Chesterton: Girls Growing Mustaches

“I am often solemnly asked what I think of the new ideas about female education. But there are no new ideas about female education. There is not, there never has been, even the vestige of a new idea. All the educational reformers did was to ask what was being done to boys and then go and do it to girls; just as they asked what was being taught to young squires and then taught it to young chimney sweeps. What they call new ideas are very old ideas in the wrong place. Boys play football, why shouldn’t girls play football; boys have school colors, why should girls have school colors; boys go in hundreds to day-schools, why should girls go in hundreds to day-schools; boys go to Oxford, why should girls go to Oxford – in short, boys grow mustaches, why shouldn’t girls grow mustaches – that is about their notion of a new idea. There is no brain-work in the thing at all; no root query of what sex is, of whether it alters this or that, and why, anymore than there is any imaginative grip of the humor and heart of the populace in the popular education. There is nothing but plodding, elaborate, elephantine imitation. And just as in the case of elementary teaching, the cases are of a cold and reckless inappropriateness. Even a savage could see that bodily things, at least, which are good for a man are very likely bad for a woman. Yet there is no boy’s game, however brutal, which these mild lunatics have not promoted among girls.”

– G.K. Chesterton, What’s Wrong with the World

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