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Jordan Peterson doesn't understand Jung's ideas about gender - 5/19/18
I was re-reading some Jung this morning when I came across a passage that Jordan Peterson would probably prefer that you ignore:
No man is so entirely masculine that he has nothing feminine in him. The fact is, rather, that very masculine men have - carefully guarded and hidden - a very soft emotional life, often incorrectly described as "feminine." A man counts it a virtue to repress his feminine traits as much as possible, just as a woman, at least until recently, considered it unbecoming to be "mannish." The repression of feminine traits and inclinations naturally causes these contrasexual demands to accumulate in the unconscious... - The Relations Between the Ego and the Unconscious, 1938
Listen to Peterson and the reactionaries, and you'll hear about a Jungian theory that aggressively affirms and enforces gender roles, and that roots them in various just-so facts of sexual biology. Actually read Jung, however, and you'll encounter someone who consistently does the exact opposite. Jung was a writer who put words like "feminine" and "mannish" in scare quotes, who rejected popular stereotypes that (for example) characterized women as "emotionally soft" and men as "hard" - and who cautioned quite explicitly about the psychological and cultural dangers of identifying with these gender roles. His perspective on sex and gender particularly stands out when one considers how far ahead of his time he was: Jung was writing about this stuff in the thirties.

It is true that Jung had bizarre ideas about gender, but these weren't reactionary so much as, well, bizarre. He mostly talks about gender as a kind of abstract metaphysical concept that helps us to understand the paradoxical duality of the universe: for example, he will bring up some stereotype about masculinity, and then deconstruct it to reveal elements of behavior and psychology that we stereotypically identify as feminine. All of this ultimately echoes Taoist mysticism more than anything; Jung was fascinated by the religions of East Asia, and routinely invoked them to complicate and problematize the rigid simplifications that dominated psychoanalysis. Precisely, that is, the sort of rigid simplifications the Peterson hopes to reintroduce.

I have a hard time believing that Peterson is oblivious to all of this, and assume that he is either invoking Jung quite cynically, or relying on wishful might-as-well-be-true reinterpretation, imagining that Jung would agree with him about gender today despite everything he actually wrote. In any case, I think Peterson's critics would do well to stop granting him the benefit of Jung's intellectual prestige and authority; Peterson wants objections to his standard-issue misogyny to be understood as objections to Jung, but even a cursory reading of Jung should put that notion to bed.