What’s Sex Got to Do With Cards?

We all know everything there is to know about straight people. They’re everywhere. Gay men and lesbian women … we know a little about them. Enough to get by, or at least not to horribly offend someone. Queer people… (is that term not offensive anymore???). Bisexual women are hot, obviously. Threesomes, am I right? But what if the person who is bisexual is… a MAN!?

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Final Concept Analysis Post

For me, the most important topic that we covered in class this year was sexual objectification. I had no idea that so many different aspects and parts of society played such roles in how boys define girls, and vice versa. Sexual objectification’s meaning is different for everyone, especially men.

In the text, we learned that some men are afraid of looking homosexual, and therefore objectify woman. Certainly, most men would not agree with this statement. However, the way that society has been over the past few decades has certainly shaped this mentality without men realizing its impact. We red many interviews of men and learned that there is wide variety of sexual preferences, especially during intercourse that men prefer. Although not homosexual, men can have some strange preferences based on their desires.

In learning about sexual objectification, we also learned about sexual assault and rape. I think that sexual assault (in particular rape), and sexual objectification have a lot in common. To me, women who are raped are not viewed as wholesome to the offender, as he/she views him or herself.. They degrade the victim, and dehumanize them in the act of seeking sexual or mental pleasure. The pleasure involved in rape cases is something that is an ongoing, very serious problem. Rapists are all trying to fill some sort of void, and fill it by pushing their problems to someone else in one of the worst ways possible.

Learning about people living wholesome lives after experiencing sexual assault was very interesting to me. It brought joy to me knowing that some people experience such sadness, and though the darkness, they can see light at the end of the tunnel. I really enjoyed visiting the museum and photo collection held here at Vanderbilt. All of the pictures were very eye opening. Although no one in the class has undergone exactly what the woman photographed went through, I think that it all brought a deeper understanding to the long-term effects of domestic violence, sexual assault, and sexual objectification.

When we talked more about sexual objectification and rape, more windows opened when we learned about programs on campus, and were required to do an on campus group project. This way, all of the students were able to learn about different ways to stay safe on campus, and learn about the resources that we are offered. I think that this was helpful, but it also made me realize which programs seemed effective meanwhile others seemed to be put in place but didn’t make an impact.

Overall, I feel this class was extremely helpful in making conversations about sex and the many impacts it has on society today. I think that the class made this topic a lot easier to talk about. It made talking about very important and sensitive topics such as sexual assault something that I could talk about comfortably with my friends, in a way that made us all learn. Being able to learn about the sensitive and dark sides of being apart of the LGBTQIA community was incredibly eye opening, and made it easier to look at things with more background and understanding.

Seeing Double

Kathleen Bogle’s book, Hooking Up, devotes an entire chapter to discussing the double standard as it exists on college campuses. In it, she illustrates how women are seen as “good” if they do not have sex with many people, do not dress provocatively, and take things slow and wait awhile to have sex. A “bad” girl is one who may be incredibly sexy, but has sex with many men, dresses improperly, and has sex when she wants to. Bogle’s research has shown that men and women in hookup cultures want different things; men want only sex and women want relationships. Now, (setting aside psychological reasons like women being more emotional and getting attached more easily) some women are looking for relationships because they want to marry in a few years. Other women may feel the need to be in relationships to protect their reputations and not be labeled “sluts” for having sex. As far as sex goes, men can have sex as much as they want to without having to worry about any sort of social backlash; they have basically no rules. For women, however, it is a different story.  It is very easy for a woman to get a bad reputation– if she hooks up too often, hooks up with too many different people, hooks up with two friends (or frat brothers), dresses too scandalously, or behaves too wildly. When women do engage in these no-no’s, they are labeled as “sluts,” stigmatized, ostracized, and not seen as candidates for relationships. It seems women who want to be in relationships almost have to trick or coerce the men to be in them. Bogle found that guys are a little more willing to enter into friends-with-benefits relationships, although they are still worried about women wanting “more.” Because clearly men and women want different things, men want hookups and women want relationships, why do women not opt-out? Men are in a higher position of power within hookup culture, because that is all that they want. If women choose not to participate in hookup culture, they don’t really have any other options.

As an undergraduate female at Vanderbilt, I have seen, and even experienced firsthand, much of the double standard and differing goals of male and female students. One guy I’ve heard of is extremely well known for hooking up with lots of girls; people who talk of him almost regard him with a sort of awe. On the other hand, my female friend was once worrying about being seen dancing on guys at parties, as she didn’t want to get a bad rep like some other girls who were known for sleeping around. Guys really don’t have many “rules” governing what kind of behavior is acceptable. Hooking up with someone else’s girlfriend may make him mad at you, but you’ll still probably gain a lot of esteem from your friends. Really, guys can hook up with whomever they want, whenever they want, and not face much (if any) stigma. Girls, however, have to watch their steps. I do not agree with these labels or stigma, but I am describing what I see as dominant scripts here on campus. A woman who avoids sex and parties altogether may be branded a “good girl,” someone innocent and naive, or possibly a “goody-goody” who stands on a moral high ground above the other people who do engage in those behaviors. She can’t be too “good,” but woman cannot go too far in the other direction either. If she drinks and parties too much, she may get a name for that, especially if she makes a habit of getting “sloppily” drunk, passing out, or throwing up. If a woman has sex with too many people, she is seen as a “slut,” and then is less desirable. If a woman is looking for a relationship, she can’t have sex with the candidate too soon, or else he won’t see her as relationship material (I just want to point out that it takes two to tango here, he had sex just as soon as she did). Now, a woman’s safest bet here is to have a boyfriend (if she can snag one), or even a friend-with-benefits. She wouldn’t be judged for sleeping with too many people, or regarded as “too good” to hook up with anyone.

The problem is that a large amount of guys are not looking for relationships. They view college, especially the first couple years, as a time to let loose and have fun. Everyone just wants to party and live the college experience, right? I think that many freshmen, guys and girls, come into college with this mentality, but that over time, it gradually changes. I agree that girls are more likely to want relationships, but that there is no clear course to finding one when hooking up seems to be the only option.

I think this double standard is completely ridiculous, though the solution is not to start slut-shaming men equally. Men and women should be able to have sex whenever, however, and with whomever they want (with consent). No one should have to feel embarrassed about their sexuality. Having sex does not make someone a bad person. Our culture needs to recognize women as sexual beings with desires of their own who can make choices for themselves and do not need the fear of outside judgment to keep them in line. It is absurd to me that today, in 2014, men and women are still not equals. They may be protected from discriminatory practices by law, but in social situations with socially constructed rules and scripts for behavior, men are often favored.

How do you think we can work to eradicate the double standard? Why do you think guys do not seem to want relationships, but girls do? Does the double standard apply to non-heterosexual and non-cisgender people?

Football, Fraternities, and Rape

With students attending college now more than ever, the hookup scene and culture have grown in popularity. Whereas college was once a male dominated space, the presence of women on college campuses has surpassed that of men. In Hooking Up, author Kathleen Bogle writes that for every 100 women on campus, there are approximately 80 men. T Continue reading

What’s Sex Got to do With….The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show

victoria-secret-fashion-show-2003

Every year, young girls and women from all over the country wait in anticipation all Fall for the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show to come around. This year it took place on Tuesday December 2nd and will air on television on December 9th. The infamous fashion show is filled with ridiculous outfits, crazy runway walks, concert performances, and stick thin models. Each model has a perfect body that is extremely skinny yet curvy, pretty hair, flawless skin—realistic right? This fashion show, while it may be fun to watch, also puts the wrong idea into the minds of young girls and women throughout the country.

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, Lexington Armory, New York, America - 07 Nov 2012

While the fashion show is extremely entertaining—not to mention that it is filled with beautiful women, it is extremely demoralizing to women. Not only is it demoralizing, but it also most definitely objectifies women and sexualizes them. It shows women all over the world, and especially young girls, that body image and appearance is all that is important for females. It does not matter if you are an intellectual—what matters is what you look like. The fashion show reinforces the widely speculated idea that men only care about the way a girl looks, but not about her personality, intelligence, or interests. Young girls already are constantly reminded of this everyday through billboards, magazines, television shows (etc…) and the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show comes around to prove that this point is true. We live in a world that currently sexualizes women ALL the time. There is a stigma in current day society that all a girl is good for are her looks. Women are constantly being sexually objectified in advertisements for clothing, perfume, or even for food. This sexualization of women in the media is a huge reason why young girls commonly develop body image issues, eating disorders, and distorted views of themselves. As a societal community we need to change this ideal and show women everywhere that looks are not all that matter—or the only thing that will get you places in life.

 

 

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?