chapter  8
14 Pages


As girls at school, as women at work, we are used to performing. We are used, too, to dramaturgical metaphors which tell us that life is a performance in which we do nothing but act out a series of roles,1 or indeed that these roles can be peeled away like layers o f an onion to reveal a repressed core, a true self, which has been inhibited, clouded by the layers o f social conditioning which obscure i t . 2 Such views form much of the common sense o f ideas about gender socialization in relation to education. Girls are conditioned into passivity, the story often goes; this is why they do badly at school: implicitly, femininity is seen as a series of roles, often imposed by agents o f socialization, o f w h o m the worst offenders are taken to be women: mothers and female teachers. But I want to tell a different story-one of female success, one which criticizes the idea that socialization works to render girls and women wimpish, feminine and passive.