Dissection of the Hookup Phenomenon

As college students at Vanderbilt, I am sure we are all familiar with the overwhelming influence of the hookup culture. Even if you don’t engage in hooking up yourself, it is hard to avoid noticing the random make-outs at fraternity parties or the loud sex noises from the room next door. This overwhelming increase in sexual interactions since high school should logically come as no surprise. College students are given the freedom and often times the encouragement to engage in intimate interactions without repercussions from parents or detention warnings from teachers. But why is hooking up so popular now and what characteristics of hooking up affect the social and emotional lives of college students? In Chapter 3: The Hookup of “Hooking Up”, Kathleen A. Bogle analyses this trend and personally interviews college students to get an authentic account of what hookup culture is all about.

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The Complex Role of the Filipino Maid

It is difficult to imagine living in a foreign world where you are basically forced to act a certain way, both sexually and emotionally, based on your occupation and stereotype.  This is exactly what Filipina maids in Lebanon must do.  These live-in maids face double standards, narrow stereotypes, and racial hierarchies that mold many of their personalities and sexualities in ways that appease Lebanese society.  Hayeon Lee addresses this unique phenomenon in her article, “The Public and Hidden Sexualities of Filipina Women in Lebanon.”

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Why is there a Double Standard?

There is a definite double standard between men and women in the college environment. Kathleen Bogle states designates a whole chapter to provide readers an explanation and attempt to create an understanding for those of us who don’t really get it. So, guys are free to hook up with whoever comes at them (or whoever they go after) while girls have to be cautious to maintain a good reputation, one that does not include the words “slut” or “whore”. Furthermore, we are given standards to live by with no boundaries. Larry, a senior at Faith University, stated that a girl is considered a slut if she sleeps with twelve guys in a short period of time or if she hooks up with five guys in a week, which means a new guy every day. This statement really bothered me because I feel like that is not the least bit realistic. So where do these guys get these obscenely high numbers when being asked what a “slut” is? Do they think that girls are morally corrupt or do they use their numbers for background knowledge to make the estimate? The more important question may be: who are these guys to determine what the definition of a “slut” is? Why can they hook up with large amounts of girls and still be considered a bro? If guys are given the opportunity to define such a harsh term, we clearly have a problem in society. This double standard is very unclear which gives guys more freedom and girls more of an opportunity to be judged. I also found it displeasing that once a girl hooks up with a guy, she is talked about with the “bros” which could possibly place a target on her. A target that calls for boys to stay away from her or one that draws them in. It was interesting that boys who want to hook up look for the “trophy girl”, one that does not hook up often. My question is, if she does not hook up often then why does he think he’s something special enough to persuade her to hookup. Does it make her more of a trophy girl if she turns him down knowing she is just another girl to him?

By interviewing boys and providing statistics, it is known that boys don’t want to date in college. They want to “have fun.” It takes two to tango. Therefore, in the midst of trying to have their own fun they are putting the moves on many girls. In society today, a girl will do whatever it takes to try to get a boy to fall for her, even if that means hooking up. Maybe boys are essentially the start to this unfortunate domino effect. Let’s set up a scenario: A girl sees a guy at a party who she thinks is very attractive, they talk, he uses his sweet talking abilities, they leave and now they are in bed together. By the time the night is over, he’s a bro and she’s a slut?

This video displays the sexual double standard wonderfully.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=baT3LWaSfuM

She explains that this double standard has taken place for a really long time. Even though both a man and a woman are involved in the act, the woman is viewed as promiscuous.

Earlier in the semester, we talked about sexual education programs in school. Many were not efficient and some schools did not have them at all. This woman in the video brings up a very important fact. Many young girls today are told not to be too revealing with their outfits because boys will get the wrong impression. Therefore, they need to be taught more than only abstinence in these programs. As I said, this sexual double standard is really not specific which allows anyone to say mean things. Even girls call girls sluts when they are not particularly taking part in any action that would resemble the actions of a “slut”. This is the time where we need to educate to stop this double standard.

My questions for you: How can we stop this double standard? Do boys instigate it? Why are they given the opportunity to define it? Should Kathleen Bogle have interviewed guys at different universities? Do you think there is any hope to end this double standard?

What’s Sex Got to Do With…Heteronormativity?

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Thinking about the most important or influential concept to understanding the relationship between sex and society that we covered in class brings an array of ideas to mind because we have covered so many topics. After much thought, I have come to a conclusion: the most important concept is the idea of heteronormativity in our society. We have talked about many concepts, but the idea of heteronormativity seems to come to mind in every one of them. Our society is extremely heteronormative, meaning that people believe heterosexuality is the only sexual preference, completely leaving out the entire LGBTQ community. It comes down to something so simple as stating that heterosexuality is privileged in our society. Awards like prom king and queen are completely geared toward the heterosexual community and leaves out the LGBTQ community completely. In addition, the media is heteronormative through expressing heterosexual relationships at the forefront of the TV shows we all watch and love. Some TV shows like Modern Family are now starting to depict homosexual relationships in the shows to make a statement, but it is going to take a lot of time and hard work to make our society completely equal in sexual orientations.

In addition, the idea of heteronormativity completely enforces gender stereotypes in our society. Males are the dominant gender, and females are left behind them. Heterosexuality enforces this because in the relationship, males are the bread winners and are supposed to have traits like dominance, physical strength, toughness, and being emotionless. Females, on the other hand, are supposed to stay at home and take care of children, cook, and clean and have traits like care, love, emotion, and less physical strength than men. Heteronormativity enforces these stereotypes because in a heteronormative relationship, these traits and ways of life are how it’s “supposed” to be. This is in quotations because there are many relationships where the mother is the bread winner, but as we stand in today’s time, the father is the bread winner in the majority of relationships.

An example of a heteronormative relationship from the media that embodies gender norms in our society is Phil and Claire Dunphey of Modern Family.

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Phil and Claire Dunphey are the epitome of the modern, heterosexual relationship because Phil works, while Claire is a stay-at-home mom. Phil has a great relationship with his son and frequently talks to him about girls. Claire is a loving mother who makes (or tries to make) dinner every night, and is caring and loving toward her children. In addition, she always looks gorgeous, wearing a nice outfit with makeup on throughout the show. This is the classic heterosexual relationship. As much as I love Claire and Phil, their relationship enforces heteronormativity and gender stereotypes in our society.

Do you think we will ever be able to have a society that is completely “sexual orientation neutral”? If so, how much time do you think it will take, and/or do you think our society will need to make some major changes before we can get there? Also, do you think we will ever have a gender neutral society?

Social Construction of Gender

Karin Martin produced an extremely interesting study that is perfect for our class. Karin Martin’s study, in summary, depicts how gender is human nurture and is taught to us versus being pure biology or human nature. In her study, her key methods were observation and ethnography, or the way the teacher interacts with the students. Her driving research questions included how males and females are treated differently from a very young age, how socialization happens at a very young age, how socialization and gender characteristics are produced from schooling, and how boys and girls are taught to act differently. In Martin’s study, she focussed on preschools because in most studies on gender, the age studied are adults. Focussing on preschools describes that what we know about gender is taught to us an extremely young age. Martin studied on the hidden curriculum, or what is taught in schools that is not obliviously written the lesson plan, throughout her studies in preschools.  What she found is that males and females are treated differently throughout preschool, with a distinct difference appearing between ages 3 and 5. She found that when teachers touch their students, their reasoning behind them teaches gender to the children. When the teachers touch the boys, they were preventing violence by taking the boys away from each other, in turn teaching the boys that masculine behavior includes violence, competitiveness, and dominance. On the other hand, when the girls were touched it was mainly to fix their clothing or hair. These actions teach the girls that they should, and are expected to, look nice and maintain an appealing appearance. In addition, girls were touched more often and taught to be quiet in relation to men. This idea then in turn leads to the lack of females in Fortune 500 companies. Teaching boys and girls these differences at a very young age is what produces gender characteristics later in life. The fact that these boys are taught to speak out their feelings at such an early age is why so many males are executives in Fortune 500 companies. Fortune 500 companies look for someone to is confident in their ideas and isn’t afraid to say them in a business and meeting type setting, which is how these young boys are taught in the hidden curriculum of their preschools.

Of course males and females are biologically different. We contain many physical and genetic differences.  But specifically the idea of gender is socially constructed. Gender is taught to children at as young of an age as pre-school, making gender human nurture as opposed to human nature. Much discrimination against women is because people think gender is human nature. The consequences of thinking gender is completely human nature makes women looked at as “less” than men and less powerful. This idea is taught to children throughout preschool through the hidden curriculum, and so if our society is going to make a change, it needs to start from the beginning.

In addition to the misunderstanding of gender as human nature, and relating to other topics we have talked about in class, another topic we have discussed is the misinterpretation of the words “feminism” and “feminist”. How these two topics relate is that as the idea of looking at gender as human nature makes women look bad, so does the misunderstanding of the words “feminism” and “feminist”. As described in the dictionary (dictionary.com), the word “feminism” is described as “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men”. Notice the word equality in this definition. Many people believe that feminists strive to make women the dominant sex, but in reality, feminists strive to have no dominant sex. They solely strive for equality of the two sexes. This relates to the fact that people think gender differences and stereotypes are human nature. Yes, men are more physically strong than women and this part is human nature, but people believe that the fact that women strive to look nice all the time and don’t speak out their feelings as much as men is solely human nature. This is completely not true because, as Martin’s study shows, it is taught as early as preschool throughout the hidden curriculum. This is the reason that one gender is dominant over the other gender, and the fact that people think one gender has to be dominant over the other is why people misinterpret feminism.

An example throughout our society and in the media are the multitude of housewives. A perfect example of a housewife in our media who is very well known is Gloria Delgado-Pritchett from Modern Family.

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Played by Sofía Vergara, Gloria is a stay at home mom who is married to Jay. Jay is much older than she is, reinforcing her image as the stereotypical trophy wife. She is beautiful and always dressed in low-cut tops with stilettos and makeup on, a typical feminine trait. Also, she is known for using phrases incorrectly, reinforcing the stereotype that women are dumber and have less common sense than men. Also, she is loving, caring, and a great mom.

Many questions can be discussed when thinking of the topics throughout this article. Why do you think people don’t believe that gender, specifically gender characteristics, are human nature rather than human nurture? Why do you think feminists are misinterpreted? Are figures like Gloria on Modern Family hurting the female gender by reinforcing the stereotypical “feminine” characteristics?