by Maya Brown
As I look back at my first semester of college from my own bed, I’ve come to realize that I made the perfect decision for me. It’s comforting that after a year of college application hell that I got into and actually really love the school I’m at. I love it for a lot of reasons, but one of these is definitely that I’m at an all women’s college (for lack of a better, all identity inclusive term). I’m not going to pretend that Lady College is for everyone, or that all women’s colleges are the same, but here are 10 things that I found that I love about being at my Lady College:
1. Gender doesn’t decide who talks in class. In high school, I used to feel like either teachers would only call on boys, or that girls just weren’t supposed to speak as much as boys. No matter how confident I felt about the material, there would always be that guy sitting next to me shouting out the answer like that was his sole purpose in life, which would just make me feel like I shouldn’t bother saying anything at all. In a women’s college this never happens. Women own the whole space, and so when people talk in class, there’s no chance that their gender will be used to keep them from taking part.
2. Gender in general isn’t such a big thing. Although I’m calling it women’s college, there are certainly people of all genders here, and that’s one of the things I love. I love that we have all gender bathrooms, and that at orientation we were all asked our preferred-gender-pronouns. I’m not saying that this is unique to Women’s Colleges but I do think that we have a lot more gender fluidity than many schools because as a place that was created to support women in the face of oppression, issues like feminism and discrimination are common, and this has made the kind of place where gender becomes a dialogue instead of a binding description. Women’s Colleges have attempted to be accepting of all genders by doing things like adopting non-gendered language, supporting student groups, and bringing in diverse faculty and speakers, and although we are far from perfect (i.e. we, as students, are currently working to help trans women be admitted) the fact that we have these kinds of discussions is very unique. Although it might seem kind of backwards that a school that defines itself by the gender of its students is very accepting of other genders, to paraphrase something Gloria Steinem said: us oppressed groups have to work together. Although the administration is still a work in progress, the students are overwhelmingly supportive of each other. I love being surrounded by people of all different gender expressions and identities.
3. Make-up and bras are optional. Ok, first of all, these things should always be optional, but many times I’ve found that women feel like they will be judged by those around them if they don’t fully conform. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of people here do wear make-up, but some don’t and some wear it when they want to feel fancy or match their eyeliner to their dress. But to me it feels, for the first time, like it really is a personal choice. There is zero judgment from anyone about what you decide to do with your own cosmetics and underwire, as it should be.
4. Men don’t dominate leadership positions. It’s a common trend in most of the world that the higher up the position, the more likely it will be filled by a cis man. In a women’s college however, this just isn’t possible. Women and non binary people are the ones who get to take these positions and learn that they can do just as well as men can. And hopefully, these same women will go on to stay leaders, even after they leave college, so we can someday have a world not dominated by male CEOs.
5. In a similar theme, women can take any classes they want without being afraid that they’ll be in the minority. Every science, engineering, math, or computer science course is guaranteed to be primarily women, which means more women can take these courses and get as much attention as they deserve. They won’t be looked down upon by douchey guys in the class, or ignored by the professor because it’s “not their place.”
6. Less rape culture. I’m not trying to say that we have no sexual violence, or women are automatically unable to be perpetrators, but I will say that I have never felt unsafe on my campus. It’s not just the lack of guys, it’s the whole atmosphere–we are a community and we look out for each other. We have our problems, just like any other school, but from what I hear from my friends at other colleges, we’re doing pretty well.
7. You can totally use the men’s bathroom. Because seriously, see number 2—the people who go here don’t care, and the people who don’t go here–I totally have more right to be in this bathroom than they do. Also most dorms have completely gender neutral bathrooms anyway, so the more the merrier.
8. A whole lot less beer pong in the hallways. I don’t know what it is with frat guys and throwing things down hallways and breaking things, but it seems to be a common theme. Without them, our hallways tend to stay a lot nicer.
9. A lot of queer women. Not to stereotype all women’s colleges, I just think that in a space where heterosexuality doesn’t have to be the norm, people feel a lot freer to explore their sexuality. As someone who identifies as queer, this was a bonus for me, because who wouldn’t want to see their odds of meeting someone who likes their gender go from like 10% to more like 40%?
10. The last thing I love is kind of a combination of the reasons I just listed. Without men taking up the space they have been taught to take up all their lives, it leave women with the ability to move into that space, and a lot of women really need that. It lets women who wouldn’t usually feel comfortable taking that science class, or being the president of the student body, feel empowered. And this can only do good things for all women. There’s a reason that some odd percentage of women in power came from all women’s colleges: because in this safe environment, they were given the chance to try something they might not have, had men been there to push them out of the way. I would love to live in a world where this wasn’t the case, but hey, maybe the graduates of my school can fix that.