Gender & Identity Life

I dreaded going to an all-girls college but it changed my life

Growing up in a patriarchal and deeply misogynistic kind of society predisposes most of us to certain kinds of beliefs and ideologies that we (unintentionally) internalize – without realizing how problematic they really are.

I believed in the whole “girls are bitchy,” “girls cause drama,” and “I’d rather hang out with guys” spectrum of opinions which promote pitting women against each other due to personality standards constructed by a system that favors the overall growth of men and aids them, and only them.

Girls aren’t born hating each other; it’s what we’re taught through media, and interaction with the people around us. It’s socialized into us. And thus it was, into me as well.

I remember telling my mom in eleventh grade, “I can never go to an all-girls college. It’d be such a headache, honestly. There’d be cat fights constantly.” And then I remember getting my results in twelfth grade and realizing I’d be going to an all-girls college – the nightmare.

Needless to say, I just wasn’t looking forward to it.

To me, back then, all-girls colleges were like a goldmine for bitchy, petty arguments, all things makeup, and clothes. It’s only now that I realize how heteronormative and misogynistic that entire belief system is.

Thankfully, I didn’t conform to it for too long.

I will admit, though, I did let my presumptions and biases get the better of me in the beginning and for quite a while in my first semester. I was overly judgemental about a lot of things because of them. But soon enough and gradually too, I could feel that veil of ignorance and misogyny shedding itself.

My experience in an all-girls college was life-changing. I realized how wrong and fallacious my views were because the sisterhood and camaraderie that existed there was unmatched. Being in the midst of so many badass, unapologetic, and intellectual women made me sensitive to the fact that (almost) every ideology I possessed was due to an internalization that was never my own.

My college taught me so many things – loyalty and sensitivity being two of the key lessons.

I saw an unabashed sense of acceptance of being oneself and being accepted for it, no matter what. I felt myself letting go of all my preconceived notions about girls, women, and girlhood in general. I found myself embracing womanhood in all of its glory.

I also found one extremely peculiar change in me from when I started college to when I finished college; I was suddenly a lot less bothered about the male gaze. I found myself not giving two fucks about it because I’d evolved so much as a person in my college – to the point that I realized I didn’t have to look good for anyone but myself.

Along with this, there was also an extremely strong work ethic that I developed after involving myself in various cultural events in college. Coupled with that, however, was a strong emphasis on how my mental health matters as much as my hard work. My fellow sisters were always there for me.

Being in an all-girls college really liberated me from the misogynistic norms I’d learned to imbibe into myself growing up.

I haven’t felt more at peace with who I am than I did on the day of my graduation. The place I dreaded calling my college ended up being my home and I’m eternally thankful for everything it has taught me.

By Arushi Tandon

Arushi is a Sociology major based out of New Delhi, India. She graduated from the University of Delhi in 2017 and has since worked across sectors which include non-profits, journalism, HR, travel and education. She currently works at Ashoka University as a Teaching Assistant. A voracious reader and literature fanatic, Arushi finds happiness in reading, writing and pursues creative non-fiction as a passion project along with academic writing professionally. Enthusiastic about issues around gender, culture, lifestyle and health - this trickles into her writing and work.