Feminism | Posted by Rhiannon W on 03/4/2011

On The Subject Of All-Girls Schools

Oh, the myths of a single-sex education

Oh, the myths of a single-sex education

The day started out like any normal Monday. I changed into my blue and you-had-to-pay-for-this-lack-of-flattery concrete gray P.E. uniform, and walked out to join my peers in the Gym. The conversation was centered around the new school calendar (school now starts in August), and how much it would suck to run in ninety degree weather.

ME: Wow, that sucks. I’m so glad I’ll be going to private school next year!

PEERS: Whaa? *general astonishment*

I am transferring to the lovely local all-girls school next September. Upon discovering this fact, my classmates began exhibiting the signs one usually sees at a town hall meeting: shouting terrible logic and waving their arms about. Apparently, going to an all-girls school is tantamount to microwaving live kittens. They had two main arguments against me going.

Argument One: What are you, GAY?

Going to an all-girls school makes you a man-hating, baby-eating lesbian. I like boys. I know many people who go to said school who also like boys. This school has a GSA, so there ARE lesbians at the school, but I doubt them being accepted had anything to do with that. My great-great aunt was one of the original students when the school started in 1921, and she had four children. These facts did nothing to sway my fearsome opponents.

Argument Two: You aren’t going to get laid. EVER.

This statement is wrong in so many ways, it’s hard to narrow it down. I do not go to school so that I can have sexual encounters. I go to school so that I can learn, which is something the deliberate fools in my Gym class don’t understand. Also, going to an all-girls school does not mean they send you to a rock in the middle of the Atlantic where phones, television, books, and the internet are all banned. It simply means I will not have to deal with some self-entitled ape snapping my bra. Where leers about my blondeness (“Hey Barbie! Do the curtains match the drapes?”) will no longer exist. Where I can actually walk to school instead of taking the testosterone-filled bus ride twice a day.

It’s true that I have many guy friends who aren’t jerks and have more than boobs on their mind 24/7. It’s true that I already know and am sure I will meet guys that are perfectly wonderful and dateable.

They just don’t go to my school.

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  • jULIET @ at 1:06 pm, March 4th, 2011

    I attended a private all-girls school for nine years, and now I attend a semi-public school (semi public meaning I took a test to get in but the school’s publicly funded). I left my old school for a variety of reasons, most related to me not liking the vast majority of my classmates with whom I’d been attending school for close to a decade. At my current (coed) school, I’ve experienced surprisingly little sexist, entitled behaviour (which is nice) but the attitudes of many guys towards women is rather problematic.

    Though being in an all-girls environment is very supportive and even comforting to a certain extent, it did not feel that way while I was at an all girls school. Supportiveness was replaced with cattiness, petty drama, and lots of backstabbing and other passive-aggressive behaviour.

    Anyways, I wish you the best of luck at your new school and I hope that the people there are great! (they should be :D )

  • Zoe @ at 1:55 pm, March 4th, 2011

    I used to work at an all-girls school, Grier School for Girls, in the kitchen (that sounds like the makings for a stupid joke, doesn’t it?). My friends were always asking me “Are there lesbians up there??” Which, yeah, there were a few, but most of the girls were straight. Altogether, the girls seemed more interesting and independent than the girls I’d seen in high school, possibly because they had less boy distractions and a nonthreatening environment to participate in their learning.

    Looking back, I’m almost envious of them. Honestly, though, I did quite fine at public school and I would have never met guys if I wasn’t interacting with them daily at school (I was shy and yes, I was boy crazy).

  • Talia bat Pessi @ at 3:43 pm, March 4th, 2011

    I’m an Orthodox Jew, and many Orthodox schools are gender-segregated. My elementary school was coed, but the boys and girls were mostly separated from fifth grade on, and my high school, which is much more right-wing than my elementary, is completely female. I find the learning experience is better without boys, although less interesting, lol. It never even occurred to me that people think all-girls schools are lesbian hotbeds (whatever that means).

  • A @ at 5:43 pm, March 4th, 2011

    Good article. Your peers sound woefully similar to mine… :(

  • A @ at 5:43 pm, March 4th, 2011

    Good article. Your peers sound woefully similar to mine… :(

  • Nano Muse @ at 11:30 pm, March 4th, 2011

    Hm…I find gender-segregated and co-ed schools both have advantages and disadvantages (most of which can be summed up in “gender-segregated schools are better for you in the short run and co-ed ones are better for you in the long-run”). I go to a co-ed public school (in a very liberal area), and I’ve certainly been seeing this attitude recently as some of my fellow seniors applied to single-sex colleges. As several of them have pointed out, they won’t actually be isolated from the opposite gender or the rest of the world, and in some cases “brother/sister schools” (same school, opposite gender) are literally right across the street.

    I have my own issues with single- sex schools and as much as I hate chauvinistic assholes, I know I’d be absolutely miserable in an all-girls environment, namely due to my own personal relationships with girls in general. But I wish you the best of luck with school next year (yay us, getting out before having to deal with the new screwed schedules our peers will be facing! :P You wouldn’t happen to be in the LAUSD/Los Angeles, would you?)

  • jULIET @ at 9:59 pm, March 6th, 2011

    yeah, when I transferred to my current school and told people I used to go to an all-girls school, they asked me if everyone was a lesbian. surprisingly, it was quite the contrary: there were no out queer people in my grade, and only a few in the high school. I didn’t really figure out I was queer until I left my old school, oddly enough.

  • Rosemary @ at 2:58 am, March 8th, 2011

    I go to a women’s college with its fair share of LGBTQ individuals. I don’t think anyone can really say for sure whether women’s colleges 1) attract self-identified LGBTQ individuals, 2) attract questioning individuals who think it may be a more accepting place to come out, or 3) just provide a safer place for students to explore all aspects of their identity. I can say for sure that it does not “turn” its students.

    There are a lot of good reasons to attend a women’s college, though. Women from single-sex institutions are more likely to graduate, more likely to get their PhD, graduate with more confidence, are more satisfied with their college experience, make more money later on, etc. Certainly there is some self-selection bias going on here. But I see a difference. I take both mixed and all-female classes. In certain subjects, men run the classroom.

  • Rhiannon @ at 5:40 pm, March 12th, 2011

    @Nano Muse Yep, LAUSD. Plus, the new school has really cute uniforms.

  • Ann @ at 12:34 pm, October 18th, 2011

    You capture the typical high school experience so well! And I love the “I do not go to school so that I can have sexual encounters. I go to school so that I can learn.” You go, girl. I love my co-ed public school deeply, but part of me has always wanted to go to an all-girls school. I hope you enjoy your experience! :)

  • Victoria L @ at 11:19 pm, March 6th, 2012

    I go to an all-girls school and one day I saw one of my old friends back from year 4 on a tram (we are both now in year 8) we started talking and I found out that he went to a guys school near mine. I told him what school I went to and he did an almost movie like double take, he looked at me for a while and then said
    ‘Oh. So you like girls?’ I stared and asked him where the heck he had gotten that one from and he replied
    ‘Well you go to an all girls school….’

    I told him angrily that if he applied the same logic to the school he was at then he was calling himself gay, then I swept imperiously off the tram (at completely the wrong stop) and was stewing the whole way home. Those stereotypes make me very annoyed, because you cannot put a blanket rule over people just because they attend one sort of institution. I really hope he grows up one day

  • Victoria L @ at 11:20 pm, March 6th, 2012

    Um Year 9 not year *insert random emote with shades here) that was a typo…..

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