In the second chapter of her book Hooking up, Kathleen Bogle describes the history of how the dominant intimacy script shifted from dating to hooking up. She begins by responding to calls from various media outlets for a return to a more conservative sexual morality, which usually involve condemnations of hookup culture. She points out that dating is also a recent phenomenon, and that it replaced what came before it just as mush as hooking up replaced dating. The point of this chapter is to detail the transitions in intimacy scripts that led to dating, away from dating, and to hooking up.
The institution of marriage is the process of negotiating a legal and social contract between two people. Everybody is expected to get married in their life as early as possible to signify the legitimate transition into adulthood. At times, some people do not even know why they want marriage other than the fact that it is what we are supposed to do when we get older: get married, get a job, have sex, and make a family. This helps men and women maintain high social statuses by combining family wealth, production, and relationships. That is why two people who are not the same race or social class are always looked down upon for wanting marriage. Not only does the institution of marriage come with independency and approval from family and friends, but it also comes with benefits from the government such as legal protections and immigration rights.
Although marriage is a social institution, it is not a stable one. Marriage and the reasons for marriage are constantly changing. Currently, marriage is not the only representation of adulthood, and people are becoming more independent. Even though marriage should be based on the instances of unconditional love, the reasons for marriage extend beyond that to the point that love could have nothing to do with it. Referring back to the benefits people can receive from marriage, immigrants often use marriage as a visa to live in the United States. This is one of the safest ways for immigrants to become a part of the United States without becoming a citizen, while also being able to function to get a job and live healthily in contrast to the video we watched “Out in the Fields”. In that video, women had a hard time emigrating from their countries to a safe environment because the situations they came into marked them as illegal, which made them unable to get a job or anything to help themselves. When they were put in that position, it forced them to either get involved in the sex trade, or, like the video, work into the fields where they were prone to sexual assault.
For example, in the television series Prison Break, the main character decides to break his brother out of jail, but he does so with the help of his immigrant wife. He made a deal with her that he would marry her in order to help her start her life in the United States as long as she did simple tasks in order to help him break his brother out of prison. With this, she was able to live her own life outside of the deal she made.
How do you think the institution of marriage is perceived by the majority of the United States? Do you think it is less important now then it was in the past? Do you think marriage in the terms of helping someone emigrate is legitimate or should it only be for love purposes?
A few weeks ago, a local Nashville Doula (named Merrill Durham) came into our class to explain what she does for her profession and why. A doula is a woman who helps pregnant women throughout the magical journey of pregnancy. Doulas provide both essential moral and necessary physical support to expecting mothers and guide them through the grueling nine-month process of being with child. The word doula actually comes from the Greek meaning “a woman who serves.” Doulas understand birth as an irreplaceable experience that women will remember for the entirety of their lives. Doulas offer a close companionship and comfort to pregnant women and help lead them through their processes with reassurance and encouragement.
Merrill Durham was first introduced to natural birth only a short 4 years ago in 2010. Immediately after experiencing her first home birth, she began to understand how natural, normal, and pure birth is and should be. She began to attend multiple in home natural births over the next few years. She studied up and read every book and watched every movie on natural births and doulas and fell in love with the profession. It was clear in class as she was presenting how passionate she is about her work and about in home births. Merrill, herself, then became pregnant in the year of 2013 with her own child and her passion for natural births continued to grow. She birthed her daughter in her own home and experiencing the birth first hand only made her realize how special and natural birth really is. Merrill Durham was in labor for four days. While this seems crazy (opposed to a hospital birth in which labor typically is much shorter), Merrill loved the experience and it brought it her closer to her daughter in a unique way.
Studies have shown that there is an increasing amount of benefits to having a doula available at births and throughout pregnancy. When doulas attend a birth, there tends to be 25 percent shorter labors, a 50 perfect reduction in Caesarean births, a 40 percent reduction in pitocin use, 30 percent fewer requests by women for pain relief, and 60 percent fewer epidural requests by women. A lot of women also choose to do home births instead of hospital births because there are multiple benefits. While hospital births are now most popular and well known (due to their convenience), home births historically have been very normal. A lot of women choose to have a natural in home birth because they are in the comfort of their own home and are mentally much more open to giving birth. Also, it is more beneficial for the child because the mother is in a much more relaxed environment. Furthermore, the absence of medication is better for the mother as well as the children in the long run—and doulas often encourage a completely natural birth with no pain medication.
For some reason, there are various myths about pregnancy that have been spread over the years that scare expecting mothers. While pregnancy should be thought of as a wonderful, happy, and joyous experience—it is stereotypically categorized as extremely painful, tiring, and altogether terrifying. This is where doulas come in. Most doulas grow to be very close to their pregnant patients because they spend a lot of intimate time and help the expecting mothers get rid of all of their pregnancy fears. A lot of women think that pregnancy will ruin their body and stretch out their vaginas, which is very untrue. Women also think that pregnancy is going to be the most painful thing they will ever experience—and that will make it a horrible experience.
After Merill Durham’s presentation in our class, I thought a lot about in home births versus hospital births. Although most people do not traditionally use a doula, I think I definitely will when I decide to have children. The way Merrill explained her experience—it made it seem like she grows extremely close with her patients and they are exceptionally comfortable around her. I think it is very important to have that tight nit relationship with the people and doctors involved in your own pregnancy. Women who have negative experiences during their pregnancies most likely are unfamiliar and distant from their doctors and nurses. I feel that if I had a doula who I was close with while going through my own pregnancy, it would be much more pleasant and comfortable. Doulas usually attend births for women who desire to have natural births without medicine or painkillers. I am not sure if I could have a baby with no medication—although Merrill explained natural births as being very beautiful. Whether or not I have a natural birth or choose to use pain medication, I will definitely hire a doula. I want my pregnancies to be as sacred and memorable as possible and enjoy the process instead of being uncomfortable and scared.
Would you prefer to have a home birth or a hospital birth? Do you want to have a doula present at your birth? Why do you think there’s a certain stigma on doulas and in home births? What stigma do you see associated with them? Why do you think women aspire to be doulas instead of nurses? Aside from the physical benefits, what are the mental benefits (provided by the doula) for a woman giving birth?
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.
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?
Racial hierarchies around the world consistently rank “whiteness” as more valuable and other races as less valuable. Being able to “pass” for white, which is a fluid commodity rather than a set racial identity, oftentimes opens up spaces of privilege while being perceived as “not white” in conjunction with being an immigrant, can be very limiting and harmful. For immigrant women particularly, racial hierarchies, in which whiteness is often valued and being “other” is restrictive, greatly influence their social experiences in the countries to which they immigrate. This racial phenomenon looks very different in different regions. In the United States for instance, Asian males, who in some parts of the world, are seen as white, are not viewed as “white enough”. As a consequence of being viewed as lower ranking in the hierarchy of male bodies, according to Kong, their bodies are desexualized, making it difficult for them to thrive and express their sexuality in this culture.