Adolescence is a difficult time for everyone. All young people struggle to find themselves and to define their identity. However, while adolescent females struggle to develop their sexuality and identity in a society where they are expected to sexy but not to have sexual feelings of their own, or rather they are supposed to be sexual objects but not sexual subjects (Tolman 153-158), males also face many difficulties because they are very restricted by a need to protect their masculinity by never appearing too feminine or weak. If boys lapse or deviate from the social standards, they risk becoming a target for unrelenting homophobic harassment. In order to avoid this, most young boys work very hard to convince others of their heterosexuality at all costs.
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?
The recent discourse surrounding cultural appropriation has many people wondering what cultural appropriation is. According to the author of Who Owns Continue reading
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
On any given day, you can just be scrolling down your twitter feed and see tons of posts about school, netflix, food, love, cuddling, and …butts. Big booties seem to be the new obsession of this generation. Continue reading
Throughout this semester, I have learned a lot more than I actually thought I would. There is a huge relationship between sex and society and the two connect in many more ways than just one. Above everything else we discussed about in class, I think one of the most important things we talked about regarding the relationship between sex and society is hook up culture and how it affects rape culture (especially on college campuses). This topic is incredibly relevant to myself, as I am a college student. It is also very true in the sense that college campuses thrive from the hook up culture. And along with this, the hook up culture that involves drugs and alcohol and partying—contributes to the existence of a rape culture on college campuses.
Everyone knows that while college is very grueling academically—the weekends can be pretty fun. College campuses are filled with frat parties, house parties, sports tailgates, and bars. To go along with these, there is always an abundance of both alcohol and drugs available and easily accessed. When all of these things come together they create an environment that a hook up culture thrives inside of. After every weekend (or night that students go out) you hear various stories about who hooked up with who and what they did. As young teens begin to grow up and become more sexually active, the hook up culture continues to become even more popular.
My first week of college reinforced the idea that dating barely exists anymore. Perhaps it does exist outside of college for the graduated generation, but it is irrelevant and absent in college life. There is something about college that largely encourages a hook up scene opposed to a dating culture. If two college students are to start a relationship with one another—it will most likely emerge out of a hook up. Students will usually start “hooking up” before anything else. Then, after they become exclusive, or realize they like each other—they may switch from “hooking up” to being in a relationship. Typically, that is how college (and even high school) relationships form—nobody starts out by dating.
Alcohol is also a huge factor in the hook up culture. A lot of students feel the need to consume alcohol in order to feel more comfortable, outgoing, and not as shy—when going out to parties. Without alcohol in their system, some students fear possible rejection and think it is necessary to drink in order to have fun. Once alcohol gets into the mix of things, sexual assault can become more and more common. While I do think sexual assault and power based personal violence will also happen without alcohol being involved—it can definitely increase the chances. Another thing about alcohol is that when people start consuming it and grow to be intoxicated they can no longer give sexual consent. This can cause a lot of problems. Although I don’t think there is any chance that dating will ever take over the college hook up culture, college students do need to be careful and be aware of what could possibly happen at parties once alcohol and drugs are involved.
For me, the most important concept to understand the relationship between sex and society is heteronormativity. The Oxford dictionary defines heteronormativity as “denoting or relating to a world view that promotes heterosexuality as the normal or preferred sexual orientation.” Throughout the semester we have seen how much this concept plays out in our modern world despite burgeoning support for the LGBTQI community.
The song “Sexy can I” by Yung Berg, Ft. Ray J, is arguably asking for sexual consent throughout the song. Starting almost every line with “Sexy can I” asking if he can perform sexual pleasures in different kinds of ways. Some may argue that this is a form of sexual consent because of the use of such explicit language talking about how the way she shakes “it” makes him like “oh”.
“Girl how you shake it, got a nigga like (oh)
It’s a Kodak moment, let me go and get my camera”
“Sexy, can I, visit you at work?
While you slidin down the pole, no panties, no shirt
Then you climb back up the pole, then you drop and do the splits”
Debra Tolman, writer of “Adolescent Girls Sexuality” would use the terms “sexual subjectivity” and “sexual socialization”. She would use the term sexual subjectivity for either the male or the female, because the male is expressing himself as in he is entitled to having the sexual feelings he is having and making the active decision on talking to the girl in sexual ways. While for the female (A dancer), she is putting herself out there shaking her booty and swinging on the pole; she is entitled to her sexual behavior. For the term sexual socialization, it would be toward the woman; because she is socialized that woman should be the object of a man’s desire.
The women he is talking about in this song are viewed as sexual objects and are being used to sell the song. Could this be viewed in the Marxist approach? She is using her body to make money, while Yung Berg and Ray J are using her to sell their song to the public.
Steven Siedman in “The Social Construction of Sexuality” states that sex is viewed as social. That people are born with sexual nature and are biologically driven to engage in procreative behavior; social factors influence with whom this behavior is engaged with (11). With this said, some may view this song as no problem, because it is natural for these behaviors to happen. The girl has the mindset that she is a sexual object for the man and it is her job to please him. This heterosexual behavior is natural throughout history (10). How do you think the public may have perceived this song if it was guy to guy or girl to girl?
Sex is a huge part of today’s culture now, so it is a primary seller. You see it everywhere, not just in music but in all of the entertainment business and fashion business, like underwear and lingerie.
What are your impressions on society using sex as a big time seller? Do you think the song would have sold if it were a female singing to a male?
Here we see the post-college arena of dating reflected by Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. His intention is to make her fall in love with him – is a reflection of social scripts concerning how a man should act really that alluring?
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.
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?