“Social Media Is Destroying Our Lives”

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To begin rapping up the final blog posts of the semester, I went back to the very first articles we read at the beginning of class to see if anything caught my eye. I was then taken back to the third week of classes to the Huffington Post article entitled “What I’m Reading: Sex, Teens, And Social Media.” After taking the class and reading this article again, so many new ideas are brought to mind especially in the first section. The first section is titled ‘Social Media Is Destroying Our Lives’ and relates significantly to our lives as college students.

Sasha Belenky, the author of the article, brings up many topics that are extremely relatable. First off, she talks about the obsession with sex throughout social media. She talks about how hookup culture is preferred over dating culture, and social media is the reason for a lot of this modern change in sexual scripts. Throughout this specific portion of the article, Belenky quotes Nancy Jo Sales’ article in Vanity Fair entitled “The Bling Ring” that looked at modern day teen relationships. A girl from L.A. described to Sales that “oral is, like, the new kissing” (Belenky). In addition to sex going much farther much quicker, boys pressure girls for nudes extremely often. Applications like snapchat make this incredibly easy for guys to get away with because, supposedly, the picture “disappears.” Of course the receiver can screenshot the snapchat, but the sender gets a notification if the receiver decides to screenshot. But even scarier and more problematic is that recent studies have come out saying that Snapchat has been keeping the photos this entire time. This entails that the photos that were once said to “disappear forever” haven’t at all.

In addition to social media making it easier to have sexual encounters, social media also makes it easier for boys to talk to girls rather than facing them straight up. We all know those people who will only talk to you on social media or text you and won’t confront you in person. Or, even better yet, we all know those people who won’t talk to you when they are sober, but when they are drunk they come up to you and talk to you like you two have been best friends your whole life. This is why social media is such a problem. It is because with the overuse of it, people forget how to have real, live, face-to-face friendships and conversations. This makes people socially awkward, and it makes people nervous talking in social settings. As a girl named Zoe stated concerning boys talking to girls, “They’re definitely more forward to us online than in person. Because they’re not saying it to our faces.” (Belenky).

Social media makes teens in today’s world socially awkward because social media is their life. A group of friends at the mall admitted to Sales that social media is ruining their lives, so Sales then asked why they don’t just get off of it. In return, a girl responded “Because then we would have no life” (Belenky).

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Social media is also a competition with whoever gets the most amount of “likes.” Whoever gets the most amount of likes is considered “more popular.” I agree that this idea is true in our society because I have many friends that will delete a post on Instagram if they aren’t getting a lot of likes in the first 5 minutes of the post. I also have friend who will say things like, “oh my gosh, how did she get that many likes on a picture?!” This statement agrees with the idea that likes on social media is a popularity contest because when you see a person with a lot of likes on an Instagram post, for example, you in turn consider them “popular.”

In addition to being a popularity contest, it becomes a sexual contest. A girl named Greta described to Sales that, “More provocative equals more likes” (Belenky). Her friend Padma agreed, stating, “It attracts more guys and then it makes other girls think about doing it just for the attention” (Belenky). I also agree with this ideology because there are many Instagram accounts that are created solely for the fact of posting sexual posts to get a lot of comments from guys. The girls that have accounts like this live off of guys comments to them, in turn making their self confidence solely based off of the male gender’s perception of them. In addition, the majority of boys who comment on these photos would not say their comments to a girl in person, in turn leading to girls obsession with what boys are solely thinking of them, nothing the guys would say to them in real life.

This article relates to ideas we have talked about in class because it relates to rape culture. Yes, social media is destroying our lives, but one limitation of the article is that it doesn’t talk about rape culture. Social media causes many issues with rape and human trafficking because people will start online relationships with each other. Throughout these relationships, they will form a trusting bond without ever meeting face-to-face. When they meet face-to-face, they often realize that the person they thought they were talking to the entire time wasn’t truly that person. In turn, this leads to many rape and human trafficking incidents.

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An example of this in our world today is the T.V. show entitled “Selfie”. This show follows the life of Eliza Doolittle, who lives a life with the goal of achieving fame on social media by only posting selfies. She is extremely awkward and struggles making friendships in real life. This show is a perfect example of how social media destroys us. It creates a life obsessed with talking to people over phone or computer, in turn creating teens who cannot interact with people in real life.

Some questions to consider include do you ever think our society will completely “drop” social media? Do you think our society will ever realize what a burden social media truly is and have it deleted? Also, do you think teens in the next generation will be more obsessed or less obsessed with social media than the current generation?

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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?

Bogle’s Three Sexual Scripts…How Have Things Changed?

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In Kathleen A. Bogle’s novel Hooking Up, she describes the three sexual scripts throughout history and how we have gotten to the script we are at today. The first script is called “calling culture” and was primary until the mid-1920s. Calling culture was dictated by the girl and her mom. Her mom had all the power to say who is allowed to come into their home and “court” the girl. Courting was considered as “more of a career move than a romantic interlude for young men” (http://www.literary-liaisons.com/article009.html). Courting was done with the intent to marry, and was generally acted upon by members of the upper class. It is a perfect example of gender and power because the mother and daughter had all of the power in this situation. The boy would attempt to call the daughter, and the mother would decide if she wanted to invite the boy in or not. In addition, the young women would have multiple suiters, an idea that is exactly opposite than in today’s world because in many cultures, males are allowed to have multiple girlfriends or even wives. The mom had two major jobs in calling culture. First, she was to make sure that things between the daughter and a suiter did not go too far. She knew that there was always a logical line. Thankfully, knowing that this was more of a business decision for both parties saying that “all of a woman’s property reverted to [the man] upon marriage” (http://www.literary-liaisons.com/article009.html), neither the daughter nor her suitor led either of them on when they weren’t serious in the relationship. The second job by the mom was to keep lines of appropriateness and suitability intact.

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After calling culture led to dating culture. Dating culture lasted throughout the 1920s-1960s. Surprisingly, dating culture in this time was used in the lower class. The word “dating” was considered as a derogatory term because when there was no more room in the lower-class home for a couple to have a date, they had to go out somewhere else to have time together. The couples were much more independent and were able to have much more time for themselves, so the upper class soon adopted dating culture. The younger crowd was who was most into dating and they realized that if they could go out to different places, then they would get more alone time. In the first two months of dating culture, women tended to judge men on their looks, what fraternity they were in, their memberships, and what they had materially. On the other hand, men tended to rate women solely on their looks. I believe this idea, that women were rated solely on their looks, and the idea that the transportation to get to the dates was tough led into hookup culture.

Hookup culture started in the mid-60s and still goes on today currently. Hookup culture occurs in high schools, colleges, and even after college, but the majority of hookup culture occurs in college. Hookup culture for males is defined as hooking up with as many women as they can and then being congratulated for it. If females did the same thing, on the other hand, they would gain derogatory labels like “slut” or “whore”.

I think this portion of Bogle’s novel titled Hooking Up relates significantly to the concept analysis post written by @starrsara14 titled “What’s Sex Got to Do With…Does This Shirt Make Me Look Like a Slut?” Personally, I found this blog post incredibly interesting and relatable. I think this relates to Bogle’s description of the 3 sexual scripts significantly between the dating and hookup stages of the sexual script. The two reasons why I believe the dating changed to hookup is one, because of the  transportation issue of dating and two, because of the fact that women were only judged by the men on their looks. I believe that this idea made the change into hookup culture because the idea of hooking up, specifically on college campuses, begins with when a guy thinks a girl is cute, they start flirting and then they go for it. The guys feel like they can just go for it because when they hookup with girls, they are congratulated for it. On the other hand, when girls hook up with a lot of guys, they gain stigmatizing labels like “slut”. This specifically leads to the idea of girls not wanting to look like a slut with the clothes that they wear because they don’t want to gain these specific derogatory labels. The idea that males only judge females on what they look like and even what they are wearing makes girls gain the labels like “slut” that they try to avoid. This, in turn, is one of the reasons that girls went from having the power in the relationship in calling culture to having very little power in hookup culture.

An example of this idea that girls don’t have the power in relationships anymore is shown in the MTV reality TV series “16 and Pregnant”. This show is filmed with a lot of unrealistic drama, but the message I am trying to portray happens in our society more and more every day. Maci, a girl from Chattanooga, TN and her boyfriend Ryan had a little boy together named Bentley. Recently, Ryan chose to randomly leave Maci and Bentley. This is a perfect example of how girls don’t get treated with a portion of respect in modern day culture than they did in calling culture before the 1920s.

The real question behind this is simple: how did we get from calling culture, where women had the power of the relationship, to hookup culture, where women have very little power and only gain social stigmas? Is my evaluation right, or is there more to it? Also, why does one gender have to be in power in hookup culture? Marriages are supposed to be equal, so why in hookup culture does one gender have to gain all the sexual labels and one be congratulated for hooking up with people?

What’s Sex Got to Do With…Nashville?

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The idea of heteronormativity is an extremely important topic in our media today. In the TV show Nashville, heteronormativity is at an ultimate high. Thankfully, it is obvious that the show has made some distinct efforts to create diversity through sexual orientation and racial identity in the film.

The show Nashville shown on ABC is a drama about the lives of Rayna James, Julliette Barnes, and many other country music stars just trying to make it in the industry. The idea of heteronormativity is defined as the normality of heterosexuality throughout our society and the exclusion of the LGBTQ community. Throughout the show, there are many sexual relationships between the characters. There is a point where Rayna James has to choose between 2 men to marry, and throughout the show Juliette Barnes dates and hooks up with almost all of the male characters on the show. There are many heterosexual relationships on the show, but thankfully, the producers do make an effort to show diversity in the film.

In addition to heteronormativity, the idea that “sex sells” is prominent for the TV show. Throughout the show, there are many sex scenes and sexual relationships. The show was primarily advertised as a family show, but when the majority of the show turned out to be about sex, the producers received much backlash. The truth behind this is simple: sex sells, and the relationships and hookups shown throughout the show is what makes it dramatic and makes people want to come back and watch more.

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The characters in this photo are Will Lexington on the right, an upcoming artist in the music industry. On the left is the first guy with whom he had sexual relations. This is the man who makes Will know for a fact that he is gay. Will goes through lots of trauma throughout his coming out because he is a young, good looking country star who seems to be the definition of masculinity. His character is a distinct example for the producers trying to depict diversity because it is through a person nobody would think to ever be gay.

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Secondly, the producers make a distinct effort to show an interracial relationship in the show. Gunnar, a white male, and Zoey, an African American female, date throughout Season 2 of the show.

What do you believe are the effects of how the producers of Nashville planned an interracial relationship and a gay, male, country artist in the show? Does this have any major affect on heteronormativity in our media? Does the idea that Nashville is in the deep South and that country music tends to be very old fashioned and conservative have any effect on the majority of the show being heteronormative, or is this just the way our society is? The producers could have chosen any character to be gay, but why did they choose Will Lexington?

What’s Sex Got to Do With…Bruce Jenner?

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Many rumors have been going around the media about Bruce Jenner transitioning into a woman.  Once the world’s best athlete, a label that fits the definition of masculinity perfectly, now transitioning into a female through surgical modification of his masculine features is something nobody would have ever guessed to happen to him.

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“Cheered on by a wildly whooping and whistling crowd of 70,000, the United States’ Bruce Jenner grimaced his way across the finish line late last Friday afternoon to claim the one Olympic honor more precious than gold: the title of “the world’s greatest athlete.” (Time.com) Bruce Jenner was, and still is, one of the most well-respected athletes of all time. He won a gold medal and set a world record in the decathlon at the Summer Olympics of 1976. Competing in the decathlon is the ultimate test of strength, agility, and true athleticism, consisting of 10 track and field events. Setting a world record in this at the Summer Olympics defines him as the world’s best athlete, a label that fits perfectly in the definition of “masculinity”.

This idea brings up the overarching question, which we have talked a lot about in class, of what defines “masculinity” and what defines “femininity” and who defines these traits?

Masculine traits tend to include dominance, a lack of showing emotion, being the bread winner of the family, physical strength, independence, and security in himself. Feminine traits, on the other hand, tend to include being weaker than the male (where did this idea come from?), more emotional, physical attractiveness, caring about their physical appearance, and usually working at home and caring for children. The overarching question is this: why are masculinity and femininity defined as stated, and how did it become this way?

Personally, I believe that it started with the primary, biological trait that men are physically stronger than women. God made them this way, and there is nothing females can do about this. But the idea that they are physically dominant over women makes them feel like they should be mentally dominant over them as well. This is where the extreme difference in traits comes from. It comes from the idea that men are the ones going out and bringing home the money for the families, and the women are the ones that stay at home and cook, clean, and take care of the children.

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I realize that this video is from TMZ and TMZ is never truly justified, but I believe this video is a great representation of all of the changes Bruce has made to himself to make himself more “feminine”. From the plastic surgery in his face, to his hair, to the shaving of his adams apple (something considered to be a true, masculine feature), to his painted nails, his changes are a great representation of how the world describes femininity.

The overarching question is as stated: how did “masculinity” and “femininity” gain their separate traits?  Henceforth, besides the media who defines these traits today?

What’s Sex Got to Do With…That’s What She Said Jokes?

In thinking about social life on college campuses today, many ideas come to mind. One of those which came to my mind is the idea of sexual jokes, one of the most well known being none other than “that’s what she said” jokes. A brief explanation of what “That’s What She Said” jokes for everyone who doesn’t know…

If someone says a statement that can be taken as sexual, someone says “that’s what she said”! These jokes can be made by both males and females.

If you still don’t understand or just want some funny examples, visit this site:

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=that%27s+what+she+said

I, personally, think these jokes are hilarious and have to admit I participate in them a lot, but they can also be analyzed to find the deeper meaning behind them. As I explained above, these jokes can be made by both men and women, but the majority are said by men explaining that something that a woman said is sexual. Men say these jokes to make a point that the woman didn’t realize she was saying something that could be taken as sexual. Or the men say them to their guy friends making fun of them saying something that is thought of as “feminine”.

In addition, the phrase “That’s What She Said” is actually suggesting that the female is obviously thinking about the sexual topic itself. This relates to the idea that we have discussed throughout our class that it is okay for guys to have sexual desires and feelings, but when females have sexual desires they are made fun of (with these jokes, for example) or worse, socially stigmatized as a “slut”. This also relates to gender stereotypes, a topic we have talked about throughout this quarter.

In addition to gender stereotypes, “That’s What She Said” jokes can also be thought of in a BDSM culture fashion. Even though these jokes aren’t always said by a male about something a female said, they are meant in that fashion, which relates to the male “dominant” and female “submissive” traits. Even in relationships today, many women feel like they have to play the submissive role. These jokes are an example of this because the female has no idea that she is saying something sexual, while the male is making it known to her that of course, what she said can be taken sexually.

In thinking about how “That’s What She Said” jokes relate to other topics we have discussed, the idea of heteronormativity comes to mind. “That’s What She Said” jokes only demonstrate heterosexual relationships in that typically the female says the line that is supposed to be sexual. It is possible for the jokes to portray a lesbian couple, but not all LGTBQ subjects are depicted. This is a perfect example of how our society is extremely heteronormative.

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A perfect example of “That’s What She Said” jokes in our media today is how many times they are said throughout one of my favorite TV shows The Office. Sexual jokes, especially on shows like The Office are a major part of the comedy, but especially the “That’s What She Said” jokes portray how heteronormative our media in our society is today.

Some questions to think about include why is our media so heteronormative, and what are ways that current TV shows are making an effort to change this? What are other examples of sexual jokes that are heteronormative? How can the media change from a state of heteronormativity to neutral for all sexual orientations? Do you think it is possible for the media to ever be completely neutral for all sexual orientations?