Monthly Archives: December 2015

2 posts

College isn’t For Girls (AKA: Backstory)

It occurred to me that while I’ve mentioned how my sex determined what I learned in school I haven’t really mentioned how that translated into college.


This is actually a little complicated because my parents waffled quite a bit before settling on their decision. When we first started homeschooling my mother’s plan (with no input from me) was for me to go to the local vocational school and double major in cosmetology and culinary arts. Neither of these were things I was interested in and actively tried to make that known, not that anyone cared.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned about my family it’s that my preferences don’t matter unless they line up with exactly what they want from me, their idea of who I should be trumps the truth of my existence every time – but that’s besides the point.


This was solidly the plan until I was about 8 or so (give or take because the concept of time is a blur). I think part of what they learned in the cult (or maybe it was the one ATI seminar they went to) was that it’s not appropriate for women to go to college. Some people think this but still send their daughters to college to get, I kid you not, an M.R.S. degree. The thought being, college will turn women into evil feminists who aren’t submissive and tell them things that are directly contrary to god’s plan (get married, have babies, homeschool)!


This goes right along with courtship, staying under the father’s head/umbrella/authority until married, and using the in-between highschool and marriage time to learn how to take care of your family. I’m not entirely sure where they got all this, but they did. Anyway, at some point they came to me and said that I wouldn’t be doing college, because god said it’s not good for girls to go to college – and college isn’t going to prepare you to be a helpmeet and mother anyway. This didn’t bother me because my cosmetology and culinary arts future looked bleak to my very young self who was neither into adding more cooking into their life or painting other people’s nails.


I think my family was surprised at how well I took it because they’d been building it up in their head. But anyway. College was out of the question for several years and I kept living my life free of the worry of having to cook and do makeup for college.


Then I discovered politics, speech and debate, and Patrick Henry College. I wanted more than anything in the world to go to PHC, and since it was a homeschool college and very much daughters-under-their-father’s-authority operating school…I probably wouldn’t have to worry about turning into an evil feminist.


Whether or not I could go to PHC seemed like it changed by the day, but I was several years out so I figured they’d come around.


They almost did – after they decided to break Alex and I up (because courtship = parents control all the things) they encouraged me to apply to PHC, sort of as a bribe – like the money and car they offered. I jumped at the opportunity to go to the college I dreamed of and get out of my parents house. I filled out the application and went through all the steps, got my pastor to write a letter of recommendation and all I needed to do was have my parents sign the waiver.
They refused.


They said they changed their mind, they couldn’t support it, they didn’t want to be responsible for me financially (and my living at home not allowed or able to get a job was what? or right, indentured servitude), and most importantly, college isn’t for girls. I’m going to be a wife and mother after all, I don’t need any further education. My consumer math and ability to read, write, and recite their interpretation of scripture back to them was all I would need and college wasn’t going to help me be a better submissive wife.


And like that, it was over.


After we got married I started applying to a school that did distance learning and was marginally less conservative. It involved re-writing my transcript (which is still a mess) and being a private school hot for Dave Ramsey, financially it wasn’t feasible. I was accepted but it just didn’t happen. I was still trying to navigate what being a Wife looked like and panicking that having a summer job meant I would have an affair (because women in the workforce have affairs, that’s why they have to be keepers at home) – the lies my parents ingrained into me were still so very very strong.

This is why getting accepted to a community college and taking the catch-up/pre-college course is so huge to me. I’m finally at a place where I can break that jar and decide what I want to do.

On College and Clothes that Fit

I took the placement test for adult basic education at my community college. I have an ID that says student and not “weird strange haired person who doesn’t belong: immediately escort out” on it, and an orientation on the 15th where I’ll find out where I placed and can sign up for classes to start taking in January.
The cards said go for it. My friend sent crows. I was at a place where I felt like I was ready and I shook off the wave of panic telling me to run and that I’m an imposter and I started it. I started a new thing. I started sort of almost college and as an educationally neglected kid who was told college was out of the question because I was born with a uterus….this is huge. I don’t have enough words to describe it, but it’s big and healing on many levels because I’m showing myself I can actually do the thing – or at least try the thing and see if I like it and having a uterus doesn’t mean I don’t get to!
 
Later that day I was jeans shopping and trying them on. I was not one, but two sizes bigger than I thought I was and I was having a moment as I watched the numbers on the jeans gradually increase. When I tried them on I tried not to dwell on what size I wanted them to be, but how I felt in them, if they fit, if I wasn’t trying to force myself to be smaller because I somehow thought that was better. The moment ended the minute I put on the pair that fit, that embraced my curves and didn’t squish my abdomen, that didn’t require a pants dance, and looks damn good.
 
I figured out that smaller sized jeans? don’t look better on you if you’re denying your body the right to take up space. You are matter, and oh my god, clothes that fit are so much more of a confidence boost than convincing yourself you could totally fit into this smaller pair really soon.