Post-College: The Final Countdown

College is deemed as a time in ones life where one can do whatever he or she wants. There are no parents, no rules, and a plentiful supply of alcohol and horny boys and girls. This leads to a hook-up culture that resonates on college campuses that replaces the “dating” scene that took place during high school.

Freshman students come into college with many expectations that originated with media. Most of these expectations deal with the hook-up culture, because let’s face it, it’s inescapable. In Katherine Bogle’s Hooking Up: Sex, Dating, and Relationships on Campus, she outlines the process of “hooking up”. First, individuals must identify a hookup partner (random or known), trigger some sort of change going from strangers or acquaintances to act sexual, identify a place to hook up, and decide how far both parties feel comfortable going with each other. A big reason the “hook up” scene thrives on college campuses is due to the proximity of dorms to parties. Here at Vanderbilt, all fraternity parties take place on campus, so if students meet at a party and decide to go back to the room to “hook up”, it is relatively easy.

However, after these four years of essentially “messing around” and avoiding relationships, once college ends it is not so easy anymore. It’s crunch time to find “the one”. Remember all the couples in high school? It’s back! The hook up culture is very different and is now replaced with serious dating. According to Bogle and all the interviews she conducted, women often have an age that they deem ideal for marriage and don’t want to get married any later. They often have plans of their future lives and have an age set for child bearing as well. On the other hand, instead of wanting to be married by a certain age men have an age that they do not want to be married until. This may seem confusing but is true even in my friend group. For example, I hope to be married by the time I am twenty-six and have kids at twenty-nine, but my friend Christopher says will not even consider marriage before the age of thirty. With men and women idealizing different ages to get married and have children, someone has to give. Who ends up sacrificing their life plans?

In addition to individuals being forced to face the real world and their futures, the hook-up scene changes to dating for a multitude of other reasons. In college, when a two people meet at a fraternity party or any other on-campus event, there is a bubble of safety even with going back to the dorms with them. It is certain that both individuals go to the college, so even if they do not particularly know each other, they are sure to have mutual friends and this creates a level of comfort. However, after college this safety blanket is no longer there. When two people meet at a bar, they are strangers in all aspects: they knowing nothing about one-another, and this creates discomfort. Over fall break, I went to the University of Georgia, and instead of fraternity parties like we have here at Vandy, students spend their weekend nights going out to bars in Athens. This was fun, but similar to post college dating, it is unknown whether someone actually goes to UGA or is just hanging out at the bars, and this made me uncomfortable. From the time we are babies, “do not talk to strangers” is always being instilled in us, so this comes back around in the post-college dating scene.

In addition to the added stranger-danger aspect of dating, there are new expectations. In the college hook-up scene, seeing people making out on the dance floor is not a rare occurrence; in fact it is everywhere, and not much is left to the imagination. If this is what people are doing in public, who can say what is happening in the privacy of their room when the students go back. However, once college is over, dating is less casual and less “for fun” and more serious and for the purpose of finding ones future husband or wife. Therefore, sexual expectations are lot less than one would think especially on the first date. Being a freshman in high school surrounded by the hook-up culture, this shocks me. First, we back track from dating in high school to casually “hooking up” in college, and now we go from making out with strangers in college to no sexual contact on first dates post-college? In Bogle’s studies, she has come to the conclusion that though men will hook up with anyone, they want a respectable wife. In her interview with Jake, he admits that though he has slept with girls on the first date, he would never want a relationship with them. The farthest he would go on a first date is a goodnight kiss, and this notion was reflected by other males and females as well. Additionally, there is a stigma with the number of people women have slept with. In Bogle’s interview with Matthew, he admits that if a girl has slept with over 15 people that would concern him, but interestingly his number is over 100. Is that not concerning?

Overall, as seen by the interviews Bogle conducted, though the hook-up culture has died down, the double standard does not go away. Besides these social and environment issues, what else do you think contributes to the decline of the hook up scene in the years following college? Why do women generally want to marry younger than men? Why do men get to decide what is the right and wrong number of people for women to sleep with?

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Final Concept Analysis: Heteronormative Culture

 

The most important concept that I learned this year is the theories of our heteronormative culture. According to Webster’s dictionary, heteronormativity is defined as, “The belief that people fall into distinct and complementary genders (man and woman) with natural roles in life. It asserts that heterosexuality is the only orientation or only norm, and states that sexual and marital relations are most (or only) fitting between people of opposite sexes.” From all that I have learned this semester (so much I never knew before), it may seem somewhat lame that I picked heternormativity but I believe that it is imperative to understanding all the other theories we learned. Additionally, it is this heteronormative mindset that leads to the LGBTQI? community having to fight for inherent rights that they should already have, because sexuality should not define ones identity.

During the first half of this class, we read Introducing the New Sexuality Studies, and discussed many terms and theories within it such as BDSM, adolescent girls sexuality, gay and lesbian sexuality, anal sex, lives of immigrants and migrant workers, porn, fag discourse, femininity, domestic violence, medicalization of desire, sexual socialization, gender roles, and much, much more. However, as our knowledge of these concepts and identities exponentially increased, I kept facing the fact that in our heteronormative culture today, any forms of sexual relationships that is not between a man and a woman are considered wrong. This should not be the case because last time I checked it was 2014. Putting things in perspective, we have smart phones that can talk and are merely years away from self-driving cars, yet society cannot handle the fact that some men like men and some women like women.

Though I found all of this to be interesting, the second half of the semester so far is my favorite. We read Katherine Bogle’s Hooking up: Sex, Dating, and Relationships on Campus, and are focusing on applying these concepts to the hook-up culture seen on college campuses. Though we shifted to the hook-up scene, the heteronormative culture that we have here is still applicable. Though students often think that since there are no parents on campus, they can do whatever they want strings free, this is not true. There is a shift to hooking up instead of dating, but through interviews conducted in Bogle’s book show, there is a double standard between males and females that is also part of our heteronormative culture. For a male to have slept with a triple digit number of girls is extreme but okay, but for girls to even hit the low double digits, there is a stigma and they are considered “whores” and “sluts”. How does this seem fair? Our heteronormative culture is accepted widely, but shouldn’t be. This is not the 1800s, men and women should be equal in all facets.

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Before this course, I would have accepted the heteronormative culture that our society holds us to without a doubt, but now that I am enlightened to its discrimination, say we should all take a stance and be equal as human beings where sexual stance has no say in ones identity.

Are College Campuses No Longer Safe?

According to the Date Safe Project, “ one in four women in college today have been the victim of rape, and nearly 90% of these women know their rapists.”

Rape. Definition: the unlawful compelling of a person through physical force or duress to have sexual intercourse; any act of sexual intercourse that is forced upon us.

From the time we are in our teenage years, us girls are educated on sexual assault and the dos and don’ts of how to avoid these awful situations. We hear lots of stories of rape scenarios, but to most girls they are just that: stories. Though I obviously know rapes exist, until a week ago, I had yet to come across anyone that has experienced assault of any kind first hand.

One of my best friends attends the University of Pennsylvania, and for the first month and a half of college, we talked on the phone at least one, if not more, times a week to catch up and just talk about our respective lives. This was something I always looked forward to, but about six weeks in, my friend (let’s call her Chandler for protection reasons), started to get more distant and not respond to my texts and calls. Though I should have been more worried, I assumed it was due to college and all its accompanying stress. Chandler finally called me last week, bawling, and explained that she had been sexually assaulted. She was one of the 20% of women who had been raped. Chandler was leaving a party, and her friend Rob from one of her classes offered to walk her back to her dorm room. On the way they passed his room and he said he had to grab something and asked if they could stop by. Once they got inside, things got heated but then Chandler realized she was intoxicated and wanted to go back to her room. She explained that to Rob, but he got angry and started using force to hold her down. Chandler started yelling and crying, but he didn’t stop, and no one could hear her. For the next few weeks, she was scared to even leave her dorm room, yet alone face him in class. She started talking to a guidance counselor, and when she finally got the courage to report it to the school, they did nothing about it. They switched all of her classes, but what about the boy? Why does he get to go off scratch free while Chandler has to suffer through this for the rest of her life?

Let’s face it; though college may seem like a safe, carefree environment, it is not crime free. Rape can happen anywhere and with anyone, even someone you trust as a friend like in the situation above. This shouldn’t deter us college kids from going out and having fun, but we should be careful and responsible in our actions.

Currently here at Vanderbilt, we have many rape prevention clubs and resources such as Green dot, Party With Consent, the Psychological and Counseling Center, and the Margaret Cuningghims Women’s Center, which I did not even know existed until yesterday. These are helpful resources but there is not enough to promote that they exist and are here for us to utilize. Additionally, though we are taught many rape prevention caution techniques, each situation is different, and the techniques need to be updated with the modern age.

For a big part of my rape education, consent has been emphasized over and over again. However, especially when one or both parties have been consuming alcohol and or drugs, this is a very thin line to cross. Is consent still consent after a blood alcohol level above the legal limit? Keep I mind, for those of us under twenty-one, the legal limit is .02, so consent is wary even after a few sips of an alcoholic beverage. I am not saying to stop drinking alcohol all together, but to be safe while doing so because there are many unwanted consequences that can occur.

I believe because the lines of rape are hazy, especially when it comes to college campuses where drugs and alcohol are plentiful, we must tailor our education and prevention techniques to fit those situations. There is no specific script for how rapes occur, so we must come up with techniques that outline situations of today. In Time Magazine’s, “The Sexual Assault Crisis on American Campus’s,” by Eliza Gray, the solution to campus rapes is distraction. Trying to pull a drunk guy away from going home with a drunk girl can be quite a task and cause some fights, but innovative bystander intervention can be an advantage. An example they used that I personally thought smart was if one sees their friend in a sketchy situation with another girl or guy, distracting them with participation in a game, a trip to a local fast food restaurant, or even just chatter or gossip. Since most sexual intercourse does happen after parties when students are intoxicated, obviously all drunken sex is not unwanted, and does not all constitute as rape. However, bystander prevention and prevention techniques in general can only be useful to have in our tool belts. So remember to pay attention to those around you and stay safe Commodores!

What’s Sex Got to do with… Awkward

 

MTV’s relatively new TV show, Awkward, aims at educating and talking to teens about sex in a realistic and relatable way. Awkward producer, Lauren Lungerich created this show based on her drama filled hometown of Palos Verdes, California, which, coincidentally, is where I am from. To get ideas for this show, the cast and producers came to my high school once a year and talked to students about what goes on in a typical day, so the daily struggles of my school are reflected on the show, making it more believable in terms of sexual education to teenagers.

In this TV show, the producers go beyond the heteronormative culture of straight couples, and have characters that are gay, lesbian, and confused as well. I believe this is beneficial because teenagers that live in a very uniform area, consisting prominently of white heterosexual individuals, need to be exposed to other types of people as well. The idea that ‘different is not bad’ is one that I think a lot of people need to get used to in our ever-changing society; what is the “norm” today will not necessarily be the same in a couple of years. Also, because the plot is based on a real high school, a lot of the story line is easily relatable to teenagers everywhere, and therefore ironically makes it not awkward to talk about sex.

In today’s world, a lot of teenage education about sex comes from TV or the Internet, so it is crucial that we fill the two with good information that helps teenagers feel more knowledgeable and keeps them safe. Similarly, we need to expose teenagers to the real world by not only including information and media about straight couples, but expanding it to all couples and not promoting a right or wrong way to love.

We have come a long way from hating all gays, to “ask don’t tell,” to now where gay marriage is allowed in some states. Because of this progression, I don’t understand why some people are scared to become accepting of gays and lesbians and the LGBQT community in general? Just because they are accepting and open of other’s sexualities does not mean it is contagious.

Walk of Pride?

It’s November 1st. As I walk to breakfast, I see two cats, a schoolgirl, a pizza, and a firefighter. Wasn’t Halloween yesterday?

Though everyone knows these individuals are still in costume because they “shacked” or spent the night in someone else’s room, this walk of shame is taken lightly and even seen as humorous.

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Spotlight on Drag Bingo

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Though Mad Donna’s may seem like your average American restaurant, with typical menu items like queso, chicken wings, mac and cheese, and burgers, walk upstairs and you enter a whole new world. The menu items still remain, but every Tuesday night at 8:30 in the dark lit room the world of drag queens and burlesque shows creates a new atmosphere. The audience has a wide variety of people, from first-timers like us to regulars who dress for the occasions (some in drag, some in wigs) to out-of-towners here to have a fun night out.

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What’s Sex Got to do With… Halloween?

October 31st is a day looked forward to from the time one is in elementary school to high school and even college and beyond, though for very different reasons. Although Halloween is the second most awaited “holiday” after Christmas, according to the Huffington Post, 67% of people don’t even know how it originated. Halloween started as “All Saints’ Eve” or “Allhalloween” as a celebration dedicated to remembering the dead including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed believers. However, it is a contested day because Christianity believes it to have pagan roots. In college, though, every weekend may seem like “Halloweekend” with slutty costumes, drinking alcohol to forget the “tough” week, and the hookup culture; along with its expectations, the weekend of October 31st is especially built up. These few nights where girls and guys get to dress up in whatever costume they want is often taken as an excuse to act however they want.

This week, I saw a yik yak stating, “I’m excited to not remember this weekend,” and because of all the hookup and rape culture we have been talking about in class, this yak really stuck with me. In the ambiguous definition of rape, there are blurred lines in what constitutes as consent when both parties have consumed alcohol and or drugs. Additionally with all the costumes, fun, and scariness associated with Halloween, also comes the expectations. For some reason which I have yet to comprehend, many girls and boys base the quality of their weekend on who or the “many who’s” they have hooked up with during the course of the three days. In terms of every holiday, I often hear girls say, “I have to find a super cute boy to hook up with because it’s Halloween (or ‘because it’s Christmastime’ or ‘because it’s Valentine’s day’).” Especially in terms of Halloween, the walk of shame Saturday or Sunday morning is one to remember due to the costumes worn from the night before and knowing with certainty what the individual was up to the night before. But my question is why is that considered something positive for the world to know you were sleeping or “not sleeping” at some guy or girls dorm?