I attended an all girls school and I loathed it. This is the truth. I was sure I will end up as a mental wreak by the time I graduate. I believed that it was a conspiracy against me to be thrown to those “catty” girls with painted claws , fiery tongues and narrow, mean outlook just because I was a tomboy and wasn’t interested in ‘Girlish’ stuff. Actually the very fact that there was a continuous pressure to behave in “lady like’ manner made me rebel and do all the opposite things :p I also felt these ‘all girls ‘ schools increased gender stereotyping and sexism.
When I joined in middle school I was declared an outcast.
The reasons -
one – I did not fit in.
two – My mom was member of parent teachers association and a high official in Education Department. She officially visited school very often much to my annoyance .
The girls thought that I got more attention and that every soul who walked the school premises was favorable towards me. That my academic performance and all the medals / certificates that I won were colored by my so called special status.
Three – They also thought I was way ahead of time and maybe not a ’ good girl’ to hang out with , which actually suited me fine. :p
I was filled with such rage and hurt to be forced in to a school I did not like but could not stand up against it. Dad’s word was finally. The school was near home and less expensive. Also that the merit truly depended on our performance not the status of the school. I am sure he also wanted to rein the wild horses on which I was always riding. (It did not work ) I remained as ‘un- lady like’ as one can be except for my much coveted “lady like’ body :p . I had the best of both I guess.
I hated mom’s every ‘official’ visit ( the principal was a great friend of hers ) and expressed it openly at home but she too had a job to do. We were at loggerheads most of the time.
Those who know anything about the government and government aided schools in India would know the kind of moral policing that goes on there. The dress and behavior codes, the skewed mentality, the look busy do nothing attitude of teachers. It sucked. #shudder
By the time I reached high school I got the hang of how things worked. I found that it wasn’t just girls but the lady teachers too had an agenda. I saw how inner politics worked. How different they were from public/ private schools.I hated those long ‘below the knee’ skirts and the hawk-eyed Physical education teacher who made life hell for those of us who were actively involved in outdoor sports and had to practice in shorts or short divided skirts along with the boys who came with the coaches. That was my first experience of moral policing and gender discrimination. I could see the other girls turn green with envy. It did not matter if they thought of me as an outcast but I often fell pray to their traps. Notes vanished, Notebooks vanished, Practical files either mad pages missing or ruined and much more. I never took lunch from home but the only time I did , it decided to empty itself in my bag full of books and stuff.
It was a task to stay sane and practice non violence. Though an outdoor person I was a shy and introvert girl , rather naïve and not at all street smart. Sometimes I thought my mom’s position there actually helped me stay alive but it still bothered me.
I did make a few friends but it was all superficial.
The only good came in the form of NCC and Red Cross camps, intra/ inter school music competitions, sports meets, and choir fests.
These were the events I looked forward to. They opened new avenues, gave opportunity to explore and experiment new things, and gave a new meaning to school life. I met students from all over India. Came to know about their lifestyle and culture. Made some long-term friendships.
Being in that ‘same gender’ school also made me realize what I ‘did not want’ to become. these years in school helped me discover myself. I felt blessed that I was way above the deep-rooted traditional values these girls carried with them. Not that traditions are bad but I had serenity to know right from wrong and a family who despite of everything still gave us enough freedom to be ourselves.
In the later half of high school I began to muster up courage and took liberty and advantage of my place as a Red Cross Volunteer and NCC Sargent Prefect to slip away to watch athletic meets, concerts, special screening of movies etc. or just to grab a bite and return but the sword of Damocles always hung over my head. Senior school was an easy ride.
I vowed to stay away from anything and everything that had to do with GIRLS but life had something else in store. I joined an All Women’ college ( notoriously infamous and one of the finest in Delhi University). :D
What I missed in high school I covered in college.
Now my younger son is in senior school and I see how much has changed in last one quarter of a century. Don’t know if our school days were better but yes, we were less stressed and burdened to excel than the students of today.
With all its bittersweet experiences High school still holds a special place.
This post is written for GBE 2 - WEEK #55 (6-3-12 to 6-9-12): High School