Feminism | Posted by Nellie B on 10/22/2009
It’s a Woman’s College, Not a Girl’s School
In the fall of my senior year, as I fill out the endless applications, I can look back on those endless college visits and breathe a sigh of relief at being done. No more awkward waits in reception areas with other nervous teens. No more interviews in which one must brag about superior academic, leadership and social skills. And best of all, no more tours.
I’ve been privileged enough to look at and consider several small liberal arts schools. As the archetypal teenage feminist, I tended to gravitate towards either very liberal schools or women’s colleges (the two often go together). On the tours, I stood out as the weird girl who kept asking about the libraries and double majors rather than the partying opportunities. On a memorable tour of a famously lesbian-friendly college, another high schooler asked, “So, like, what about the boys?” I suppressed a smirk. Didn’t she know where she was? This was that school, the one that spawned all those mythical angry, hirsute man haters that people are always talking about. Alas, the tour guide did not chide the girl for her obvious, heterosexist question. Rather, she jumped to the school’s defense, assuring us that the place was rife with co-ed opportunities. Boys abounded! It’s, like, totally easy to have a boyfriend and a social life!
Unfortunately, this response is all too common on the women’s schools I’ve visited. The PR department bends over backwards to make sure that girls know that they aren’t signing up for a four-year convent. Boys are so easy to meet! All-girls can be stifling, that’s why we connect with other schools! We have co-ed parties all the time! No mention is ever made about the LGBT scene, ever, unless one asks. Then, the tour guides or interviewer extols the vague “diversity” of the college without ever actually saying “yes, we have gays here. Lots, actually. That’s why it’s an awesome place.”
Women’s colleges admissions tend to miss the point. They should not only recruit straight students but reach out to and acknowledge their demographic LGBT base that attends single-sex schools for a reason. These places ought to expand the definition of “social life” to include students who, gay or straight, enjoy the company of other women and don’t necessarily include guys as the key element of a fulfilling social life or education.
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