Sex Scandals in Society

 

Celebrities are good for a few things; they entertain us through music, television, and movies and they serve as icons in fashion and their different actions, but when they make a mistake, it becomes a statement for the rest of society (and for other celebrities who are making the same mistake). When prominent figures act in a way that is unlawful, unjust, or unacceptable, society likes to make an example of them. What comes to mind first, is Tiger Woods. Tiger Woods is one of the greatest golfers of all time and was LOVED by golf fans. However, when one of his mistress’ talked about her relationship with him, his name became worthless. Subsequently, more and more women came out talking about the same relationship that they had with Woods. Tiger Woods became hated by Americans for cheating on his wife and for sleeping with so many women. This sex scandal was all over the news and his family was stalked until he admitted to these allegations. However, in reality, he is probably not the only celebrity that does this. He is just the one that got caught and couldn’t cover it up. Another celebrity that comes to mind that was made of an example for his terrible acts is Bill Cosby. For anyone that doesn’t know, he was a comedian and actor that was loved by Americans for his entire career, until he was recently accused of sexually assaulting many women throughout the years. Cosby committed a terrible crime, but this crime has become a way to bring awareness to the frequentness of sexual assault.

 

 

 

Bill Cosby was accused of raping many women beginning in the 1960s. There are more than fifteen women that have accused Bill Cosby of sexually assaulting them, but no charges have been made. Bill Cosby paid one woman that accused him a large sum of money to settle the civil lawsuit against him (this is all according to a Huffington Post article posted in September of 2014). It has been incredibly clear that people are upset with Bill Cosby but more importantly they want him to speak out about these allegations. After polling fans of Bill Cosby, most said they wanted him to “own up to the mistake.” Over these allegations, Cosby has lost deals with NBC and Netflix and also lost countless fans. However, the only good that has come from this resulted in a fifty percent increase in the calls to the National Sexual Assault Hotline. The women that have come forth with these allegations about Bill Cosby have empowered other women that have suffered sexual assault to come forth and get help. The importance of making an example out of celebrities’ mistakes helps society realize what is really going on within our communities. Some other celebrities that were accused of sexual assault are; Mike Tyson, R.Kelly, 2Pac, Ceelo Green, Darren Sharper, Lawrence Taylor, Woody Allen, Sean Kingston, Marilyn Manson, and Ben Roethlisberger just to name a few.

Another name that has gotten much media for beating his wife is Ray Rice from the Baltimore Ravens. Ray Rice and his fiance at the time and now wife Janay fought in an elevator and both were taken to jail and charged with simple assault. However a few days later, a video was released of the fight when the couple was on the elevator and Ray Rice was seen dragging his wife’s body out of the elevator. This is what caused Rice to be suspended from two football games. However, what was most shocking was that his coach continued to support him and defend his character. Janay married Ray a few months later even though she was dragged out of an elevator.

 

This story reminded me of the class session of when we attended the art gallery that hung the pictures of the woman that was abused by her husband at such a young age. After many years of being beat and her children being affected by it, she got the courage and bravery to leave him and take him to court. Learning about this woman’s process has been incredibly eye opening because we learned how difficult the process is to protect your family against a man that has abused you for so many years. She has battled custody rights, restraining orders, and child support and the justice system still questions her. She has been a way for us to learn more about sexual and physical abuse and the role it plays in society. We know that one out of every five women are sexually assaulted on campus, but we do not even know how many woman are abused and do not report it. Celebrities get the backlash of their mistakes because they were once so popular in American’s eyes but we also need to save and help the people that are victims of abuse from your average person. We learned in class that eighty to ninety percent of sexual assaults are perpetuated by acquaintances, so if we know this statistic, how can we make a difference? What changes can we make?

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What’s Sex Got To Do With…My Final Thought?

Before taking this class; Sex and Society, I never really thought about sexual assault, how common it was, or understanding it from an academic stand point. I now know so much information that really has shifted my thinking in the best way possible. I feel like I have the knowledge to pass on to others and would be able to help anyone with questions in understanding various topics we have discussed such as; the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, queer, intersex, asexual community, BDSM, sexual assault, the hookup culture, and how society influences sexuality. However, in my opinion, the most influential and most important topics that we discussed are LGBTQIA communities and the hookup culture. The reason why I believe these were the most influential is because of how prevalent they are in the college scene and within society.

Learning about LGBTQIA was incredibly influential because I wasn’t very familiar with what really goes on in the community and what everything exactly meant. I had no clue what asexual meant before this class, I didn’t fully understand the process of a transgendered person, I didn’t understand the difference between queer and gay or lesbian, and finally, I didn’t fully grasp the impact that legislation plays in a person’s life that falls into one of the LGBTQIA categories. I also think one of the most helpful and impacting parts of this topic was when the LGBTQIA group came to our class to share their stories and answer any questions that we had. It was great to hear first hand accounts about what their experiences were like when they came out and what motivated them to be in this organization. After listening to them speak, I quickly learned how important it is for these organizations to be on college campuses all around the country because it is the best resource for someone that needs guidance in trying to figure out who they truly are. Also, learning about this topic has made me more sensitive about what I talk about and how I phrase my words because I realize how easily I could offend someone if I’m not careful.

The other topic I felt was most beneficial and influential was discussing the role of hooking up, whether it is on campus or after college. Within this topic, I felt it was necessary to discuss the battle against sexual violence and how much of a role it plays on campuses. I had no idea that one out of five women would be sexually assaulted. That statistic shocked me and still shocks me to this day. Discussing how frequent sexual assault is was important for me so that I can be more aware of the people around me. I have also used this to be safer on campus and to watch out for my friends around me if we go out. We discussed the role alcohol plays in hooking up and how dangerous it can be. Learning about this is beneficial for every college student to learn, especially before they enter their freshman year. Overall, this class has been incredibly important and helpful in learning about sex and society. I have learned so much about the topics that really matter and really impact our society.

When Will Universities Finally Understand?

As rape cases are becoming more and more public on university campuses, more is being done with this terrible problem of sexual assault. One out of every five females will be sexually assaulted on campus and one out of sixteen males will be sexually assaulted on campus. Why are these numbers so high on campuses and how can we stop this problem? It seems like the more people know about this, the more people will do something about it. On November 19, 2014, an article was released by Rolling Stone magazine about a rape that happened on the University of Virginia’s campus to a freshman girl. She is just now sharing her horrific story, but sadly it’s a story that is too similar to other rape victims.

From Rugby Road to Vinegar Hill, we’re gonna get drunk tonight
The faculty’s afraid of us, they know we’re in the right
So fill up your cups, your loving cups, as full as full can be
As long as love and liquor last, we’ll drink to the U of V
—”Rugby Road,” traditional University of Virginia fight song

This fight song sets the stage for the female student that was raped on Virginia’s campus because of the effect that alcohol had on her perpetrators and the influence it has around campus. After reading about what happened to “Jackie” (the name was changed in the article to Jackie for her anonymity), many things line up perfectly with what we have discussed in class and with what has happened in other cases of rape victims. In the article, one of the quotes that I could most relate to was: “Jackie’s orientation leader had warned her that UVA students’ schedules were so packed that “no one has time to date – people just hook up.” We find this same type of culture on the Vanderbilt campus. I wonder if it has to do with the level of academics at both universities- the students are so dedicated to succeeding in the classroom and with extra-cirriculars that they do not feel the desire to date or have the time. Do you think this is a valid reason for hooking up? Do you see this trend on campus or with other campuses?

In class we learned that conservative estimates suggest that twenty five percent of women experience sexual assault in their lifetimes and about eighteen percent of those assaults involve rape. Also, eighty to ninety percent of sexual assaults are perpetuated by an acquaintance. This was true for Jackie. She went out to dinner with a Junior in one of the best fraternities on UVA’s campus and afterward went to the fraternity house for a party. They went upstairs to “talk” and when she got in the room there were other guys in there waiting for her. A sad and scary quote she gave in the article was about what one of the guys said about her: “Grab its motherfucking leg,” she heard a voice say. And that’s when Jackie knew she was going to be raped.” This quote can be a reality for many people, more common than what we realize. Jackie was raped by multiple college fraternity guys in a small amount of time and could not protect herself. Forty four percent of United States sexual assaults are perceived to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and this was no exception in Jackie’s case. She explained how for three hours she could smell marijuana and hearing them drinking alcohol while seven different men took turns raping her. They abused her sexually and violently and Jackie escaped around three am once she was finally alone and she woke up. 

Once Jackie escaped the horrific scene and found her friends, the friends did not want to take her to the hospital because it would ruin their reputations on campus and Jackie’s. In the article, it explains how Jackie recalls what was said from her friends about what to do; “Jackie listened as Cindy prevailed over the group: “She’s gonna be the girl who cried ‘rape,’ and we’ll never be allowed into any frat party again.” I believe that this issue is why many people do not report when they have been a victim of sexual assault. It is a topic that can hurt so many people, that victims are afraid to share what had happened to them. The fear of reliving the story and the fear of their perpetrators out weighs their ability to go to an authoritative figure who can help. While I was reading this, I was wondering if the University of Virginia had an organization like Project Safe on campus. After the representatives from Project Safe came to our classroom, I realized that this organization is necessary on every campus because it truly is a safe place for people to get help and learn what their next step is after being a victim of sexual assault. One in five women are sexually assaulted on campus but only twelve percent actually report the crime to the police. The importance of an organization like Project Safe would have helped Jackie figure out what exactly she needed to do. 

What are the next steps to prevent something terrible from happening on campus like it did to Jackie? How do you think we could better educate people about the seriousness of sexual assault on campus? This needs to end but I believe it begins with us.

Beyonce: Feminism or Sexuality?

Beyonce is not a new name for anyone, so when an icon this big makes a statement, people listen. Beyonce established herself as a feminist during the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards when her background on stage said the word “Feminist,” as it matched with some of her lyrics in some of her songs that she performed. She wanted to make a statement and bring attention to the treatment of women. However, many people question Beyonce’s usage of the word “feminist” for many reasons. First, her newest album is hyper sexualized. She discusses sex and various sexual acts, and when she performs on stage, she dances in the upmost sexual way. During her Video Music Award performance, she was dancing on a stripper pole with her back up dancers. All of her dancers were in very skimpy outfits as was Beyonce, so many people question whether she is a feminist or just sexualizing women through her music, outfits, and dancing. This has been criticized by many people because she has labeled herself in this way.

The Eurythmics singer Annie Lennox commented on Beyonce’s performance and critiqued her for labeling herself as a feminist. “Lennox decried Beyoncé’s example as noxious to girls and young women who are fascinated by the “overtly sexual thrust” of her performances and declared her luxuriously sensuous persona “disturbing” and “exploitative” (The Huffington Post). Do you agree with this? Beyonce’s sexuality has created a split in opinions; she is a feminist and is comfortable with her sexuality or she is objectifying women by using her body and image by being sexual. In the next two videos you can see the differences in her sexuality with the different songs. In this first video she performs “Flawless” and “Yonce.” She is less sexual than the next video where she performs “Drunk in Love.” How do you feel after watching both videos?

Flawless and Yonce: http://youtu.be/SK4jYxmJD_o

Drunk in Love: http://youtu.be/QQVLgMRZuAU

In both videos, Beyonce uses her “flawless” body to grab your attention, so do you think this helps her case of being a feminist? After Beyonce did this performance, an academic class called “Beyoncé Feminism, Rihanna Womanism” was created at the University of Texas at Austin because of the amount of attention it brought to feminism. The professor (a professor of African diaspora studies) found that the most attention received by this were young black women, which is to say that Beyonce’s statement really did make an impact. The professor of this class explained that this is becoming a source of empowerment to women, that the lyrics “I woke up like this” is worth talking about. She also explained that Beyonce’s image is not just of sexuality and of extravagant items, but visioning that a black woman is worth all of this. Having this image of women keeps this belief alive, that women are worth everything and should be treated that way. 

http://33.media.tumblr.com/6f1cd688c351179ccbeed96b2586708b/tumblr_naufb6OFwI1qc3ni5o1_500.gif

In class we have discussed society’s role in sexuality. It starts at a very young age, even at birth. Girls are always dressed in pink and given dolls to play with, and boys are dressed in blue and given trucks to play with. We identify their gender without hesitation, not taking into account all of the other possibilities that a person might have (such as being asexual, transgender, or gay). Sociologists suggest that sexuality is a product of society, that the conditions around us shape who we are and our sexuality. Because of this and our biological makeup, we are expected to act in a certain way: men are supposed to act tough and unemotional, and women are supposed to be sexy, emotional, and stay-at-home-moms. Because of this societal pressure, this might explain why Beyonce feels like she has to be sexual in her performances through her clothes, dancing, and lyrics. For a woman, sex sells. This is found through magazine ads, music, clothing ads, and shopping stores. Women are trained to think about wearing makeup, nice clothes, and acting like a “woman.” You can see this on the cover of a Sports Illustrated magazine, a perfume commercial, or in a Victoria’s Secret advertisement.

Sexualizing women is even found within the music industry, not just by the performers but what is in the music videos. In rap and hip hop songs especially, girls are in music videos as a way to serve as “eye candy” and to draw in more viewers because of their bodies. For example, the song “Do My Dance” by Tyga definitely takes advantage of this. This song is all about getting with a girl and sleeping with her. The music video has so many sexual innuendos that you cannot miss and portrays what it would be like to have sex with one girl in particular featured in the video. You can listen to the song and watch the music video with the link below.

Though most music videos feature women as the “girl to sleep with,” many female hip hop artists also follow the social script of sexuality associated with being a woman. In the song “Motivation” by Kelly Rowland, you can see how she uses her sexuality to fit with her song. The lyrics require a sexual music video but you there is still a difference between male artists using women in their music videos and female artists using sexuality in their videos. What role do you see women and their sexualities play in music or even, everyday life? What are your thoughts about Beyonce and how she presents herself, especially now that she has labeled herself as a feminist?

Motivation: http://youtu.be/s1XozsBN5Z4

What’s Sex Got to Do With…Degrassi: The Next Generation?

Degrassi: The Next Generation is a television show that deals with the issues that teenagers face on a daily basis and portrays these issues to help teenagers understand that they are not alone. The show  includes issues of; eating disorders, rape, bullying, depression, suicide, and self insecurities. The show is still on air, but its’ first season began in 2001, and was one of the first serious teenage dramas that really exuded the seriousness of the issues that are present in middle and high schools. I began watching this show at a young age and looking back on it now, it really shaped my understanding of school and the people around me. In one episode, a girl was raped at a party after she was drinking for awhile. The episode showed what had happened when she was raped, as well as the affects it had on her for the remainder of the season. A lot of what I saw in that episode is a lot of what we have discussed in class. Paige (the character that was raped) needed a lot of the resources that we have on campus, here at Vanderbilt. ProjectSafe would have been a perfect place for her to go to, because she had a hard time with coping what had happened to her, and throughout the season she had flashbacks of her perpetrator. Comparing what had happened to her in that episode and knowing now how frequent sexual assault occurs, makes a show like this even more important. It truly shows what happens in a teenager’s life.

In class, we discussed how 80-90% of sexual assaults are perpetrated by an acquaintance, and most sexual assaults are perpetrated by repeat-offenders. Knowing this information is crucial in the safety of women on campuses, whether it’s in college, high school, or middle school. Having more shows like Degrassi, helps exemplify the importance of knowing about sexual violence, and even more important to have resources to help deal with this violence. What do you think? Do you think there should be more shows that portray the reality of sexual violence and college life? Or do you think it is inappropriate for viewers?

What’s Sex Got to Do With…Friends?

Friends, is one of the most played and replayed shows on TV and has some of America’s most loved characters. But what makes it so loved by everyone? It is because of how relatable the characters can be. The characters on Friends struggle with finding jobs, balancing relationships, and making money. They are a representation of life after college and being able to balance everything that comes your way. They exemplify the struggles that many young adults face in everyday life. Jennifer Aniston’s character, Rachel Green, faces the complications of relationships because she had just fled her wedding and soon-to-be husband. She left him at the altar and pursued her single status once she moved in with Monica (Rachel’s best friend on the show). Rachel faced many challenges when she became single and it began when she started dating. Rachel, Monica, and Phoebe all slept with many of the men that they went on dates with, whether it was the first date or fifth.

The characters on Friends defy some of Kathleen A. Bogle’s points in her book Hooking Up by defying the sexual double standard. Phoebe, Monica, and Rachel feel free to sleep with whoever they want and their “promiscuity” is never called into question. This comes as part of the post-college life for these women because there are not classmates or the college campus to judge them of their acts. They have no outside influence determining their actions. The men in the show; Ross, Joey, and Chandler also sleep with many girls on the show. Neither gender comments on this because their sexual acts do not impact them in any way. Each gender accepts each other, so, Bogle’s double standard is not found to be the case on the show Friends. What do you think? Do you see Bogle’s double standard, or do you think the characters completely disregard it?

 

What’s Sex Got to Do With…American Pie?

I’m sure we’ve all heard of the movie series American Pie at some point in our lives, as it has become a major statement and image of sexual experiences for people transitioning into the next and biggest phase of their lives: college. In the movie, a group of five male best friends decide to make a pact to lose their virginities before their high school graduation and hopefully on their prom night. These guys go through many obstacles to make their pact come true such as; being caught with pornographic material over a webcam that the entire school can see, masturbating with apple pie, convincing girls to go to prom with them, and overcoming obstacles in relationships that each of them are pursuing, in the hopes of having sex. In class, we have discussed the ways in which a person will try to take home another person, in the hopes of hooking up. The characters in this movie, do many of these steps so that they can take home their date and ultimately follow through on their pact.

In the book Hooking Up by Kathleen A. Bogle, she discusses that colleges are seen as a “safe haven” where students “felt as though they knew everyone and could trust them, even though most of their fellow classmates were technically strangers” (Bogle 132). Though the characters in the movie are in high school, what Bogle says applies here. The girls that the group of boys are pursuing feel more comfortable around them because they go to school with them and have known of them for awhile. Its a “safe haven” where the girls feel like they can trust these guys but in reality they are just wanting a hook up. What do you think? Do you think that Bogle’s ideas fit within this script? Do you even see this idea play out in your experiences in college?