Thursday, July 27, 2006

Baylor Girl, I Mean Woman, and the Raincoat Rule

Soon after arriving on the Baylor campus as a freshman many years ago, I noticed several things. First, a lot of the boys were very short. But that's not what I want to write about today. I kept seeing the phrase "Baylor Woman" everywhere. No more Girl. I certainly didn't feel like a woman and I knew for sure my parents didn't think of me as one.

Baylor Women, I soon learned, didn’t smoke, drink, or stay out past 11:00 on weeknights, 12:30 A.M. on Friday nights, or midnight on Saturdays. I really had no interest in smoking or drinking, and there wasn’t all that much to do on campus or in Waco past curfew. So no problem there.

What seems remarkably strange now, as it did even back then, was the Raincoat Rule. Baylor Women wore skirts on campus, not slacks and certainly not shorts. The dilemma of issues such as P.E. and leaving campus was addressed by the Raincoat Rule: wear a raincoat over your shorts or slacks. Uh, a raincoat??? I suppose any sort of overcoat would have sufficed, but it’s far too hot in Waco much of the school year for a heavy coat. Hence, the raincoat.

I didn’t own a raincoat. Raincoats have never been cool, and they weren’t then. But somehow I ended up with a wrinkly/crinkly, vinyl thing. It couldn’t be see-through, of course, and mine wasn’t. It was greenish gray. It could be folded into a small satchel when it wasn’t in use. Sadly, though, it was often in use.

A raincoat could easily cover shorts, but what purpose did it serve for slacks?

You can probably answer that question, and I can now. The Raincoat Rule existed to manage and protect. In a word: CONTROL. Even though we were women and not girls, we needed to be controlled. Baylor men/boys, on the other hand, did not. Curfew-less, they roamed the campus and Waco late into the night. They smoked in their dormitory rooms. In fact, they smoked all over campus, wherever they wanted to. And they had maids to clean their rooms! Yes, maids.

When questioned about the obvious disparity, a Dean reassured the skeptics: “We provide the men with the services and the women with the protection.”

I am not making this up. Ah, the good old days…

1 comment:

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