He may be right. The Dark Ages in Europe? Hardly anyone read. Reading and writing were for priests. The military rulers did not waste their time when they could be fighting or torturing heretics. Ah, yes, religion ruled. But there were the troubadours. But not much creative writing then. Or am I getting this all wrong? Should probably re-read The Handmaid's Tale.
In my little world, mothers sing to their children and tell them stories. Then they read them stories. Then they teach them to read stories and help them understand the stories. Goddesses of wisdom, those mothers. Meanwhile, goddesses who nurse, diaper, love, and nurture in every way. Every one of them going beyond any expectations. Every one a goddess.
Does anyone know the history of women and literacy? Someone must have researched this. As an undergrad, I took a course in feminist theology (got an A) but have not kept up on the subject.
Sappho, Greek poet, and she wasn't the first of the female storytellers. They were there with the birth of every child, singing the songs, preparing the folk tales (of their era), urging caution through the use of tales and fables. Every mother wants her child to survive, and every mother does her best to give them the tools. Mostly, those tools are through the 'normal' use of the things they have at hand: songs, rituals, fables, etc. This was the times when life was full of dangers, and mothers needed to arm their children against the terrors that lay beyond the boundary of 'home'.
In the modern, contemporary age, we have more stories external to the home. They have become the main stories; mothers are no longer in the business of caring for their children as if there are dangers lurking behind every bush - but there are, of course, and now we find ourselves in an age where mothers need to be told stories to enable them to nurture the children adequately.
And for mother, the word father must also sit alongside. It takes two to create a child, and a village to raise, so there must be more stories to reinforce the purpose of parenthood, community, and storytelling to ensure we don't lose what it is that makes us empathetic and caring human beings.
Personal opinion, yes, but the second para mentions your little world with mothers who nurture in every way. That seems to be in decline, as not all the mothers out there go beyond expectation; some don't make it to what's expected of the role, let alone beyond. As a foster-carer of children abandoned and callously ejected from their birth homes, I think the research needs to cover all levels of the spectrum, particularly in this throwaway age. Not all women are nurturers, not all children are cared for adequately, not all stories are for the benefit of the tribe.