First I will make the disclaimer that I have not been taken part in a real drama workshop or a gender studies class. I have 3rd party knowledge of these. I can however appreciate what a drama workshop is like because I have attended a good analogue in the form of therapeutic workshops. When I was younger I was shy and anxious. I was an introverted deep thinker where most others my age were just content to live life working and playing. My prime reading material were self help books and spiritual matters. I was not a Christian but I was greatly interested in Buddhism and other eastern religions. Authors included Anthony Storr, Eric Berne, Tom Harris, Claude Steiner, Anne Faraday and some Freud among others on areas like transactional analysis, psychoanalysis and dream interpretation. I was more of a thinker than a doer and lived somewhat in a dream world of my own thoughts.
It happened that eventually I would get on to the therapeutic roundabout. I did not have an enormous amount of money so I only engaged an actual therapist for a short time. A more economical way doing therapy was workshops of up to 20 people which would last a whole day, weekend or a few hours a week spread over a number of weeks. Workshops such as shyness, anxiety, dream workshops, transactional analysis, Jungian analysis and hybrid strains in between. Some were useful and interesting and the facilitators always engaging. The most enjoyable were the dream workshops because I found it easy to remember dreams, six or seven a night.
Somewhere in the back of my mind were some doubts that scientific method was not rigorously employed in the “soft sciences” and this was especially so in clinical psychology. Coming to light were cases of “multiple personality disorder” where suggestible patients were probably accidentally primed to bring forward symptoms of the therapist’s pet syndrome. There were MPD therapists. The cases of Dr. Judith Peterson and Roberta Sachs were good examples. There was also “satanic ritual abuse” which was championed by such feminists as Catherine McKinnon and Gloria steinem. I had had the occasional question of falsifiability flick through my mind in some of these workshops but had not paid too much attention bringing my focus back on to the subject of the workshop.
It was one day in such a weekend workshop that I had this almost “out of body” experience of realisation. I don’t believe in actual out of body experiences but it was as if I was seeing the workshop at an objective distance. Several volunteers had brought forth “material” of their childhood hurts and tears were shed. Did it look like a charismatic church gathering? A bit. These workshoppers were not really ill in the sense of symptoms as may be described in the DSM, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual used by the psychology profession. They had normal problems or were at major crossroads in their lives. Some may have been anxious or frustrated, or had minor neurosis but most would not be presenting with deep pathologies. Yet these people in the workshop were becoming upset on the suggestion of the facilitator. I didn’t know if this “material” was real, exaggerated or fabricated. It occurred to me that fabricated material could be produced sincerely and honestly by suggestible people.
That was a flash light moment. No, this was a drama workshop where the participants were getting into character and discovering they could fill a role suggested by the facilitator. This was a drama workshop except that the actors didn’t know they were acting and the drama teacher didn’t know she was teaching drama.
I took a passive role for the remainder of the day not contributing much. I didn’t voice my concerns in the workshop but I curtailed my workshopping thereafter. I did attend a couple of transactional analysis workshops thereafter believing they seemed more scientific in their approach but I still found I was stumbling on the same doubts as before. The stumbling block was falsifiability. If a diagnostic opinion was wrong how would this by known since resistance by the patient can itself be a sign of confirmation of the diagnosis of some sort. Eventually I was over all workshops. Once the light is on you can’t turn it off.
These workshops were attended mostly by women and just a few men. I was sometimes the only man. It was just as well this was the 90s when therapy was not as feminised as it is now and not as heavily informed by feminist doctrine or real damage may have occurred. Today any men in such workshops would have to confess for being a man and would have to atone and find salvation. These were things which once plagued and sometimes greatly damaged church goers with unnecessary guilt and shame, especially in the Catholic Church. Today feminism is now once more rolling out for men what has failed in the past for the Catholic Church.
I fear for the future mental health of today’s boys as they grow up saddled and burdened by feminist doctrine. Things are really no better for girls growing up with unrealistic entitlements and a universal fear of sex and men. Oh I am glad I do not have children. The Soshoku danshi (herbivore men) of Japan are ever so wise. The future feminist utopia is a very dark place where light is interpreted as an aggressive invasion of patriarchy and is quickly snuffed out. This brings me to feminism in universities and colleges. I had only a 1 year experience of university in the days before total feminist contamination and the now ubiquitous gender studies classes. I do not speak from experience of a gender studies class but I can see the after effects just as a geologist who did not see an ice age but can see the effects of that ice age. I have third party hearsay of such classes. Katie Roiphe described a class experience as an “Alice in Wonderland” experience. Katie Roiphe wrote in her book The Morning After, Sex Fear and Feminism at the beginning of the chapter The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party she penned the following 5 paragraphs.
I am listening to a lecture given by an eminent scholar with a feminist-Marxist-poststructuralists bent. In his cashmere suit, with his soft cashmere voice, he talks about “hybridization of the postcolonial female discourse.” Sitting on a wooden chair, I am going to focus on his words. His lecture is deliberately opaque: he talks about “the inside of outsiders’ insideness.” As I lose my concentration the words break down into syllables that don’t make sense. I hear the rise and fall of the speaker’s cadences without the meaning. And then I remember a voice from childhood, “Beware the Jabberwock, my son”.
Sometimes I do feel like Alice in Wonderland falling down the rabbit hole, tumbling through the tunnel into another world, “curiouser and curiouser,” wondering what on earth the White Rabbit is talking about. In classes and lectures, at Take Back the Night marches, I sometimes lose my bearings, like Alice, and everything seems upside down and backward.
In a conversation about how terrible it is that a professor made a dirty joke in class, I offer my opinion. Someone tells me that I don’t understand the humiliation, the violence, of these comments. We look at each other, nothing more to say, our argument backed against a wall.
In a class on American Literature a fierce controversy rises up about Edith Wharton. Someone argues that her novels are elitist and bourgeois. Another person adds that Wharton is antifeminist, because some of her female characters are insufficiently developed. Someone claims that Edith Wharton doesn’t do justice to May Welland, the shallow blond character in the Age of Innocence. I say May Welland is not a flesh and blood person with an existence independent of how Edith Wharton thinks of her, she is a character in a book. I begin to argue against looking at literature for well rounded characters, and one of the men in the class interrupts me with the statement, You are wrong, Edith Wharton’s characters are necessarily antifeminist because within the hegemonic male discourse, it is impossible for the female voice to be empowered.
Sitting around the seminar table in my classes, I sometimes feel like I am at the Mad Hatter’s tea party. Either I’m crazy or they are. I feel like I am Alice listening to the Mad Hatter tell riddles without answers, my head spinning. This is a game I don’t want to learn, this is a tea party without tea, and I have gone through the looking glass.
The Morning After
Sex, Fear, and feminism
Gender studies classes are less about study and more about drama; about getting into the character of a victim, forever and always, world without end. The female students are disempowered by feminist tutors, convinced to feel terrible and slighted by the minor slights and to project their realised character on to the “patriarchy”. Just as in a real drama workshop or a therapeutic workshop so the students in a gender studies classes learn a script written by others and internalised as their own as reality.
Just as in a real drama workshop or a therapeutic workshop so the students in a gender studies studies classes eschew scientific technique and logic even going as far as to suggest that logic is a “patriarchal device” for control. At this point we could well be talking about Christian Creationism. There is virtually no difference.
How much damage? Recovering feminists talk about feeling traumatised by their gender studies classes and the struggle to come to grips with the aftermath. All the elements of false memories, false feelings and experiences which are unfalsifiable in therapeutic workshops are present in gender studies classes in the form of false victimhood and false or exaggerated injustices undergirded by the great unfalsifiable patriarchy “theory”.
Finally if the above is depressing you may like some light relief by viewing some videos on the Youtube channel of Goodfella on his parody of a gender studies class (
). In the case of mental illness the moral of the story is to choose your therapist carefully and don’t leave your brains outside the consulting room.