>Are you enjoying the latest Vodafone commercials as much as I am? The one with the school girls?
It takes me back instantly to my school days – those years spent in powder blue skirts and blouses (and bloomers too, on days you followed the rules), plaited hair with matching ribbons to tie on the ends. Or hairbands and knee-length socks, shiny black shoes. Or white canvas keds for PT days, whitened using the school chalk generously. The years spent with girl friends.
Yes, I studied all my life in an all-girls school, and however uncool it may sound, they were so much fun. So there’s always this comparison about how all-girls or all-boys schools are so boring, so stereotyped. And that the kids studying there come out all wide-eyed about being in the company of the opposite sex. Not true, I say.
I spent 14 years in all-girls schools and three more in an all-girls college and I never missed the boys! It wasn’t a conscious decision, you know, to maintain a distance from the boys, but that’s how things panned out for me. And out of the school and college campuses, it wasn’t as if I didn’t not know how to handle male attention when it came my way. And I did not end up doing things to attract it. I have friends who’ve studied in co-educations schools, and I don’t think they’re any different than me. We’re only as different as two individuals can be. So I don’t understand this differentiation between co-ed and all-girls schools. I understand the differentiation between a good and bad school.
For the record, I am not againt co-education. I think it’s very healthy, etc. But I also don’t think that studying with girls decapacitated me in any way. On the contrary, I think being in a gender neutral environment helped, at least me, to look at myself for the person I was, and not the girl that a boy would see in me. And there are so many things I remember fondly about being in the environment that I was. There’s such comfort in not dying in embarrassment if you have a stain on your skirt in school, or you haven’t waxed your legs to roll down your socks, or having a cat fight without any gender stereotyping! And then there’s no shame in being a bright student, of being labelled a ‘padakhu’, of being a straight-As student. Those rather ‘uncool’ things are considered aspirational in an all-girls school.
No, I’m not oblivious to the joys of studying with boys. The Guy studied in a co-education school and I can rattle off all his school memories as well as him, because I’ve heard ’em discussed a zillion times between friends. And I know, they had a ball! They were fun and flirty years. And I’d be lying if I said I feel just a tad jealous. But in all fairness, my school years may not have been high on those same parameters, but they still had a sweetness. Like the sweetness of pine trees in the woods – subtle but unforgettable.