Gender and the Law Prof Blog

Editor: Tracy A. Thomas
University of Akron School of Law

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Gender at an Elite Boarding School


I just finished, last night, reading Shamus Rahman Khan's The Privilege.  Khan is an alumnus, and was a teacher at St. Paul's School, in New Hampshire, one of the most well-regarded boarding schools in the nation; Robert Mueller and John Kerry both played on the school's hockey team.  One of the sections in the book, the one that was most surprising to me, harped on how girls at the school deliberately mobilized their sex appeal. 

They did so to contest the school’s administration and to assert their power as students; they did so both to please and to intimidate boys; and to experience the pleasures of self-definition and because they had caved-in to social pressure.  Sexuality, then, was a most barbed thing at St. Paul’s (and presumably, similar boarding schools).  It was gratifying to read such a wonderfully rich and paradoxical explanation of sexuality. 

I wondered, though, what happened to these girls.  The girls at St. Paul’s (many of them, I would think) would become lawyers, doctors, professors, business executives, and influential government officials.  How were these early, adolescent experiences impacting how they would view gender relations, and politically ancillary ideals of justice and opportunity?  That would make for an arresting book in its own right. . . ..

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