Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Women Living a Therapeutic Life

Somehow or other I missed this piece by Heather Mac Donald. It appeared in City Journal two years ago. It was entitled: “The Therapeutic Campus.” (via Maggie’s Farm)

So, on the grounds of, better late than never, I review the startling and shocking conclusions that Mac Donald drew from an excursion into pre-pandemic life on American college campuses.

It was not just that Mac Donald discovered that universities across the country had abandoned their mission of educating students, replacing it with the mission of providing therapy for their tender and fragile souls. She also discovered that this transformation, for the worst, had been facilitated, if not activated, by the presence of human beings of the female persuasion.

Colleges and universities are becoming more feminized, and somehow or other a feminized campus is less interested in learning and more interested in therapy. 

The irony is crashing all around us. In a world where we are assured, on an hourly basis, that today’s liberated women are strong and empowered-- repeat after me, strong and empowered women-- the picture we see on campus is women who wallow in their vulnerability, their sensitivity and their general all-around weakness.

You would imagine that women who are preparing to join the workforce would want to learn how best to exercise their rational faculties. You would also imagine that such women would want to prepare themselves for distinguished careers in male-dominant professions. Obviously, nothing about this journey into therapy culture enhances a woman's ability to compete.

Today’s college women are retreating to safe spaces, to rub on some healing unguents, to snuggle up with therapy cats and to suck their thumbs. If you should ever dare to say that this is too much feminization, they will will turn on you like a pack of angry jackals, and will rip your lungs out-- you sexist reprobate.

One understands, from reading Mac Donald, that young males, especially those who are neither gay nor bi nor trans, are avoiding this brave new feminized world. They are hunched over their laptops, fighting virtual wars against virtual dragons and monsters. We may conclude that the division of the sexes is alive and well, only not in the way you might imagine.

Mac Donald begins by taking us to the once venerable Yale University. Now, this declining university offers safe spaces, and something called the Good Life Center:

Last year, Yale University created a safe space that will set the industry standard for years to come. Call it the college woke spa, though its official title is the Good Life Center. Featuring a sandbox, essential oils, massage, and mental-health workshops, the center unites the most powerful forces in higher education today: the feminization of the university, therapeutic culture, identity politics, and the vast student-services bureaucracy. 

Obviously, none of those who make use of the Good Life Center care about learning anything. But they are all-in for therapy. In fact, as religion has disappeared from the American Mind, therapy has taken its place:

“I don’t know anyone [at Yale] who hasn’t had therapy. It’s a big culture on campus,” says a rosy-cheeked undergraduate in a pink sweatshirt. She is nestled in a couch in the subsidized coffee shop adjacent to Yale’s Good Life Center, where students can sip sustainably sourced espresso and $3 tea lattes. “Ninety percent of the people I know have at least tried.” For every 20 of her friends, this sophomore estimates, four have bipolar disorder—as does she, she says.

As the old saying goes, cosi fan tutte, everyone’s doing therapy. For your edification, the Italian expression, which means, roughly, everyone is doing it, is gendered. The word tutte is in the feminine. So, it refers to women, and only to women:

More than one in three students report having a mental-health disorder. Student use of therapy nationally rose almost 40 percent from 2009 to 2015, while enrollment increased by only 5 percent, according to the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Pennsylvania State University. At smaller colleges, 40 percent or more of the student body has gone for treatment; at Yale, over 50 percent of undergraduates seek therapy.

What counts as therapeutic in Yale’s Good Life Center. Why, slips of paper, on which various people have written inspiring pieces of advice, all of which are sitting in a Mason jar, waiting for distressed undergraduates to open one up and discover a larger truth.

As Mac Donald rightly points out, it’s pathetic:

One can only conclude that Yale students are so desperate for affirmation that they are willing to believe that a message written by an unknown sender to no one in particular applies to them. 

It is all New Age, all the time. It feels like Goop, or better like the strange pagan rites that Tara Isabella Burton described so well in her book, Strange Rites:

Yale’s woke spa also offers programmed activities to relieve student anxiety. Students can attend a four-week Koru Mindfulness course that helps participants be “kinder” to themselves, a Mental Health Empowerment Series to “get in touch with” their values, a “combined vinyasa/restorative yoga flow,” massage Mondays, and a puppy study break with Kiwi the Wellness Pup. Students can make their “very own meditation bracelet with a variety of beautiful beads.”

Did you get that: Kiwi the Wellness Pup. You think that we are making this stuff up. We could never make this stuff up. It’s far too pathetic. Sadly, it's full frontal girltalk. It’s almost as though these young women are refusing to take their place in the marketplace or the arena. They are getting lost in their souls, learning how to whine and complain:

Here, in a nutshell, is the essence of the college woke spa: an aesthetic and worldview built predominantly around what have been largely female interests, concerns, and fears. The GLC’s self-esteem bromides, the self-compassion ethic, the yoga and mindfulness sessions—all would be at home in a Beverly Hills “healing space,” where trophy wives can “center themselves in an atmosphere of calm.” A visitor keeps expecting to encounter crystals and star charts.

Apparently, these young women, strong and empowered as they are, having reached majority status in great universities, consider themselves supremely vulnerable, subjected to constant threats:

 The assumption that emotional threat and danger lie just beyond the spa is the product of an increasingly female-dominated student body, faculty, and administration. That assumption is undermining traditional academic values of rational discourse, argumentation, and free speech.

Of course, this is not new. It is merely the latest manifestation of the ongoing feminization of the faculties, process that began some four decades ago. Somehow or other, the supremely qualified female faculty members cannot teach the canon or the classics. They can only drool on about how they feel, and of course about how women are an oppressed minority:

Colleges began a “desperate” search for women faculty in the 1970s that eroded the “intellectual rigor of elite higher education in the U.S.,” says Camille Paglia, the feminist professor and author. “Due to that sudden influx, academe’s entire internal culture changed,” she says. As the female presence has grown, so have claims of a crisis of collegiate mental health.

The result is, the schools, to say nothing of the worlds that formed them before they arrived at school, have turned young women, especially, into chronic therapy patients. The therapy world has become a pink ghetto. Men are not welcomed. They do not belong. They avoid it all, like the proverbial plague:

Nationally, about two-thirds of the students who sought treatment for mental-health disorders in the 2018–19 academic year were female, according to the Center for Collegiate Mental Health. At Yale, therapy use is heavily female and LGBTQ, according to students. “There are few straight men using therapy,” one self-identified “queer” girl in the GLC said. “It’s stigmatized for straight CIS men. Almost all my friends who go to therapy identify as gay or trans.”

Mac Donald points out that the therapy world, like the Humanities faculty, is all girls all the time:

The counselors and therapists from whom these anxious students seek treatment are themselves overwhelmingly female. 

Harvard’s Counseling and Mental Health Services department is nearly three-to-one female to male in its staffing. Fifteen percent of the 33 members of Williams College’s Student Health and Wellness are male. The psychology profession is dominated by females. In the 2016–17 academic year, females received 78 percent of all bachelor’s degrees in psychology; Ph.D.s were similarly lopsided. At Yale, psychology does not even show up among the top-ten most popular majors for male undergraduates; for females, it is the fourth most popular degree.

Somehow or other, for reasons that are hard to discern, the feminized universities are profoundly allergic to free speech and reason. MacDonald would not be surprised to see in this morning news that the chief censoring officer of Twitter, a female named Vijaya Gadde, started crying when she heard that Elon Musk was going to introduce free speech into the platform.

It might be that female executives, female faculty and even female students are not very capable of engaging in reasoning or debate, but, let’s see what Mac Donald has to say about it all:

The feminization of the university and the prominence of therapeutic culture have created a perfect storm directed at free speech and reason. In a recent survey of college students, females were twice as likely as males to say that a controversial speaker should be canceled if the majority of students “feel emotionally unsafe or uncomfortable with the speaker’s content.” Males, by contrast, were more likely to support a controversial invitation in the name of academic freedom and the advancement of knowledge. The enormous shift in basic values on college campuses over the last 50 years cannot be understood without taking gender into account, concluded psychology researcher Zachary Rausch on the Psychology Today website.

Uh, oh. Is this blatant and flagrant sexism, or does it expose a hidden truth?


IamDevo said...

Per Wikipedia: The short title, Così fan tutte, literally means "So do they all", using the feminine plural (tutte) to indicate women. It is usually translated into English as "Women are like that".
So, your pithy observation regarding the popularity of the therapeutic pedagogy that predominates at Yale is thus entirely accurate, inasmuch as "women are like that." Old Elihu himself would, if his desiccated corpse were revivified blanch at the parlous state of affairs that prevails at his namesake university.

Anonymous said...

Therapy cats must be how lesbians convince women to taste the rainbow.

370H55V said...

"What counts as therapeutic in Yale’s Good Life Center. Why, slips of paper, on which various people have written inspiring pieces of advice, all of which are sitting in a Mason jar, waiting for distressed undergraduates to open one up and discover a larger truth."

And to think I've been getting those at no additional cost for years at every Chinese restaurant I've even been to.

Anonymous said...

You get what you coddle.
How did these elite students get to this point in life?

Anonymous said...

Be nice to Therapy cat's feelings.

Anonymous said...

The misunderstanding here is that Kiwi the Wellness Pup is not the lucky canine actually living out the "Good Life", that lucky yeller would be Kiwi's distant relative "Starfruit the Superfoods Pup". Dog lovers unite everywhere to use this vitamin C rich superfruit grow a puppy healthy fur coat or purse.

Anonymous said...

From what I have read elsewhere, the guys(?) are just as bad.