Corporal Punishment, Boys and Modern Feminist Substitutes for “Making Men” of our Boys.

In another accident prone episode which fits an accident prone Abbott Government in Australia the head of the Abbott government’s national curriculum review Kevin Donnelly has backed the use of corporal punishment in schools in the following article in the Sydney Morning Herald. The government has disowned the idea. I want to speak about it from a gender aspect. and its effects on boys and the effects of substitutes for corporal punishment and their effects on boys. I will argue that although we live in more enlightened times and most people would agree with me in condemning the use of corporal punishment in our schools decades ago, that this practice which discriminated against boys has been been replaced by other ways of putting boys in their place and making “men of of them’ and “toughening them up” although feminists would use different language to describe the same effects.

See for the story.

I attended school in the 1960s and 70s. The cane, the T square and the ruler were instruments used by teachers to punish unruly students. Boys were overwhelmingly more likely to be canned. There was a limit of 6 cuts of the cane for equivalent offences. Girls could be caned in primary school but were usually not. In high school girls were not allowed to be canned. I thought this policy was sex discrimination, treating boys and girls differently. These were the early days of second wave feminism known then as “Womens Liberation”. I was canned by just one teacher and that was for bad hand writing, notably for ink blots on my page. To go with the archaic use of the cane the primary school also insisted on the archaic use of ink pens and ink wells although by that time biros had already been ubiquitous for decades. I was in the habit of producing huge numbers of ink blots in my books and one teacher had the policy of giving one cut of the cane for each blot. Consequently I was always joining blots together. The same teacher was very keen on the cane and used it constantly. He called it “Stokey” and gave it credit for being a better teacher than himself. This teacher was a sadist.

My handwriting never did improve and the ink blots never went away. I only resented corporal punishment and that helped me become a believer in non-violence, passionately against war, capital punishment and corporal punishment. That is what corporal punishment taught me if it taught me anything.

Corporal punishment was part of what made the old British Empire great. It conditioned boys to accept violence and injury as part of life. It is what kept the British ruling class safe, a gender of men “toughened up” to do terrible things to others and to have terrible things done to them. It taught boys to “suck it up”. Society has always dished out great violence to its boys. This starts with circumcision at birth. This is reportedly the most painful procedure most males will have to endure in their lives despite popular misconceptions to the contrary. The school of hard knocks turning out cannon folder for the empire. Parents. teachers, men and women all very approving. “it will keep them in line” (military lines), It will toughen them up”, “make men out of them” and “teach them right from wrong” (what to think, not how to think). Sure there some progressives making protest noises but generally the system had the seal of approval from all.

Society has evolved much since those days but has much really changed? We have lost corporal punishment in schools. Capital punishment is now largely confined to third world countries. In regard to schools at least boys are not subject to the cruelty of canning at the hands of sadistic teachers and to a more savage extent than girls. Now we have non physical punishments and a greater sensitivity to the needs of children.

So school should now be a much kinder place for boys. Right? Not quiet. In the intervening decades the disadvantages of girls have been addressed. Girls have been encouraged to achieve to to aim high for areas of work dominated by men. There has been much success in lifting the fortunes of girls. The results can be seen today with women working in large numbers in occupations where previously there were few women.

There is however another side to the ascendancy of girls in education. Most teachers are now women and men are dropping out of the profession. Along with other professions extreme feminist narratives have percolated into teaching. A boy today is told how terrible men are just for having a Y chromosome. We have seen the rebirth of the concept of original sin just when it had just about given up the ghost in the church. A boy watches TV and sees how stupid men are. He sees it is funny when a women hits a man, especially in the crotch. The same boy will hear how men cause ALL the problems in the world. He had better not object to this portrayal of muscularity or that will be evidence of a poor attitude; just what you would expect from a male. He will grow up learning that there is no justice for men by definition and not even any advocacy even from any other men. His is to “suck it up”, to “man up”, to “take it like a man”. No man can complain about anything or that would be “manplaining”. Except for permitted thoughts he should not have his own ideas about sex, women or men.

This is a new “school of hard knocks”. A new form of suffering that boys are expected to endure to be a “real man”, only this time the gate keepers are not imperialists but feminists. Just like the abuse of old the new abuse is sure to give rise to a psychotherapy boom area in the future. Each difficulty manifested by the new abuse will not be properly ascribed but instead ascribed to “how bad men are” and efforts will need to be redoubled in a cycle of increasing abuse.

So what is going on here? I believe it comes down to evolutionary psychology. Women need protectors and to that end a social system will bend to biology to “toughen up boys” in a sort of collective unconscious. Instead of sticks we now employ psychological torment. Even those who are tasked to do this are unconscious to the biological conductor and believe themselves to be above such things. They believe themselves to be most noble. Even psychologists are blind to their own act of loading instinct spinning software into the cerebral cortexes of all who will play influential roles in the early lives of young boys.

Some boys will break. Others will not live up to the standards of manhood expected. These boys will be consigned to the trash heap probably finding their way into prison or to welfare. Most will conform and will reinforce abuse in the following generations of boys. Why should boys be toughened up? They will have to be if they are to survive tormenting teachers, tertiary institutions dispensing rough justice to male students for loose sexual accusations without due process, marriage breakups with outcomes biased towards females, exploitative jobs and an increased propensity for suicide. No woman will want a man who can’t take that sort of abuse. In the absence of external dangers to forge “real men” society will make its own because danger is needed for the ape who has been too clever by half. Thus as schools became gentler in one sense for boys our biology has reasserted itself to shape a regime which will test boys and be just as abusive to boys as the old regime. This was made possible by social deconstructionists who are ignorant of the workings of evolutionary psychology but find themselves to playing its tune.