Friday, November 22, 2013

Girl Power, Twisted

When I started in middle school, a funny thing happened to the girls: they started using the words “slut” and “lesbian” (“lezzy” for short) on each other.

I had never heard those words before, didn’t know what they meant (though, clearly, they were bad) and figured that some girl’s parents were horrible and had taught her to use them as insults.

Once past high school, I didn’t hear “slut” again … until my daughter went to high school.

Are there really that many aberrant parents teaching their daughters the word “slut?” Or do girls seize on the concept, as they first deal with thoughts and feelings about sex?

According to this recent article in the New York Times, researchers “say that this ‘intrasexual competition’ is the most important factor explaining the pressures that young women feel to meet standards of sexual conduct and physical appearance.” In other words, it’s not the media damaging girls with their messages of female beauty and behavior (one expert quoted in the Times article said the media reflects trends that are in society, it doesn’t create them), nor is it, really, men. It’s other girls and women.

My daughter says she sits with her (female) friends at lunch, wishing she could sit at the boys’ table. (She doesn’t, because “everyone would talk.”) “At our table, everyone’s like, ‘Who likes who?’ and ‘She’s not my friend anymore,’ but I know the only thing the boys are worried about is whether the lunch ladies have run out of ice-cream sandwiches,” she says.

Looking back, my closest friends have almost always been boys – gay boys, even when we were both young enough not to know what gay was. The whole sex thing – desire or competition – was absent and we could just be friends.

1 comment:

  1. Just being in a group of high school girls for any length of time is hazing, and I think hazing is criminal.