One morning at dusk when my mother was braiding my hair, getting me ready for school she revealed a lesson for life to me. She said, with a guilty smile, “Never go to a girls college! Girls are dishonest friends.” She said this, in spite of the fact she herself is a feminist and a product of girls school and college. Anyway, I have come to a realisation that the ‘lesson’ she taught was not so much the truth but a gendered stereotype. Contrarily, I have learnt six important truths for life from studying in a girls college.
Girls college – much more than a room of ‘dishonest friends’
Conventionally, studying in a girls college is metaphorically related to the ‘purdah system’ within the ‘empire’ of patriarchy. It has often been named as ‘escape from male dominance’, ‘apolitical, or excuse from active and real politics.’ The existence of a ‘girls college’ has been criticised as an accomplice of patriarchy that restricts women in “Rooms of their own.” However, the fecundity of that closed room is evident in the independence and self-development of the woman in her own space, language and ideologies (free from patriarchal surveillance).
The existence of a ‘girls college’ has been criticised as an accomplice of patriarchy that restricts women in “Rooms of their own.” However, the fecundity of that closed room is evident in the independence and self-development of the woman in her own space, language and ideologies
Importance of my voice as a woman
Being a part of a girls institution, I can empathetically document its effective dimension in framing who I am today. The first and the foremost lesson I learnt was the importance of my voice as a woman in the society of inter-sectional politics. As a part of a girls college, I have learnt the importance of Feminism to identify and combat the patriarchy in everyday life that was invisible and ignored. It became a magnifying glass to look at the idea of ‘gender equality’ from a woman’s perspective.
The idea of women solidarity and shared experience
This microscopic view of ‘gender equality’ brings me to the next important learning from a girls institution, that is, the idea of women solidarity and shared experience. It is known that the idea of gender equality has inherent hypocrisy and compliance with patriarchy. It often holds the ‘man’ as the ideal human to which a woman should be treated equally. The importance of sisterhood and connection with intellectual and powerful women removes the gendered idea of the ideal human. The girls college allows smooth transfusion of ideas and experience among different women, establishing an alternative of an ‘ideal woman.’
Openness and outspokenness
A girls college, allows a free flow of ideas without the inherent hesitations in the presence of a male figure. It is this frozen mass of ‘inherent hesitation’ that I could meltdown, and speak whatever I want. The talks about menstruation, sex, rape and other ‘hushed’ topics became important discourse which needs discussion and actions. This favourable environment of openness makes a girls college different from co-ed colleges where not everyone can be outspoken owing to inherent restrictions in a ‘mixed crowd.
It is not true that girls college is opaque to ides of the other gender, or has a singular perspective. Like any other co-ed colleges, there are people with different perspectives and are not debarred from expressing them.
Co-existence of different identities
It is not true that girls college is opaque to ides of the other gender, or has a singular perspective. Like any other co-ed colleges, there are people with different perspectives and are not debarred from expressing them. The male professors in girls college are a good example to break this conception of ‘singular perspective’. Besides, I also learnt the idea of trans identity and choice of homosexuality. My college is an active supporter of transgender identity and homosexuality. A place trying to combat inequalities and stereotypes in society cannot be unknown to the intricacies of different discrimination. Rather, it becomes the active ground to accept identities and fight for it. This possibility of peaceful coexistence of different identities and the prospective idea of gender equality that should be achieved is learning from a girls college.
A new idea of gender equality
With these politically strong ideas and ability to express my own voice, girls college made me personally a politically active person, with opinions and choices, simultaneously refuting the patriarchal idea of girls college’ as an ‘apolitical institution.’ Being a part of the girls college, I could frame a new idea of equality in the offing, which is not gendered but is a statistics of knowledge and experience of different people.
Image credit: Lets Intern
Rudrani Kumari is an intern with SheThePeople.TV. The views expressed are her own.
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