What’s Sex Got to do with … Kim Kardashian

To many people, sex has everything to do with Kim Kardashian. Kim Kardashian rose to fame after her sex tape Continue reading

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Whats Sex Got to Do With….? Feminism

There seems to be a discrepancy in the way people interpret the word “feminist.” There’s the more formal definition that scholars accept such as “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.” On the contrary there’s a social definition that everyday people use to interpret feminist: “A Nazi group of females who essentially hate the male species, don’t have sex, and want females to dominate everything in life.” Despite the variety individuals interpretations, everyone can agree that all feminist are fighting for equal gender rights and opportunity.

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Social Construction of Gender

Karin Martin produced an extremely interesting study that is perfect for our class. Karin Martin’s study, in summary, depicts how gender is human nurture and is taught to us versus being pure biology or human nature. In her study, her key methods were observation and ethnography, or the way the teacher interacts with the students. Her driving research questions included how males and females are treated differently from a very young age, how socialization happens at a very young age, how socialization and gender characteristics are produced from schooling, and how boys and girls are taught to act differently. In Martin’s study, she focussed on preschools because in most studies on gender, the age studied are adults. Focussing on preschools describes that what we know about gender is taught to us an extremely young age. Martin studied on the hidden curriculum, or what is taught in schools that is not obliviously written the lesson plan, throughout her studies in preschools.  What she found is that males and females are treated differently throughout preschool, with a distinct difference appearing between ages 3 and 5. She found that when teachers touch their students, their reasoning behind them teaches gender to the children. When the teachers touch the boys, they were preventing violence by taking the boys away from each other, in turn teaching the boys that masculine behavior includes violence, competitiveness, and dominance. On the other hand, when the girls were touched it was mainly to fix their clothing or hair. These actions teach the girls that they should, and are expected to, look nice and maintain an appealing appearance. In addition, girls were touched more often and taught to be quiet in relation to men. This idea then in turn leads to the lack of females in Fortune 500 companies. Teaching boys and girls these differences at a very young age is what produces gender characteristics later in life. The fact that these boys are taught to speak out their feelings at such an early age is why so many males are executives in Fortune 500 companies. Fortune 500 companies look for someone to is confident in their ideas and isn’t afraid to say them in a business and meeting type setting, which is how these young boys are taught in the hidden curriculum of their preschools.

Of course males and females are biologically different. We contain many physical and genetic differences.  But specifically the idea of gender is socially constructed. Gender is taught to children at as young of an age as pre-school, making gender human nurture as opposed to human nature. Much discrimination against women is because people think gender is human nature. The consequences of thinking gender is completely human nature makes women looked at as “less” than men and less powerful. This idea is taught to children throughout preschool through the hidden curriculum, and so if our society is going to make a change, it needs to start from the beginning.

In addition to the misunderstanding of gender as human nature, and relating to other topics we have talked about in class, another topic we have discussed is the misinterpretation of the words “feminism” and “feminist”. How these two topics relate is that as the idea of looking at gender as human nature makes women look bad, so does the misunderstanding of the words “feminism” and “feminist”. As described in the dictionary (dictionary.com), the word “feminism” is described as “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men”. Notice the word equality in this definition. Many people believe that feminists strive to make women the dominant sex, but in reality, feminists strive to have no dominant sex. They solely strive for equality of the two sexes. This relates to the fact that people think gender differences and stereotypes are human nature. Yes, men are more physically strong than women and this part is human nature, but people believe that the fact that women strive to look nice all the time and don’t speak out their feelings as much as men is solely human nature. This is completely not true because, as Martin’s study shows, it is taught as early as preschool throughout the hidden curriculum. This is the reason that one gender is dominant over the other gender, and the fact that people think one gender has to be dominant over the other is why people misinterpret feminism.

An example throughout our society and in the media are the multitude of housewives. A perfect example of a housewife in our media who is very well known is Gloria Delgado-Pritchett from Modern Family.

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Played by Sofía Vergara, Gloria is a stay at home mom who is married to Jay. Jay is much older than she is, reinforcing her image as the stereotypical trophy wife. She is beautiful and always dressed in low-cut tops with stilettos and makeup on, a typical feminine trait. Also, she is known for using phrases incorrectly, reinforcing the stereotype that women are dumber and have less common sense than men. Also, she is loving, caring, and a great mom.

Many questions can be discussed when thinking of the topics throughout this article. Why do you think people don’t believe that gender, specifically gender characteristics, are human nature rather than human nurture? Why do you think feminists are misinterpreted? Are figures like Gloria on Modern Family hurting the female gender by reinforcing the stereotypical “feminine” characteristics?

For the Love of Porn

Let’s start here:

In Chris Pappas’s article “Sex Sells, but what else does to do?” he discusses the study of pornography in the American culture. He explains how porn represents a “vital and active mode through which pass carious strands of thought, research, and practice about gender, sex, sexuality, culture, organizations, and economics” (Pappas 320). Perhaps the question that first needs to be answered is what is porn? No one can agree on a single thing that makes something pornographic because most people never have a steady definition of what porn is exactly, but there is always the obscene material, sacred and profane scenes, along with erotic and vulgar language in the flux. If you ask Supreme Court Justice, Potter Stewart, he knows it when he sees it. Therefore many definitions focus on porn as sexually explicit material that is made to cause sexual arousal (321). This leads to the debate of what is considered property nudity and what is offensive, and because of this in 1973 the US Supreme Court set the frame for defining unprotected obscenity in Miller v. California. They came up with the “Miller Test” that had three conditions: the average person, contemporary community standards, and appeal to the prurient interest (321). The problem with this is of course the debate of what you would describe the average person as and how to determine what they decide as offensive in comparison to another person. Another tool that was used was the “SLAPS Test” meaning that the obscene work much in some way lack “S”erious “L”iterary, “A”rtistic, “P”olitical, or “S”cientific value (321). This provides problems because there is no concrete, consistent definition of what constitutes literature, art, and value.

Pornography can be framed as a social problem because of the obscene and unwanted behavior and because of this conservatives claim that porn contributes to moral decay and corruption. In contrast radial feminists say that porn is used to uphold the patriarchy, sexism, and the continued devaluing of women (321). A similar attempt to define what pornography is came from the second wave feminists and previous feminist that had worked on anti-sexual violence campaigns. They claimed, “that such cultural symbols taught and reinforced notions of male supremacy and gender/sexual inequality, and that taken together they created a “rape culture,” or a context wherein the sexual abuse of women was normalized and justified” (322). Other feminists tired to make a division between erotica (non-violent, egalitarian, loving form of sexually explicit material) and pornography (hate, violent, and exploitative). Then there were feminists like Andrea Dworkin and Catherine MacKinnon who attempted to pass anti-pornography laws in multiple cities. These laws would establish porn as a civil rights issue and gave the women who participated in porn or women who were abused because of porn a way to challenge their abusers in the court setting (322). Dworkin and MacKinnon followed the logic that the cultural products caused unwanted behaviors and contributed to social ills. Around 1980, psychologists tried to show that men felt more animosity towards women after viewing porn; especially porn that was considered “violent” (323). But years later that information was thrown out, and in result anti-pornography feminist began to be criticized.

Besides the question of what is porn, the next important question is who buys/watches porn and who makes it. Anne McClintock sees the porn industry as a “giant, high profile, multi-billion dollar international business that draws on the most sophisticated electronic systems, vast personnel division, teams of technicians, secretaries, and market analyzers, fleets of transport vehicles and global distribution networks” (323). Pornography is one of the most influential, popular forms of pop culture. Annual profits range form one to ten billion dollars; this does not even count internet porn, which had given individuals easy access to sexually explicit material. Pornography has emerged as a mass industry and this shows how the beliefs and moral are changing. With that being said, according to the General Social Survey (GSS) the number of people who have watched porn had drastically increased and therefore, it is becoming more socially acceptable (324). Nevertheless, because of porn’s easy access to everyone, this is not precise way or source that can account for everyone who watches porn.

Along with the audience of porn growing, we also know that the number of women who watch porn has also increased. Because of this major changes in the content of porn has happened: the sex industry began to go away from the straight male domain and veer into the market for couples. With that pornography also expands to gay and lesbian couples as well; honestly, for any social or sexual category or sexual fetish there is porn that favors.

Check out this link for a very interesting, detailed porn survey:

http://www.cosmopolitan.com/lifestyle/videos/a20835/how-you-watch-porn-survey/

In conclusion Chris Pappas dissected the history of contemporary pornography and many ways to define and regulate it based the context of feminists debates. However, with the more we now know about pornography, we can now more accurately analyze its heavy influence and significance to society. Pappas believes that with this new approach, porn should be taken seriously as a massive, organized, popular industry for the entertainment of pleasure.

What does Sex have to do with Taylor Swift…

Over the years Taylor Swift did not consider herself as a feminist but many of her fans and even friends viewed and thought she was a feminist due to her lyrics of her songs and her personality.

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What does Sex have do with… Flawless

On August 25, at the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards, Beyonce herself sold the whole show due to her unforgettable performance. She took the viewers breath, emotions and their reactions were unforgettable. All the songs were had a purpose but the song that brought attention to the crowd and worldwide was “Flawless”, which was the turning point in the show when Beyonce makes an important feminist statement. Beyonce has been building up her feminist credentials for many years now and she made a statement worldwide due to feminist of her performance.

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