Author: Matthew Barlow

Jordan Peterson: Professional Bore

I generally try to ignore Jordan Peterson.  He appears in my Facebook and Twitter feeds now and then.  But, I try to avoid reading about him.  I know he appeals to all of the basest and worst instincts of humanity.  Why would I need to know more? Peterson stepped off the deep end a long time ago.  Technically a clinical psychologist at the University of Toronto, he has long since branched out into misogyny and racism.  He is a defender of manly men.  One would think, from his public blathering, that Peterson kills and eats animals raw and his women are just that, his.  Frankly, I don’t know if that’s how he actually does roll.  Nor do I care. But last week, Peterson was in Canada’s lesser-known and read national newspaper, The National Post, foaming at the mouth about the American Psychological Association’s new guidelines for treating men and boys.  This is the first time the APA has issued guidelines for treating men and, of course, you’re noting right now that psychology cut its teeth normalizing the behaviour of (white) men.  But these guidelines are focused on the pratfalls of masculinity in the early 21st century and, to a degree, toxic masculinity. Toxic masculinity is the form of masculinity that is vicious, violent, and generally dangerous for all, including its practitioners.  I grew up in a milieu of toxic masculinity. ...

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Louis CK is Still a Jackass

Eighteen months ago, Louis CK was one of the most famous comedians in the world, almost universally loved, devastatingly funny, and, apparently, a decent human being.  And then came the scandal, which involved him being an incredible douchecanoe with women, intimidating them and performing sexual acts in front of them.  And so, he disappeared from the public eye after apologizing for his behaviour.  This was the right card to play and the appropriate response for his behaviour. But now he’s back.  And somehow, getting booked for shows.  Last month at a comedy club on Long Island, CK attacked the...

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The Date Rape Song

For roughly the past 25 years or so, I’ve referred to ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ as the date rape song.  The lyrics are creepy as all get out. And yes, I know the song was written in 1944.  And I know that the lyrics actually reflect pop culture in the 1940s, including jokes about drinks being spiked (with alcohol) and young men and women were not allowed the kind of freedom depicted in the lyrics in 1944.  And that the song was actually written by a married man so he and his wife could sing it at their housewarming...

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The Montréal Massacre

Twenty-nine years ago today, a violent misogynist marched into the École Polytechnique in Montréal, separated the men from the women and gunned down fourteen women.  Another fourteen were wounded.  He then killed himself.  In his suicide note, he blamed feminists for ruining his life.  He claimed that feminists attempted to play the advantages of being women whilst also seeking to claim advantages that belong to men.  He had a list of nineteen prominent women in Québec whom he considered to be feminists and whom he wished dead. The Montréal Massacre shocked a nation.  I was sixteen and living at the other end of the country, in the suburbs of Vancouver.  This felt a little more real for me because I am from Montréal.  My mother, also a montréalaise, was ashen-faced and shocked watching the news, crying.  At school the next day at school, a Thursday, the shock was real and palpable.  Nearly all of us felt it.  Nearly all of us were sickened.  Some were crying in the hallways.  Some looked like zombies.  We talked about this incessantly.  We didn’t understand.  We didn’t understand such violent misogyny. I remain shocked by this event even today.  What I didn’t know or understand about violent misogyny as a teenager I now do.  I am a professor myself and teach my students about misogyny.  And violent misogyny.  I often talk about the...

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Triumphalism in Boston’s Famine Memorial

Last week I mentioned the haunting and beautiful Irish Famine memorial carved from bog wood by the artist Kieran Tuohy. I spend a lot of time thinking about and, ultimately, teaching Famine memorials in both Irish and Public history classes.  For the most part, Famine memorials are similar to Tuohy’s sculpture, though perhaps not as haunting.  They show desperate, emaciated figures carrying their worldly goods in their arms and trying to get to the emigrant ships leaving from the quay in Dublin, Derry, Cork, etc.  The Dublin memorial is perhaps the most famous. The Irish memorials tend to reflect stories of leaving, the desperate emigrants heading to the so-called New World.  Death is secondary to these narratives, though just as many people died as emigrated due to the Famine.  Take, for example, my favourite memorial on Murrisk, Co. Mayo.  This one depicts a coffin ship, though unlike many other monuments, it reflects death, as skeletons can be found aboard the coffin ship.  In fact, if you look carefully at this image, you can see that the netting is actually a chain of skeletons, depicting the desperate refugees who died aboard these ships. The stories told by Famine memorials in North America differ, however.  They offer a solemn view of the refugees arriving here, sometimes acknowledging the arduous journey and the pitiful conditions in Ireland.  But they offer a glimpse...

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