Hey, remember that time you were kidnapped, raped and taken to be the bride of Hades and live in the underworld? Oh, yeah, that’s right. IT DIDN’T HAPPEN TO YOU! Because it’s this “thing” called mythology. With the root word being “myth” heralding from the Greek word “mythos” meaning, fable or parable used in “ancient culture to explain a practice, belief, or natural occurrence.”
Glad we got that out of the way.
Because at Columbia University the student’s Multicultural Affairs Advisory board believe the professors need to be much more sensitive when teaching ‘questionable’ classic works. An op-ed penned in the Columbia Spectator opined how certain works were, “triggering and offensive material that marginalizes student identities in the classroom.” The article singles out Ovid’s work The Metamorphoses.
During the week spent on Ovid’s “Metamorphoses,” the class was instructed to read the myths of Persephone and Daphne, both of which include vivid depictions of rape and sexual assault. As a survivor of sexual assault, the student described being triggered while reading such detailed accounts of rape throughout the work. However, the student said her professor focused on the beauty of the language and the splendor of the imagery when lecturing on the text. As a result, the student completely disengaged from the class discussion as a means of self-preservation. She did not feel safe in the class. When she approached her professor after class, the student said she was essentially dismissed, and her concerns were ignored.
Ovid’s “Metamorphoses” is a fixture of Lit Hum, but like so many texts in the Western canon, it contains triggering and offensive material that marginalizes student identities in the classroom. These texts, wrought with histories and narratives of exclusion and oppression, can be difficult to read and discuss as a survivor, a person of color, or a student from a low-income background.
Here’s a little something the younger generation is no longer ever told. IT’S NOT ALWAYS ABOUT YOU!
The problems I have with this are two-fold but terribly interconnected.
Firstly, I equate it to this. If this generation is so offended and “triggered” by such works, why don’t they just start burning books? Or kindles? I look at this the same way I view ISIS destroying 2000 year old ancient artifacts. It is chilling and disgusting to me they can find a “rock” carved out in a particular shape as being so terribly offensive that it must be destroyed. It seems incredibly far fetched in this country, but it’s really not. How many crosses have been torn down because some cupcake was “offended” including a mother who put up a roadside cross at the place where her son was killed. Atheists took offense and she was forced to remove the memorial. I honestly fail to see the great difference. Get over your damn self already. It’s not about you.
This is life. Not to mention America. You WILL be offended because we have the freedom here to be offensive. I don’t have to wear a hijab in this country. I can show my face and offend the hell out of you. Boy, did that sound wrong. But you understand the gist of it.
Secondly, we need to be teaching responsibility for one’s feelings and lives. We need Life Skills 101 in academia and here’s the first lesson I’d teach.
It’s not everyone else’s job to protect you or take care of you. It’s your job to protect you and take care of yourself. Just because someone says something, paints something or writes something does not mean you have to internalize it on some personal level. That’s called a choice. I’m not saying great works of art can’t influence you on some level. I cried for three days after watching the Disney move “Up”. But here’s where the great difference lies.
There’s an interesting psychological concept born in the 1950’s called “locus of control”. It is the extent to which people believe they have control over their lives. Those with internal locus of control believe they control their destinies, feelings and outcomes. Those with an external locus of control blame the outcomes of their lives and how they feel about situations on everything but themselves. They are the victim mindset. We are creating an entire generation of victims. But victims are much more easily controlled by a government, aren’t they? Not to go all Alex Jones on you, but I don’t think it’s an accident.
Let’s get this straight. You may have at some point in your life have been an actual “victim”. It’s wrong and horrible and should never have happened to you. But it is fully your choice on how you overcome your obstacles and how you proceed with your life. I’ll happily make the case in point of the Boston marathon bombing victims who returned and completed the race this year. They were horribly wronged but what they chose to do with the atrocities committed against them show you THEY are in control of their lives, not some low-life, Rolling Stone terrorists. They understand the terrorists don’t control their lives or their future. They do.
When it comes to studying great works of art and you completely miss the miracle of ancient texts which paved the way for so many great works and philosophers and you miss the message behind the words and suddenly make the entire thing about YOU, then you’re doing it wrong. And we are doing our youth a great disservice by placating to their every delicate whim. Not to offend you, (see what I did there?), but I call it the pussification of America.
Can you imagine for a minute putting one of these special snowflakes in a landing craft on a beach in Normandy in 1944? We’d all be speaking German right now if this generation had had to fight that war.
The real world is not an easy one. And I literally hurt for the younger generation who will spend a lifetime living in a victim’s shell and that’s not a life at all. There is freedom in taking responsibility for your own actions and beliefs. There is freedom in not allowing others to force their beliefs upon you. But sadly, we have an entire generation of sheep. And they are being herded, calculatingly, in the wrong direction.
And oh, does this offend you? Good. Your lesson is done for the day.