Transgender women (people born biologically male who now consider themselves women) are men, and should not be called women. That’s because they are of the male sex, and adult male humans are men. Similarly, transgender men (people born female who now consider themselves men) are actually women because they are adult human females.
It’s extraordinary that such innocuous observations are branded variously as intolerant, hateful, bigoted, or ignorant when they are none of these things. Things get even worse when people respond by alleging that I am denying the very “right to exist” to trans men and women, or that I am trying to deny them human rights. On the contrary, all I am doing is telling you what I think men and women are. If I denied them the right to exist, I would be calling for their extermination, which is a horrible thing to attribute to me. It is a mere rhetorical trick to make it sound like I want to harm people. I don’t believe there is a human right for a man to be regarded by everyone else as a woman, any more than I believe a white woman has the right to be regarded by everyone else as a black woman.
Continue reading “Being Gender Critical”
Yesterday, on Wednesday the 12th of February 2020, I gave the eulogy at the funeral of my Father, Michael Anthony Peoples, usually known as Mick (1941-2020). He was 78.
It was one of the hardest things I’ve done, whether people could tell or not, but it was an honour to do so. I didn’t record it at the time. I had thought that I might, but at the time I was just focused on keeping it together and trying to help the service run smoothly, so it escaped my attention. It would have felt strange to record it now and share that recording. For those who would like to read what I said, I have reproduced it below. I hope it goes without saying that this was not a talk given to a room full of scholars, or even a sermon preached to my fellow parishioners (although I certainly took the opportunity to share some small insights in the short time I had). It was a talk given to Dad’s grieving family who had come to say goodbye, for now at least, by one of them. I share it here for those who wanted a copy of what I said, and for those who might have liked to attend but were not able (and for anyone who is curious).
I have not shared a photo of my father here, as I do not usually share photos of family in public places. My Facebook account is limited to my Facebook friends.
The eulogy was as follows.
Continue reading “My Father’s Eulogy”
Men are much more aggressive than women, right? Studies say so. We just know this. Well, there may be truth to it (there is), but be discerning when you hear or read people say it. What exactly are they saying? Does all the evidence support it? Does the evidence support quite what they are saying, or does it support something similar but not the same?
When reading for an introductory psychology paper last year, I was struck by an example of how authors subtly (or perhaps not so subtly) encourage the reader to accept narratives that have become part of our social orthodoxy. In this case it’s a narrative about men being more aggressive than women. It’s subtle, but here’s what I observed. The textbook is by Lorelle Burton, Drew Westen, and Robin Kowalski. Only when writing this blog article did I look up information about these authors and realise that the first and last of them are women, and the second is a sometime contributor to the Huffington post and progressive advocate who served as an advisor to a Democratic election campaign in which he advised them to “for the most part, forget about issues, policies, even facts, and instead focus on feelings.” I add this lest anyone suspect that these factors contributed to my impression of what I read. For some reason, I had assumed that “Burton” was a man (possibly because the name sounds like “Bert!”). The book is Psychology, published by Wiley, and this is the fifth Australian and New Zealand edition. It is the assigned text for Social and Individual Psychology. Continue reading “Playing fast and loose with aggression and sex”
Did Jesus say that believers would never ever die, indicating that even when their bodies die, they will live on with him in glory? You might have heard that, but what if he meant something different, promising that we would be spared the fate of disappearing into death forever?
I get some resistance to the biblical concept that human beings are frail and mortal, “dust of the earth,” that we return to the dust when we die, and that there’s no heavenly life to be had while our bodies lay in the grave awaiting the resurrection of the dead. Sometimes people even pit Bible verses against this biblical idea. One verse at a time, I think we can see that these objections fail, and the overall clear biblical portrait of human nature and death remains intact.
One of those objections comes from a particular interpretation of Jesus’ saying after raising Lazarus from the dead in John 11:25-26:
“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, even though he dies, will live, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”
Never die. That gives pause to some people when they consider my view that immortality is received at the resurrection and that the dead are really dead in the grave, not living on as immortal souls. They wonder if this claim by Jesus must mean that if we live and believe in him now, we cannot lie dead in the grave without our souls living on in glory, because we will “never die.” It’s a good question to ponder, but there’s already a reasonable response to this worry, quite apart from the observation I’ll make soon. Jesus is here talking about those who live the new life that he has just referred to: Whoever believes in me, even though he dies, will live – that is, via the resurrection. So when Jesus goes on to say “whoever lives and believes in me will never die,” he’s talking about the life of immortality after the resurrection. Continue reading ““You will never die”: What did Jesus mean?”
You’ve heard of Jordan Peterson. He’s a Canadian professor of psychology and a clinical psychologist. In his work in the latter role, he has helped a lot of people deal with mental health issues and sort their lives out, as clinical psychologists are wont to do. He became notorious because of the hate he received when he objected to a university trying to force people to use the gender pronouns of transgender individuals. Not that he never uses those pronouns, but he objected to being told that he had to use them, or else face consequences. He didn’t create the situation, he just responded to it because it affected him directly.
Peterson has managed to offend people in other ways, too (not that this is a great feat today), for example by arguing that genuine sex differences exist – hardly a radical theory. Cathy Newman notoriously made him more famous via an interview in which she spent nearly all of her time re-stating and misrepresenting most of his answers when discussing the gender pay gap. Peterson didn’t force her to do that. She did it herself, and so badly that she became a meme. She was a train wreck, and in retrospect few people doubt that she knows it. Otherwise the interview would have been much less remarkable and would almost certainly not have had the positive effect on Peterson’s fame that it did.
Most of Dr Peterson’s subject matter is psychology and self-help. But (generally when the issue is raised with him) yes, he has talked about things with broader political and social implications. When he does, the target of his criticisms are generally not just people on the left or the right, conservatives or liberals, but rather the space on the political spectrum he calls “the radical left,” although at times he has also spoken specifically about the dangers of fascism in particular as well as the factors that enable it.
Unsurprisingly, the radical left (as much as I dislike collectivism – take me to mean “many people who could fairly be described as radical leftists”) tend not to like Jordan Peterson. But even not liking somebody or their views should surely be compatible with some very basic principles of fairness and decency. Continue reading “Making self-help sound like terrorism”