Sensitive girls should learn to banter like the boys, says head
SENSITIVE girls should be taught “banter” at school to toughen them up for the world of work, the headmistress of a leading girls’ school has said.
Young women need to learn how to laugh at themselves and overcome “the curse of the good girl”, says Lucy Elphinstone, the head of Francis Holland School, in Sloane Square, west London.
“I think it’s great if they learn how to banter a little bit, like boys do. I think girls are, perhaps by nature, sensitive and easily hurt,” she said. “Very often when we hear something that is just
‘Girls need to learn to not take themselves quite so seriously, to laugh at themselves a little bit more’
gentle teasing, we tend to call it bullying and boys would never call each other that.
“They are used to calling each other nicknames, pushing each other around a bit and making fun of each other – but often it’s a sign of endearment.
“And girls need to learn to not take themselves quite so seriously, to laugh at themselves a little bit more and to understand that teasing isn’t necessarily something that is cruel or unkind.”
She said these important lessons at a young age will “toughen them up a little bit” and prepare girls for life beyond the classroom when “they will get far worse than teasing”.
Mrs Elphinstone said that girls must also be taught about how to “wing it” so they are not at a disadvantage to their male peers when it comes to applying for jobs. The head of the £20,000-a-year school, which counts actresses Sienna Miller and Cara Delevingne among its alumnae, explained: “I don’t mean pretending that they are something that they are not.
“I like the fact that we as women tend to be much more authentic and truthful than men are, sometimes to our own detriment.
“I certainly teach my girls that well known trait – how to blag it. Sometimes you have to go for that job or that position when you are not sure if you have all the experience or qualifications necessary but you are brave enough to have a go and believe in yourself.
“Sometimes we need to be able to take risks, to be braver, and sometimes to learn how to wing it a bit.”
Perfecting the skills of banter and blagging at schools will help girls “a great deal” when they enter the workplace, in particular male-dominated professions such as law, politics, banking and finance, Mrs Elphinstone said.
Girls’ schools are the ideal environment to perfect these skills, she argued, since they can practise banter and blagging “without fear of losing a boyfriend or losing a boy’s respect or being called brainy or what have you”.
“They can take risks in a supportive environment,” she said. “They can learn to speak up and be brave, without thinking ‘oh my gosh, my whole street cred [will be ruined] now and will be all over social media’.”
She added: “I talk at my school about the ‘curse of the good girl’ and how we women are hard-wired to want to please, from a very young age. We encourage girls to take risks, to encounter failure, to learn that a grade B is not a disaster, and to laugh at themselves.”