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.
It’s no secret that sexual assault and violence on college campuses has recently become very prevalent in media and the minds of students and faculty across college campuses, as well as in the minds of the government; multiple stories and different accounts of sexual assault and rape have been in the the news, forcing attention to be drawn to this issue and for it to be addressed. Recent studies in sexual assault on college campuses across the United States reveal that one in five women report being assaulted on college campuses, which is terrifying considering in the past, cases of this have never been properly reported or given attention. Students and victims of sexual assault have begun to cry out also, bringing attention to this issue. Some of their accounts can be read in newspapers or seen on the news, as the sexual assault that took place on our very own campus here was. Time magazine even devoted an entire issue due to this problem; in this issue, multiple politicians, activists, scholars, authors, lawyers and victims shared their voice and opinions on sexual assault on college campuses and how it should be taken care of.
Two of the articles in this issue that stood out to me the most include an article called “‘My Rapist Is Still on Campus’” written by Emma Sulkowicz, a victim of rape and junior from Columbia College, and an article written by Jonathan Kalin, a student activist who formed a movement for consent called “Consent Must Be Created, Not Given.” In Sulkowicz’s article, she tells of how she was raped the very first day of her sophomore year, and she is near the end of her college life yet her rapist is still free and on campus and will graduate with her. Not only did her rapist commit an act of sexual assault on her, but also on two other girls. Sulkowicz would wake up everyday afraid to leave her room for the fear of her rapist; in the future when she looks back on her experience at Columbia, it will be defined by this. it will be defined by how she received no help from the university when she asked for it and how she will have to life with this injustice for her entire life. When Sulkowicz did reach out to the school for help, administration and the campus justice system dismissed her case and the accounts of what had happened to her.
Situations similar to Sulkowicz’s happen way too often, and are the reason for all of the recent backlash that Universities are facing today; in fact, 55 universities are under investigation by the federal government for lacking in dealing with sexual assault cases on campus properly. Many universities figure that they can brush these cases under the rug for fear of losing prestige and credibility. This may have worked in the past, however, rape on college campuses has become so prevalent, and on some campuses more so than others, that it can no longer be ignored. In recent years, rape culture has been perpetuated due to the media, sexist mentalities, and a sense of apathy from society. Relationships displayed in movies, TV shows, and music’s lyrics lend to the idea of rape and make power based violence seem acceptable in certain situations. Whether people or conscious of it or not, these images and messages are received by people and can contribute to their mentality and beliefs on sexual assault, swaying them to become more accepting, or even apathetic.
In Kalin’s article, he speaks of his movement to recreate the definition of consent and educating people about sexual violence in hopes of preventing it. He asserts that societal norms and the expectation of what college life should be like have created an environment where sexual assault is way too prevalent always featuring repeatedly shamed survivors of assault and perpetrators who plead the crime as one of “misunderstanding.” Although the government has recently stepped in in trying to help prevention, Kalin believes it will take a lot more than just this to change the culture associated with this; in order for it to change, the definition of consent must be considered and changed. Consent is not a silent practice as it appears in many movies and TV shows. It is something that must be verbalized and discussed to ensure that there are no misunderstandings and the participants are on the same page. If consent is an assumed silent thing, then there will obviously be multiple misunderstanding and can lend to the amount of sexual assault that occur on college campuses. Kalin also asserts that consent should not be made out to be a commodity, therefore people should no longer say that consent was “given” or “got,” but rather that is was created. If consent is created, then it should be backed by full understanding on both parties involved.
The recent strides made by the government and other activist organizations have helped the this cause immensely. College campuses have created outlets and resources to aid student victims and give them an outlet for support. Organizations such as Project Safe, Green Dot, and the Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center all on Vanderbilt’s campus all strive to do this. Legislation has urged and pushed for bills to be written and rewritten to aid in preventing and solving the issue of sexual assault and violence on college campuses. Today, activists are still urging people to take notice of the issue at hand and hope to cease the perpetuation of rape culture on college campuses across the culture. In order for this to happen, college students need to be well informed and educated on the issue, knowing exactly what constitutes as sexual violence.
How could Vanderbilt do a better job of educating its students on sexual assault? Should informing students on sexual assault and violence be required by all universities? How effective do you really think the programs are on Vanderbilt’s campus at aiding in the prevention of sexual assault on campus?
Being an immigrant in a culture affects a myriad of aspects in a person’s life. The way they interact with people, their everyday routines and practices, and all aspects of their lives in an immigrant country are all altered and begin to fall into the mold of that of the host nation. Women immigrants see and feel the effects of being an immigrant more so than other people. Racial and gender hierarchies become a prevalent factor in how their lives are lived, and consequently, their sexualities and employment statuses are shaped based on the expectations of the dominant race or gender. When people immigrate to other countries in numbers, the people of that country typically experience moral panic, fearing that their social order and habitual customs are at risk to change due to foreign people coming in with their “alien” practices. This forms a resentment toward the immigrant people and culture, and gives the host nation’s culture a sense of informal power over them. Consequently, racial hierarchies confine immigrant women to a status of diminished personhood where their rights, culture, and sexual agency are treated as second rate to a dominant culture.
In the United States, hispanic and latino populations have grown immensely in the past decade. Many Mexican and Latin American people have immigrated to the United States seeking better work and opportunities for themselves and their families. Many have joined the labor force, working jobs in the realms of farm work, agricultural work, or on construction; a good amount of these workers are undocumented laborers. The employees in these situations, including the Mexican women who worked on the fields in California who were featured in the documentary, “Rape in the Fields,” are a part of this population. However, because they are immigrants, and are women, they have little to no power; they are easy to take advantage of. Their statuses and sexualities are at the disposal of people of higher racial or gender standings through neocolonialism. They are at the disposal of their employers. Because they have no rights, papers, little money, and need to provide for their families, these women are forced to keep working in unhealthy situations, where they are confined and mistreated. They have no choice but to submit to their employers and obey what they or told for fear of being acted towards violently.
The lack of rights that these women face impacts them in the most negative possible ways. Employers and people of higher racial or social standing feel as if they can take advantage of these women. These women are raped because of this, yet have to bite their tongue and endure the conditions just to provide for their families. Even when these women tell of their experiences of being exploited and taken advantage of, they are treated as second rate. Their claims are dismissed and they are forced to live with the violence and rape they face in their workplaces. If a white woman claimed rape, then she would receive all the attention and her needs would be met; but because these mexican women are part of a diaspora culture and carry no social weight compared to the dominant culture, they are completely disregarded. Historically, rape cases for white women have taken precedence over rape cases for minorities- some cases have even become national news, yet minority cases go completely under the radar.
The documentary “Rape in the Fields” portrayed this idea well. It displayed the notion of rape against Mexican immigrant workers as insignificant when showing the story of the man that would continually take a woman worker far away in the fields and force her to have sex with him. She told authorities about this man, and no one listened. He would rape her and threaten her, yet she had no power whatsoever to combat these actions. When authorities actually did take the situation into their hands, the man pleaded innocent and was not questions, getting away for free. Unfair situations like these cause life-lasting feelings of unrest and fear for the women who have to face these types of men. Situations like these happen often in these certain worker communities, leaving the women hopeless and feeling as if they cannot receive any help. This perpetuates over time, and becomes a culture. When it becomes a culture, it creates an environment where there is an unsaid expectation of the women to submit to the men in authority and their sexual wants without even questioning it or fighting it. These notions become widespread, and women are expected to keep their mouths shut, and they do because it is what they have to do to make a living and survive.
Unfortunately, I do not believe that this culture exists only in these realms, but probably also exist in other circles of immigrant and minority cultures. It probably exists not only in the United States, but in countries across the world considering the historical gender bias and power complex that has been present for years. Do you think that the assertion above is potentially true? Will there ever be justice for these women immigrant workers, or will they continually be disregarded by the authorities and the United States’ justice system? What do you think it would need to take for this culture to change? Why do you think it is that these women who face these situations are completely disregarded?
In 2012, a 14-year-old girl named Daisy Coleman was raped by her older brother’s friends who were seniors at the time after a house party in Maryville, Missouri under the influence of alcohol; the rape was recorded on one of the boys cell phones. Matt Barnett, the perpetrator, asserted that the sex was consensual, but the story that Daisy Coleman told asserted otherwise.
When this case was first brought up, it was ignored and Daisy Coleman received a lot of scrutiny from the media and classmates. Because she had “blacked out” around the time that the rape had occurred, many people speculated her claims and labeled her as wild, a slut, etc. Upon the case being taken to court, it was dismissed because Daisy’s claims were not “credible” due to the state she was in, but also for political reasons because Matt Barnett’s grandfather was a trooper for 32 years and a four-term state representative for Missouri.
The case was closed in 2012, and then reopened in 2014 due to help from The Kansas City star who published a long story on Daisy’s accounts. The story gained national recognition, and the nation was disgusted at how the small town of Maryville, MO turned its back on this young rape victim. This began to spread through social media, and the case was reopened again in 2014 where Matt Barnett pleaded guilty of endangerment.
The fact that Daisy Coleman was shot down, criticized, and ignored when she first tried to share her story lends to the issue of why women who are raped are often afraid to tell anyone about it. They fear that because they are a woman and were a victim of power based violence and sexual assault, they are insignificant and no one will appeal to their assertions. Without the help of advocates across the country and social media, Daisy Coleman would have had to face shame and a sense of unrest for her entire life.
Why do you think that her claims were so heavily combated by the society she lived in at first even though there was video evidence? Do you think the case would have been ignored without the national outcry from the Kansas City Star’s article? Why do you think it is that Matt Barnett pleaded guilty for endangerment when he was supposed to get charged for rape?
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?
Last summer the renowned conservative columnist George Will published an article in the Washington Post about campus sexual assault that caused serious controversy: You can read it here:
If you asked me to describe college in three general words I would probably say Academics, Activities, and Alcohol. I call these the three A’s of college, and although they constitute a huge aspect of many people’s college experience, I would like to focus on alcohol in particular. More specifically I want to address the role that alcohol plays in hooking up. I’m sure we are all aware of alcohol’s role as a social drink or “social lubricant”. Certain students get drunk to fit in with the crowd while others use this distorted state of mind to give them the confidence pursue a hookup. Some men also encourage girls to drink lots of alcohol so that they are more likely to want to engage in intimate activity due to their drunken state of mind. This concept of alcohol as a sexual tool is the theme for the popular comedy, “Superbad”.