This week’s People Magazine has a story about Julie Schenecker who shot her two kids in the head for being mouthy:
Not long ago, Calyx Schenecker, 16, returned from a shopping expedition near her home in Tampa with a new pair of shorts. “They were the shortest things ever, like you could see her butt sticking out,” says Cathy Vann, a friend of Calyx’s mom, Julie. “Julie was like ‘I hope you saved your receipt because those are going right back.'” Calyx’s response? “She was stomping around the house screaming, “You’re jealous that you can’t wear these,” says Vann who witnessed the fight at the Schenecker’s 3,300 ft upscale Ashington Reserve gated community. And Julie? She gave as good as she got, saying things like, ‘People are going to call you a slut.’ ” Yet Vann was hardly shocked. “Every mom of a teenage daughter has these fights.”
I’m not saying that this kind of dialogue is so rare and unusual that Vann should’ve suspected that Schenecker was about to murder her children. But arguing over who looks better in short shorts and slut-shaming is normal mother-daughter behavior? I don’t have teenagers yet, but if that’s true, it’s sad.
This argument between Calyx and her mom is not about sex but about power. A power struggle is a totally normal part of adolescent rites of passage. Unfortunately, because males are still mostly the ones with the power, females are allowed to acquire their own power– in an extremely limited way– through their sexuality. If you decipher the code here, Calyx is telling her mom that she is powerful and her mom is telling her that she is not.
Women of all ages would be so much healthier, as would America by the way, if we weren’t all so mired in these twisted perceptions of female sexuality and power. But tragically, we are. So mired, in fact, as feminist philosopher Luce Irigaray argues, we have no clue what female sexuality actually is.
Can you imagine a father angrily warning his son that, if he wears a certain outfit, he’s going to get called a slut? Any neighbor overhearing that would be on the phone with 911 in two seconds, claiming dangerous insanity next door.