The sexual holy war is coming for you
Our therapeutic state smothers the human spirit
BY MATTHEW CRAWFORD
Published at UnHerd 24th July 2023
But in fact, the therapeutic para-state is today staffed disproportionately by women and routinely addresses its expectations to us in gendered terms, sometimes casting dissent from the programme as an expression of toxic masculinity. So it is to be expected that such dissent will likewise make the legitimacy of the male a thematic concern. To paraphrase Trotsky, you may not be interested in a sexual holy war, but the sexual holy war is interested in you.
Daily life is shot through with an ambient pedagogical project that works to create the modern subject, a creature who internalises the social discipline required by the modern state. In one of his choicest formulations, Michel Foucault referred to “the minor civil servants of moral orthopaedics”. They are found in corporate HR, the Office of Student Life in universities, mandatory “Relationships and Sexual Health Education” in schools, lifestyle magazines and countless other sites of adjustment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 71% of human resources managers are women. In the University of California system, to take one example, 70% of non-academic staff are women, and in American universities generally, the ratio of administrators to faculty has nearly doubled since 1990. Sixty-seven percent of those who hold a journalism degree are women. In psychology, female graduate students outnumber males by about three to one, and have done so for more than a decade. Seventy-seven percent of sociology majors are women, and women have received about two-thirds of all masters degrees since the early Eighties. If the norm-setting, psyche-tending, world-describing, and narrative-generating professions are staffed predominantly by women, does anything follow from this fact?
It does if you grant that there are such things as male norms and female norms, as social psychology indicates there are, and if you further grant that this difference must show up in the flavour of institutional life. Jonathan Haidt says that among women you get “a different kind of conflict. There is a greater emphasis on what someone said which hurt someone else, even if unintentionally. There is a greater tendency to respond to an offence by mobilising social resources to ostracise the alleged offender.” This concern with offence, which tends to maintain social cohesion, also tends to come detached from the question whether the hurtful thing said was true or not.
This introduces an element of arbitrariness, an invitation to caprice. Notice that in this dynamic, a “hurt” may be attributed, a victim identified, as an act of aggression against the putative offender. The great majority of women do not seek power within an institution under the banner of woke activism. But most of those who do seek power in this way are women, Richard Hanania observes. More broadly, due to important asymmetries between male and female modes of conflict, “women’s tears win in the marketplace of ideas”. Such winning often results in the further extension of bureaucratic supervision into realms where harms might be found.