Feminism as a Basis for Equality: last concept analysis

which is the most important or influential concept to understanding the relationship between sex and society that we covered in the class and why?

I believe that the most important concept to understanding the relationship between sex and society that we covered in class is feminism. I believe that feminism is the most crucial concept covered in this class because of the common misinterpretation of the term. Feminism, as we have defined in class, is the movement for political, social, and economic equality for men and women alike. It has been noted by people including stars such as Emma Roberts and Taylor Swift that to many people in this society, the term feminism is perceived in a negative manner. According to Taylor Swift, many girls “think it means something angry, or disgruntled, or complaining, or they picture rioting and picketing. It is not that at all. It simply means you believe women and men should have equal rights and opportunities.” This quote highlights the lack of understanding of the term that exist in this society and its aggressive connotations.

As a society that is steadily progressing in women’s rights and opportunities in all aspects, this term should not be one that is misunderstood. Still today, women face discrimination simply because of gender and organizations such as “He for She” aim to eliminate that discrimination. This concept was brought up multiple times in class and is connected to many of the other concepts we discussed in class as well.

Equality for men and women is progressive and long-awaited for Americans and should continue to be addressed publicly and with efforts to raise awareness. Discrimination can take many forms and along with gender discrimination, we discussed discrimination based on sexual orientation and race. All of these forms of discrimination allow for an intolerant and unjust society. I believe all of these are crucial in understanding sex and society because they expose the major issues that lie within our society’s ability to exist and feel accepted by others. One’s sexual experiences and choices should be unique to each individual and those choices should not be left for judgement of others.

Feminism means equal opportunities for both men and women but also implies that there not be a double standard regarding sex and society. While it is quite obvious in our culture that men are applauded for having multiple lovers, it is also known that if a woman has multiple lovers she is more likely to be labeled as promiscuous. This is an example of gender inequality and remains a major issue in today’s society and affects the sex culture we live in. Along with hook-up culture, this makes for a difficult and confusing social script for women to live by and follow.

Spreading the ideas of feminism and promoting the equality of the sexes, I feel, would eliminate many of the issues we face in society relating to sex and would be the basis of reform for acceptance. Once we can establish equal opportunities for men and women alike, maybe we can extend that form of equality to acceptance for sexual orientations and race.

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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?

What’s Sex Got To Do With… The Maryville Case?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

Slut Shaming vs. Prude Shaming: The Double Standard

Freshman year is a time to let go of your past, meet new people, and start a new life in a new place. Time to let go of high school, right? Well what happens when you finally get to college? What is the expectation of the social scene and interaction with the opposite sex? First off, there is certainly an expectation of “hooking up” in college that is almost unspoken. In a new environment without parental supervision and the ability to do what you want when you want, a lot can happen. Despite a new place and new times, there are certainly still double standards that present themselves.

Unfortunately, in today’s world we feel the need to have to label everything that comes through us. From “straight” to “gay”, or “slut” to “prude”, or “ugly” to “hot”, it seems as if we always need to categorize people. But what satisfaction do we get from this, besides making ourselves feel better or worse… A common theme I see in young people today is the need to “slut-shame” versus the need to call someone a “prude”. Slut and prude are two words that both share a negative context. To females today, no one would ever want to be labeled as a slut. However, on the contrary, no one wants to be labeled as a prude either. It’s a lose/lose situation. Yet, why is it that when women have multiple partners and are considered “slutty”, it is the worst thing in the world? While no one’s number should matter, the sexual standard between men and women is alive and well. Men who sleep around are considered players and studs and are admired by their friends for their “game”. While women, on the other hand, who sleep around are deemed sluts by both men and women and are then looked down upon. Now how is this fair? For some reason, however, in modern day men simply aren’t judged like women are when it comes to sexuality.

It’s interesting how recently, since taking this class, I’m more prone to noticing sexist ridiculousness of slut shaming displayed in movies. Some movies are beginning to address the double standard and expectations between men and women’s sexuality. Women shouldn’t be attacked for their right to say yes to sexual activity, and women shouldn’t be attacked for their right to say no; however, it is something that we will continually be scrutinized for no matter which way we choose. One movie that I specifically noticed calling out this double standard is The Breakfast Club. There is a scene in this movie that pretty much sums up slut shaming and the Madonna/Whore Complex all in one go. The Madonna/Whore Complex is one that either classifies women as virgin-like, similar to the virgin Mary, or whore-like. These are the women considered “sluts”. In The Breakfast Club, after everyone is berating Clare (Molly Ringwald’s character) about her sex status Allison expresses something that is so true in the world today. She says, “Well, if you say you haven’t had sex, you’re a prude. If you say you have you’re a slut. It’s a trap. You want to but you can’t, and when you do you wish you didn’t, right?” In Kathleen Bogle’s, “Hooking Up”, she addresses the double standard of men and women that exists today. Bogle discusses how women face judgment when they are promiscuous, while men have the freedom to be as sexual as they want. It is this type of negative reinforcement that creates the double standard between men and women.

Another interesting quote by Bogle is when she states that, “Rule #1 for women: do not act like men in the sexual arena… For women who are active participants, the hook up system is fraught with pitfalls that can lead to being labeled as a ‘slut’” (103). This double standard creates the idea that women are the prey for men’s predatory sexuality.  A man is supposed to try to sleep with a woman, where as a woman is supposed to resist the man or else be labeled a slut.  It is an idea that should be offensive to both men and women alike. So what kind of measures can we take to end slut shaming and prude shaming? I think we simply have to learn to relax and move at our own pace. No one can give into anyone else’s expectations and no one can enforce anything on other people.  A man or woman who wants to wait for marriage should not be shamed for their decision, and neither should a man or woman who is more open in the way they approach sex.  Sex shouldn’t be something anyone feels pressured into, rather it should be something agreed on by mutually two consenting people. All in all, I think once acceptance of each person’s sexuality and choices is made, slut-shaming and prude-shaming can be ended and avoided, and double standards can cease to exist.

Do you think this double standard between men and women will ever end? Or do you think women will always be categorized as a “slut” for being sexually active? Why do you think this is in the first place?

What’s Sex Got to Do with…Taylor Swift?

http://www.buzzfeed.com/perpetua/taylor-swift-was-right

This Buzzfeed article really brought up some issues and discussion topics that we addressed in class. Taylor Swift has been an extremely popular artist for years now and even recently was awarded the Dick Clark Award for Excellence at the American Music Awards recently. In this Buzzfeed article, a multitude of quotes by Taylor Swift were depicted and many of them related to feminism.

Earlier in August, this class discussed feminism and defined it as a movement for social, political, and economic equality for both women and men. We discussed how in todays society, feminism is often perceived as a bad word and even referred to as the “F word.” In Taylor Swift’s first quote of this article she says that, many girls say she is not a feminist because they think it means “something angry, or disgruntled, or complaining, or they picture rioting and picketing.” She says that “it is not that at all” and “it simply means you believe women and men should have equal rights and opportunities.” I felt this was a powerful message as it provided clarity for her fans and identified a common misconception among society about what exactly feminism is.

Another quote that followed this one by Taylor Swift was one that referenced gender stereotyping and a double standard that we have repeatedly talked about in class. She says, “Why is it mischievous, fun and sexy if a guy has a string of lovers that he’s cast aside, loved, and left? Yet of a woman dates three or four people in an eight-year period she is a serial dater and it gives some 12-year old the idea to call her a slut on the Internet? It’s not the same for boys, it just isn’t and that’s a fact.” Swift acknowledges the double standard that exists between the sexes in this quote. She relates her own dating experience and how the media has perceived her as a “serial dater” since she has had multiple relationships in past years. She notes how men are perceived in a positive way as “mischievous, fun and sexy” when they have had multiple dates and sexual encounters with women.This quote is one that I believe to be true and feel it definitely relates to the course content and concepts we have discussed throughout this semester.