The latest installment of “Handmaid’s Tale isn’t fiction”:
A Texas school district has pulled an assignment on chivalry that prompted widespread outrage after images of the lesson circulated online.
Some parents complained about the English assignment, which included rules on how female students at Shallowater High School outside Lubbock should conduct themselves around their male classmates.
This isn’t accidental or unintentional.
Margaret Atwood has said that every regressive idea she put in The Handmaid’s Tale was drawn from real life. I think Texas took that to mean they should begin aggregating them.
There are tasteful ways of doing historical role play, in order to teach useful lessons about history. This isn’t it.
As you say:
Well, there goes “don’t start drinking early on Friday.”
Not that this is unique to Lubbock, but Lubbock is the kind of small town that gives small towns a bad stereotype.
“I think she was just trying to find a different way to teach us about this topic,” Lain said. “So the men in our class honestly could kind of see how it really was to be a woman in the 1300s … because this is something too important for you to just learn on paper or read from a book.”
I question the fitness of teachers who think it’s okay to teach inequities by assigning their students to reenact them.
A better assignment would be to rewrite the rules of chivalry to fit with modern times.
In addition to the dystopian misogyny this also has little to do with medieval chivalry, which was mostly a literary trope consisting of the elite warrior caste giving themselves a veneer of ethical behaviour. Nothing of what these young women were asked to do would have been familiar to a 13th century knight.
Whatever they were trying to teach, it wasn’t history.
“Don’t be a jerk” should cover it.
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