VIDEO: Jordan Peterson – Beauty is interested in the Beast Who Can Be Civilized
Many female fans of Jordan Peterson (including myself) have often wondered if there is a woman’s archetypal heroic journey. I will do my best in this article to understand what Jordan Peterson has said about the topic and to expound upon it by exploring the concept of the heroic female in the popular myths and religions of human history.
In the video above, Doctor Peterson says, “A harmless man is not a good man. A good man is a very, very dangerous man who has that under voluntary control. ”
Doctor Peterson goes on to say that one of the hero archetypes that is relevant to women is “Beauty and the Beast.”
“Beauty isn’t interested in the guy who isn’t the beast. She’s interested in the guy who is the Beast. She is interested in the guy who is the Beast who can be civilized and disciplined and who can use that in the service of a family. And that’s exactly how it should be.”
THE MALE ARCHETYPAL HERO’S JOURNEY
This is a concept we see more often, so let me briefly explain this first before we get into the nuts and bolts of the archetypal female heroic journey.
The male heroic archetypal journey is one in which the boy leaves the naivety and comforts of home. Through enduring several struggles along the way, and grappling with the evils of the world, he eventually becomes a man—a benevolent protector who is capable of contending with evil. But he cannot do this as a mere naïve and harmless boy. And a male who turns eighteen doesn’t magically become a man through legality or age. There is something much more powerful that creates a “man.” This is a sacred knowledge that has been shared by the various cultures, myths and religions of humanity throughout history.
This is an important concept to be aware of in our time, in which masculinity is under attack by the mainstream media from every angle. We often hear today about “soy boys.” I’m not trying to attack men in making these statements. I’m simply saying that the sacred knowledge that transforms a boy into a man is not being communicated in our culture, except by a few people—such as Doctor Jordan Peterson.
THE FEMALE ARCHETYPAL HERO’S JOURNEY
IN RELATION TO THE MALE’S JOURNEY
The female heroic archetypal journey is one in which an innocent virginal girl contends with a male beast (or other powerful male force). In this struggle, she brings out the man within the beast, and renders him into something that can be useful to society.
Via this process, the virginal girl becomes a woman. She is the innocent princess who evolves into matriarch, creative mother and benevolent queen. She is no longer a naive and harmless maiden. Yet she is also not the evil queen figure (or ice queen) often described by Jordan Peterson. An example of the evil queen is the witch in Hansel and Gretel who keeps the children fat with sweets and in a cage, weak and helpless.
A benevolent queen is one who can support and bring out the manhood of her king. She is a creative force that brings forth positivity into a world of suffering. She gives birth to light in the darkness.
To be clear, the Benevolent Queen is not weak. But she is also not tyrannical and controlling. She exists in balance with the male. As the Quran says, men and women are a garment to each other (2:187). Deep inside, she is emotionally strong enough to understand that her ability to be compassionate, kind and patient despite the overwhelming cruelty of the world is a strength rather than a weakness. And it is this strength that permits life itself to exist and thrive.
She has the courage to speak out when masculinity has become too tyrannical, but also the nurturing and feminine energy to foster positive masculinity, instead of crushing masculinity entirely.
THE EGYPTIAN QUEEN ISIS
The earliest example in written history I can think of regarding the heroic female archetype is the Egyptian Queen Isis.
Osiris is the Egyptian god of the underworld, and Isis is his wife. Isis was first mentioned in the Old Kingdom (c. 2686–2181 BCE) as one of the main characters of the Osiris myth, in which she resurrects her slain husband, the divine king Osiris, and then she produces and protects her heir, Horus.
The Egyptian term for a throne may have shared a common etymology with Isis’s name. Therefore, the Egyptologist Kurt Sethe suggested Isis was originally a personification of thrones. Egyptologist Henri Frankfort agreed, believing that the throne was considered the king’s mother, and thus a goddess, because of its power to make a man into a king.
When Osiris is slain by his jealous brother Set, Isis is the one who finds the pieces of Osiris and puts him together again so he can be resurrected and become Benevolent King over his people. Yet before this can happen, he must make a trip to the underworld. Isis is the one who rescues him from the underworld, just as Beauty ends the curse of Beast, turning him into a man.
THE BABYLONIAN PROSTITUTE SHAMHAT
The Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh was written around 2100-1200 BCE. For those who don’t know the story of Gilgamesh, I will summarize it briefly.
Gilgamesh was strong and powerful king. But he used his strength to tyrannize the people he ruled over, the people of Uruk. He slept with men’s wives on their wedding days and plundered their wealth.
Thus, the Gods decided to create a wild man named Enkidu to contend with Gilgamesh and put a stop to his tyranny.
Once Enkidu was created, he lived in the forest and made friends with animals. This continued until he met the prostitute Shamhat, who tempted Enkidu away from the wild with her beauty. After Enkidu spends seven days and seven nights with Shamhat, his former animal companions shy away from him. He is no longer a beast of the wild. Shamhat feeds, clothes and civilizes him. She brings him into the city of Uruk. There Enkidu challenges Gilgamesh to a test of strength. Gilgamesh wins the contest. Nevertheless, Gilgamesh and Enkidu end up becoming friends, and Gilgamesh stops tyrannizing the people of Uruk.
THE GREEK SPRING MAIDEN AND QUEEN OF DEATH, PERSEPHONE
Most of us in the West are familiar with the Greek myth about Persephone. She is the daughter of the Greek Gods, Zeus and Demeter. Demeter is the Greek goddess of the harvest and agriculture. Persephone is the goddess of Spring.
One day Hades, lord of the underworld, took a liking to the young Persephone and kidnapped her. He brought her to the underworld. Persephone’s mother was so upset that she no longer caused plants to grow (thus ushering in winter).
Persephone was told not to eat any of the foods of the Underworld if she didn’t want to be stuck there. But Hades tricked her, giving her pomegranate seeds to eat. After eating the seeds, she has to spend a third of every year (the winter months) in the Underworld.
In this journey, she is transformed from an innocent spring maiden into the queen of death. And as Persephone’s husband, Hades gains power over fertility. Without Persephone, he can only destroy. But with Persephone, he can be a creative force of existence.
THE VIRGIN MARY
The most famous example of the heroic female archetype in Christianity is the Virgin Mary. She doesn’t make a man out of a beast, but rather she makes a man out of God (a powerful force to contend with indeed). As the most pure and innocent woman in existence, Mary is able to create Jesus, the archetype of benevolence among men. The King of Men. Yet the journey isn’t easy for her. When she becomes pregnant via immaculate conception, she becomes slandered by her own people and accused of fornication. And then she ends up giving birth to Jesus in a manger filled with animals.
In Islam, there is also a great deal of respect for the Virgin Mary. She has an entire chapter of the Quran dedicated to her. However, the main difference is that while Muslims do see Jesus as the Messiah, they don’t regard Jesus as a god, but as a loyal servant of God.
Also, the story about Mary in the Quran is a little different than in the New Testament. As a young girl she was raised in a temple and survived alone on provisions given to her by God. An apt metaphor for the perfect Muslim. One who submits and depends upon their Lord, and their Lord alone.
“So her Lord accepted her with good acceptance and caused her to grow in a good manner and put her in the care of Zechariah. Every time Zechariah entered upon her in the prayer chamber, he found with her provision. He said, “O Mary, from where is this [coming] to you?” She said, “It is from Allah. Indeed, Allah provides for whom He wills without account.” (Quran 3:37)
She was so pure and good, that she gave birth to the Word of God.
The Qur’an states that Jesus is Allah’s “word which he cast into Mary, and a ‘spirit’ from him” (Sura 4:171). Jesus is also called a word from Allah. (Sura 3:39, 45).
However, the birth of God’s Word was not easy. It was painful. But God was there as her comfort and support.
“So she conceived him, and she withdrew with him to a remote place. And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm tree. She said, “Oh, I wish I had died before this and was in oblivion, forgotten.” But he called her from below her, “Do not grieve; your Lord has provided beneath you a stream. And shake toward you the trunk of the palm tree; it will drop upon you ripe, fresh dates. So eat and drink and be contented. And if you see from among humanity anyone, say, ‘Indeed, I have vowed to the Most Merciful abstention, so I will not speak today to [any] man.” (Quran 19: 22-26)
So, whichever version of the story you believe, Islamic or Christian, the point is that Mary was a pious woman who underwent struggle, pain and humiliation in order to bring a force of benevolence into the world. A great role model for women indeed.
BELLA IN TWILIGHT
I’m sorry to bring up the vampire series Twilight. Yes, it’s lame when vampires sparkle. But one has to admit that the series got insanely popular for a reason. On one hand, it could just be all the soccer moms who liked Edward and Jacob’s chiseled abs. But stories that follow classical archetypes resonate with people. Bella was a young woman who became the object of desire of a vampire, a predator. She was also the object of desire of Jacob, a werewolf, a beast. And a key component of the story was Edward and Jacob learning to contend with their own predatorial impulses in order to keep Bella safe. This is a story that as old as time itself.
DAENERYS TARGARYEN – QUEEN OF DRAGONS
A much better written modern written example of the heroic female is that of Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones, the Dragon Queen. While the end of the show was a tragic flop mangled by bad writing and woke politics, the beginning of the show enticed people because once again, it resonated with those deep unconscious archetypes we all share.
Daenerys as a young teenage girl was sold by her own brother to Khal Drogo, a true beast of a man. As the commander of the nomadic and tribal Dothraki horde, he is truly a warlord. His people pillage and rape those they conquer without mercy. And they are a wild people. There are scenes of people having sex openly, quite like animals. Yet for a time, the tenderness and feminine love of Daenerys seems to civilize the wild Khal Drogo. She convinces him to command his men not to rape the female captives in the aftermath of war.
Later Daenerys liberates a city full of slaves. And her mount, the dragon, is a perfect symbol of the heroic female’s mastery over chaos, since the wild fire-breathing dragon is often used as a symbol of chaos itself.
Yet while Daenerys had the potential to fulfill the heroic female arc, she ultimately ended up devolving into the evil queen archetype, burning people alive with her dragons in a maniacal grab for power. While this decision was probably the result of bad writing, it does provide a powerful archetype for radical feminism and wokeness in today’s world. And what we might think was a hackneyed effort of the showrunners to cobble something together quickly, may have actually been them inadvertently reaching into a subconscious collective truth of our time.
We live in a society today that promotes the evil queen version of feminity. The all powerful woman who “doesn’t need a man,” and who emasculates the men under her control. She is ultimately destructive. A queen of chaos, riding around on dragons, burning down the foundations of civilization itself.
In the West, masculinity has been emasculated by the forces of the Evil Queen. These forces are the education system, the media, and now the government. Forces that seek to protect and coddle people so much that they infantilize them, robbing them of their competence and independence. Jordan Peterson says men are often attacked for attempting to achieve excellence through hierarchical systems. These attempts are derided as “patriarchy” and “toxic masculinity.” Obviously a such thing as Toxic Masculinity does exist, as we saw above with Gilgamesh using his power to rape women on their wedding day, or Khal Drogo using his hordes to rape and plunder. But there is also benevolent masculinity. And when male excellence in general is attacked, the force of benevolent masculinity is oppressed, and the West becomes less likely to protect and provide for its ideals.
In the Muslim World (and in many other countries of the Global South),by contrast, the Benevolent Queen is being suppressed by the forces of the Tyrannical King. Of course the Muslim World is not a monolith, but I talk to many muslims who complain in their home countries that women are often encouraged not to exert their excellence in the hierarchical systems of their societies, and to stay out of the spheres of social influence. This is also the case in many other non-western, non-muslim countries, where the reaction to Western imperialism has been an over-reaction against it. If the West is going to be extremely feminist and secular, than they are determined to do the exact opposite. Yet without the forces of a Benevolent Queen to bring balance and the nurturing energy of femininity, the male king becomes tyrannical and predatory, following his beastly inclinations. So while feminism has gone too crazy in the West, I do think in the Muslim world and some other non-muslim, non-western countries, there needs to be a greater effort to educate women and to respect mother figures.
In the East, it seems like they have things more balanced between the masculine and feminine energies of their societies, which is probably why they’re doing better right now than most.
In all things, moderation and balance is key.
I hope this article was enjoyable and helpful.
Check out the other related content I have written below.