Why Single Sex Education Rules the School

Girl Power
Girl Power

Planning and plotting the education of one’s offspring in the city of Los Angeles feels like navigating a dark labyrinth, filled with venomous snakes, deep ditches and fire bombs being tossed at you from unknown locations so you never know where you are supposed to be looking as to not die a firey death. Reggio, Montessori, Waldorf, Public, Private, Charter, Experimental, Progressive, Immersion, Preparatory, Jewish, Catholic, Methodist, predominantly White, predominately Black, predominately Asian and super-diverse are just some of the things you have to educate yourself on in order to understand what is right for your child.

As I reflect back on what was the insanity and ridiculousness I lived while being educated by nuns, I always come back to the one monumental positive I took away from my all-girls school, the positive that has made my life what it is today. And that is, no one ever said I couldn’t do something because I was a GIRL. In fact, no one ever mentioned any sort of limitations because of one’s sex ever because it was a non-issue. We did everything boys did, we just did them without them. We went to school makeup-less, with wet hair, in unflattering uniforms, eating cookies and laughing about things we probably wouldn’t have spoken about while walking in between buildings if boys had been around.

Here are my Top Seven Reasons Why Single Sex Education Rules the School –

  1. You can eat whatever you want

You can order cheese fries topped with bacon and literally talk with your mouth open while eating them and yes, it’s still gross but no one really gives two fecks. You could get pizza, fries, a salad, a chicken sandwich, ice cream and soda for lunch and no one was like, “Eww, you’re a cow”. My friend’s daughter told me she had friends in school who would barely eat because they were embarrassed to do so in front of boys. WTF is that? That ain’t right.

  1. Getting ready for school meant maybe showering

Hours of hair and makeup? I think not! A top knot and some Zinc Pink and I was on my way baby! I did spend quite a bit of time searching for one, matching regulatory knee sock every.stinking.morning. Which brings me to my next point.

  1. Uniforms

I know I grunted and groaned about this one because there was not much personal expression in green and blue plaid skirts and knee socks but seriously, no one was like, “Ugh, I wish my navy blue blazer was as nice as her navy blue blazer” because all of the navy blue blazers were equally ugly as shit. Also, no one got to dress slutty and isn’t that really what we all want for our girls? A place where you don’t feel like you have to dress in shorts shorter than your ass or don a tube top to go and learn Geometry? I know it’s all I can hope for.

  1. Dating

You dated after school and on weekends. There was no boy distraction in class, no breakups in the cafeteria, no lusting after Jake Ryan in study hall. Study Hall was time for us to discuss what boys’ penises looked like and maybe sometimes, just sometimes, we might have studied, but never in the Library because that’s where we planned our keggers and talked about what penises looked like while some of us gasped in horror.

  1. Conversation was not censored

We would discuss why our nipples got hard when it was cold outside while we tossed tampons between each other while pondering if pubic hair got gray when you got older. Do you think girls talk about this stuff in front of boys when they are fifteen? They don’t because after school when the boys came around, we talked about music and where we were gonna score some beer for the weekend. It was liberating to be able to be yourself and to talk about things that were on your mind and to know that you would all laugh hysterically and you never had to put the filter on except when a teacher passed you by.

  1. Boys Schools

When you attend an all-girl school, you usually have an all-boy school close by. When one of you has a dance, it’s like an explosion of wonder. All of these coeds in one place! It’s magical and special and fun! They’d have their proms and we’d have our prom and they’d have their games and we’d have ours and everything was done in multiples which meant for a robust social life, not gonna lie.

All Girls VMA
The sisterhood of the traveling pants…mine were pegged at the bottom if you are wondering. I am bottom right, sporting the ultra-fashionable straw “Boater”.

7.  The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

When we’d see a man or a boy on campus in Grade School we used whisper under our breath “Sound the alarm!” and it would really make us giggle. They looked funny, awkward, almost like intruders when they came around. Later, in High School they were allowed to visit us in the parking lot and in the cafeteria after school, so it became a lot more natural but if one stepped on campus before 2:30pm all hell would break loose. We’d run to the window like there was a fireworks display or a three-headed unicorn.

We were one thing and they were another but we were not inferior to them in any way, shape or form and the most important thing our all-female staff did was never mention that we might come across that notion in the outside world. I went to college where I learned about girls’ insecurities regarding participating in class and eating in front of the opposite sex or not studying something because “Engineering is for Boys”. I always grabbed these conversation bulls by the horns and I debated and lectured these young ladies as if I were Gloria Steinem on a hot day because I was given that foundation of being a secure, strong woman who did not doubt herself because she had a vagina. Also, I was able to school everyone in my dorm suite regarding aging pubic hair. That, if for nothing, is a great reason to consider an all-girls school.

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4 thoughts on “Why Single Sex Education Rules the School”

  1. Great post Susan! Scott has often talked about how he thinks single sex schooling would be great for our kids. Especially middle school and up. He didn’t experience that and neither did I but the opposite sex seems like a big distraction and girls often don’t show their true potential in the company of boys. Of course for gay girls and boys, not sure how this would feel….

    1. Hi Kate! Thanks for posting. Of course, education is not “one size fits all”. The education aspect of my school was the pits for the way I learn but I did form long-lasting relationships! Haha!

  2. As one of your former classmates, I should like to say some of these things aren’t true- especially the part about how we discussed what our aging pubic hair would look like, but I remember all too well most of the things you’ve recounted above. Ah…Susan “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” to be sure, but I think you are right about the true benefit of single-sex education, it teaches kids to see their potential as it exists outside of gender norms. For us, it also allowed us to gorge ourselves at breakfast on chocolate chip cookies, and to eat enough cheese fries to clog our fifteen-year old arteries in a week’s time. Perhaps in your next post you can discuss how we were able to avoid juvenile diabetes, and maintain single-digit clothing sizes while on this diet. It still is one of the great mysteries in Life to me.
    Btw, I still hear Sister Alice’s voice, anytime I find myself in a library, whispering, “girls, girls, this is quiet time.”
    xoxo,
    Laurie:)

    1. Haha!Poor, weird Sister Alice. I actually edited out a part about her and the book she could write with all of the things we used to say in totally loud voices. Look, I shudder when I think of VMA but the one thing I did take away is that going to an all-girls school made me the woman I am today and I’ll give them that. Now, stay tuned for how the nuns ruined my life, lol.

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