So why are students in some of the nation’s best colleges so thin-skinned? Not most of them, of course, just a really loud and obnoxious subset.
When I read that some students at Rutgers were protesting an assigned reading of “The Great Gatsby” because its dark themes could trigger unpleasant memories for some students, I thought they were kidding. After all, I’m guessing there aren’t too many college freshmen who have experienced the cultural and political shenanigans of 1922 Long Island high society.
So why the uproar? Because they feared that all the misogyny and domestic tumult so memorably depicted in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel might upset those of gentle disposition who may have endured a wolf whistle or two. It’s called “triggering” as in every time I read another whine-fest like this I want to put the gun to my head and pull the trigger.
Huh-oh. Disturbing image. My bad. Go back to binge watching “Game of Thrones.” Ahem.
If these students were traumatized by anything in “The Great Gatsby,” it was probably the sickening realization that they would never be as gifted as Fitzgerald. Nope. Not even close. Oh, the disappointment! The embarrassment! The futility!
I feel the exact same way every time I’m forced to take my car in for an oil change every 5,000 miles. The whole humiliating episode triggers feelings of inadequacy in me because this is something I don’t know how to do and never will. Now where did I put that “participant” trophy? Maybe if I sleep with it under my pillow, I will feel better.
I’d never even heard the word “microaggression” until it was used to describe how some Asian students at Brandeis University felt about, among other things, allegations that they would be good at science and math.
Oh, poor you. Let’s start a GoFundMe for all the therapy you’ll need to cope with that kind of put-down. Try being a blonde woman with a pronounced Southern drawl. Absolutely NO ONE assumes I’m good at science and math. Trust me. It’s a good thing when people assume you are smart.
Recently at Yale University, there was a “March of Resilience” held by students protesting the administration’s perceived insensitivity to hurtful stereotypes depicted in Halloween costumes.
Hey, I love a good protest march as much as anybody but this one just reminded me of “Seinfeld’s” Festivus alternative holiday in which the highlight is “The Airing of Grievances.” A better name, perhaps?
Real protests against real injustice? I’m all in. But whining about manufactured slights just gives ammunition to all those political candidates who act like getting a liberal arts education is a bad thing, even subversive. The March of Resilience didn’t do anything but fan the flames of the flat-earther-birther types who claim that getting a collegedegree is some form of “elitist snobbery and, P.S., why do y’all hate Christmas?”
Like Aunt Verlie always says, it’s important to pick your battles. I hope that hard truth doesn’t hurt your feelings. Darlin’.
Celia Rivenbark is the New York Times best-selling author of “Rude B****** Make Me Tired.” Visit www.celiarivenbark.com.