For years, Golden Boy and I have had a bit that we do, in which we joke about what we did or did not learn in “girl school” or “boy school.”
For example, if I were to do something particularly girly like sew a button on his shirt or arrange a vase of flowers just so, GB will say, “Is that something you learned in girl school?”
However, the joke is more common in the negative. Neither GB nor I particularly conform to gender norms — he’s the bookish, sensitive type, while I like to repair things with large tools — so usually we use this concept in moments when we’re not able to perform as our genders dictate. For example, if GB declines to kill a particularly large, scary bug, I would say, “But, isn’t that a skill you learned in boy school?”
This is apropos of the Lessons for Girls series that Historiann initiated and is archiving. I’ve enjoyed this series immensely and have wanted to participate but whenever I sit down to compose a lesson for girls, I get stuck on the feeling that there are so many lessons I haven’t learned or have yet to learn, who am I to give anyone else advice?
Hey, BSG–that lack of self-confidence is extremely “girly,” don’tcha think? Otherwise, it’s true: she doesn’t sound like a very good “girl,” to me. She doesn’t know how to put on makeup or do her hair, she can’t cook to entertain, and she is chronically “sweaty, flustered, wrinkled, and cranky,” among other non-“girl”-like attributes, but then, I bet we can all think of ways in which we’re not sex/gender normative! I never learned to shut up when people told me to, like a good “girl.” (Shocking, I know!) Oh, and I sometimes forget to hang up my chaps and to wipe my boots before coming in the house. But, I’m (embarassingly) “girl”-like in that I’m mechanically incompetent beyond changing lightbulbs or tightening screws, and I have a bad habit of ignoring weird noises and blinky lights in my car in the hopes they’ll get better on their own.
What lessons did you miss in “Girl School” or “Boy School?” Do you regret it, or are you proud never to have learned those particular lessons? (By the way, I’m adding this to my popular and instructive series, Lessons for Girls, a feminist vade mecum.)