Girls Don’t Need To Go To College

So this was the article that the Jellicle cat trolled me with on Wednesday. I was being trolled and haven’t slept properly in a while and so let it get to me more than perhaps it would have done normally maybe. However it did twitch me. And people seemed to make assumptions about what I was struggling to say (for the struggle read the barely coherant entry below). However, I didn’t actually upset anyone (I checked) other than myself but I have grown more puzzled at the notions of status that have been seemingly inserted into what I was trying to say. This little ramble is to get things sorted in my own head mostly.

Ok, first Lynzee Strauss was a teenager when she wrote this and the article is short so it’s entirely possible that she actually holds a position I can, as a feminist agree with. I am though reacting only to what was written in the article, I googled her after reading the article and the amount of vilification she has got – well, I guess this is the internet and all but there’s no way anyone deserves to be personally attacked for their beliefs. No matter how much you disagree with them, that’s what argument and debate are for and, despite what certain political parties think, personal attacks are not a part of argument or debate.

I don’t understand how social status works. I don’t understand the class system and I don’t understand where I’m supposed to fit in any of it. I mean if you apply one set of rules then I come out incredibly low and another set makes me a damn high middle. I get confused by how people value other people.

Ok. So, what upset me about the original article, of course I’ve been thinking about it now so it’ll be a lot more reasoned than my original.

First and foremost the idea that girls don’t need college because they should ‘marry a rich guy and never have to work’. Now, this is probably why it got to me, it’s all framed in negatives, it’s all about what women shouldn’t do, they don’t need to go to college, they shouldn’t work etc. etc. I think everyone who was arguing with me assumed I was saying that she shouldn’t want to be a housewife. Sure, come and talk to me ten years ago or even five and I might have said that, maybe. But my point is made nicely by Mona Lisa Smile. (We know I’m a sucker for Julia Roberts movies, ok, get over it). Defining yourself in terms of negatives and claiming that all girls ought to do that – how can I not be annoyed by that? An active choice I can respect, a taking of what comes along I can respect. How can I respect a position which clings to the negative?
A housewife is not dependent, sure financially she might be but she provides an active part of a relationship. Living in Japan taught me a lot about the feminism inherent within a relationship where both partners take roles which are complementary and equal. My parents taught me a lot about the feminism inherant within a relationship where both partners take roles which are the same and equal. I believe in polyamory where multiple partners contribute their uniqueness in complementary ways, my point is that the roles chosen are not of less worth than other roles.

The advocation though was for a life of leisure whilst the man takes the working role. I’m an artist, I can stretch to believing that the role of a beautiful person is a valuable one. But it saddens me that that should be her sole ambition, there is much more than one dimension to a person and yet she sees herself aesthetically and the man as a financial tool.

The idea of valuing people so objectifyingly is not one I can get behind and that really does make me angry, more angry than not being able to explain myself.
I think on the whole that is what got to me. Valuing people for being less than full people, a woman is worth only her beauty, a man is worth only his money. It wouldn’t matter if it was the other way around. People are precious. You can’t say girls don’t need college, you can’t say men don’t need college, you can’t generalise like that. People need to be themselves and they are so much more than a single aspect.

Then theres the big one, X don’t need college. No one needs an education. I’m fed up of this so much, people see an education as a stepping stone, it should be valued for itself. People tell me that I’m using my art degree because I draw and I paint, people tell me I’m using my PGCE because I teach the Ex-Gardnerian once a week. But I’m using them everyday. There’s so many skills and things and new knowledges that they brought to me and they showed me ways of thinking, as well as things to think about. I value education hugely, hell I wanted to be a teacher for a reason. I find it incredible that in these days of free education throughout Europe and North America people devalue it. Of course I’m likely to believe that they devalue it because they’ve experienced a bad teacher, it certainly seems to be the case with most people I’ve met who hate school or a particular subject or whatever.
Lately I’ve become very interested in the Montessori theory of education. I’ve just said that no one needs an education, largely I believe that once you go beyond basic literacy and numeracy as far as school subjects go you don’t need them, hell the amount some completely illiterate people manage to do can be amazing, but education is so much more than just school. The best way you can do anything is by learning to learn.

So we’ve analysed why the article got to me and have I just claimed that I know best? Probably, but I can’t apologise for finding her article insulting, she wasn’t proclaiming her right to choose not to go to college and have a husband and children, though possibly that was her intent. She was claiming that there was one thing to any girl’s life. You can’t put people in boxes, you can’t say that a housewife doesn’t need college so therefore she shouldn’t go. You can’t say that one person has chosen one life and there is only one thing that they need.

I haven’t covered dependency really, funnily enough that’s not the issue that made me angry, all of these things play into dependency and dependency does make me crazy. It means someone is holding their power over another person, I maintain that interdependency is the way forward in any relationship (and that includes d/s) and I’m afraid that you only get true independence if you’re single (and probably have no family or friends actually…and yeah, there’s a part of me that really thinks that is a good position to be in).

My question is not how can any girl of the twenty-first century choose to have a family over her own education – my decision in that regard is the other way but it wouldn’t be worth much if it was the only thing to do. My question is how can any human desire to lack any part of being human? Not to give herself to a relationship or other human/s but simply to keep her life small. We have all these opportunities, as women we have lacked these opportunities for longer than men, there is an ingratitude to our mothers and grandmothers there that I do not think I am assuming.

I don’t understand where the happy pig sad philosopher argument comes into this if it’s about status rather than education or if it’s about some sort of status that education supposedly gives you since she’s defining herself purely through aesthetics and education doesn’t play any part in those standards.

7 thoughts on “Girls Don’t Need To Go To College

  1. The question of status becomes so bloody weird because it’s an abstract with at least four different metrics, and because it’s far less stratified than anyone thinks – they all think it’s less stratified than it used to be, and it is, but it was always less than perceived in the first place so we’re still wrong. You work out as two different classes because the different metrics clash horribly, in part because they have different expectations – in some areas of the country, for example, you’ll get the same level of education private or state, in others you won’t. It’s only status-relevant in some areas, and to varying degrees.

    I’m inclined to toss class out the window – genealogical research shows it shifts often enough to be ignorable – but the nation as a whole needs to do so at the same time.

  2. To be honest, I’m not particularly sure how any discussion of that article turned into an argument. What the girl says is silly – that all women should behave in a certain way, let alone the fact that the course of action she suggests isn’t really that dependable. There can’t be that many Really Rich Guys around, at least not enough for every girl to have one each. It’s not a good argument she makes, and none of us really agree with it.

    The ‘happy pig/sad philosopher’ argument came in when you made the argument that everyone should constantly strive for the greatest thing they can possibly achieve. The question was raised, what if they’re happy how they are, doing what they’re doing and not needing to rise higher? What if constant striving would make them miserable? And at that point, the philosopher and his pet pig came up.

  3. Rise higher in this case was used to mean ‘do something that somebody else says is more worthwhile than whatever one might be doing right now’.

    For example, someone working in (for example) HMV might possibly make a really awesome nurse. They’re happy where they are. Their job isn’t bad, and they’re satisfied with their life. If someone went to them and said, "You know, you could do so much better," should they drop everything and try to make a new life because someone else thinks that a different life-path is more worthwhile, even if doing that would not make them happy?

    The eventual point of all this is that just because we think that someone could achieve ‘better things’ by our standards, it doesn’t mean that they’re under any obligation to do so just on our say-so.

  4. Right, I agree with you that everyone should choose for themselves. But I think that the act of wanting to be elsewhere of wanting to try and get somewhere is in an of itself fine.

    Striving does not itself lead to unhappiness.

    And of course this means that you must have disagreed with the article as well since she was setting goals for other girls as well as herself?

  5. Striving does not *inevitably* lead to unhappiness. However, it *can* lead to unhappiness, and under those circumstances it is not unreasonable for the person doing so to make the choice to call it a day and stick with what they’ve got. Both courses of action are acceptable.

    And as for disagreeing with the article, well, in my first reply to this post I said, "It’s not a good argument she makes, and none of us really agree with it." None of us, in this case, including me. šŸ˜›

  6. And in the first post you made on the subject, I said this:

    "It was bloody absurd, and I agree that its points are foolish, poorly thought-out and inimical to notions of free choice and gender equality… It might as well have been a parody, the way it looked."

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