OMG I ACTUALLY FINISHED A BOOK! It only took me about two and a half weeks. I know. I know. And I’m worried about my reading for the upcoming weeks! I’ve somehow ended up with TWO jobs plus my full time student thing, so my pleasure reading time has become about five to ten minutes before I drop into a dead sleep at the end of the day. Ugh.
Anyway, I shouldn’t be complaining, as I’m lucky to even be able to be a student, according to College Girls by Lynn Peril. I sometimes have a hard time with these sorts of nonfiction books, as they tend to be a collection of facts rather than a cohesive narrative. Even though it felt disjointed at times, I muddled through as the topic is endlessly fascinating.
In an era when women are more likely to earn a college degree than men and they value their higher education more (source here), it’s easy to forget that women in higher education is a very new phenomenon.
The first women’s colleges were established in the mid-1800’s, and immediately joked about. Look at those funny little ladies, trying to learn stuff. What poppycock! What balderdash! Hogwash! Why, they should study to be a Mistress of the Scrubbing Brush! (Yes, this is how I imagine all mid-19th century men speaking. I also imagine that they all have copious amounts of facial hair).
It was much too dangerous for women to study when on their period, in case they would physically collapse. They will become infertile!
Women had to take mandatory courses on how to do laundry at some universities. There were marriage courses, because obviously that was the end game to all this. Some colleges would limit visits with gentlemen callers to 20 minutes PER MONTH. Ladies, make sure to not really flaunt how intelligent you are, since you’re already freaking people out with all this schooling. And you better want to be a teacher or a secretary when you’re done, because that’s all that’s really open to you.
With all that history, it does seem that there was an awful lot of fun at these colleges too. I love the idea of the “Midnight Feast”, in which a bunch of girls would get together late at night, which was totally against the rules, to eat some food they’d make on a hot plate. Dodging the house mothers to do that and to sneak in after curfew…who wouldn’t want to do that?!
I wish this book had followed the idea of the college girl past the 1950’s, as so much changed in the middle of the 20th century. And who doesn’t want to read more about the “Girls Gone Wild” phenomenon? Yikes.
This served as a darn good primer though. And I’ll stop complaining about school. Promise.
And again, I just feel good having finished a pleasure reading book. Woooot.