Sugar-Coated Sexism: A Girls’ School in Harlem

Sugar-Coated Sexism: A Girls’ School in Harlem

An odd coalition of women’s rights advocates and anti-feminists are marketing a new kind of sexism. It was first sighted at the Virginia Military Institute and Citadel cases, in which some feminists and Old South traditionalists claimed that girls and young women have a different way of learning than do boys and men. They asserted that women need to have their self-esteem built up, while men need to have theirs knocked down. In New York City, this sexist thinking was embodied first in plans for an all-male public school in Harlem that never got off the drawing board and transmuted to a new institution, the East Harlem Young Women’s Leadership School. This public school, which has benefited from private money—much of it raised by philanthropist Ann Rubenstein Tisch—and the backing of the conservative educational think tank the Manhattan Institute for Educational Innovation, boasts small classes held in an environment complete with oriental carpets on the floors, tea, croissants, and photos of every girl supplied by Donald Trump’s personal photographer. There are many applicants for the school’s fifty-five slots, and poor parents have been more than willing to sacrifice to find funds for the school uniform.

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Lima