Every Girl Is Put in Her Place
Ask any Cliffie to tell you what type of girl goes to her school. and she will back away nervously, stammering "individuality... no stereotypes whatever... leave me alone." and things like that. The poor girl is afraid you are trying to squeeze her and her friends into a single mold: the stringy brunette mold perhaps, or worse, the intense, amoral. Bohemian mold. Life. Holiday, the New York Times. Sports Illustrated, and Leonic St. John became her eternal enemies as soon as they suggested one-word summaries.
Nevertheless, she knows that some things can be said about types of girls and styles of doing Radcliffe. The whole experience, from background and preparation to dress, dating, courses, and even attitudes, came in three different flavors.
Radcliffe may be done first of all in peach. This flavor appeals most naturally to girls who have been made aware of social life and social obligations throughout their lives. Perhaps their parents are of the administrative upper class, presiding over businesses or government offices. They probably applied only to Radcliffe and one or two other schools in "The Heavenly Seven" (as they would call it). And very likely they are from New England or the mid-Atlantic seaboard.
But not necessarily. Anyone can like the flavor. The style of dress is consistently tasteful. Girls often wear high heels and stockings. Coats with fur collars, small pins and wristwatches, camel's hair anything, gloves, jackets with print linings, and pretty colored sweater sets are common. This style approves highly of boys with vests, pipes, and woolen scarves around their necks and likes to dress up on dates.
And peachy friendships are firm ones. Their cliques of four or five are as Final as anything institutionalized. Not that they are unfriendly to people outside their clique-if anything, a constant friendliness is inherent to the style. They are cordial to the point of exuberance, sometimes to the point of bedlam. If male, they could be shouting at football games: as it is, they can discuss a hockey game vivaciously throughout a dinner. When asked what adjective they would use if they wanted to give another girl the highest compliment possible, they unanimously answer "charming" or "feminine."
Of course a flavor alone doesn't absolutely determine anything as objective as courses or extracurricular activities. Yet the composition of Fine Arts 13 somehow feels different. There seems to be more flirting. joking, and talking, more girls with careful makeup and shiny clean hair than in most lower level survey courses. And majors like Soc Rel., Fine Arts, History, English, and History and Lit, somehow have a peachiness about them.
Many girls who exemplify the style relax and enjoy social life in the popular sense of the world, dating a great deal. discussing boys and other girls more than their fellow Cliffies, and participating gaily in drama. Others. however, participate seriously in administrative organizations such as Radcliffe and dormitory government, in service organizations (like their mothers) and in choral societies. Where rules are to be tended, this group tends them. Briggs, the strong hold of the peach flavor, was the most vehement supporter of an orderly and extensive system of sign-outs when the system was debated a few years ago.
And to them the Harvard-Radcliffe experience is most significant for its social milieu. What do you like best about the place? The most peach flavored answer is "the people."
If girls don't fit into this style, however, they can do Radcliffe in chocolate. Perhaps they come from public high schools, where they started in conventional ways-as valedictorian or student council president or cheerleader. Perhaps they come from large cities in the South and West, or from the metropolitan area outside Manhattan. And perhaps their parents are middle class: high school teachers, doctors, clergymen, some lawyers, some scientists. They are often the first in some group they know, family, high school, or city, to come "here." And so, when thinking about college, they took care to apply to a "safely school," or to a large number of schools, or to a large popular university, the likes of Michigan or Pennsylvania.
Coming from such a background, girls find themselves already outfitted in the chocolate uniform. It may range in attractiveness, but it is always Conventional. Woolen scarves over the head, large plaids, sneakers, eyeglasses, and thick boots are common. When they are messy it is with dirty hair, bitten nails, and too-long skirts. And when they are well-dressed, it is in a happily wholesome way, with pleated skirts. Loden coats, and the bulky cardigans that all American teenagery is wearing. If they approach the tastefulness of the peach style at times (without ever really achieving it), it is perhaps because peachy dress serves as an epitome of fashion in many public high schools.
Chocolate friendships and romances are both casually groupy. One girl may have two or three close friends who are not necessarily friends with each other. Cliques are not firm or obvious. Similarly, these girls often date many boys without being serious about any. Sometimes, however, a chocolate girl has few or no friendships and she spends most of her waking life on schoolwork.
For achievement is very important to this style. They are active within the existing system. Recognized in high school by students or teachers, perhaps high scores on national tests, they often major in functional subjects like Government, History, Economics, and above all, science. They chip away at PBH, at coed political clubs, at publications. Or else devote themselves intensely to getting high marks. They justify their behavior on pragmatic rounds, and worry most about careers and graduate school.
And they love to take Soc Sci 2, for it combines sociology and history into a rigorous but functional how-to manual. There, the girls who address envelopes for the Young Democrats meet the boys who aspire to the Senate, and on rainy days the girls look more rained on than in other classes.
Whether the girl is noisily career minded or a silent academic recluse, she is likely to have a certain chocolate attitude toward college. To her, the experience of Harvard-Radcliffe, is most important for "the infinite opportunities it offers." She sees college primarily as a set of doors to be utilized, rather than a self-sufficient milieu. And so she chooses to compliment another girl by giving her some utilitarian and unfeminine at tribute: "brilliant," "down to earth," "conscious," "alive," "great" and the like.
If both of these flavors are unsuitable, a girl can still do Radcliffe in lime. For this it is most useful to have been brought up in a family which is professionally intellectual: usually college professors, artists, or writers. It helps to have gone to one of the progressive private schools, where standards are predominantly individualistic and intellectual, rather than social. (With girls' schools these are more easily distinguished than with boys.) And it is useful to have lived in a college town, a foreign country, or a sophisticated urban community; to have applied to a very small number of progressive and stiff colleges, like Swarthmore, Sarah Lawrence, Oberlin, and so forth.
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