“VICE: Let’s take Title IX for an example or because i’m not as familiar with what is happening in Ontario. I think that four decades of people would say that there probably was a problem with sexual assault on college campuses and that as an attempt to…
Jordan Peterson: Yeah, but what’s the problem, what’s the problem with sexual assault on campus? We can’t even have an intelligent discussion about that.
V: Well, I think that perhaps the problem would be that, women get raped quite a bit in colleges. Do you feel like that’s a problem?
JP: I don’t think that that’s a very good way of stating the problem.
V: I don’t know how to more clearly state the problem, which is that women get raped in college.
JP: The problem is that sexual behavior in young people is complex and dysregulated and often fueled by alcohol. And so all sorts of things happen that people regret and don’t like. And we have no idea what to do about it. And so we’re setting up a parallel judicial system to deal with it in a manner that’s going to make far worse.
V: Well, how does it make it worse though? Because this is what… this is the other thing.
JP: How about unwarranted accusations?
V: I would agree with you that a lot of times that these sorts of, sort of, administrative or judicial things that are created do have a lot of collateral damage and that there is…
JP: They’re all collateral damage.
V: But, at the same time it does sort of trigger people into thinking about things perhaps differently. It perhaps might scare some people into not pursuing some of these actions and that if that incident or something that we agree that goes down. So for example…
JP: What actions? What actions?
V: Regrettable sexual encounters or…
JP: Yeah. You think that the…
V: Or even this idea of inequality that you have if it does go down by effect. Right? Why is the collateral damage the only thing that you seem to focus on then?
JP: The collateral damage won’t end. We’re moving, we’re transforming the universities into quasi-judicial enterprises. They don’t have the expertise for it. It’s hard to set up a court system. It’s really, really, really hard and to set up a new one by proxy, where no one has any, any delineated rights of defense, for example, where you use preponderance of evidence and where people are enabled to go on witch hunts, it’s like, that’s not going to make anything better. It’s not going to make anything better at all. And we’re not addressing the issue, we’re not addressing the issue at all. One of the issues is that people get drunk on college campuses, drunk people do stupid things. Like 50 percent of people who are killed are drunk. 50 percent of people who do the murdering are drunk. The same thing happens with unfortunate sexual encounters. Then you ask yourself, “why do people drink?”. Why do people drink?
V: I don’t think we need to get there. I mean would you just…
JP: Well we do because that’s a huge part of what’s contributing to the problem.
V: Would you just mandate an end to alcohol on college campuses?
V: Do you feel like that is better solution because that seems Maoist itself to…
JP: No. But I would at least say that would start to address the actual problem. We’re not trying to address the problem, we’re operating sequential witch hunts to make the, what the prosecutors of the witch hunts feel like they’re moral. That’s what we’re doing. We’re not solving the problem, we’re not addressing the issue, we’re not having an adult conversation about this. The adult conversation would be: “How should young people regulate their sexual behavior?”. Well, you know, there is a start. It’s like, do you have sex on the first date?
V: Do you really think that conversation is never happening? Is not happening right now?
JP: No, I don’t think it’s happened properly since the invention of the birth control pill.
V: But you don’t feel like people that… I mean I’m sure that you as well I think everyone in this room went to like some form of sexual education. I mean like, is that not…
JP: What did you learn?
V: Not to get STD’s…
JP: The appropriate… Well yeah, yeah sure, if that’s what you learned. Yeah, you learn. Sure. That’s what you learn. How many dates should you go on before you have sex?
V: Well look, I mean, I don’t know.
JP: Right! Neither does anyone else.
V: Do you have an answer?
JP: How about, not one? Yeah. One is the wrong number. We could start with that.
V: I don’t, I fail to see the connection between that and the sexual assault issue on campuses. Do you really feel like if you mandated, right, or if you suggested as a clinician, “wait till date four” that the sexual assault problem on campuses will be changed?
JP: I would say well, wait till date four and try not to drink too much in the first three. That’d be a start. It’s like you don’t want to got yourself in trouble. I mean, I counsel women all the time about how not get themselves in trouble. Men as well. How to regulate their behavior properly. It’s like, there’s all sorts of things that you shouldn’t do. Now, for example let’s say that i’m counseling someone to start a relationship online, because you know it’s hard for people to start online relationships. It’s like OK, where you gonna have a first date? Where do you have it? You have it in a coffee shop, in the middle of the day. Right. Why? Well, why do you think? It’s safe and there’s other people around. Like you go there, maybe you have a phone call first to see if the person isn’t completely out of their mind. Then you have a date in a coffee shop, where there’s lots of other people around. You talk for 15 or 20 minutes and you know, you check each other out a little bit. You do this sequentially and with caution.
V: That seems like a vision of the world, I mean and this is actually reflected in a lot of your work. I don’t think you would shy from this description. It seems like a very dark vision of the world.
JP: It is a very dark vision of the world.
V: And that your solution to it, is to sort of have this… Prescript people’s behaviors like… go on a coffee shop date.
JP: My solution is to wake up and grow up.
V: Like, you know, don’t go to a bar the first time you go on a date. Wait till date four to have sex. I mean that seems…
JP: No no, at least wait till date four. Here’s another rule of thumb: Don’t engage in any physical interactions with anyone that you wouldn’t talk to them about beforehand.
V: How is this not more sort of prescriptive and like, as you would say, Maiost than sort of, you know, being like, hey, let’s just watch what we say.
JP: It’s not Maoist by any stretch of the imagination, but it is proscriptive.
V: Sure, proscriptive and controlling of people’s…
JP: But it’s not mandatory, it’s not mandatory.
V: It’s not mandatory?
JP: No. It’s voluntary, that’s the difference. If you want to go on, you know, if you want to have sex on the first date man like go ahead, it’s no problem. I’m just saying, it’s not a very good idea.
V: That isn’t really what you just said. Before though you just said that that was contributing to this sort of problem.
JP: It is. It is contributing to it. Because people treat sex like it’s casual.
V: Within your context. Let’s use your context then. Right? You have decided as an empathetic person that you would like to change the culture of sex on college campuses and drinking…
JP: I wouldn’t say that I decided as an empathetic person. I didn’t say that.
V: Oh no, let’s say that, not you. Let’s say that A person is trying to change this culture and they agree with you completely. They believe that these things will help solve it. How do they get people to start acting in that sort of way without mandating any behavior?
JP: They persuade them with reasonable arguments. That’s what I’m doing online. I mean I’ve talked to young men about pornography for example. There isn’t anything good about pornography. Stop using it. It’s not helpful. It’s a distraction, a dangerous distraction. It’s like, if you want to use it go right ahead. But you’re going to pay for it. So if you want to pay for it, go ahead. It’s a bad idea. Casual sex is a bad idea, obviously. You know since the 1960s, what have we wanted to do? Every form of sexual expression under any circumstance whatsoever is acceptable and even desirable, but nothing untoward can ever happen. It’s like OK good. Good luck with that theory. Sex is unbelievably complicated. It’s dangerous. It involves emotions. It involves pregnancy. It involves illness. It involves betrayal. It reaches right down into the roots of someone. You don’t play with something like that casually, well you can, but you’ll pay for it. It’s not casual. There’s no such thing as casual sex. It’s the delusion of Hugh Hefner. So that’s why we’re in this situation.”