When these people have a headache

do they ask for their head to be cut off? (Thanks for the link, Dimmy!)

I remember an invitation once, to meet an amazing old lady over tea and sherry. I remember a sun that didn’t seem to want to set; oranges and pinks and silver in the sky, gold and pink and green on the ground, showing through the window in front of which she sat talking to us.

She didn’t know us, of course – she just knew we were young women who wanted to study. Maybe her hair was brown once, maybe she wore spectacles as a young girl. Maybe she’d been to India. Whatever the reason, she decided that women’s education was a topic of interest to me.

So she talked to me of how important it was that women’s colleges continued to exist at the University. Why she didn’t believe in making them open to men too.  She didn’t say “they excluded us, why should we include them?” Or even “we fought so hard to get this space, why should we give it up?”; though she had every right to do so.*

She said that women, after all, have so few spaces to call their own. So many spaces remain closed to them, in fact if not by law. The college, she said, was a public space for women only. A space where men could come and go, but as guests. She didn’t want that to change – it had an inherent value to the development of young women, she believed. 

I told her at that time that I agreed with her – a space that was exclusively female allowed women to do things that other social mores might prevent them from doing. (No, not in those words. I still spoke English then.)

*It was only in 1988, among strong protests from men, that the last surviving men-only college there became co-educational.

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11 Responses

  1. Is this is a case for private spaces per se, aiding the development of students, or does it hinge solely on the fact that women apparently don’t have private space otherwise?

  2. Yeah, I remember my college days, there was something so liberating about being in a space possessed by females. I would walk into my college gounds and I could actually feel myself changing, and I would think this is what might have been…

  3. The best suggestion I have read for paying men back in their own coin is here:

    http://chocolateandgoldcoins.blogspot.com/2006/02/modest-suggestion-toward-gender.html

  4. Mr. Nair: Not a case for anything. An Article brought back a memory.

    Svasti: I know exactly what you mean!

    Blr Bytes: Funny! 🙂

  5. Having been to an all girls school, and then to a much male law school, i am still trying to deal with the invasion of my learning and living space by ‘the others’. I dont know why, also dont know for good or bad, law school mellowed me down, in terms of my actions in private and public space, and i believe the maleness of law school to be one of the factors that made it happen. The maleness i believe affected me in this certain and peculiar way, simply becuase i was absolutely new to it and didnt know how to react to it and so in the process of trying to learn to deal with it and the confusion thereto, i gave up and just became…well..quiet. i miss school.

  6. Apologies

  7. Anchal: Don’t we all?!

    Mr. Nair: What for?

  8. yep, all of us do, but for reasons of the all-exclusive women’s-only-type space that only a women’s insti can provide, only those of us who have seen and been to it, do.

  9. […] am sure that is one of the best administrative solution the independent India has heard of. Na rahega Sar, na rahega dard. Will the students be still there? Who asked this question? I want the names and […]

  10. […] am sure that is one of the best administrative solution the independent India has heard of. Na rahega Sar, na rahega dard. Will the students be still there? Who asked this question? I want the names and […]

  11. […] I am sure that is one of the best administrative solution the independent India has heard of. Na rahega Sar, na rahega dard. Will the students be still there? Who asked this question? I want the names and […]

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