‘I wasted my youth being self-righteous’

In Confessions of a Prep-School Feminist in the New Yorker, Curtis Sittenfeld (she’s female), recalls her days at Groton, where she served as “the self-appointed gender police.”

Ferreting out “examples of boys misbehaving and girls being mistreated” wasn’t difficult because she’d made herself a magnet for boys’ offensive jokes.

As a senior, she wrote a column in the school newspaper about Groton’s Group for Female Awareness. The Washington Post reprinted it, after editing out her positive comments about the school.

Twenty-one years later, Sittenfeld realizes she “cherry-picked examples to support my argument, and I made Groton look bad in ways that weren’t specific to Groton; similar stories could have been told about any other élite boarding school.”

“Looking back, I fear that I wasted my youth being self-righteous; I might be one of the few Americans who thinks she should have spent more of high school cutting class and drinking beer.”

I vaguely remember going to a “women’s lib” conference when I was in high school in the late ’60s and taking offense when construction workers whistled at me. (I had a red dress so short that I later wore it as a shirt.) In college, I belonged to a women’s discussion group. Did we call it a “solidarity group?” It was something like that.

The movement really was liberating for women like me, born in the early 1950s. We didn’t have to manufacture grievances back in the day.

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  1. Michael E. Lopez says:

    Yeah, that was my take on it, too, John.

    Who didn’t?