What’s Sex Got To Do With… Social Media

IMG_4911Today, social media is a relatively new phenomenon, that, to me, has become a new extension of the social institution of media. A social institution is a faction within society that informs the ways in which we are supposed to perform our social selves. More specifically, they have a huge impact on informing gender roles, sex, and sexuality; whether through punishments in institutions such as the family (mommy punishing you because as a boy you wanted to play with GI Jane instead GI Joe), the reinforcement of hetero-normative images the media continually perpetuates, or the repetition of phrases such as “that’s so gay” that is abundantly seen on social media, which teaches and reinforces homophobia. Social Media is a forum in which it gives people what Dennis D. Waskul would call “The Freedom To”, or in this case, the feeling of a greater inclination to truthfully express oneself because of the false sense of anonymity one gains from sitting behind a computer.  

Social media has become a very important staple in reinforcing many norms due to a new sense of freedom people have.  The perpetuation of rape culture is just one example. Rape Culture is the ways in which rape has been normalized into society. We are not surprised when yet another college student is raped because “hey! It happens to 1 in 4 college students and we told her how to protect herself… why didn’t she listen?”  Rape culture is the way in which we take the blame away from the aggressor, and place it on the victim. It is also perpetuated in the ways in which we sexualize bodies at a young age, and throw out words such as “slut” and “whore” way to often, as if this is a joke. This is seen regularly throughout social media and reinforces the norm of rape culture.

Yik Yak is a very new social media craze that has infiltrated itself into the Vanderbilt community and can already be seen to do much harm in perpetuating an already established problem of rape culture. The difference between this forum and others however, is complete and guaranteed anonymity and the knowledge that these are majority Vanderbilt students (and a couple Belmont kids thrown in).  Students who are supposed to some of the best educated and most well rounded young adults in the country.

Students openly make fun of rape and real situations…


Slut Shaming…



The idea that owning your sexuality is not ok…



And just WHY?!?!? is this even funny…


Is the anonymity of Yik Yak creating a very dangerous counter-cutlure? It is interesting to see what people really think since they are not restrained by their identities.


If it is not just education that will end rape culture (obviously) then what do you think it is?  Has rape and rape culture become “normal” (or what we define as normal) or expected?  How do we get around these expectations that have been ingrained in the very fabric of society for years?


3 thoughts on “What’s Sex Got To Do With… Social Media

  1. I have mixed feelings about Yik Yak. Despite my love of some of the humorous and relatable Yaks, I often find myself completely disgusted with some of the things my classmates are writing about. So many Yaks are seemingly uplifting, especially with sexual freedom and agency, but so many others are degrading, disrespectful, and demeaning. They perpetuate rape culture, male-dominance, and over-sexualization of female bodies. But for some reason, I can’t find myself in the place to delete the app.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you so much for this post! Reading the Yik Yak newsfeed often angers me because gender stereotypes, slut shaming, racism, and discrimination are often evident. However, at the same time Yik Yak can also be empowering. Sometimes I comment on posts that I find offensive and express my objection. Yik Yak may actually be socially progressive because anyone has the power to reject social injustice. Furthermore, people can down vote a Yik Yak post or comment; if a post or comment receives five down votes, it is removed from the newsfeed. This gives people the power to have some control over the ideas that are expressed on Yik Yak. I think that it is important for people to be aware of the negative and positive aspects of Yik Yak because this will help ensure that this social media app creates more moral social discourse.


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