Doofus Of The Day #1,064

Today’s award goes to an Australian academic (?) who claims that the fairy tale “Jack and the Beanstalk” is a metaphor for male sexual awakening.  A tip o’ the hat to Australian correspondent Andrew for sending me the link.

When creative writing lecturer and author Claire Corbett first learned that the iconic fairytale Jack And The Beanstalk was one long extended metaphor about penises, she laughed.

“First off I thought, ‘Oh this is ridiculous,’” she told

“But then when I thought about it, I saw something in it.”

. . .

Child psychologist Bruno Bettelheim first pointed out that the beanstalk was symbolic of a phallus in the 1970s.

. . .

Corbett’s first piece of evidence is the title.

“It’s Jack And The Beanstalk. Not Jack And The Golden Harp or Jack And His Adventures In The Sky,” she said.

“That’s because the beanstalk is driving the action.

“If the beanstalk is maturing male sexuality then Jack And The Beanstalk is a story about male individuation and growing up.”

“Jack and his mother are living alone in the cottage. No dad,” Corbett said. “His mother tells him to sell their beloved cow at market because she’s not giving any more milk.

“Could there be a clearer image of a post-menopausal woman? No more fertility, no more mummy’s milk.

“She’s dried up. Jack is understandably upset by this. He’s being asked to cut a childhood tie to his mother.”

There’s more at the link (if you can stand to read such drivel).

That’s what happens when academics (?) analyze something in the light of modern fads and foibles, instead of going back to their origins and analyzing them in the light of the times from which they sprang.  “Jack and the Beanstalk” originates in the late 1700’s.  I doubt very much whether its original author had even the slightest inkling of male sexual awakening as a “thing”, much less tried to write a literary metaphor about it!

(As for Bruno Bettelheim, I note that “Much of his work was discredited after his death due to fraudulent academic credentials, allegations of abusive treatment of patients under his care, accusations of plagiarism, and lack of oversight by institutions and the psychological community.”  Why am I not surprised to read that?  Indeed, if the above article’s citation of his theories is any indication, all I can say is “No s***, Sherlock!”)

This is simply nonsensical.  It’s a politically correct fairy tale all of its own.  I’d expect any self-respecting institution of higher education to immediately fire this “lecturer”, and ensure that she never again works in education at all, at any level.  Sadly, in today’s politically correct world, that probably won’t happen.  Instead, she’ll be given the chair of a newly established Faculty of Fairy Tale Analysis, and win a Nobel Prize for a post-doctoral thesis on “The Carnal Implications of a Wolf Blowing your House Down“.




  1. In high school one teacher, in particular, was famous for having every story – no matter what – be symbolic of sex.

    Just recently, talking with a fellow classmate from those long-ago years, I learned that he was famous in another way: the pursuit of teenage girls.


  2. Bruno Bettelheim. Among his many transgressions in the name of science, he proclaimed autism was caused by "cold mothers". The pain that caused women with special needs children was widespread and terrible.

  3. They want to imagine people in the past were as degenerate as they are now (which they have done to society as well).

    Just last week I was talking to someone I have known a long time on the phone. A nice liberal leftist. She said she had just watched a movie from the 1960s, and was appalled at the short dress the young girls were wearing in it. "If I had a daughter I would never let her wear such a short dress!"

    It seemed she really wanted to believe people were more pervy back then. I am quite sure the opposite but I did not challenge her. I said as tactfully as I could, "well, maybe they weren't as conscious of sex".

    The left are in denial (their favorite word) about the entire flow of history for the last 60 years.

  4. Well, that's what happens when you take the strong moral finish out of fairy tales.

    Jack falls and dies. (Because he didn't listen to his parents, the village elders, and he tried to steal from those above him (What? You thought the story was about real giants? Well, meat fed people tend to be quite taller than grain fed people, so, yes, upper crust nobility (the giants) do tend to be bigger and taller…)

    Hansel and Gretel get cooked and eaten. (Because that's what happens to disobedient children who are also gluttons and thus nice and fat and plump…)

    And my personal favorite, the darned mermaid gets tossed aside by the handsome prince because she's not of the right social strata, so now her people spurn her as a social climber and she pines away alone because she's peeved off everyone for getting trumped up ideas about climbing out of the niche she was born into. Moral being – Be happy and content where you are, peasant! (No, really, seriously, THAT's the actual story of 'The Little Mermaid.') (That Hans Christian Anderson was one dark dude.)

    Real fairy tales are dark as all heck. Cute, sweet and innocent and full of blood and guts galore with a strong moral message of "And that's why you don't do X, Y and Z, because you'll die."

    Only when the stories got cleaned up did the real ambiguities start appearing.

    Now, for real "Whoa, duuude, I'm so stoned…" reading go look at Frank L. Baum's books. A world where no child is born, nobody ages or dies, there's no reference to any bodily function besides eating (which is always something sweat or special, no porridge or pea soup there) and everyone is dressed, even the scarecrow, in nice clothes. Dude had some issues. Or not. He stated he was writing books for children that didn't have any real moral values in them. He succeeded for the most part.

    Well, to finish, trying to analyze ancient text (including fairy tales) using a modern eye is like watching early cinema (except for "Birth of a Nation") with a modern eye. Or watching Shakespeare. Just don't. Take it in the context it was written in.

  5. I have a simpler explanation – Occam's Razor and all that.

    There's a joke in which a psychologist is doing an inkblot test with a patient and the guy sees every single one of them as sexual. After a half dozen the psychologist tells the patient, "well I think we can conclude you have a sexual fetish, maybe several, and we need to help you with that." To which the patient replies, "Me? You're the one showing me the dirty pictures!"

    In this case "the Academic" is the one who sees everything as sexual, every image, every idea, and since she has been that way all her life, she simply thinks that's the only way anybody ever perceives the world.

    1. I remember reading an account of Green Berets in Vietnam when the Army sent out a psychologist to evaluate different units so they could perhaps improve screening of SF candidates. After the first guy went through all the tests (including inkblot) and interview, he passed word to the next guys waiting that the inkblots were bats. Always bats. It spread in minutes to everyone and even other units, and so everyone made up the wildest (and often perverse) explanations of how each inkblot was a bat or bats performing … you name it. When the psychologist made his report, apparently a very strong sense of humor was supposed to have been one of the characteristics of someone who might be a good candidate for SF. I tend to believe that.

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