Britain’s youth, a nation of blubbing, entitled narcissists.

About ten years ago I first sensed something was changing in modern manners when I brushed passed a seated woman as I groped for my seat in a tiny London cinema. She became extremely angry, I hadn’t pushed or shoved her, just brushed her arm as I sat down, but she made it clear that she was seriously annoyed. Her friend sided with her by asking, ‘Are you alright?’ with huge, phony concern.

I now often hear this, ‘Are you alright?’ forced sympathy, in situations where there is no real  threat. In the absence of Christian duty or social deference, it seems to be a new way of signalling respectability and virtue. But this is not a polite, passive thing; the fury of the woman and her friend was real. There is an element of angry hysteria in this collective ‘concern’ for victims, deliberately imagining injury where it doesn’t exist.

The new height of modern virtue is to insist that individuals, particularly women and girls are extremely, are almost ridiculously fragile in any of what are now termed, ‘shared spaces,’ and now it seems even when alone in private, quietly reading a book, or in an exam room writing about one.

AQA exam board, based in the University of Manchester, has just apologised after one Hadiatu Barry, a school girl from Lowestoft, Suffolk, wrote to them saying she had been ‘horrified’ by a passage in a short story by the gentle, bucolic HE Bates, author of  The Darling Buds of May, Uncle Silas, and  Love for Lydia. His short story, The Mill, published in 1935, includes a character called Alice who is raped.

Barry claimed that the extract they had to read, might have acted as a, ‘trigger’ for underlying mental health issues and could have thereby undermined their performance in the exam. She demanded that, ‘appropriate measures’ were put in place so that such a thing wouldn’t happen again. She was supported by her friend Alana Kingsley, who said that, ‘Some people were disturbed and worried by the extract.’

There was also a problem with the paper because some of the students sitting the paper, fifteen- year olds, didn’t know what chrysanthemums were, even though the word was carefully explained on the paper.

Their complaints were supported by adults such as Sarah Leigh, on Twitter ‘@writingtuition’ who complained that not only was the piece inappropriate because of the assault, which she described as ‘graphic,’ but because it was written by a man, and one born in 1905!

AQA meekly apologised and replied that the rape only appeared much later on, and,  ‘no one had to read the whole story.’

Perish the thought that they might! One can only hope that no school girls in future are ever induced into reading Greek myths, Richardson’s Pamela or his Clarissa, W.B Yeat’s poem, Leda and the Swan, (that story is also dangerously depicted in many oil paintings, along with other ‘rape metaphors,’ so best to avoid art galleries.) They better not try Tess of the D’Urbervilles and Jane Eyre is also decidedly dodgy. Young women used to love it but now they know better.  

‘I decidedly preferred these fierce favours to anything more tender,’ says misguided Jane. Her chosen man, Rochester often seems to be on the brink of violence. He has also, unforgivably locked his mad wife, (driven insane by him no doubt) in the attic. Then there’s Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights, by sister Emily. Better not go anywhere near him, even if being played by Cliff Richard in a musical.

In the modern age, books for girls to avoid must include A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess which recalls a real-life war-time rape, and even, The Colour Purple, in which a black man rapes his young black wife.

They will of course still be willing to read To Kill A Mockingbird as its racial message  trumps rape, at least if what we’ve seen in cases of male migrants raping young white girls is anything to go by.

They’d also better avoid going to the opera to see Tosca or Don Giovanni, but they are hardly likely to do that. State education eschews high culture, which is not surprising as it tends to be all about risk, nuance and complications caused by wrong thinking in the past.

This passive aggression acting as repression, has inspired educationalists to invent new structures to prevent people becoming ‘victims,’ even if they are not noticeably threatened.  The University of Sussex has just introduced a clause into its teaching policy which states that, ‘Any materials within relevant courses and modules will positively represent trans people and trans lives.’

Discussion of factual biology, criminality, mental illness or the right of vulnerable women to be protected will not be allowed. At least not without a mighty, ten-gun trigger warning first, so that all virtuous, right thinking students can escape well in advance.

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3 Comments on Britain’s youth, a nation of blubbing, entitled narcissists.

  1. Manchester university – who would have thought it? Where the poem “If” was erased over the portal to the students’ hall in favour of some doggerel by Maya Angelou – that well-known English poet. I think we are all aware that the universities have lost their way, and are now run by an elite hoping that Corbyn will make it to PM.

    • It’s said that Oxford (?) has instructed applicants that if they want a safe space where their ideas and prejudices won’t be challenged, they should apply somewhere else. Maybe someone, an employers’ group maybe, should compile a list of universities that protect the infantile so that their graduates can be avoided. As universities are prisoners of the market these days, that should do the trick.

  2. Tragic and comical all at once. It’s a good job the kiddies are not expected to respect the ranting threats of a chap who referred to Africans as raisin heads, threatened to kill anyone who said he himself wasn’t white, bedded at least on nine-year old and raped with abandon anyone who crossed his path, and left behind a collection of threats gathered together into a ‘book’ that he claimed God had dictated in a dream, and which has been the handbook for the most depraved ideology of all time.
    It takes a lot of energy to be as stupid as our universities have become, and there lies the clue. All this focus on the body, gyms, running, cycling. All that fresh air gets into people’s lungs, and that can’t be good.
    Democritus (trigger warning: man, Greek, born a long time ago): We should value our souls more than our bodies. Perfection of one’s soul corrects wickedness of the body, but a healthy body cannot make a soul any better at all.