WNYC's On The Media explains the influence of Jordan Peterson on online misogynists
Guest Will Sommer: Media lacks "familiarity with these issues" and "blur the lines between these different groups"
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From the May 4 edition of WYNC's On The Media (transcript starts at 9:13):
WILL SOMMER (THE HILL, RIGHT RICHTER): During the Trump campaign, there were a lot of people who weren't racist who identified themselves as "alt-right." Certainly there were a lot of white supremacist members of the "alt-right." But, since 2017, and especially since Charlottesville [VA,'s "Unite the Right" rally], we've seen non-racist or anti-Semitic members of the "alt-right" fall away and try to redefine themselves in other ways. A lot of them are called "alt-lite" or they describe themselves as the "new right." I would say it's unfair to describe Jordan Peterson as a member of the "alt-right" because now that essentially means, like, David Duke.
BROOKE GLADSTONE (HOST): He could be located on what some people call the "intellectual dark web," right?
SOMMER: Yeah, the "intellectual dark web" is a term a lot of these figures describe themselves as, or their fans see them this way. This comes from the actual dark web which is a difficult-to-access portion of the internet where it's hard to trace things, it might be where drug deals go down, for example.
GLADSTONE: Yeah, it's associated with criminal activity.
SOMMER: Exactly. So they're appealing to this kind of forbidden nature of the knowledge they're discussing. "These are ideas too dangerous to exist in the actual web or within the mainstream intellectual discourse, and so you have to kind of dig for this stuff."
GLADSTONE: So how should we understand all of this in relation to the manosphere? Incels, men going their own way, or the "Proud Boys" who conserve their precious bodily essence, and so on?
SOMMER: If the question is, what do we do with all these men in the modern world who are having difficulty fitting into life, essentially, for "Men Going Their Own Way," they would say that society sort of shackles men with things like marriage and children, and so I'm going to go lead this ostensibly hedonistic lifestyle. In the case of incels, they say society is irreversibly against us and either get mad about it online and just kinda stew or commit acts of violence. In the case of Jordan Peterson, he says that there is a way for men to make their way in the world and here are the strictures and structures by which to do it. And in the case of Proud Boys, they say men need fraternal companionship and we're going to have this men's organization that also gets in a lot of street fights and has rules about masturbating.
GLADSTONE: OK, so as we observed, there are a lot of people in the media who sort of lump Peterson into the "alt-right," and that's just not correct. So, how do you think in general the media are reading the right-wing ecosystem that we've discussed, and within it, the manosphere?
SOMMER: I think there's not a lot of familiarity with these issues and these figures so that then when they spill out into the news, whether that be because Jordan Peterson has a best-selling book or because an incel went on a rampage, I think there's a tendency to lump all these people together as "the right" and there are a lot of different strands, often warring strands. I think the media often blurs the lines between these different groups, and frankly, it's to their benefit when the media does this because then people who are familiar with this stuff, maybe their followers or what have you, they see and they say "oh my gosh, the people in the media don't know what they're talking about," and it further ties these people to this alternative media structure.