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

Share
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

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Day In a Page

Read Next
Former N-Dubz singer Tulisa Contostavlos gives a statement outside Southwark Crown Court after her trial  

It would be wrong to compare brave Tulisa’s ordeal with phone hacking. It’s much worse than that

Matthew Norman
The Big Society Network was assessed as  

What became of Cameron's Big Society Network?

Oliver Wright
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn