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.
Upon being asked the question of what the most important and influential concept to understanding the relationship between sex and society covered in this semester, I began to think about all the different concepts talked and read about in class. When thinking about everything, I began to see connections between different terms that came up throughout the semester that were discussed that I had never seen before. The concepts are all fairly different, yet are all still related in some ways because of the manner that society has been formed over the years. Agents of socialization, sex education, social constructions, and heteronormativity have all become interconnected, creating an environment of hostility towards people who do not identify as heterosexual.
The agents of socialization people are exposed to impact their views on everything in life. However, their views on sex are affected more so than some other aspects of life are. The socialization of sex and sex education has a more prevalent impact on how a person forms their ideas and views on sex. The environment a person was raised in, their religion, schooling experience, family, friends, and the media all heavily influence the formation of what sex means and should mean to a person. But, this can be dangerous- with the amount of societal constructions (such as what “good” or “normal” sex is, gender, etc.) that exist today, it is easy for the manner in which a person was socialized to negatively affect their views on sex or gender. For example, many religions do not condone homosexuality, so if someone is raised in that environment, it is likely they would judge and discriminate anyone who is homosexual.
SInce gender is a social construction, it easy to stereotype and discriminate against those who do not fit into the gender binaries that exist today (boy and girl). So, those who appear as lesbian, gay, queer, bisexual, or transgender are easily stereotypes and judged. The heteronormative ideals that are held by the majority of the people in this country also lead to stigmas and discrimination. When people who have other sexual orientations other than heterosexual, they are often mistreated by society and can even be susceptible to violence, sexual violence in particular (as seen in the video of the transgender man who used the bathroom of a New York McDonald and was beat for it by the manager, yet was charged for a misdemeanor when in actuality he was the victim ).
Over the years, this problem has perpetuated. It has become easier for discrimination and violence to occur without any repercussion on the perpetrator. The connections between these terms and these societal constructions and manifestations all lend to why society is as it is today and why people discriminate, act violently toward, and outcast nonheterosexual people. Having a good understanding of all these terms allows for a person too see the interconnectedness and understand why these horrible things occur. It allows for people to be aware of the problem and not lend to it or be an enabler.
Upon going home for Thanksgiving, I spent the majority of time in my house with my 10 year old sister. As a mode of compromising, we would spend part of the time watching the shows she wanted to watch, then the sows I wanted to watch. We probably watched at least five DIsney Channel shows a day.
Watching these shows as a kid, you are unaware of the true plot, implications, and meaning of situations and dialogue in the show. After watching these shows as a college student, it has become evident that all these children that star in the shows are over sexualized and the content of the show lends itself to heteronormative ideals.
There are multiple times throughout the shows where there are subtle sexual jokes and innuendos present; some are ever extremely inappropriate, yet it goes unnoticed by the viewers because they are far too young to understand. Also, if one of the characters in the show is in a relationship, it is a very standard, stereotypical, and heteronormative relationship that is to be expected of any typical American teenager.
The fact that all of the of the relationships featured in these shows are so heteronormative is curious, especially considering the strides that have recently been made in the acceptance of homosexual relationships. Thinking about why this could be, it seems as if displaying a homosexual relationship in Disney Channel for young kids to see would be “inappropriate,” and many parents would probably not approve. Also, it would be far too “controversial’ for the executives of Disney to do such a thing.
Why do you think it is that there are no other relationships displayed in Disney Channel shows rather than the heteronormative ones? Do you think that there ever will be any other types of relationships displayed? Why do you think it is that sexual innuendos are often included in shows?
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:
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.
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?
“Ho told me the other she sent a nigga to jail. I thought it was legal to beat your hoe.” These are the opening lines to Kevin Gates hit single ‘Sposed to be in Love. He goes on to describe the current state of affairs between him and his significant other. In short, the young lady has decided that she no longer wants anything to do with Mr. Gates. She has even moved his belongings out of her home as a show of her seriousness in her decision to cut all ties with the narrator. In response to the young lady’s refusal to have anything more to do with him ,he declares that they are “supposed to be in love and ain’t no breaking up, and there ain’t no walking out”.
Throughout the song, Mr. Gates alternates between telling listeners that he will not allow his significant other the luxury of leaving him alone and describing the behaviors that led her to want to leave him. These behaviors include violence as well as lying and general mistreatment of her. This song reinforces the ideals of heterosexuality and power that plays out in our society everyday.
In her article Sex and Power, Kristen Barber argues that hetero-sex is a mechanism by which men dominate women. She goes on to say that in order to understand the subordination of women in the United States, one must analyze the practice of heterosexuality. Heterosexuality enforces gender norms where men dominate women and women are supposed to adhere unquestioningly to this dynamic of male empowerment and female dis-empowerment. In ‘Sposed to be in Love, we can see this dynamic at play. This song depicts a man exercising his dominance over his female partner. She no longer loves him and has decided to leave, but as the dominant party in the situation he feels as though it is his right to set the parameters of their relationship. Including, but not limited to, whether or not she can leave him. Rap music and songs like this specifically make way for such misogyny to thrive.
This begs the question:What will have to be done before our society can see a balance in gender roles??
After spending a quarter reading many articles and watching many documentaries, I thought it would be interesting to go back and look at the very first article we read titled “Theoretical Perspectives” by Steven Seidman. Specifically looking at the section titled “Feminism: the gender of sexuality”, the ideas of feminists such as Nancy Chodorow, Adrienne Rich, and Catherine MacKinnon and the relationships between males and females and how they became this way. The ideas of Nancy Chodorow specifically look at the origins of how males and females have gotten to be the way they are today. In The Reproduction of Mothering by Chodorow, she describes that for girls and boys, the mother is often the most loving between the two parents. There is an “extended and intense intimacy between mothers and daughters [resulting] in girls developing a syche that is relationship-oriented. Accordingly, girls tend to connect sex with intimacy and as a means of caring” (Seidman 6). In contrast, boys tend to break away from their mothers at a much earlier age, and come to spend much more time with their “achievement-oriented” (Seidman 7) fathers, hence them becoming more oriented with more characteristics that are described as “masculine”. Chodorow states, “boys’ sexuality tends to be more performance- and body-oriented” (Seidman 7). For this reason, a typical boy activity as a child is going out and playing football with his father, while girls stay inside and play with dolls, a much more “caring” activity than the competition of sports. Looking later in life, she states that, “boys can be intimate, but they will likely express sexual love in terms of the giving and receiving of erotic pleasure” (Seidman 7). For this reason, many females are attracted to boys on a much more emotional level, where boys are characterized to only thinking about sex.
According to www.stopstreetharassment.org, two thirds of women have been harassed on the street. In one (informal, online) study, 99% of women had experienced harassment, including the following types.
In C.J. Pascoe’s article, “Guys and just homophobic”, the gendered norms in which young boys are raised in are analyzed. He claims that adolescent males are brought up to be homophobic, and that attacks toward actions and behaviors that are not explicitly heteronormative further the attacker’s own masculinity. The article provides multiple case studies of young boys in social settings and Pascoe was able to discern how the male social sphere operated by saying that: “men or boys who do not conform to normative understanding of masculinity and sexuality should be mocked, humiliated, and possibly feared.” But what contributes to this compulsive heterosexuality? How can we stop it? This article will look at the role Marvel has played in shaping the compulsive heterosexual norms of young males, and what steps it has since taken to rebrand itself.
“He says ‘I don’t get it, why are you still a virgin at 24?’
He says ‘I don’t believe you, I’ve seen you walk, virgins don’t walk like that’
He asks ‘Why though? No offence though.’
I ask ‘When was your first time?’
He says ‘I was 12’
He says ‘I know what you’re thinking, that’s too young.’
He says ‘She was older than me.’
I ask ‘How old?’
And he says ‘It’s better that the girl is older, that’s how I learnt all things I know’
He licks his lips.
I ask again ‘How old?’
He says ‘I could use one finger to make you sob’
I ask again ‘How old?’
He says ‘Boys become men in the laps of women, you know?’
He says ‘I’d look after you, you know?’
I laugh, I ask for the last time ‘How old?’
He says ’34.’
He says ‘She was beautiful though and I know what you’re thinking but it’s not like that, I’m a man, I’m a man, I’m a man. No one could ever hurt me’.”
— Warsan Shire, Crude Conversations With Boys Who Fake Laughter Often
In thinking about the idea of cheating, one major example comes to mind: Tiger Woods. As many people know, Tiger Woods cheated on his wife, Elin Nordegren, with 14 other mistresses, which is an extreme form of cheating seen in our society today. Cheating is not considered a form of consensual non-monogamy, and the idea of cheating in itself can have many different levels. Cheating is a form of being unfaithful to a partner, and can be as small as an emotional relationship with someone else other than a person’s partner or as large as having an affair with someone else. Cheating pertains to any type of romantic relationship, from boyfriends and girlfriends, to husbands and wives, to gay and lesbian partners. Statistics show that 20-25% of married men and 10-15% of ever married women have an affair on their partner, but why is this number so much higher for men than it is for women? This is a question that people have been asking for years, but it most likely comes from the beginning of written time when it was very common for men to have polygamous relationships and have multiple wives. This makes men look as the dominant sex, as they most always are.