Feminist icon Doris Lessing once told of her experience watching a grade school class being taught. She was horrified by what she saw.
"We have many wonderful, clever, powerful women everywhere, but what is happening to men? Why did this have to be at the cost of men?
"I was in a class of nine- and 10-year-olds, girls and boys, and this young woman was telling these kids that the reason for wars was the innately violent nature of men.
"You could see the little girls, fat with complacency and conceit while the little boys sat there crumpled, apologising for their existence, thinking this was going to be the pattern of their lives."
What else can be said of the video below? Is it a call for chivalry? But chivalry is dead and buried at the crossroads with a stake through its heart. It was killed with a curse by those who saw it as a social construct designed to oppress women- killed, that is, by those who had absolutely zero understanding of what it was and what it did. For while chivalry was indeed a social construct, it was not constructed to control women, but to control men,. It was upon men that the heavier burden of chivalry lay. It was a code of conduct wherein men reined in their baser appetited. It told men that the strong cared for the weak, rather than oppressed them, that men respected all women because they were women and worthy of respect. Is the woman in the video weak? Is it offensive to call her so? In the video she is detailing her life, and everything that goes wrong in it is the fault of her father. She has no agency of her own and takes no responsibility. That is the very essence of weakness.
Let's take a look at agency and how it used to be taught. We have, by and large, forgotten our history. We have further forgotten that people used to know history. And we have above all forgotten why we used to learn history, and why it was important. Schools used to teach history in the 'Great Man' way. We studied the lives and actions of so-called Great men who shaped the world around them. the flaws of this are fairly obvious: it reduced history to the actions of a very small number, almost all of whom were male and white.
That kind of history has been replaced with the social history model. Now we study large groups of people and the movements of people across time. It allows the study greater numbers, which is social history's strength, but social history's strength is also it's weakness- those people remain numbers. Rather than movers and shakers, there are only groups who are bounced around by the forces of history. The Great Man style of history focused on movers and shakers, heroes and villains. Social history gives us villains and victims.
For its flaws, the Great Man style of history did have a purpose: it was to provide students with examples to follow and to shun. Today we still have the cliché of those who wear wristbands to remind themselves to consider 'What Would Jesus Do?" But in the past a reasonably educated man would ask himself: What would Caesar do? What would Hannibal do? What would Cincinnatus, Cicero, Demonsthenes, Henry V, Charles Martel, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and a host of others, what would they do? And many would attempt to act accordingly.
To go outside of history, the same would be done with literature. What would Achilles, Odysseus, Aeneas, Hamlet, Robinson Crusoe, Ebenezer Scrooge (after his redemption, of course) Superman, Batman, Spiderman- what would they do?
But the heroes have been torn down. They were not perfect men, we are told, they had flaws. And, because they were wrong in one thing it was somehow concluded that they were right in nothing. Don't be like them in anything, became the message. Literature took a turn for the worse, or, to be more accurate, it disappeared. The hero was replaced by the anti hero, and ultimately by the non entity. Even in comic books, the heroes were replaced by more 'realistic' portrayals of heroes who became less and less admirable, until the heroes were barely distinguishable from the villains in either method or goal.
Boys are mimetic creatures: they dream of being that man or this one. But those dreams have been taken from them before they even knew they were dreams. As I said, the new history teaches only that there are villains and victims. Of those two, the only one worth being is a victim. Out in the world, who is held up for heroes now? Sport heroes, rappers. Actors. Even the relatively benign Leonardo Di Caprio- how good of an example is he? Without going into the virtues of his movies, or lack thereof, he spends hi free time lecturing people about climate change, and living in mansions and private yachts where he has sex with a seeming endless line of supermodels. Shall our boys learn from him how to respect and treat women? Is he the one to show boys how a real man behaves?
But who else is there?
This is the society we have created. We couldn't wait to cut down absolutely everything of the old to make a brave new world. And here it is. Step one: What could it hurt? Step two: How was I supposed to know?
We have taken from the boys the lessons they needed, the examples they need, in essence, everything they needed to be able to go from children to responsible adults. And now this video comes along and demands they take up the challenge and be what they once were. I agree in many ways with the video, but the goal is folly now. It asks the boys to be men, to be gentlemen, but they have no idea how to be that. It is pointless to remove the organ and demand the function: they may as well bid eunuchs to go forth and be fruitful.
The teachers who posted this video to my feed debated whether or not to show it to their classes. Show them Errol Flynn's Robin Hood instead. The kids would be better off with that.