher in his same field I wanted to teach Victorian literature English literature that's all I wanted to do my whole life and be a poet and I had to take a complete detour um for the next you know three decades because I was still alive and that wasn't an option for me um and even you know like all the way so tell me tell me tell me exactly why it wasn't an option for you like what were the mechanics of the impositions that were put on him as a consequence of the sequence of events so I mean I know he was very influential and I can vaguely understand why that would have had a cascading consequence but if he had continued his um his education in the domain of literature why exactly would it have been that Couldn't you have found the kind of academic work, for example, that your experience might have provided?
Well, that's a good question. Shade over the whole field um I mean he was the great authority on Victorian studies um you know for decades after that you know and I just got word that he couldn't get uh a letter of recommendation he couldn't get obviously he wasn't even going to be in the same room with him to apply for a letter of recommendation, but they told me that the path to grad school was like applying to any grad school and they saw it was on my transcript, they would have said for don't you have a letter from Dr. blue yeah okay okay I see yeah yeah and which is funny because that's a look glaring omission and then that would have been for questions and whatever . he means he will say and that was also clearly communicated to me by the people who cared about me and who were warning me, he knows he has done that before right?
He didn't even need women to come forward to ruin his careers, if he knew, he abused them, or he approached them and they rejected him, which I had done, I guess, in his opinion, um, it made him close all doors academically. , so it was clear to me that I had no future in my chosen field. as long as he lived, he had to do something that was not my plan. I didn't plan to be a feminist activist, nonfiction writer in a popular genre of nonfiction for decades. I'm happy that I had eight international best sellers, but that wasn't what I wanted.
I wanted to be a college professor and then even when I went back to school. I'm making a little progress. I thought it was safe because he was too old to go. I went back to university so I became a Rhodes Scholar in spite of him and went to Oxford and fast forward as I will know so I was finally almost 50 and I thought it was okay for me to resume my education and become a teacher. English literature I returned to Oxford in middle age. I finished my d-fill um in victorian studies and when i submitted my defill and i got it and passed my academic adviser at oxford said you need to submit this to um a journal uh you know Journal of Victorian Studies and and you have to submit and you know it's edited by Harold Bloom you know you have to have to submit this this is a really distinguished work and I said I can't submit it to that paper um and I had to tell her why so late and she agreed she agreed you know how many years after that it was like 30 years later where it can't be 30 yes no 30 years as well as As for you this event led to a uh my domain of academic pursuit which was very different ok how much do you think that looks ?
First of all I have to say if I'm going to push you into places I don't really want to talk about you just tell me it's okay because I'll back off and talk about anything I'll tell you I'm an adult go ahead and ask how far you think The psychological consequences of what happened to him, as well as the practical consequence, influenced his writing and the goals towards which he directed his writing from then on. of interest, I mean, all I ever wanted to do was teach, you know, I would have been writing about Ruskin, so you would have stuck relatively firmly to something like classical literary criticism, yeah, so I should point to everyone who they watch and listen because It's not exactly obvious what the goal of literary criticism is if you don't have a background in the field, and it's easy to underestimate its importance in literary critics' analysis.
Fiction productions in general analyze stories and that turns out to be extremely important. and we've become clearer about that on the psychological front in recent years because the structures through which we view the world of women described our stories and so what literary critics do in the deepest sense is analyze the maps that we use to orient ourselves. in the world and there is nothing more important in your life than getting your story straight and people who are astute literary critics don't fry fall into this category as far as I am concerned they are extraordinarily helpful in helping people orient themselves in terms of where they devote their attention and their action, so it's easy for people who are not intellectually oriented, let's say, and who don't have a deep educational history, not to understand why literary criticism is so important but it's very important so you're going to pursue classical literary scholarship but you went off the rails and okay now you went from Yale to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar okay okay now you said you have ambitions of getting a professorship in English literature gone off the rails but you got a scholarship to travel and that's not easy, so how do you reconcile the potentially conflicting claims that perhaps a career in English literature would still have been open to you given that your academic background was positive enough for you to get a scholarship from road which is not a simple thing, yes I can easily answer that.
The Rhodes scholarship committee was looking for different things. In English literature they were looking for leadership and, you know, uh, I mean obviously my grades were good overall and I was considered, you know, a gifted student. Bloom's was not an obstacle regarding the Rhodes scholarship, well that's a relief, well I mean sure, but imagine Dr. Peterson if you were to succeed in an area that was not your choice for your life. Yeah, well, I could. I can imagine that because it happened in the last seven years, so okay, I'm not a professor at the University of Toronto anymore, which wasn't exactly in my plans in that regard, we've had similar journeys.
I have something happened now. if I'd had many decades of going after exactly what I wanted to go after, that's a big difference, but I do have some experience with dislocation, let's say, in a way that wasn't, well, you know C'est La Vie stuff has worked out quite a bit. fine by me, but it wasn't what i had planned, you know, and i guess that's the definition of life, it's not what you had planned, so now you went to follow the path. scholarship and what did you study as a road fellow now that you're in oxford and what was it like what was it like to be in oxford compared to being in yale well it was very exciting for me because it was purely academic um how can I say it well, the oxford experience, as you're no doubt aware, it's completely different from an American university in the sense that you have these little seminars, you have tutorials with your professor, your Don and your two students or three students and the professor and um and you dive deep into the text in that time and it's a very, very pure form of scholarship, that made me very happy because I'm a real nerd and again, you know I was working on Victorian studies 19th century English. literature um I was working on an MA in Philosophy at the time and you know I loved it it was the 80s in Britain so it was cold and gloomy and thatched and uh and and The grad students weren't particularly um Central for the Oxford experience it was a very university experience but we were sort of exiles together but it was exciting and the travel grant of course what a privilege you know you are you are you are your expenses are paid for two or three years depending on what you choose just do it just study just learn with a bunch of other really brilliant people from all over the world so it was a very um you be blissful uh intellectual experience and the seed of my first book um was my my default thesis there or the beginning of my default thesis theinflation has consequences as the Fed raises interest rates to combat runaway government spending long-term bonds are declining in value, crippling banks; depositors are holding their breath and investors are bailing out bank shares.
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Peterson You know to this day that six per cent of rapes in Britain are prosecuted and no one keeps statistics on how many of them are convicted. I'm serious, you know rapists really do get impunity. changes that have taken place in society, um, young women are a little safer on college campuses because of the hard work of people like you and my colleagues in the '80s and '90s and early odds, but it's not like I'm still alive in a culture where women, most women I know have been raped or abused in some way and very few of them have gotten any kind of justice from the perpetrator, but moving on, um, I was really happy about Oxford and you know it was generally a less violent culture, so what question were you trying to address or what questions were you trying to address when you were doing your masters work at Oxford?
What was foremost on his mind and why was he so worried? interested in the image of women in 19th century novels huh this ideal that emerged in the 19th century in practically all the great novels um you know certainly written by women but also in Dickens and um George Eliot uh of this type of passive figure childish as a doll, um beautiful uh inert type of figure and I was interested in it because this uh passive internal stereotype of femininity was emerging just at the time when historically there was the first wave of feminism in any western society in other words women were they were organizing, they were organizing to defeat um laws that were punitive in which women who looked like prostitutes could be taken off the street without due process and they were organizing to um, you know have access to education to have access to being owning their own property huh so there would be a very vibrant one and they were mobilizing to access primary education too just when women were being empowered and empowered to change society this kind of inert reaction figure huh was built as a cultural ideal so i was writing about that so let me ask you a question let me ask you a question about that i mean the representation of women in victorian era literature in other countries i think it was broader than that For example, women in Tolstoy.
Tosto is a very good example. I mean, the women in Dostoevsky's novels are very psychologically complex. All of his characters are, but in Tolstoy's novels in particular, you get the feeling that in the Victorian period and earlier in Imperial Russia, women really did run society. behind the scenes now the men had the formal nomenclature positions but they were in the Tolstoyan world they were really appendages to what was really going on the women were running society and uniting society behind the scenes and I mean Tolstoy is more of a sociologist in that sense but his female characters certainly don't play second fiddle even though it's a behind the scenes rule in a way it's not a secondary rule at all in fact i would say the opposite is the case in tolstoy's world and I have no idea to what extent that was actually education in Imperial Russia, but I suspect that was probably the case to some degree, yeah well I'm sure it was the case, you know everywhere women had no rights full legal, but I think you're, I think what you're saying is exactly right, but it's also respectfully, I think you know, prove my thesis, which went on to become the beauty myth thesis, which was my first book, which is that um Great Britain was the place where women stood above all European countries defending their rights legally, socially and economically, therefore this figure of backlash arose, whereas in imperial Russia women practically they had no legal rights and therefore this figure of backlash need not arise. they could be portrayed in all their complexity because they were not a threat to the status quo you described the Victorian English portrayal of women in the literary domain as a backlash and I guess I'm curious as to which authors in particular you think that was characteristic of and then why do you think there would be such a backlash like what is your literary critical interpretation of the fact that that phenomenon arose phenomenon arose yes so I guess I focused more on the Dickens doll-like characters but also if you look at Middle March um, there's a very common type of matchmaking in mid-19th century fiction, especially written by women where there's um, you know, Dorothea Kasabin, who's complex and um, she's got it rich in our life and, You know? pretty revolutionary in her own right trying to change society um and then her kind of antagonist her antagonist who is this kind of you know pretty generally blonde um passive manipulative shallow character and you see that kind of dialectic in other novels at the time but also just in popular culture I mean it was the dawn of um the dawn of the popular uh you know pop culture in the lithograph sense and um very soon photography from the 1840s 1850s and you're also getting these beauty ideals uh what they were impossible of you know 17 inch waist corsets that women couldn't breathe in, um, literally, mid-1800s fashion in contrast to the 1820s teens where you know women of In Jane Austen's time they could move well, they could breathe. they could walk, they could argue that they could, uh, you know, express their full personalities even though they had no legal rights in the 1850s with hoop skirts that were five feet in diameter and posed a threat, you know, set you on fire got too close. the fire, uh, layers of petticoats, um, as I mentioned, Walden corsets that didn't really allow you to breathe deeply, you know, clothing that weighed several pounds, just you know, in terms of the weight of what you had to wear, various changes of clothes. times a day if you're middle class um the fact that you're dragging your skirts through some kind of muck and mud uh all of this in an interesting way um this kind of hindering fashion uh came about right in those decades where women were asking for Let me ask you a question about that, a couple of questions about that, um, so the first I have two very different questions, the first is that syphilis really became a widespread public health problem among Victorians and it was a disease very terrible and it took a lot of forms and it was also transmittable from mother to child and interestingly enough the Europeans when they came to the western hemisphere brought with them a lot of extremely serious communicable diseases like measles mumps and smallpox, that devastated the native community maybe up to 95 percent of the native community and the native community returned the favor in very minor ways, one of which was apparently syphilis, so there was a real twist in sexual mores that characterized the Victorian period in part because syphilis was a terror.
I think the time. the scare was nothing compared to the syphilis scare, and therefore it is hard to know exactly what the emerging syphilis fact did to the conceptualization of relationships between men and women on the sexual front; it certainly made prostitution, for example, a much greater danger to public health, and so and that's one question, another question is that the Victorian era was characterized by the generation of a substantial amount of wealth and it could be argued that part of what was happening on the Victorian beauty front was the aristocrats' announcement that they could tolerate this nuisance. in the name of beauty because they had the financial resources to support it, you know, there's an example of what biologically would be, in principle, would be the story of the peacock, which is extraordinarily beautiful, but also a hindrance and apparently part of what it means , especially if it's perfectly symmetrical and well built and heavy, the male sporting that plumage has enough health and resources to do it without dying, and now it seems to me that some of those Victorian accessions are reasonably understood on the biological front as manifestations of that type. um, what would you say? well, it's an exuberance of display on the sexual front now, there could be all sorts of negative consequences of that in relation to other elements of women's lives, well, men and women, but hey, so those are two parallel questions: how do you think the emergence of syphilis transformed relations between men and women politically and socially in Victorian England in particular and what do you think about the excess resource hypothesis on the Victorian furnishing front and people getting quite rich? at the time and that was certainly a way of showing it well yeah I understand um your questions so you're certainly absolutely right about the spread of syphilis and gonorrhea um as being very fundamental to social concerns about sexuality in britain in the 19th century absolutely and that was the source of the contagious disease acts was this state argument and i think you know i think i think my most recent book is outrageous that addresses this the book before the last one is about how the 19th century um viral uh The state used epidemics that included contagious diseases like gonorrhea but also typhus and cholera as a kind of pretext to control people and undermine their civil liberties so definitely the state argument was: Do you know these prostitutes or women who look like prostitutes or disease vectors have to be managed and controlled and the states is it the role of the state to come into what have been very personal spaces and um and mediate this for the public good, We've seen that there's an emerging literature on the political Biological Front that indicates that one of the best predictors of authoritarian political beliefs in any given geographic location, so you can do this state-by-state or county-by-county or country-by-country scale is the infectious disease prevalence the higher the infectious disease prevalence the higher the probability of authoritarian political attitudes and the correlation is not like point one or point two the correlation is like 0.6 it is an incredibly powerful relationship and seems like an extension of what which is called the behavioral immune system and it can really kick into gear well we saw that during covid just with an instant transformation into something approaching authoritarianism and motivational justification what's so interesting and horrible about this by the way is that's not a fear-based motivation, it's a disgust-based motivation, and disgust is much moreaggressive. than fear because if you are afraid of something you tend to avoid it whereas if you dislike something your fundamental motivation is to eradicate it by whatever means necessary if you look at for example the language that Hitler and his henchmen used when they were increasing their public health disease prevention pathology to spread out of mental asylums in hospitals to broader ethnic cleansing all the language they used was parasitism discussed contamination all associated disease true yes yes then it is a very powerful motivational system when activated absolutely without a doubt you know that it is very interesting to take care of your analysis from a psychological point of view and I know that important psychological work has been done on disgust.
In fact, I would say it from a geopolitical perspective. What happened in the 19th century was not only contagious diseases, but also the typhus and cholera epidemics of the 1840s and early 1850s, which were devastating and simply wiped out. you know people would be a little sick on sunday and dead on wednesday um that created a model in western history that allowed subsequent regimes to emulate the model of narrating the danger of infectious disease, certainly using that element of disgust and contamination and existential. threat as a pretext for what authoritarians always want to do which is eradicate freedoms and consolidate control so I think it's happening on two fronts it happens organically on the psychological front but then the state steps in and says ok we can saving him from this existential threat just surrenders all your rights and I think looking back you certainly know Hitler and then you meet other uh exploiters of this speech um consciously or not referring to remembering the effectiveness of states that were in the 19th century. because what the state did that's so fascinating is that they created they solved the threat of infectious disease by creating a sewer network um basil gets a sewer network under London and the first municipal sewer system solved the problem to a great extent saved london the people and so it was a fantastic argument for the state to say, look, the people can't do this. the commons um and the metaphor that I look at so it's like the internet, you know?
It established this idea that there is a common good between us huh that can be contaminated from one person's private space to another person's private space and therefore the state. needs to patrol and please the common Elysium health is dedicated to addressing the biggest challenge in aging health and making the benefits of aging research accessible to all Elysium creates innovative health products with clinically proven ingredients that enable customers live a healthy life Elysium works with leading institutions like Oxford and Yale and they have dozens of the world's best scientists working with them eight of them are Nobel Prize winners their flagship product base focuses on supplementation with NAD, which is a key component in cellular aging they have sold over three and a half million bottles of this supplement alone the matter is a brain health supplement that slows natural brain loss a recent survey of physicians shows that 92 percent of them i would recommend the anti aging brain matter Elysium also offers cutting edge solutions to help support your metabolism and immune system if you are not sure where to start consider their amazing tool for measuring biological aging called the index, which not only will not only assess how fast you've been aging across nine different body systems, but also recommend simple changes to your everyday life to change how fast you age in honor of DNA Day for a limited time Elysium is offering 15 off sitewide at all Elysium products go to elysiumhealth.com Jordan and enter code dnad23 at checkout to claim this offer before midnight April 27th that's elysiumhealth.com Jordan enter code dnad23 for 15 off yep well there's a real analogy between the spread of information and the spread of viruses which is obviously why we say things like it's gone viral it's gone viral so good and there's real tension huh in human discourse What seems to be key to the distinction between conservatives and liberals is that conservatives tend to be more sensitive to arguments and are more likely to react negatively to the potentially polluting effects of interpersonal interaction, which could be sexual or intellectual. liberal types are like liberals bet that the free trade advantage will outweigh the pollution disadvantage while conservatives tend to make the opposite bet and the technical complexity of that is that sometimes the conservatives are right and sometimes the wrong ones liberals are right it depends because conservatives tend to be more correct, say when multiple epidemics are out of control, while liberals tend to be more correct when, for some reason, the probability of genuine genuine contagion is relatively low and you can take advantage the crossing. border freedom and the movement of information and people, but it's an ongoing battle because, you know, this also complicates the sexual realm to an immense degree because, of course, sexual intercourse is an excellent vector for disease transmission and that throws people into an existential dilemma constantly because obviously the drive towards reproduction and the drive towards sexual pleasure opens up the danger on the epidemic front we certainly saw that with the rise of AIDS for example I mean there is no doubt biologically speaking that the AIDS virus mutated to take advantage of certain forms of promiscuity and so that's our absolute bloody catastrophe and it might as well have been an apocalyptic catastrophe, although we seem to be more or less over it, there's always that large scale Specter of contamination lurking in the background in idea land, the physical front, and people certainly differ widely in their knee-jerk reactions to that as well, and thus IQ is actually associated with sensitivity to disgust, since the lower your IQ, more sensitive is discussed, now the effect is not overwhelming, but it is not negative, well, you can also understand that because imagine this is that the smarter you are, the more useful the free exchange of information is because you can take advantage of it well , if you can't take advantage of it, you're differentially exposed to the threat of contamination and so that makes things seem like they're not already complicated enough that adds an extra dimension of complexity one of the things I learned that was really horrible by the way was the degree that the progressive drive towards ethnic extermination in Germany was driven by public health concerns and an underlying hypothetical pity that if you examine that in terms of development it's actually quite scary because the Nazis actually started what ultimately became in their extermination campaigns with public health campaigns that were quite effective in eliminating tuberculosis yes absolutely yes so a thousand percent to move to the 20th century um and this brings us to my most recent work um absolutely there is a fantastic book called racial hygiene and of course the classic Nazi doctors that makes just this point that um before there was or even before the Nazis were in power, there was this very effective public health campaign that recruited, like in the last couple of years , the associations of medical professionals, uh, they recruited doctors, um, you know, they played on their desire for status and recognition and they were corralled into, uh, being the moderators of racial hygiene and that took the form, of course, of bringing together teenagers who were disabled and send them for treatment and then their families never saw them again and that was years before the death camps uh yeah well the whole doctrine of racial purity and blood purity which was a hallmark of Hitler's populist appeal, let's just say it was all pollution talk, absolutely.
I read Hitler's table talk, for example, it's a very interesting book, so it's a collection of his spontaneous speech at dinner time over a period of four years. and he's absolutely 100 percent saturated it's yuck oriented language and he was taking a bath four or five times a day oh my gosh it's pretty interesting yeah yeah well and he was also a willpower worshiper and there's a very close relationship between this tendency to authoritarianism. the control and exercise of what you might describe as power and will, and that seems to be integrally associated with the discussed axis and the activation of what is described as the extended immune system and therefore a discussed response is part of the behavioral immune system, so if you see something gross and you choke that's obviously a physiological response to some degree, but it's also a psychological response and that feeling of wanting to run away or clean yourself up if you've been contaminated is also an element of a behavioral immune system and if it gets politicized in a particularly pathological way, you don't want to be in the contaminant category, so to speak, no mercy, no mercy, no mercy, strangely, you also know, um, when the discussed literature started to deploy. the propensity for disgust The associated contamination seemed to be more typical of people who had a conservative bent It's associated with conscientiousness, for example, but and I don't understand this at all, something has changed in the last four or five years because you've seen the Left possessed by this contamination frenzy both on the ideational front in the form of council culture and also on the and I have no idea what to make of this, I mean to me it's an absolute mystery miracle in a sense that the left sided with the drug companies because I couldn't imagine that happening in my entire life, it's like I thought you guys put the drug companies up there with the energy companies, let's say in inherently reprehensible terms and then all of a sudden under the pressure of covid, I mean it's not that the conservatives reacted much better because they really didn't, but it's still very surprising to see the left doing that and I really don't understand what has changed in the culture for the left to have picked up on this pollution frenzy and introduced into widespread immune adjacent behaviors like cancer culture which is a form of disgust related rejection okay yeah you anticipated what I was going to say I think in recent memory prior to 2020 it was in fact the right the one that was most reactive to not wanting to be and they used language like this in the '80s and it wasn't pretty, you know, I remember in the AIDS epidemic, conservatives were talking about um, infectious, the fear of infection of homosexuals or you know, and it was an ideological infection, a cultural infection, as well as a fear. which was irrational from physical infection um but actually the polls had completely changed um and it used to be like you say liberals in America and I'm using the American usage of liberals people on the left were more open to cross pollination ideas more open to immigrants more open to the strange the other the foreigner um you know more open to liberty civil right free speech the free speech movement uh and it was the conservatives you know worried about porosity if you like you know ideologically and on a community level maybe even on a personal level Purity um and and absolutely in the last three years I agree with you like Amenia like tulip media like you know I keep coming back to um extraordinary popular delusions The madness of the crowds you know it has arrived a rave to the left in the last three years since covid that leads them to be more masked more irrational about the covid infection more shy you know more shy in some kind of old testament tribal style than anyone could have believed and having forgotten all of his critical thinking about things like I wonder if you know well you see one of the ways that Trump appealed to his conservative populist base was by using images of the wall and those are pretty effective images when you're appealing to people who are inherently conservative but I wonder maybe what has happened is something like this is that the rate of change has accelerated to such a degree that it has even surpassed the psychological capacity of those who are more open and creative to assimilate well because we have never been in a situation like that in the history of the world, I mean, I was sick for about two years and was out of the tech world, so all my computers were outdated, for example, and it took me about six months to get all my electronics back. together so we can understand them after just a two year hiatus and now we're in a situation where there's incredibly radical change in pretty much every dimension of human endeavor you can imagine and we really don't know what even creative people are going to react to even creative people when even theircapacity for transformation has been exceeded, so perhaps you are seeing the rise of a strange brand of conservatism on the more outspoken left that would not have been likely at a time when things were changing a bit more slowly. you know no because i have no idea what to do with that open minded and my experience and that they are willing to compromise with the facts that credible people are presenting that contradict the mainstream narrative um they are in our conservatives and libertarians right now and yeah no it's very strange and you also see a lot of Rising humor on the conservative and libertarian side as well and this is something I can't make head or tail of either I mean the rise of organizations like the Babylon bee I mean when they first emerged into the public consciousness it was a huge shock to me because I thought well how the hell did they conservatives understand comedians like that, that's just not how things work and that's how things work right now, without a doubt, the funniest comedy shows I've seen in the last three or four years have had a lean, I would say, conservative libertarian partly because those are the people who will say whatever they have to say and you see that in the culture popular is also on forums like Netflix it's the more libertarian and conservative comedians that are certainly the funniest and also B attracting the largest audiences I mean I think we can do it and I feel a little empowered to say that this it's having spent my life on the left, you know, the left has hopefully lost its mind temporarily, so there's a lot more to make fun of. um, they're more rigid and people who are rigid, I mean go back to Charlie Chaplin and you know The Great Dictator, you know rigidity is always fun, you know it needs to be fun, um and the left is more irrational right now.
I mean, they're either believing things that aren't true or they're not willing to admit that they've been wrong or, in terms of my most recent work, they're not willing to admit that they've been part of, you know, condoning or facilitating the biggest crime against humanity that we haven't gotten into yet, but you know that's my opinion on the deployment of these mandates, the mRNA injections, which my team of experts have found to be very deadly and very damaging, so in a situation like that the adults say um okay they know we have to re-examine the facts and I'm sorry and they can't do that they're getting more and more caught up in the delusion more and more committed to the delusion and they created they gave welcoming a two-tiered Society in the space of less than two years that kicked out a whole section of people and threw them out of their jobs um kept kids who they know didn't get this shot from going to school in some states um you know you ordered people to do it to their detriment and you know you made people like their travel fares in Canada immensely in an immensely amazing way it's shocking I can't go Canada used to be the most reasonable western country in the world and i can't go to canada for reasons that have nothing to do with science have nothing to do with science so the left betrayed all their most cherished ideals and won. not even space that out, so there's a gap, a big moral hole down the middle of the culture on the left, um, and until they recognized that and considered it and said, oh my gosh, you know we became oppressors , we became the equivalent of racists, you know we abandoned our best ideals we became dogmatic and fundamentalist and abandoned science abandoned compassion until they can do that um they can't accept reality we'll be right back we wanted to give you a sneak peek of the new documentary from Jordan logos and literacy I was very impressed with how the translation of biblical writings started the development of literacy around the world illiteracy was the norm the pastor's house was the first school and every morning began with singing the christian faith is a religion sung probably 80 percent of scripture memorization today exists just so sung amazing here we have a Gutenberg bible printed on johann gooper price science and religion are opposing forces in the world but historically that this has not been the case it has been the case now the book is available to everyone from Shakespeare to modern education to medicine and science to civilization itself it is the most influential book in all of history and hopefully the People can walk away with at least a feeling of that, okay, so there's a lot.
There's a lot to delve into there I wanted to do that I want to go back to your book The Beauty Myth and I want to um I want to say a few things on the beauty front and collect your reactions to that and um and I'm also interested in, I would say , the motivations behind writing that book in relation to the experiences that we've already described, so I spend a lot of time studying people like David Buss and buss is a very good example, an evolutionary psychologist and I like David's work. A lot, I think he's a very strong scientist and there's been a lot of interesting work spawned from the evolutionary psychology literature on the gender relations front, for example, one of the most compelling findings from evolutionary psychologists is the relationship between perceived sexual attractiveness, particularly in the context of long-term mating, and socioeconomic status now probably not socioeconomic status as indexed by wealth, probably wealth as an index of productive competition, but in any case, the correlation between perceived mate attractiveness, uh, with respect to women perceiving men, the correlation between socioeconomic status. and perceived attractiveness is about 0.6, which is a higher correlation than the correlation between general cognitive ability and grades and I use that as an example because it's one of the strongest and most powerful findings in the social sciences whereas the correlation between socioeconomic status and perceived mate attractiveness to women by men is zero or slightly negative, so that's a big difference and that's associated with the propensity of women to preferentially mate through hierarchies and up and men to meet through hierarchies down which is relatively well established cross-culturally and the propensity doesn't improve much in, say, Scandinavian countries it improves slightly and then there are other hallmarks of attractiveness in the feminine side and this is where I want to go with the beauty myth we know that babies for example will look much longer even as newborns in symmetrical faces and there is this doll look that you described so one of the hallmarks of sex appeal are neotenic faces, so there is a tendency for organisms to evolve into their juvenile forms, that's neotni and it's such a pervasive trend that it even characterizes animated characters. as Stephen J Gould took pains to establish it's quite comical but one of the hallmarks of cuteness is the childish face and you can see that in stuffed toys and the sort of things that are often bought as children's dolls or for sentimental adults they have very large eyes very small noses very symmetrical faces there are all kinds of characteristics of beauty from a biological perspective many of them seem to be associated with fertility particularly on the female side and that is very harsh it is a very very standard hard and when i read the beauty myth which by the way was a long time ago because it was posted on what 91 93 93 yes 93 93.
I was curious as to what you did with the biomarkers of beauty and what do you think of it. play into what you described iron maiden straitjacket being placed on women in terms of what their mission ideal of sexual self-presentation is so thanks for asking you may be right it actually may have been 91 um It came out first in Britain and then in the US so I'm respectfully familiar with these arguments and I'm respectfully very familiar with the work of David Buss and I think it's fundamentally flawed and I'm going to get to why um so first let me concede um, you know, of course, uh, it's fully documented that there are markers of um, health and attractiveness, uh, health, infertility that are often cross-cultural, um, and certainly symmetrical features, um, you know, Rosy Skin shows good circulation, you know, youth, uh, those are all nice. of um transcendental markers for attractiveness, however, a major intellectual flaw respectfully in almost all the studies I've seen from evolutionary biologists is that they focus on these markers in women and don't test what women find attractive in men they project or construct some kind of experiments or surveys that tendentiously prove, in my opinion, that women find wealth attractive, uh, or professional achievement, and that it substitutes for physical beauty, but they don't ask women who are heterosexual um, what are they? the markers for you of beauty in men or attractiveness in men and if they did and they don't they would find broad shoulders they would find you know symmetry they would find maybe you know sorry penis size um you know they would find maybe a muscle tone that shows they can effectively get a woman pregnant you know they would probably find height a correct marker and it's remarkable to me that they've done the research I mean there's a little bit of overlap in the biomarkers let's say so Men and women find each other physically attractive, though the way this manifests varies to some degree, as he noted that shoulder-to-waist ratio, for example, is a marker, as you can see in superhero portrayals of men. men, for example, and the cardinal difference. seems to be too much although you know they are not the sophisticated evolutionary psychologists who do not assume that women seek wealth, what they assume is that women will use markers of wealth as indicators of productive competence but tonight because to me that too is a failure conceptual. um, I'll explain why in a minute, but I know I need to point out for the record as a feminist analyst that I've literally never seen a study that asks women if they consider penis size to be an indicator of sexual attractiveness and I think that scientists don't want to do that study Male scientists don't want to do that study because that would be unpopular conclusions um so I guess for me the whole field of evolutionary biological studies that concludes that sexual attractiveness is kind of um female gender and uh and that for men there are other proxies for sex appeal it's really convenient for men um because they don't have to face the brief stark fact that there are physical things women evaluate men for if they're straight just like their physical things , the men, let me ask you a little bit about that also because you say it's convenient for men and I mean I'm never sure what form of differential perception by which sex is convenient for which sex I mean the whole field of sexual battle let's just say it's fraught with catastrophes an opportunity for both sexes I mean one of the things you do see for example is women are much harsher on assessments of men's attractiveness than men of women so women men rate women 50 percent of women as below average attractiveness below average attractiveness and women rate 80 percent of men below average in physical attractiveness and well and as I want to be absolutely 100% clear here that I am not blaming women for this I understand why this is I think now a woman is biologically and practically interested in finding a partner who is as competent as she is or more competent because essentially what you are trying to do is compensate for the differential load that reproduction imposes. about women and totally why women don't agree with you I think that's out of date respectfully but I'll wait for it to finish Ok ok so I'm curious as to why you would consider that because you consider that out of date because First of all, one of the definitions of what constitutes a woman biologically is that the female sex biologically speaking is almost invariably the sex that spends more biological time and energy in reproduction than the alternative sex, so they see that even at the level of sperm and Help because the ovum has a volume that is thousands of times larger than the sperm and even at that level more resources are devoted to the difficult work of reproduction than the female level and of course women have a period of nine months gestation which is very onerous and then they take over the main responsibility of caring for the babies, especially during the first year and we know full well that the differential burden of reproduction on women is such that single women who have a son have many morechances of falling into poverty and the reason for that, at least in part, is that it is actually very difficult to have a child and it is a 40 hour work week minimum and to add the need to work and provide in addition to that means an 80-hour workweek and so it's not obvious to me why the hypothesis that women would be motivated to correct that fundamental biological differential.
I don't understand why it would be an objectionable hypothesis even from a feminist perspective. Well, let me acknowledge that women are more at risk. on the sexual and reproductive front I mean I recognize what you're saying there um I guess what I would say is there are so many I like first let me say I think the whole field of evolutionary biology comes along to explain the contemporary 21st century. gender roles or expectations or Norms is respectfully uh I think there's almost no intellectual merit to it sorry I don't want to be rude because you can I mean I've read the whole gamut of evolutionary biologists that are generally invoked well and always are 10 dashes and they're always talking about circumstances that no longer exist historically, so, you know, you could easily turn to I think it's Helen Fisher, or other feminist evolutionary biologists who argue that, um, women are better served by adultery because they get a good variety of sperm you know, and the most suitable sperm is the sperm that doesn't count, that does explain cheating behavior and most evolutionary psychologists. that have their act together, keep that in mind is what is the optimal strategy if you are being biologically insensitive, especially for a woman who has not optimized her partner.
The choice might be to find someone stable in the second category and then change sporadically to produce that biological diversity and that seems to be something that is close to a stable biological solution, although I don't think it's an optimal solution, well I think psychologists Sophisticated evolutionaries have taken this into account. just talk about why that kind of being very loved and I have to note that he's loved by all the Dawkins kind of people, all the selfish Gene people, does he love this idea of the fertile young woman who needs to find someone? that unattractive old man? rich man um who happens to be a scientist a scientist and and and and you also know what it represents or always gives men some kind of good are you just polygamous or you just need a lot of sexual partners and it's good for you know it's good for the reproduction of the race of the species, um, so the reason I find you biased and especially you know this notion of women optimizing the material, the value of their partner to make up for their reproductive deficits, um is that, respectfully, it's outdated. uh and what i mean by that is i totally concede you know women are hard to be pregnant it's hard to have a baby it puts you at a disadvantage certainly um it's not taken into account in contemporary job expectations more so since the pandemic when everyone they are at home but when you had to go to work obviously women were at a disadvantage and needed a provider for those two years but I will say now I think young men for example like a whole phenomenon that seems to me fascinating.
I may find this fascinating as an older woman who has married a much younger man, but I find it fascinating that when I was writing the beauty myth older women were considered sexually or reproductively finished and now that is no longer the case. the case and there is this Quite a kind of expectation now that young men find older women who are materially successful and can provide them with a really attractive good lifestyle so I think evolutionary biologists have not taken into account that even women women are past reproductive age. who are financially successful or considered really attractive to young men now, that's the 21st century phenomenon that never used to exist and, um, the other thing that didn't used to exist is if women have enough material resources now they can hire someone and I am not saying that this is optimal, it is very sad.
I'm with you on the value of the nuclear family, but you know if they haven't married someone who can take care of them during that brief window when a baby and you know a nursing baby. it's it's it's it's impeding her ability to do it on her own totally okay with that um they can hire someone to help with those two years so really the penalties for being a single mom aren't easy if you don't have resources I fully admit that you are going to go down the socioeconomic scale, but if you have resources, that is no longer the case and that is why you are seeing that you know a lot about what you criticize, the economic opportunities of the 21st century have achieved it. possible to be a wealthy single mother hire a caregiver or hire you know someone to help you raise the baby basically when the baby is little and then from the age of three you know there are nurseries nurseries that will take the baby and so I think that evolutionary biologists haven't taken into account what's going to come of that, what we've seen is sorry to be rude, but the value of men has gone down and I think respectfully that's one of the things I think what's most useful about your job respectfully i've been thinking about this i think that's why you've been so targeted by the establishment is that you talk about the value of men and you talk about you know how men can be relevant and consider themselves relevant and have a role in 21st century society, so I believe that the great unspoken or under-analyzed phenomenon of the 21st century is the deconstruction of the value of men, which completely changes the type of narrative that evolutionary biologists have about men and women and you respectfully end on a happy note.
I think the value of your work is that you are trying to give men and succeeding in many ways a role in the 21st century society in which they do so. They have, um, they have value, but it's not going to be the same where women can love them. It's interesting, it's an interesting sub-theme because no, I've insisted to my viewers and listeners that they are disproportionately male on the YouTube front. mainly because youtube is disproportionately male it's between 75 and 25 so i don't differ much from that by the way in fact i think i have more female viewers than average by that reference standard i mean i've suggested to my Young male viewers continually tell them that if they are rejected by all women out of control, they need to take that burden upon themselves and not assume that all women are wrong and what they should strive to do as long as the probability that you are right and four billion people are wrong is one in four billion is pretty low so you have to take it as a brute fact in some sense and it might be unfair for women like men to use a set of criteria that you might describe as arbitrary in a sense to make their judgments but there are some things you're not going to win an argument against and that's definitely one of them but one of the things I've suggested to young men is if they would just focus on becoming productive and generous that the likelihood of that increasing their ability to find a mate is extraordinarily high and I think that is the case and that Cruz advantage as men mature, so what do you think of that as an attack?
I mean, I want to thank you. for my marriage because you belong to my husband, he said tell him that he is my spiritual animal, you are one of my husband's role models and hey, he listened to you and, unlike other men of his generation, he dedicated himself to choosing to pay the check and being a vendor and um it was really attractive um so i agree with you a hundred percent why it was attractive why it was attractive so now i'm going to derail your argument a bit it was attractive to me because everyone likes someone who is what competent enough that you know how to make money. them but what I'm going to add is that I think men like women who can also take care of them and I think men like women who are also competent and I think it's sexy when a man picks up a check it's sexy when a woman picks up a check you know in due time and i've heard a lot of men say you know ok i took her out three or four or five or six times and she never made a gesture to pick up the check and that's not attractive because women you know , I think that's the appeal of reciprocity, you know it's one of the things you really want in a long-term relationship and there's probably nothing more important than this in a business relationship or a friendship or an intimate relationship is that , fundamentally, the relationship to be self-sufficient has to be reciprocal and that doesn't mean that everyone is obsessed with making sure the distributions are 50 50 because they really should be 75.75 correct if both have a productive relationship what they both receive is more than the sum Total of what they both contribute correctly if they optimize the relationship and I think part of the reason a man will appreciate women who cash a check is not necessarily because it's an indication of his confidence though I think that's part of it.
I think that's definitely an indication of his willingness and ability to reciprocate, which he's fundamentally not. I don't know and I'm not aware of any research that relates specifically to that topic. What I'm saying to jump off is that, um, I think your analysis and the evolutionary biologist's analysis are productively updated by this reality, which is fairly new, that both genders are scouring the landscape for people who aren't just sexually and reproductively attractive, but they will also be reciprocal. who will take care of them who can provide who is not dependent and i think the type of woman who was considered very sexy in the 60's when i was a kid is no longer considered sexy because she can't contribute to the family you know that doll, you know what his name is, um Twiggy, like you know he's an inert, uh, voiceless person, I mean men who are competent. with her but I no longer think that this has a high value do you think it is a historical transformation or do you think it is more of a return to something that is close to the Eternal Standard because here is something interesting for example the name Eva the original Hebrew Hebrew term for the name Eva which I unfortunately can't remember right now really means beneficial adversary so yeah you do you do and there is a notion that the person who is best suited to you as a potential partner is not someone who will passively submit to your demands in part because your demands can be unreasonable and pathological and that is not good for you or them, but rather for someone who is capable of engaging you in something of a provocative and challenging reciprocal game if you choose a playmate In a one on one basketball game, for example, you're not going to pick someone you can dominate easily if you have any sense because it's not fun at all, what you really want is someone who can train with you to the limit of your ability and That's a strange way to conceptualize a relationship, but it's not strange if you know anything about how people engage in processes that lead to further learning, for example, or the expansion of ability, you're looking at the edge of competition. optimal and I think there were periods. of the time and the Victorian period in England that you described could have been one in which the feminine ideal leans more towards one of passivity and that could have been a reaction, as you pointed out, to the growing agitation on the feminine front by a larger role in public policy, but it's not obvious to me that, historically speaking, the feminine ideal has been passive, that happens from time to time, so I'm glad you said that we're completely aligned that is what I'm describing is a return to a pre-industrial ideal huh and it's only in the last 150 or 200 years that the Industrial Revolution even made it possible to have what you described above which is thorsten veblen's description of a kind of doll-like middle-class woman, you know, middle-class, whose only role is to dress up and show off and display her spouse's wealth, um, that's recent and pre-Industrial Revolution and in the United States, you know , why America is so interesting and American women are admired all over the world until recently as you know sexy Independent Women need a partner you might know if you go west that could use a rifle if native americans came to the ranch when the man was hunting or if you were, you know, in a feudal society, could we deal with or manage the crops or the kitchen garden or you know, literally, a house before the Industrial Revolution, um, had so active as a woman? sphere as a male sphere productively and that just changed or people died forgive me or people died exactly so absolutely women and this goes back to the Old Testament you know the value of a woman of Value her prices above rubies and then iterate everything the things she does she knits cloth she sells things to bring her you know in income for the household she has many areas of economic activity as well as moral activity um and that has been true for most ofhuman history so those those things were always, you know, part of the marriage equation before the 19th century, you know she's not only beautiful, uh conventionally physically, but what her skills are, how she embroiders, how she cooks, you know how she can keeping people alive, um and so I agree with you on that, so I'll update you for a contemporary moment where, uh, people are living longer than ever before, um, possibly, uh, healthy women beyond their fertile years of capacity as they know we were. all kinds of decrepit old women you already know women um past their childbearing years and that's not the case anymore because of changes in health and I don't know what else and then um also the economic potential of women like me mentioned above has changed so much at least women who are middle class or upper middle class um that I think that effectively updates her um her analysis but I love where she's landing that it's um good meeting habits extend challenge the abilities of both genders and I would say this is nothing new from a woman's perspective or women's literary history because look at Jane Austen, that's what every dream man did, they challenged the heroine to the limit like it was all about him. game the right verbal game the tease the back and forth you know nobody wanted to get married that you know sober hardworking guy you always wanted to marry the hero The Dashing who um you know I mean that classic scene from any romantic movie based on these Austin novels based on all that kind of literary tradition of women writing about the couple having an argument the first time they meet you know that's absolutely what you want a maid is someone who will challenge you it's for you to grow and you're always learning yeah , well it's also very helpful it's also very helpful to keep in mind I'd say biologically by the way the marker for that optimized combat is spirit of the game so if the aftershock that's coming up is funny that's a marker biological that the information flow is being optimized and that is the marker itself that the psychological transformation is happening at an optimized rate and it is very useful to know that there is an instinct for that and it is the Instinct to play, it is good to have at hand because then you know when you are engaged in any activity if you can Raise the level that you are engaged in that activity than the level of free play which really means that you are manifesting real expertise in that domain which would certainly be true in the speech intellectual and I think we've gotten it to some degree in our conversation so far for sure and as he's describing this I'm also noting I think you should read my book on the vagina which is a sequel to my book The Beauty Myth because if you haven't already You've done, um, that's as much a part of women's arousal as women will describe if you ask women what's sexy. a man being funny is on top of this and why is it sexy for a man to be funny because, um, women's dopamine circuitry is directly connected to his sexual response, right?
So if someone is exciting and that's why I know heroes always take women on adventures and they like your whole kind of dopamine circuitry that's so wired into the sexual response of women that it's not activated by the guy boring who is never on the couch, who are you? Channel surfing never goes anywhere right, it's activated by the man who wants to take you on adventures who wants to appreciate your adventures and who can make you laugh because those pleasure centers are activated. a really interesting one because the thing about comedians is that they get to the heart of the matter, they say what can't be said in a way that's socially acceptable but a bit transgressive, right?
And when they do, they show that they are really attentive. to what would you call the subtleties of time and place because your humor can't go too far it has to be exactly on edge and if it's on edge it will produce that spontaneous burst of laughter which is also quite interesting that it is accompanied by muscle weakness. The right people can't fight when they laugh because you can't sustain any prolonged physical exertion when you laugh, so laughter puts you in a game state immediately and that's the way it is. extremely interesting these things are extremely deep true I mean that game instinct is so deep that it actually deactivates the musculature and then it is not something it is not something merely cognitive no more than you think if something is funny before you laugh why not No you laugh a lot before you think about it because you get the joke and you feel like playing it so let me ask you unfortunately we're going to run out of time and that's too bad because there are so many things we can talk about I think we should talk about in The Daily Wire, moreover, is how you think the left has cornered itself in the last decade.
It would be really interesting to hear it. to close our conversation because we're almost out of time is that I'm curious about I'm always interested in people's motivations being a rabid clinical psychologist and I'm always digging below the surface I guess to try to clear things up and for myself and maybe to whoever you're talking to now, you said that when you went to Yale and you had the unfortunate and frightening experiences that you had, the discouraging experiences you had there derailed your core intellectual interest and then you spent decades on the inside somehow exploring issues that weren't your primary category of interest, so I wonder when you look back at the beauty myth, what do you think part of what you were doing was maybe looking at perceptual preconditions to have been categorized, let's say by Harold Bloom as an attackable target, I mean, were you investigating the bias structure of perceptual bias that increased the probability of objectification of the type that you experienced in this very dramatic way, yes?
That's a great question, Dr. Peterson. I mean, certainly consciously, I was aware that she was a very young woman because she was a very young woman when I wrote the beauty myth. She was between 20 and 20 years old. intellectual, uh, and constantly being objectified, you know, but in that I'm having exactly similar experiences to millions of other very young women who are smart and capable and ambitious and constantly objectifying themselves, so absolutely the beauty myth was a effort to understand that. to be able to overcome it and you know how to master and integrate it to some degree so it was an objectification analysis let's say yes I don't think it was a sexual assault analysis because I don't think objectification and sexual assaults are the same thing but I think that if you're looking for unconscious motivations, my work dates from the end of America where I focused on torture and surveillance, and my more recent work where I recognized how violent and coercive society is. can definitely become came from my experience of being raped as a child and then sexually abused as a young adult, because they are on a Continuum and the body responds to these things in the same way that the body responds to torture or war, and much more.
Good science has come out on that, um, a really wonderful book is the body keeps score on trauma, um, exactly like that and then, on the Hinterlands guy, I mean, I can't complain about my career, uh, I mean , it went off the rails, um, you know. you went off the rails productively i guess i chose my topics obviously i became more activist and i guess in part my experience with injustice and the obstacles to a meritocratic outcome for me led to my you know engagement in more activist writing and i can't complain that it was necessary, it was useful.
I had to eat Best Sellers as I mentioned. um, you know, I became a famous public intellectual. uh, it wasn't my first choice, was it? but i certainly mean i guess what i'm trying to say is that it was a derailment of what i wanted to do but i think it was a productive use of the last 35 years nonetheless yeah well i think you know part of it hallmark of a successful life is the ability to turn obstacles into opportunities. I mean you know that the best plans of mice and men and women obviously go astray too and your ability to succeed is to some degree the ability to dance. with some of the arbitrary constrictions of fate and so who knows how that works out in the final analysis, um, it doesn't work out the way you imagine things would to begin with, but I think that's true in the lives of many people. kind of twists and turns alright so to everyone listening and watching um it will be obvious to all of you that this conversation could go a lot more places and it would have been nice if we had the time to do that but I'm going to move to the front of the Daily Wire plus and I think we are going to focus the conversation there on what has happened on the political front on the left in recent years.
I know that Dr. Wolf has focused on that a lot, particularly her. reaction to the well, we call it the covid epidemic, but it really wasn't, you know, the Swedish data shows, for example, if you do a two-year mortality smoothing that there was no epidemic at all, it doesn't surprise Sweden, it's quite remarkable and so really what we had was an epidemic of mimicking Chinese authoritarians, that's really what we had, yes absolutely it was. I agree with the psychogenic epidemic of totalitarian drive and the covid virus was the excuse, but not the reason, in fact it is not. absolutely obvious that there was a reason and that is actually quite scary and we can dig into that to some degree on the plus side of The Daily Wire as well and so to everyone watching and listening thank you very much for your time and attention dr
wolfthank you for agreeing to speak to me today and to the organization daily wire plus thank you for facilitating the conversation the film crew here i am in oxford today so it is always entertaining and i actually got invited to the oxford festival literary conference strange strangeness of strange things yeah, oh, I'm not as much of an Undergraduate as I once was, so it's kind of interesting to watch, um, so let's move on to the Daily anyway. use plus side and thank you very much for agreeing to speak with me today thank you very much Dr.
Pearson I appreciate it hello everyone I encourage you to continue listening to my conversation with my guest on dailywireplus.com
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