Virginia Ironside: Being sent away to live with boys is no preparation for adult life

Related Topics

To any woman who's been involved with a man who had the misfortune to be sent away to public school, Professor Leonard's research will come as no surprise. Because we can assume that, since there aren't that many all-boy day schools, and that most boarding schools are private, the men in question are those creatures who have been sent away from home far, far, too young for there not to be some sort of damaging impact on their mental health.

No wonder more of them suffer from "malaise" or depression than boys sent to mixed schools! No wonder so many of them are, as their wives complain, so emotionally unavailable. A child who's had a bad experience of early separation is not going to be letting his emotions run free very easily. And certainly, having suffered this kind of trauma in his youth (by being wrenched from his loving family) he is not likely to find it easy to love or trust anyone ever again.

Nor, after enforced sharing at school, often in large dormitories, will he find it easy not to regard isolation – in his den or immersed in his hobbies as something of a necessary antidote to his past.

And though women are pretty much of a mystery to every man, how very much more mysterious they must seem to boys brought up in the world of public schools. From an early age, they are denied the education of studying females' peculiar giggly behaviour with other girls, experience first hand the early results of the symptoms of PMT, come to terms with, often, their mixture of ruthlessness and vulnerability – and discover – well, up to a point – how they work. And how surprising it must be for them to discover that while their male friends at school find farting, jokes about bums and sex hilarious, and regard paying attention to how they look ludicrously girly, women, when they come across them later, just don't share the same sense of humour, and nor do they appreciate their partner developing a growing beer belly or hairs growing out of their nostrils. Why do girls at single-sex schools not have the same depression and marriage-failure rates? Partly because girls are not usually sent away so young, and partly because girls generally are more adaptable than men.

Many men, like Jonathan Aitken and Jeffrey Archer, who've attended both prison and public school, say that they are very similar. Neither are experiences likely to make a person feel more loved, secure, tolerant and happy in their own skin – ingredients that really do help make relationships work.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

Read Next

i Editor's Letter: Take a moment to imagine you're Ed Miliband...

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff

Letters: No vote poses difficult questions – so why rush?

Independent Voices
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments