do you ever feel like there are too many female hormones raging at once?
I'm so used to having male friends that I'm worried it'll be a little weird.And the answers tend to look like this:
girls here are legitimately really cool, so not having that many guy friends is fine.
I do miss my guy friends, sometimes girls just don't have the same way of looking at things.
Although all of the women here are fantastic, it gets tiring not having a male perspective because they really are different.(I haven't read all of the 1500 posts, so I can't vouch for whether or not anyone has yet said, "Actually, there are men enrolled here," although the presence of trans guys did come up briefly in response to a question about something else.)
I'm one of those women who came to my college despite the fact that it's a women's college. When I arrived on campus three years ago, I expected to tolerate the nearly-all-female student body, not appreciate it. I expected that college classes full of women would be like just like my high school classes, only minus the men and plus some maturity. Since I was used to co-ed environments, in which the men tended to be the most assertive, funny, and eager to debate, I expected that my classes would be a little lackluster without them.
I hated women, to be brutally honest. I hated my mother for levelling feminist critiques at Disney movies ("they teach little girls that the key to happiness is finding a man!") and being our family's main breadwinner, but never making a decision without asking my father first. I hated myself for being a woman, because no matter how smart or assertive I was, I felt like I had to be a man if I wanted those to be my most important qualities. My jokes sounded tinny and my anger sounded shrill to my own ears. I hated that I liked wearing skirts and heels, because I felt like I had to give up my self-respect to do so. I assumed I was a feminist, because my parents taught me that I had more important things to do than be sexy for men, but I didn't understand that the things I hated about women—and being a woman—were because I lived in a sexist society. I didn't understand that I had mostly male role models because I admired full-fledged human beings, and I had been taught my whole life that only men could be those. I certainly didn't understand that I was complicit.
The first thing that happened was, I genuinely liked the vast majority of the women I met in my first two weeks of college. The second thing was that I learned—because I was surrounded by brave women, and because women's colleges are safe havens—that sexual violence of all types and degrees happens to real people. People I know. And the third thing that happened was that the male lecturer for my Introduction to Anthropology course told my class, repeatedly, that we were all feminists whether we knew it or not because we live in a society in which people believe that women should be equal to men.
And I didn't know why (because I was still only a sexism-apologist masquerading as a feminist), but I knew that wasn't true. This guy was implying that America is an inherently feminist society, and my stomach churned. I still hated women, though, so I defended the lecturer's comments to a friend and filed my discomfort away for later.
There were other things: several fights, a few disappointments, some anthropological theory, a bit of self-discovery. All in all, it would be another two years before I fully realized that what I hate isn't women but the corners my culture backs women into; and although I have good reason to hate being a woman in this society, I don't have to hate being a woman.
I feel freer now, of course. But I also often feel angrier. And more discouraged. I go through dark bouts of despair in which I wonder if I'll ever be taken seriously as a whole person, and I'm gripped by the fear that no matter how good a mother I am, my daughters will hate themselves and my sons will grow up to be entitled tyrants. My awareness of culturally-ingrained inequalities ruins television shows and conversations for me even when everyone else in the room is having a good time. But I'm also learning to love skirts and heels. I'm learning to love myself. I'm trying to forgive my mother.
If there's one thing I've learned from going to a women's college, it's that we're not all feminists. Feminism is often characterized as the belief that women should be equal to men. But that's too easy. I've always believed that, and I have not always been a feminist. I now think that in order to be feminist, you also have to realize that women are not, in our society, equal to men. You have to see the reality as well as believe in the ideal.
I sympathize with women who have misgivings about committing themselves to a women's college, because I had misgivings, too. But I learned that those misgivings were rooted in the outrageous assumption that sexuality aside, men are inherently different from and more interesting than women. Yeah, men have a "different perspective" and "they really are different." But most of the time, that difference is privilege, and the perspective is entitlement. There is no other factor that all men share (to some degree), and all women lack (to some degree). The women at my college are "legitimately really cool" because they've had a taste of what it's like to be people, not just lesser versions of the real thing. And if there's one thing I wish for everyone to learn, whether they attend a women's college or not, it's that women are whole human beings. It's a lesson that's harder than it sounds.
I regret to say that this will be my last regular post on this blog, as I will be too busy taking classes, holding down a research fellowship, and planning a wedding to continue writing here reliably in the upcoming school year. However, I may post something occasionally when I feel compelled, and I expect to start writing regularly again in about a year. Thanks for reading, everybody. All...seven of you.