How going to an all girls school taught me to be a feminist
Girl power is the best power
There are so many advantages of going to an all girls school (other than leaving school as a lesbian because we were never able to talk to boys). It was empowering, it taught us that we could achieve anything, and it made us proud to be young women. Among these key factors, there was one important word that kept being thrown about: feminism. And while we may have rolled our eyes every time it popped up in assembly, it’s actually what made us the strong feminists we are today.
Here are all the ways going to an all girls school taught me to be a feminist.
The relaxed attitude
With the lack of boys, there was no pressure to make a glamorous effort in the mornings and put on make-up and have flawless hair. We were girls who dgaf.
This made us comfortable in our own skin, which continued when we left school to start uni. We were taught that we didn’t need to impress anyone but ourselves. We were free to have hairy legs and untamed eyebrows. But when we did sort our brows out it was for us, and no one else.
Shouting for a tampon in the common room
Since we were all girls, there were no boundaries and we were a close knit community, almost like a sisterhood. This meant that it was more than okay to shout out for a tampon or hoist our tights up in the middle of the corridor. We could have a solid one hour conversation about boobs and no one would object. Being so close meant that we had each other’s backs, despite the common misconception that all girls schools are bitchy. Even if there was girl drama, at the end of the day we supported each other.
Periods equalled power
Speaking of tampons, there was no better way to exert our power over men than by putting our male teachers in the most awkward position. It would go something like this: “Can I go to the toilet?” “No.” “But I have my period.” “Oh…um…yes then you better go.” The lethal ‘p’ word gave us the power. All we had to do was release our inner p-ness.
Not being compared to men
Going to a single sex school meant that we weren’t put down by sexist comments from boys and weren’t compared to them when doing subjects like D.T or P.E. Instead, subjects were not gendered and we competed with each other, allowing us to foster our talents even more and aspire to do our best without being suppressed by gender stereotypes.
We weren’t discouraged from applying for ‘masculine’ subjects at university and many of us left school and went into STEM subjects.
Growing up without misogyny
Growing up without being imposed by gender stereotypes also meant it didn’t matter whether we were tomboys or girly girls, because all that mattered was to be ourselves. We weren’t put down by boys telling us to make them sandwiches or that our place was in the kitchen. This meant that going out into the real world where men tend to make sexist comments was all the more shocking, encouraging us to protest in anger at their stupidity and ignorance.
The female teachers
Having female teachers who were just as high up in the school as the male teachers reinforced our ambitions and our beliefs that we could achieve the same things as men. Our female teachers were motivational, and many of them were doctors and experts in their field. What could be more inspirational than a female physics teacher who killed it with her explanation of the Doppler effect? No wonder so many went off to study Physics at university.
Almost every girl in the school had a talent, whether it was in music, art or sport. The school pushed us to participate in termly competitions where we could boast our talents. This mean that our confidence flourished and we overcame our stage fright. And that meant girl power.
The Oxbridge mentality
Although many, including myself, rolled their eyes at the immense pressure that the school put on us to get into Oxbridge, in hindsight it was this pressure that led us to reach for the stars and believe that we could achieve anything. It was a massive boost in confidence receiving an interview or even an offer from one of the best universities in the world. But then again, getting rejected was a bit of a downer.
The countless assemblies and talks
I’ve lost count of how many assemblies and talks we had about feminist topics. Whether it was abortion, double standards in society or the suffragettes, there was always something to feed our feminist attitudes. And, although many of us mocked the school’s attempts to make us feminists, in hindsight those talks were extremely valuable in shaping us as women. The school even invited Germaine Greer, a renowned feminist, to give us a talking to. Having said that, there were the occasional assemblies on the everyday uses of vinegar for cleaning purposes and how to recycle old tights. But that’s just common knowledge.