Feminism as a Basis for Equality: last concept analysis

which is the most important or influential concept to understanding the relationship between sex and society that we covered in the class and why?

I believe that the most important concept to understanding the relationship between sex and society that we covered in class is feminism. I believe that feminism is the most crucial concept covered in this class because of the common misinterpretation of the term. Feminism, as we have defined in class, is the movement for political, social, and economic equality for men and women alike. It has been noted by people including stars such as Emma Roberts and Taylor Swift that to many people in this society, the term feminism is perceived in a negative manner. According to Taylor Swift, many girls “think it means something angry, or disgruntled, or complaining, or they picture rioting and picketing. It is not that at all. It simply means you believe women and men should have equal rights and opportunities.” This quote highlights the lack of understanding of the term that exist in this society and its aggressive connotations.

As a society that is steadily progressing in women’s rights and opportunities in all aspects, this term should not be one that is misunderstood. Still today, women face discrimination simply because of gender and organizations such as “He for She” aim to eliminate that discrimination. This concept was brought up multiple times in class and is connected to many of the other concepts we discussed in class as well.

Equality for men and women is progressive and long-awaited for Americans and should continue to be addressed publicly and with efforts to raise awareness. Discrimination can take many forms and along with gender discrimination, we discussed discrimination based on sexual orientation and race. All of these forms of discrimination allow for an intolerant and unjust society. I believe all of these are crucial in understanding sex and society because they expose the major issues that lie within our society’s ability to exist and feel accepted by others. One’s sexual experiences and choices should be unique to each individual and those choices should not be left for judgement of others.

Feminism means equal opportunities for both men and women but also implies that there not be a double standard regarding sex and society. While it is quite obvious in our culture that men are applauded for having multiple lovers, it is also known that if a woman has multiple lovers she is more likely to be labeled as promiscuous. This is an example of gender inequality and remains a major issue in today’s society and affects the sex culture we live in. Along with hook-up culture, this makes for a difficult and confusing social script for women to live by and follow.

Spreading the ideas of feminism and promoting the equality of the sexes, I feel, would eliminate many of the issues we face in society relating to sex and would be the basis of reform for acceptance. Once we can establish equal opportunities for men and women alike, maybe we can extend that form of equality to acceptance for sexual orientations and race.

What’s Sex Got to Do with…the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show?

The Victorias Secret Fashion show has existed since 1995 and is an annual fashion show sponsored by Victorias Secret. The show features Victoria’s Secret apparel and it’s models. Most of us in this nation and even the world have heard of this annual fashion show and some even wait all year to watch it on television. The show features different performers and new customized lingerie each year. Aside from the appreciation or interest in the “clothing” displayed in the show, many watch simply to witness the physique of the models sporting this lingerie. These models are extremely well-known and idolized in our society and country. Images of these models are everywhere on social media especially as the date of the show gets closer.

Aside from the show that exhibits elaborate and extremely expensive lingerie, the show sends a questionable message to all its viewers with these models that the show features. A typical model for Victoria’s Secret has a height of 5’10 and weight of 121 pounds. This height to weight ratio is considered one that is far below average and indicates an eating disorder. By simply seeing these models on television, you can tell how thin they are. However, as a society we declare this type of body image as “perfect” and the ideal. This is a dangerous message to send to not only young females watching the show but all people that are exposed to it. This show relates to the idea of the male gaze as we perceive this type of stick-thin body as pleasing to males. It also sends a message that wearing very little clothing in a public setting is acceptable and for the purpose of appealing to others.

The models in this show are idolized and contribute to concepts we discussed in class such as the male gaze and objectification of women as they are “put on display” for the world to see exposed in skimpy outfits. 

“Sexual Assault Crisis” through the lens of the “Rape Capital of America”

An article written by Eliza Gray was published in Time Magazine was assigned as reading for this class in October. This article, titled “The Sexual Assault Crisis on American Campuses.” The article focuses on the town of Missoula, Montana. Missoula was declared as “America’s Rape Capital” after Thomas Perez, the U.S. Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights stood before a press conference and announced that “in the past three years, there have been at least eightyreported rapes.” This article goes into detail in defining what is considered sexual assault and rape according to not only the school but also includes the definition provided by the FBI. The first part of this article addresses the problem at hand found at this college town. As we have mentioned in many classes this semester, it is found that one in five women will be the victim of an attempted or completed sexual assault while in college. With this finding and the declaration of reported rapes in Missoula, worry and confusion spread nationwide. These statistics created a dangerous and frightening public image of college campuses. The article proceeds to convince that these statistics shouldn’t be “taken to mean that young American men are a horde of violent rapists.” The author also notes that among those sampled, the reports of the worst offenses were committed by a small group of students and were committed by repeat offenders rather than a widespread of students.

Along with Missoula, the Obama Administration released a list of” 55 colleges under federal scrutiny over how they handle sexual-assault complaint.” Ivies such as Harvard and Princeton were only some of the colleges on this roster. The article proceeds to address how this type of college culture exists and thrives. In a re-enacted conversation between a University of Massachusetts researcher and an actor that is portraying a a study respondent, the audience is provided with some insight on the thought process and progression of events that instigate or result in sexual assault. He describes a setting of college guys in fraternities seeking out naive freshmen girls and using their inexperience of alcohol to create this type of “opportunity” for sexual assault. Although very despicable, this type of scenario seems realistic and possible in many college campuses. The article further explains steps that Missoula has taken to prevent and eliminate the sexual assault and rape issue that exists on their campus. This includes education for students about sexual assault and bystander-awareness programs. Years later, students report a better overall mood on campus and a decreasing reference to the campus as the “Rape Capital” of America. Many feel, however, that without intense federal interference, the issue of sexual assault and rape on college campuses in America will not slow down.

A beneficial aspect of this article was its thorough explanation of how complex the issue is and how many different things are involved in defining, reporting, and handling sexual assault on college campuses. A limitation that exists in this article is that the article might appear to include certain statements that seem to attempt to provide an excuse or reasoning behind sexual assault and rape or trying to provide some sort of reassurance that the campus is not as bad as it may seem according to statistics.

I connected this article to the Project Safe presentation that we witnessed in class regarding steps made to improve our campus issue of sexual assault at Vanderbilt. This presentation included similar statistics to this article about the prevalence of sexual assault on college campuses and aim to provide a resource for victims. I also can connect this article to the concept of “hook-up culture” that exists currently in college campuses and how that type of culture might be attributing to the prevalence of sexual assault as sexual encounters may beoccurring more often and/or casually.

 

An example that I found to relate to this article is this image from the Internet:

This image resonated with me because of the choice of object. As mentioned above in the re-enacted interview between a University of Massachusetts researcher and an actor that is portraying a a study respondent, the respondent describes a scene that involves partying and consumption of alcohol that is thought to contribute to the issue of sexual violence and rape on campuses. The red cup shown in this image with the title of “Sexual Assault at College” is clearly linking the two together associates both as occurring within the same setting or one being a result of another. Although this connection might seem like one that is well-known, it can be related to the new definition of sexual assault including the concept of “consent.” It is also made known in the article that while intoxicated with alcohol, consent can not be given. With a link between both sexual assault and alcohol consumption in college, this clearly poses a problem. This image connects to the “hook-up” culture that we have repeatedly discussed in class as it depicts a situation of being intoxicated and “hooking-up” with no relationship status and could contribute to opportunities for sexual assault or rape to occur. Although this article did not make any statement or provide any statistic that confirms a cause and effect or strong correlational relationship between alcohol consumption and sexual assault, it is to be considered that the type of atmosphere that includes a party and alcohol consumption may be related in college.

Do you think that attempts to prevent sexual assault on Vanderbilt campus have been effective?

Had you heard of Missoula as being named the “Rape Capital” of America before reading this article?

Do you think that sexual assault is linked to alcohol consumption on this campus and in general?

Project Safe for a safer campus

On November 17th this semester, our class welcomed a presentation from two guest speakers from Project Safe. I found this presentation to be one of the most influential presentations that we have witnessed thus far. The two women were extremely knowledgeable and dedicated to their roles in Project Safe and were extremely passionate, which provided for an enticing and engaging presentation. Project Safe, as defined by the guest speakers, is a center for sexual misconduct prevention and response. The mission of the center is to “provide information, support, referrals, and education about power-based personal violence (including sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking), as well as consent, healthy relationships, and healthy sexuality to the Vanderbilt University community.”  Vanderbilt has been affected by many reported incidents of sexual assault and personal violence and so this presentation was extremely relevant to this campus and at this time. The guest speakers explained how the center serves as a resource for victims that can assist in finding he or she proper support through resources such as counseling and/or legal matters. The women described the issue of sexual assault on the campus by providing statistics regarding the number of personal violence incidents that have occurred on campus while respecting the confidentiality of the victims. The guest speakers provided insight on how crucial this center is to the campus in giving an idea of just how many victims they are approached by and how their jobs require availability for long hours of attending to and providing emotional support of the victim. A beneficial aspect of this presentation was the energy of the two women that spoke. Their dedication and passion that they have for Project Safe was obvious and inspiring. The women were also extremely helpful in answering questions that our class had for them at the end of the presentation. Our class asked questions such as about the rape scandal that occurred within our Vanderbilt Football team and the prevalence of the emails that we receive reporting sexual assaults on campus. I was especially curious about the emails that we receive about reported sexual assaults, as I wrote my op-ed piece on this topic. These emails are alarming in quantity and I wondered how many of the reported sexual assaults are represented in these emails and the criteria that an incident fits into in order for it to be sent out in an email to the campus student body. A limitation of this presentation might be that the two women could have provided an example of an incidence of sexual assault that had occurred on campus that might have been especially heinous in order to express the immensity of the problem that personal violence signifies in general. Although it is not necessary for the presentation, it might have added strength to the power of the audience reaction.

A connection that I made from this presentation was to many of the previous content we have covered involving sexual misconduct and sexual violence. This presentation reminded me of the exhibition, “I am Unbeatable” photographed by Donna Ferrato that we viewed in October in the Fine Arts Gallery. Seeing the images that portrayed acts of abuse from that exhibition left me with an unsettling feeling and an obvious disgust for this type of abuse. Project Safe aims to prevent acts of violence such as the ones exhibited by Donna Ferrato and provides a resource for victims of personal violence. With both the raised awareness by Donna Ferrato’s photograph and creation of this exhibition and the Project Safe center becoming more well-known and utilized, our nation can attempt to eliminate violence like this and emphasis the disgust that characterizes sexual and power-based personal violence.

An example that I felt related to this presentation of Project Safe is this image that I came across on the Internet.

This image is very informative and covers a wide range of statistics that are related to sexual violence and assault specifically at the University of Texas in Austin. As mentioned during the presentation and during many classes, one in five woman are sexually assaulted while in college. Many of these statistics are alarming and shocking. Eighty to ninety percent of assaults on college campuses involve victims that know their assailants. This relates to the question that the guest speakers addressed about the emails from VUPD that the student body receives informing us on sexual assaults on campus. Both women notified us that many people do not pay close enough attention to the wording and content in the email and should be aware that many emails specify whether or not the assault was considered an acquaintance or not. This might influence the perception of sexual assault on campus and may alleviate some fear that might stem from the fear of being assaulted by an unknown person wandering on campus. It also might promote wariness about those around us and to not trust all of our acquaintances and to be more alert on campus in general.  A key statistic in this image was that less than five percent of survivors report their crime. This statistic is one that is consistent with the guest speaker’s presentation and implies that the emails that the student body receives only accounts for reported assaults. With such a small percentage of assaults being reported, one can assume that sexual assault occurs quite a bit more frequently than we would infer from those emails.

 

Do you feel safe on this college campus?

Why do you think such a small percentage of survivors of sexual assault are actually reported?

Do you feel as if Project Safe would be a resource you would utilize if this situation arose for you?

An Empowering Experience

On October 10th this semester, we had a guest speaker come in and inform us on her work as a doula. Her name was Merrill Durham and she is a birth doula that serves clients in Middle Tennessee. Merrill’s presentation was both personal and informative. She began the presentation by telling her own story of how she became inspired to pursue a career as a birth doula. She first stated that she was probably just as confused by and uniformed of home birthing and the job of a doula when she was invited by her friend to attend her home birth. Merrill continued to describe the experience as an immensely sacred one and one that changed her life forever. This experience was one that inspired her to begin to learn and study everything she possibly could about labor and childbirth. She attended a number of home births and also births that were held at hospitals. She also had a first-hand experience when she became pregnant and chose to have a natural birth at home. She repeatedly stated how empowering that experience was for her and it became her goal to empower other women in their own birthing experience.

Merrill’s presentation included a lot of information on what exactly home birthing and having a natural birth entails. A beneficial aspect of this presentation was that she did not express bias or a purpose for persuading the audience to participate a natural home birth. She provided factual information about both home birthing and birthing at hospitals with the use of drugs. Another beneficial aspect was the information provided about birthing in a hospital that I, personally, was not aware of. She informed us on the dialogue that exists within the hospital and the ability for the birthing mother to request for or refrain from any procedure that occurs in labor. She informed us that sometimes hospital doctors will inform the patient that she will “need” a procedure done while this may be implied that the patient has no choice in the matter when in fact she most certainly does.

A limitation of this presentation would be that she could have provided more history regarding natural birth and possibly include references to birthing from previous centuries and how the development of modern medicine has influenced the success rates of birth. I feel this may provide more substance or support for her presentation.

This presentation connects to previous course content we have covered including feminism and gender. The birthing experience is one that is unique to women and should be done so in a way that best empowers the woman. A woman should not be told how or in what setting the birth of her child should be done. Feminism involves political, social, and economic quality among both men and women and women’s method of birth should not be dictated by another, whether it be the husband, partner, or friends and family. Women should not be kept in the dark at hospitals about their birthing process and made to feel inferior to doctors’ authority.

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

An example from media that I immediately thought of during this presentation was an episode from Keeping Up With the Kardashians. My sisters and I watch this show regularly and I had remembered an episode that I watched with them over the summer involving Kourtney Kardashian’s birth of her daughter Penelope. In this episode and scene attached above, Kourtney talks with her sisters, Kim and Khloe, about thinking about a conversation she had with a midwife. Kourtney explains how the midwife she spoke with has owned a birthing center for seventeen years and they help do at home births. Kourtney ponders this idea as she says how the birthing could include all of her close relatives to come over to her house and have her own son be able to watch the birth. Kourtney says, “I feel like it’s empowering to know that you can do it.” Her sisters remind her that during her previous birth to her son Mason, she was numbed using medicine and that she doesn’t remember how painful the birth was. Her sister’s advise against this type of home birth however Kourtney still questions if it is right for her.

I felt this scene not only provides an example of a woman that is considering an at home birth and replicates the type of setting that Merrill had described as an at home birth, but also attests to the pressures from others that a woman faces when deciding a method for her own birth. The aggressiveness of Kourtney’s sisters’ responses gives an idea of how often loved ones feel as though they know what is best for another’s birthing experience. Even as Kourtney tried to further explain the process of an at home birth that she learned about through talking to a midwife, her sisters interrupt and respond in an almost appalled way. This relates to the idea that birth is an extremely personal experience and is unique for each woman, as Merrill mentioned in her presentation. Society attempts to put pressures on woman and voice opinions about birthing methods and can influence the overall perception of birth and how it “should” be done.

Do you feel that a natural at home birth is a popular option for pregnant women?

Do you feel as though there is enough information made possible about doulas and the option of a natural at home birth?

Do you think that a birth in a hospital appeals as safer than an at home birth with a doula?

Would you consider a hospital the safest place to be in labor and birth a child?

What’s Sex Got to do with…Gender and Instagram?

http://www.buzzfeed.com/rossalynwarren/some-men-are-showing-what-it-would-looke-like-if-guys-acted

This Buzzfeed article featured men imitating Instagram pictures posted by women. The article pokes fun at the Instagram photos stereotypically posted by women and includes posts titled “the cozy coffee shot”, “the skinny arm pose and/or the sorority squat pose”, the “eat clean/green smoothie selfie” and more. Even without seeing the actual posts and just reading the titles, one can understand the mockery being used. Although I found this article to be amusing and fairly accurate :), I found it to be an incredibly obvious representation of gender stereotyping and also representative of a heteronormative society that clearly separates men and women in this way.

As we have discussed in class, men and women have different norms in many aspects society. Femininity and masculinity are terms that describe women and men accordingly and behaviors that are perceived to conflict with one’s sex and/or gender are considered abnormal.

The men in this article post these pictures in a way that exhibits themselves in a “feminine manner” and reinforces the differences in gender norms how these posts of men acting or presenting themselves in a “feminine” way is comical and should be laughed at.

This article was actually sent to me by my friend who thought this was extremely funny. Although the post is not particularly offensive or meant to hurt anyone, it does highlight hyper masculinity as it laughs at men doing “feminine things” such as taking pictures with coffee and puppies and “selfies” at the gym. This might be offensive to men that identify as feminine or perhaps homosexual men by mocking these behaviors and pointing out their absurdity with humor.

This article definitely relates to the topics discussed in class and the gender differences that both exist and are reinforced in this society. Social media such as Instagram continues to be a source for these norms and stereotypes to flourish.

What’s Sex Got to Do with…Taylor Swift?

http://www.buzzfeed.com/perpetua/taylor-swift-was-right

This Buzzfeed article really brought up some issues and discussion topics that we addressed in class. Taylor Swift has been an extremely popular artist for years now and even recently was awarded the Dick Clark Award for Excellence at the American Music Awards recently. In this Buzzfeed article, a multitude of quotes by Taylor Swift were depicted and many of them related to feminism.

Earlier in August, this class discussed feminism and defined it as a movement for social, political, and economic equality for both women and men. We discussed how in todays society, feminism is often perceived as a bad word and even referred to as the “F word.” In Taylor Swift’s first quote of this article she says that, many girls say she is not a feminist because they think it means “something angry, or disgruntled, or complaining, or they picture rioting and picketing.” She says that “it is not that at all” and “it simply means you believe women and men should have equal rights and opportunities.” I felt this was a powerful message as it provided clarity for her fans and identified a common misconception among society about what exactly feminism is.

Another quote that followed this one by Taylor Swift was one that referenced gender stereotyping and a double standard that we have repeatedly talked about in class. She says, “Why is it mischievous, fun and sexy if a guy has a string of lovers that he’s cast aside, loved, and left? Yet of a woman dates three or four people in an eight-year period she is a serial dater and it gives some 12-year old the idea to call her a slut on the Internet? It’s not the same for boys, it just isn’t and that’s a fact.” Swift acknowledges the double standard that exists between the sexes in this quote. She relates her own dating experience and how the media has perceived her as a “serial dater” since she has had multiple relationships in past years. She notes how men are perceived in a positive way as “mischievous, fun and sexy” when they have had multiple dates and sexual encounters with women.This quote is one that I believe to be true and feel it definitely relates to the course content and concepts we have discussed throughout this semester.