What a Semester in WGS 160 has taught me: A Final Reflection

I’m not really sure what I was expecting from this class. Perhaps learning about different types of intimacies or variations in sexuality that we see in society. In reality, this class challenged me to broaden my horizons and think critically about what sexuality mean to the individual, to a culture, and even on the global scale. When it comes down to it, I think the topic that resonated with me the most, that really got me thinking and questioning society, was the unit covering sexual assault. As a college student, this topic is extremely relevant to my life and evident in the times we are in right now.

We’ve all heard the statistic: 1 in 4 college women will be sexually assaulted. As we attempted to tease apart myths from truths in class, we dove into a complicated web of research, definitions, bills, and organizations. Posing the questions, what exactly constitutes sexual assault? Why do some people believe there is a rape culture and others think otherwise? How does the government define sexual assault? How does Vanderbilt define sexual assault? Are these definitions available to students? Do students know where to go and who to go to for sexual assault? Underneath is all, I think what we really want to know is what the hell is going on on college campuses.

Kathleen Bogle’s book, Hooking up, provided insight to college life, beyond what we already know from our own experiences. It basically focused on the sexual culture/scripts occurring on campuses in this day and age. It seems that the hook up culture, consisting of casual sex or sexual encounters, can potentially be influencing this “rape culture” that we are experiencing. We then considered all of the organizations, like bystander intervention programs or campaigns, which focus on combatting sexual assault. I think programs that help teach students about sexual assault are very important and honestly, much needed. However, it seems that there is a lot of talk and very little action.  Taking a class that dug deep into the roots of sexual assault by discussing disparities in sexuality and cultural norms gave me a strong foundation to begin to consider what we can do to push against social injustices such as sexual assault.

I think that students would benefit greatly if their knowledge on sexuality and sexual assault went beyond what they hear from the media.  As we have seen, sex dominates the media in all aspects.  If we could use that publicity to promote messages of sexual equality and social justice, we could really make a change to society’s perception of sexuality and gain enough support to put an end to sexual assault.

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