Perfectly Prep: Gender Extremes at a New England Prep School

Hardcover | May 15, 2008

bySarah A. Chase

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Although New England boarding schools have been educating America's elite for four generations, they, along with their privileged students, rarely have been the subject of study. Living in a senior boys' dorm at a co-ed school, Sarah Chase was able to witness the inner workings of studentculture and the dynamics of their peer groups. In an environment of ivy-covered buildings, institutional goals of excellence and aspirations to Ivy League colleges, the boys and girls acted extremely masculine or feminine. While girls typically worked themselves into a state of sleep deprivation anddespair during exam period, the boys remained seemingly unconcerned and relaxed. As much as the girls felt pressure to be "cute" and "perfect," the boys felt pressure to be "bad ass" and the "best at everything." Tellingly, the boys thought that "it would suck" to be a girl, while over one third ofthe girls wanted to be male if given the chance. From her vantage point of sitting in the back of the football and field hockey buses, attending prom and senior pranks, and listening to how students described their academic and social pressures, competition, rumors, backstabbing, sex, and partying, Chase discovered that these boys and girls sharedsimilar values, needs and desires despite their highly gendered behavior. The large class, ethnic and individual differences in how the students perform their genders reveal the importance of culture in development and the power of individual agency. This book examines the price of privilege anduncovers how student culture reflects and perpetuates society and institutional power structures and gender ideologies.

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Although New England boarding schools have been educating America's elite for four generations, they, along with their privileged students, rarely have been the subject of study. Living in a senior boys' dorm at a co-ed school, Sarah Chase was able to witness the inner workings of studentculture and the dynamics of their peer groups. I...

Sarah Chase is in the Department of Anthropology at Brown University.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:384 pages, 6.18 × 9.29 × 1.42 inPublished:May 15, 2008Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195308816

ISBN - 13:9780195308815

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Table of Contents

1. Gender Ideologies at Prep SchoolCulture and Development2. Prep Schools and Bolton AcademyStudying UpGetting Behind the Scenes3. Social Worlds: How Girls and Guys Do it DifferentlyMore Similarities Than DifferencesThe Overt Value of "Other"The Covert Value of "Self"Relationships - the Domain of GirlsThe Saga of PromSport TeamsCommunity ServiceMagazinesDorm RoomsConclusion4. Cute Girls, Cool GuysThe Overt Value of IndividualityThe Covert Value of ConformityPerforming ClassPerforming GenderSexualityConclusion5. Difference at Bolton: Race, Class and MoreOvert Value of EqualityCovert Value of InequalityRaceHigh Class Club and the Bitch SquadPreppies vs. TowniesForm HierarchyCliquesConclusion6. Perfect Girls, Best-at-Everything GuysOvert Values of Excellence and FunReality - Individualistic and GenderedExcellenceFunFreedom and ConstraintConclusion7. Masculinity Wins the Day"Part of a Club"The Malleability of GenderEducated in ExcellenceMasculinity over FemininityBroader ImplicationsThe Power of KnowledgeEndnotesBibliography