Cowboys vs. Priorities

Upon my arrival at Yale twoish years ago, I attended a dinner for new transfer students. Along with me and Mercina, there were about 20 other kids in attendance -- including a couple of guys hailing from Deep Springs College, located on a ranch in the smack-dab center of Twenty-Five Miles Away from the Nearest Gas Station, California. During any given academic period, the Deep Springs student body is comprised of ~25 students who administrate the college at every level - from herding/killing/preparing/ food to cleaning to programming telephone lines to admitting new students to determining their own curriculum. These tasks are paired with rigorous intellectual ribbing in the form of extensive reading and heated small classroom discussion. It's only a two year program, so a lot of kids end up transferring when they finish there. I have lots of other cool stuff to say about Deep Springs, but this is already shaping up to be a long post; you can read more about it here or here.

Now imagine that this mule is several different mules, and they're all actually post-adolescent human males.
Anyway, upon hearing of it, I immediately adored this school on the range; I was also wracked with passionate feelings of 'why I no go theeeeeeeeeere?!?!?!?'. This is where I should clarify that when I mentioned the 'guys' at the transfer dinner, I meant actual males. This is not due to the fact that no sassy Deep Springs CoEds felt like migrating out East that year, but rather because the school has a strict "Must hold at least one Y Chromosome for admission" policy. Yes, Deep Springs is an all male college. A really, really cool all male college. In Almost Nevada, California, The West, USA.

Well, this fact made me a little sad, but I also understood why it was a fact. Girls change dynamics for boys (just as boys change dynamics for girls),* and sometimes it's best to hold the estrogen in a kick-@$$ pot of cowboy stew. Brewed fresh every semester in Far Enough into the Desert that No One Can Hear Your Weird Taste in Music, California. In fact, after pondering the peculiarly fulfilling intellectual and social experiences I've had in girls-only institutions, I down-right appreciated the gendered exclusivity. I came to admire the crazy old coot who established a place where young men-folk could be manly and responsible and do their larnin' without anything to disturb their chest hair-y, fart fueled Feng shui.

A good man chair for any gender-themed apartment

But alas -- only a few short months after hearing about Deep Springs/pestering my little brother Zenith to attend so I could lasso donkeys vicariously through him -- I learned that the board of this wondrous frontier fairy land was planning to open its application to women. Not only this, but the announcement (as well as its subsequent withdrawal due to legal issues concerning the terms of the college's trust) inspired a crop of condescending articles tsk tsk-ing the college on its no-good-sexist-jerk-who's-threatened-by-my-ovaries policies. This bothered me, and crystallized a problem I had been noticing for awhile in the woman's rights movement.

Ahem. Excuse me. . .  just a moment. I'm just going to. . . Can you scootch over a little? Super. Thank you so much. I'll just set this up riiiight here:
Ok. Great. Hi. I love equality. I think it's mad groovy. Women in the United States have done a really excellent job making up for progress lost to centuries of repression and sexism. Serious kudos to us! We've done so well, in fact, that we're surpassing our male counterparts in a lot of historically significant ways. Of course, there's still some shtuff we've yet to gloriously vanquish, but we shall doubtless feast on the ambrosial flesh of total conquest in good time, my splendid Amazons.  But I forgot my initial point. . . sorry. Where was I? Oh, yes. Unfortunately, this sweet, sweet progress sometimes neglects the fact that girls are not the only important people. Equality is not a competition. That wouldn't make any sense. Equality is getting the same treatment as everyone else. There's no use in opening doors for women if it means slamming them in the face of someone else. This is why it pisses me off when feminists get self-righteous and cranky over something as noninflammatory as a men's college. Not only does it not really matter, but it's an actual double standard (hello, Wellesley?). If you want a crazy wicked cowgirl (or cowboy/cowgirl) college, then go endow your own in All I Can See is Grass, Montana. But this is not about colleges -- however rural or gender segregated they may be. This is about women not 'progressing' so far and so quickly in our own goals that we steamroll the prerogatives of everyone else around us. Furthermore, human rights (including those of women) can't afford to get bogged down in such whiny non-issues when there is still much crummy stuff going on in general. There are much more important things to be indignant about. Like, go bother some sex traffickers. Those guys really suck. Ok? Ok. Bye.

*I recognize that boys like boys sometimes, too. I don't know how that changes dynamics in single-gendered settings, but I'm cool with it if they are.