Book Review: 12 Rules for Life - Jordan Peterson

Photo by Avery Evans / Unsplash

Of all the books I have read, this has to be one of the most polarizing. I must admit that I started this book with a heavy bias against the author, thanks to his infamy on progressive subs on Reddit. The first few pages didn’t make it any easier; the prologue was filled with things that you’d see on a Twitter “#ShitDonaldTrumpSays” thread.


In the beginning, I found author’s self-righteous tone off-putting. I admit that I skipped pages whenever Bible was the sole exemplary. Gradually, though, I found myself agreeing more and more with the author, albeit at a very fundamental level. When I agreed, I still found his method of deduction dubious and massively sexist.

His points of reference, when it comes to sexism, are so flawed (in my humble opinion) that the reader is tempted to discount the author entirely, but if you wade through much of his ramblings, you may find a learning or two. At this point, you are better off reading a more concise self-help book because the author loves to ramble a lot. Which is fine for readers that don’t care about the length of the book. But if you’re reading this book for self-improvement, 1/ this is not the most well-written self-help book (its a good book though) and 2/ the author’s tone is polarizing, for almost every ethnicity, ideology, or sex.


The book advocates a lot about masculinity. It’s innate aggression. How women, who failed as the leaders of ancient society, are on a constant pursuit to introduce feminine qualities such as “agreeableness” (who’d have thunk 🤯) to rein in the masculine aggression. The aggression should be fostered as it pushes young men to innovate so that they can get ride their bikes faster. Is the author saying that only men are capable of doing stupid stuff you'd generally see on MTV Jackass 🤔.

Time and time again, the author justifies violence or aggression. I have a feeling the author and Will Smith will be good friends.


I find it interesting (to say the least) that despite being a psychologist, the author has things like to say:

“Girls can win by winning in their own hierarchy—by being good at what girls value, as girls. They can add to this victory by winning in the boys’ hierarchy. Boys, however, can only win by winning in the male hierarchy. They will lose status, among girls and boys, by being good at what girls value. It costs them in reputation among the boys, and in attractiveness among the girls. Girls aren’t attracted to boys who are their friends, even though they might like them, whatever that means. They are attracted to boys who win status contests with other boys. If you’re male, however, you just can’t hammer a female as hard as you would a male. Boys can’t (won’t) play truly competitive games with girls. It isn’t clear how they can win. As the game turns into a girls’ game, therefore, the boys leave.

So, basically rich woman should compare resumes before forming romantic ties 👍🏼. In my view the author's message is not that sexist, but it's definitely worded to encourage misinterpretations. Great writing or flawed ideology ⚖️?

“If they’re healthy, women don’t want boys. They want men. They want someone to contend with; someone to grapple with. If they’re tough, they want someone tougher. If they’re smart, they want someone smarter. They desire someone who brings to the table something they can’t already provide. This often makes it hard for tough, smart, attractive women to find mates: there just aren’t that many men around who can outclass them enough to be considered desirable ”
Men enforce a code of behavior on each other, when working together. Do your work. Pull your weight. Stay awake and pay attention. Don’t whine or be touchy. Stand up for your friends. Don’t suck up and don’t snitch. Don’t, in the immortal words of Arnold Schwarzenegger, be a girlie man. Don’t be dependent. At all. Ever. Period. The harassment that is part of acceptance on a working crew is a test: are you tough, entertaining, competent and reliable? If not, go away. Simple as that. We don’t need to feel sorry for you. We don’t want to put up with your narcissism, and we don’t want to do your work.”

I was not surprised to learn that the author doesn’t believe in feminism. He goes on to say that women have little to contribute in many ways

“Furthermore, even if women contributed nothing substantial to art, literature and the sciences prior to the 1960s and the feminist revolution (which is not something I believe), then the role they played raising children and working on the farms was still instrumental in raising boys and freeing up men—a very few men—so that humanity could propagate itself and strive forward.”

In his opinion there have been many men like the tampon king of India that have advocated for women. I am still unclear how that justifies not believing in feminism but 🤷🏽‍♂️.

I did enjoy author’s take on classics like Dostoevsky, Sartre, and other western European philosophers. Although, I found his interoperation of Hansel and Gretel hilarious 😂.