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.
Nail polish, when taken for what it really is – colorful die that temporarily changes the color of you nails – it seems arbitrary. However, it is almost always associated with being “feminine”. Even with colors socially considered as “masculine”, such as dark blue, black, or grey, it is still considered solely feminine and looked down upon by males. Continue reading
This Buzzfeed article featured men imitating Instagram pictures posted by women. The article pokes fun at the Instagram photos stereotypically posted by women and includes posts titled “the cozy coffee shot”, “the skinny arm pose and/or the sorority squat pose”, the “eat clean/green smoothie selfie” and more. Even without seeing the actual posts and just reading the titles, one can understand the mockery being used. Although I found this article to be amusing and fairly accurate :), I found it to be an incredibly obvious representation of gender stereotyping and also representative of a heteronormative society that clearly separates men and women in this way.
As we have discussed in class, men and women have different norms in many aspects society. Femininity and masculinity are terms that describe women and men accordingly and behaviors that are perceived to conflict with one’s sex and/or gender are considered abnormal.
The men in this article post these pictures in a way that exhibits themselves in a “feminine manner” and reinforces the differences in gender norms how these posts of men acting or presenting themselves in a “feminine” way is comical and should be laughed at.
This article was actually sent to me by my friend who thought this was extremely funny. Although the post is not particularly offensive or meant to hurt anyone, it does highlight hyper masculinity as it laughs at men doing “feminine things” such as taking pictures with coffee and puppies and “selfies” at the gym. This might be offensive to men that identify as feminine or perhaps homosexual men by mocking these behaviors and pointing out their absurdity with humor.
This article definitely relates to the topics discussed in class and the gender differences that both exist and are reinforced in this society. Social media such as Instagram continues to be a source for these norms and stereotypes to flourish.
When you look at stars and what made them become so influential in the media, for most women you see a realization of sexuality. From stars like Miley Cyrus to Kim Kardashian, many popular feminine figures went through a phase in which they were overly sexual in order to gain attention. Many involved sex tapes (Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton) while others involved sexual displays (Miley Cyrus). Although they did gain attention for these acts, most of this was negative and spurred a debate on their controversial acts. When being informed of these famous people’s actions, most people find that their displays of sexuality were not socially acceptable.
Before taking the course, I braced myself for a course that merely discusses sexual intercourse/sexual assault and how those elements impact society in general. I was definitely not prepared for the depth of the concepts, where ideas of sex were linked to heavily conceptualized theories like Marxism and Essentialism. From discussing LGBT politics to discussing the idea of asexuality, a common theme always seemed to resonate with me: heteronormativity is a concept that has a profound effect on our everyday life. It is a concept that we too often see and hear, yet it has become so apart of everyday living that it only has become apart of the norm.
This concept has been greatly engrained into our heads throughout the semester, but it was during a specific excerpt by Kristen Barber that I started to find a link between the construction heterosexuality and the power that ultimately comes with it. She states that “sexuality is a social construct…hetero-sex in general is a mechanism by which men dominate women…in order to understand the subordination of women in the United States, one must analyze the practice of heterosexuality (NSS 45).” Another excerpt of our reading discusses expectations based on gender, where males are expected to maintain a masculine composure while females are expected to act in a feminine manner. Moreover, it largely expected that these two gender roles come together to form a companionship hence the male and female relationship is the most suitable way to fulfill this expectation according to society. In this aspect, this expectation perpetuates the ideologies that are established by heteronormativity.
When turning on different movies or watching different shows, it has become extremely difficult for me to not notice how the media highly favors heterosexual relationship and almost marginalizes gays and lesbian relationships. The latter relationships are not seen as the ideal “American dream” family, and this only fosters an environment that sees being gay or lesbian as inferior. For example, in the most popular love story films, men and woman are considered perfect according to the expectations of society. In “the notebook”, for instance, the male has a hyper-masculine personality that seems to only compliment the feminine female character. In “the vow,” these same gender roles are maintained throughout the entire film. These movies, in essence, contribute to the socially constructed idea of heterosexuality and what defines a man and woman in a relationship.
Love movies are not the only source of heteronormativity in the American society. As aforementioned in an earlier post, advertisement adds to the idea of what constitutes an ideal straight man’s sexuality and straight woman’s sexuality. We often see fit men who have an immense amount of sex appeal surrounded by females with perfect skinny bodies because that’s societies overall perception of an ideal heterosexual male.
So why is this such a important concept in our society? Because it is a concept that surrounds us everyday and, sadly, sexuality is indeed something that determines people’s worth in the American culture.
The moral to the story is that this class changed my life. It is not life changing in the sense that I am able to walk away with a large body of knowledge, but I am also actually able to see the concepts come to life on a daily basis. I am actually able to see how heteronormativity is played out and im
Americans have this tendency to call certain days/events “the biggest day of my life” or even “the most important day of my life.” We all know this reference usually corresponds to wedding days, the day of the birth of their first child, or even the day that one buys their first house or apartment. Many people forget that before these events, senior prom was once considered to be one of the most important and memorable experiences of their life.
Senior prom is solely an American tradition. It is a formal dance, as we know, where students come together for socializing, dancing, and food. This dance is often coupled with alcohol and has a firm reputation as night that is filled with sexual intercourse. While this is all extremely problematic, and I could go on an endless tangent about how this connects with our Sex and Society course material, I wanted to analyze another aspect of senior prom: the pressure of finding a date.
Girls and Boys recognize prom as a time for finding the perfect date to go to the traditional event with. They place major importance on who they bring, and see this as an opportunity to seize their own self status based on who they go with and what group they go in. Many people don’t realize that schools have fixed regulations about dates at senior prom, and though it may be an unspoken regulation, schools expect their student body to abide by the established policy. A policy that stands out, in this respect, is one particular one that is the set by a school district in southeast Missouri. The policy declares that “high school students will be permitted to invite one guest, girls invite boys and boys invite girls.” While this high school’s policy seems a little more direct than other school’s policy, they all essentially rally about the same underlying principle: same-sex couples in a formal setting is just not worth the upheaval that it will spark and students must not go against heteronormative values.
Thinking about the most important or influential concept to understanding the relationship between sex and society that we covered in class brings an array of ideas to mind because we have covered so many topics. After much thought, I have come to a conclusion: the most important concept is the idea of heteronormativity in our society. We have talked about many concepts, but the idea of heteronormativity seems to come to mind in every one of them. Our society is extremely heteronormative, meaning that people believe heterosexuality is the only sexual preference, completely leaving out the entire LGBTQ community. It comes down to something so simple as stating that heterosexuality is privileged in our society. Awards like prom king and queen are completely geared toward the heterosexual community and leaves out the LGBTQ community completely. In addition, the media is heteronormative through expressing heterosexual relationships at the forefront of the TV shows we all watch and love. Some TV shows like Modern Family are now starting to depict homosexual relationships in the shows to make a statement, but it is going to take a lot of time and hard work to make our society completely equal in sexual orientations.
In addition, the idea of heteronormativity completely enforces gender stereotypes in our society. Males are the dominant gender, and females are left behind them. Heterosexuality enforces this because in the relationship, males are the bread winners and are supposed to have traits like dominance, physical strength, toughness, and being emotionless. Females, on the other hand, are supposed to stay at home and take care of children, cook, and clean and have traits like care, love, emotion, and less physical strength than men. Heteronormativity enforces these stereotypes because in a heteronormative relationship, these traits and ways of life are how it’s “supposed” to be. This is in quotations because there are many relationships where the mother is the bread winner, but as we stand in today’s time, the father is the bread winner in the majority of relationships.
An example of a heteronormative relationship from the media that embodies gender norms in our society is Phil and Claire Dunphey of Modern Family.
Phil and Claire Dunphey are the epitome of the modern, heterosexual relationship because Phil works, while Claire is a stay-at-home mom. Phil has a great relationship with his son and frequently talks to him about girls. Claire is a loving mother who makes (or tries to make) dinner every night, and is caring and loving toward her children. In addition, she always looks gorgeous, wearing a nice outfit with makeup on throughout the show. This is the classic heterosexual relationship. As much as I love Claire and Phil, their relationship enforces heteronormativity and gender stereotypes in our society.
Do you think we will ever be able to have a society that is completely “sexual orientation neutral”? If so, how much time do you think it will take, and/or do you think our society will need to make some major changes before we can get there? Also, do you think we will ever have a gender neutral society?