What’s Sex Got To Do With…My Final Thought?

Before taking this class; Sex and Society, I never really thought about sexual assault, how common it was, or understanding it from an academic stand point. I now know so much information that really has shifted my thinking in the best way possible. I feel like I have the knowledge to pass on to others and would be able to help anyone with questions in understanding various topics we have discussed such as; the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, queer, intersex, asexual community, BDSM, sexual assault, the hookup culture, and how society influences sexuality. However, in my opinion, the most influential and most important topics that we discussed are LGBTQIA communities and the hookup culture. The reason why I believe these were the most influential is because of how prevalent they are in the college scene and within society.

Learning about LGBTQIA was incredibly influential because I wasn’t very familiar with what really goes on in the community and what everything exactly meant. I had no clue what asexual meant before this class, I didn’t fully understand the process of a transgendered person, I didn’t understand the difference between queer and gay or lesbian, and finally, I didn’t fully grasp the impact that legislation plays in a person’s life that falls into one of the LGBTQIA categories. I also think one of the most helpful and impacting parts of this topic was when the LGBTQIA group came to our class to share their stories and answer any questions that we had. It was great to hear first hand accounts about what their experiences were like when they came out and what motivated them to be in this organization. After listening to them speak, I quickly learned how important it is for these organizations to be on college campuses all around the country because it is the best resource for someone that needs guidance in trying to figure out who they truly are. Also, learning about this topic has made me more sensitive about what I talk about and how I phrase my words because I realize how easily I could offend someone if I’m not careful.

The other topic I felt was most beneficial and influential was discussing the role of hooking up, whether it is on campus or after college. Within this topic, I felt it was necessary to discuss the battle against sexual violence and how much of a role it plays on campuses. I had no idea that one out of five women would be sexually assaulted. That statistic shocked me and still shocks me to this day. Discussing how frequent sexual assault is was important for me so that I can be more aware of the people around me. I have also used this to be safer on campus and to watch out for my friends around me if we go out. We discussed the role alcohol plays in hooking up and how dangerous it can be. Learning about this is beneficial for every college student to learn, especially before they enter their freshman year. Overall, this class has been incredibly important and helpful in learning about sex and society. I have learned so much about the topics that really matter and really impact our society.

Dissection of the Hookup Phenomenon

As college students at Vanderbilt, I am sure we are all familiar with the overwhelming influence of the hookup culture. Even if you don’t engage in hooking up yourself, it is hard to avoid noticing the random make-outs at fraternity parties or the loud sex noises from the room next door. This overwhelming increase in sexual interactions since high school should logically come as no surprise. College students are given the freedom and often times the encouragement to engage in intimate interactions without repercussions from parents or detention warnings from teachers. But why is hooking up so popular now and what characteristics of hooking up affect the social and emotional lives of college students? In Chapter 3: The Hookup of “Hooking Up”, Kathleen A. Bogle analyses this trend and personally interviews college students to get an authentic account of what hookup culture is all about.

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Expression of Sexuality: Male vs. Female

The world is made up of multiple gender schemas, ideologies that account for the particular way that males and females are expected to behave. These schemas are easily a primary source for double standards. Doubles standards spark because society deems certain qualities and behaviors as normal in one gender, yet rejects this same behavior in the opposite gender. This idea becomes especially complex when breaking down different areas of sexual and social expression.

Most particularly, the response around sexual orientation revolves around this same discourse. Females have much more leeway when it comes to projecting more fluidity in sexual orientation.

In a passage in NSS, LeMare states that heterosexual woman may have very different interpretations of what heterosexuality means. This underscores the complexity of sexuality and the narrowness of contemporary discourses regarding heterosexuality. On the one hand, the interviews, conducted by Lemare, illustrate that some women are able to experience desires and fantasies that are not limited by normative expectations of heterosexuality. Based on sexual orientation alone, “straight” women have little in common sexually aside from their self identification of heterosexuality.

Is this sexual orientation dynamic the same for males?

While woman, in essence, are free to express their sexuality, this same principle is seen as faulty in males. While this may undeniably have something to do with the way society portrays gender roles and expressions, it is also noteworthy to dig deeper into the societal expectations of the genders.

Females are expected to maintain a sense of emphasized femininity. While this term encompasses an array of meanings from domestication to a river of emotions, the term also clings on to the ideas of heteronormative ideologies. Societies view females as being “girly” and, as a means, expect them to participate in activities that correspond with the girl species. This includes playing dress up as a toddler, and eventually evolves into adolescent activities like playing with make up. This linear system set up by society also contributes to the personality traits and mannerisms, both positive and negative, that are linked to females. For example, when considering the word “slut,” what gender comes to mind? When considering the act of prostitutions, what gender also comes to mind? These ideas, of gender traits and contributions, are shaped, in part, by society and leads to the crafting of gender schemas.

When considering the portrayal of negative behaviors possessed by females, one is bound to view Girls Gone Wild as a major source for this depiction. Girls Gone Wild is an adult entertainment company created by Joe Francis in 1997. The company is known for its early use of direct-response marketing techniques, including its late-night infomercials that began airing in 1997. The videos typically involve camera crews at party locations engaging young college aged women who willingly expose their bodies or act “wild“. Since 2008, the Girls Gone Wild (GGW) products have been sold primarily through their website as streaming videos, downloads, and DVDs.

This adds to the conjecture that woman are subjected to sexual exploitation. The Girls Gone Wild sequence also adds to the “slut discourse” that lags behind the perception of many women. With girls making out with girls, and males encouraging the act in the background, the sequence also embraces the acceptance of female fluidity in sexuality and often molds this fluidity into something “hot” and acceptable.

Moreover, men are not expected to maintain this same image of fluidity in sexuality. Societal norms construct an ideology called Hegemonic masculinity, which entails its own separate dynamic in comparison to females. Conceptually, hegemonic masculinity explains how and why men maintain dominant social roles over women, and other gender identities, which are perceived as “feminine” in a given society. This specific ideology also calls for expression in early ages. Boys are expected to like manly things, like cars, “getting dirty,” and being rough. This same belief carries on through adulthood where men are expected to carryout sexual intercourse, being overall dominate over their partners, and projecting a sense of supremacy over females. While society considers lesbian expression as “normal and hot,” males going against anything heteronormative leads to labels like “fag” and “undercover gay (DL).”

In the passage Secret sex and the down low brotherhood, Gayle Rubin argues, “sexual behavior can sometimes be placed on a moral continuum. Some types of sexual behaviors are labeled as good, and some are labeled as bad. What is labeled as good and what bad depends greatly on which individuals and groups have power. In American society, wholesome sex is often limited to consensual sex between same-race couples, preferably married and definitely heterosexual. Individuals whose sexual practices deviate from this ideal are disapproved of to varying degrees, from mild disapprovement to criminalization (382).”

Though Rubin clumps together men and women into the term “individuals,” it is crucial to understand that men and women do not experience this ideology to the same degree. The moral continuum is also shaped by gender expectations, which places a rigid restriction on the sexuality of males. Failure to comply with what is considered masculine or acceptable results in those males being marginalized and considered “gay.”

These differing expectations are not only limited to expressions of sexual orientation, but also remain the center of other social, and even physical, debates. Males and females are always placed in separate categories, which contain their own principles for what is considered immoral and moral.

How does this ideology also play into the bisexual menace and the differing views of men and women expressing bisexual tendencies? How does this argument also play into the idea that females can “outgrow” lesbian tendencies yet males are confined to only their innate sexuality?

Sexual Socialization Gone Wrong

“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

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What does sex have to do with being Unbeatable?

The collection of inspiring photos by Dona Ferrato was a completely eye opening experience for me. I have known people close to me who have experienced abuse by a family member. They had to struggle to escape and find a new safe place to live. Ferrato’s original pictures were the most moving to me because you it showed the violence in everyday life. It made it all too real to see the expression on both of their faces as the abuse is occurring. So often it is easy to ignore what is going on and tell women to “just leave.” Ferrato’s later pictures express the horror that occur when a people try and escape those situations, 75% of murders in domestic assault cases happen after the victim leaves. Sometimes it is harder to leave than it is too stay because of so many unknowns that you face by walking away. How can we expect women to be ready to leave when the court systems make it so hard for women to finally have control over their own lives?

Men try and use physical power over women in order to have control; “men, as the dominant gender, use violence as a means to obtain and sustain power over women”(p.47). This was made all too real in the images displayed across the gallery. This degredaradtion of women and gender norms of women aid to the belief that men can control women. Women are seen as fragile, while men are supposed to be dominant and masculine. Rape culture in the media doesn’t help this either. The fact that boys see even their idols like Chris Brown and Ray Rice engaging in domestic assault causes males from a young age to accept that these things happen all around them. Due to this societal expectation the cycle of violence too often is continued and gone unnoticed. Every 18 months as many people die from abuse as did in 911 and yet it as many organizations try aid the cause, it is not seen as a huge public issue. As a society, why haven’t we not been more keen on addressing this issue when so many people are dying?

Uncategorizable By Choice

In the article “Unruly Bodies” by Sharon E. Preves it questions sex and gender. How do you know what gender you really are ? Do you determine by gonads, hormones, or body parts. If you’re born a hermaphrodite, what does that really mean ? If you take it out of the perspective of binary sex and gender expectations along with sex based on “outer parts”, then it leaves the answer for those questions wide open. When the social expectations of the binary is altered because the anatomical picture does not make sense, the person seems to not even have a sense able or distinguishable gender. To society, it emerges to be a social emergency because the person is abnormal, and when this happens, they are put through interventions to rid them of their sexual ambiguity. All of that is just to help them get the same treatment as every other “normal” person. Not only this, but parents also feel that as long as there is a clear distinction in sex, it will help with the clear distinction in sexuality, which reinforces heterosexuality as normative. When a group of medical advocates and inter-sex activists met in 2005, they discussed a way to get rid of gender labeling in order to refine confusion, but instead, came up with the term “disorders of sex development”(DSD). I feel it could be good in the sense that it gets rid of high politicized and sexualized terms such as hermaphrodite and intersex, but it could also be bad because it sends off a negative connotation that something is wrong with people that born that way because it goes against the binary.

This article relates to Butler’s ideas proposed in the article, “Theoretical Perspectives”. He explains that sexuality is a type of social control and it created “sex”. It also goes into explaining that societies that are mainly heterosexual have a very strict natural gender order. All of this is organized around the culture of romance, marriage, and family. All of this makes sense,  but it does not help to define how gender identities are sustained. The article mentions that there are specific feelings, behaviors, and social roles each of the genders have to play; however, how is one supposed to determine gender ?

In an article, shared by TMZ on twitter, Jaden Smith, Will Smith’s son, shared some of his own plans for his 18th birthday:

Los Angeles — “This is a decision I made on my own, but I hope this doesn’t affect my parents decision to assist me with this financially”

Giggled Jaden when he revealed his eighteenth birthday plans. Will Smith son Jaden Smith 16, made the announcement that he would have his male member removed on his eighteenth birthday, because in his words “My p**is doesn’t define me”. “I’m not gay, I’m not straight, I’ll just be a penis-less boy name Jaden”

Said Jaden Smith who claims the decision doesn’t make him more or less of a man than any of his male fans. Jaden’s only concern is the decision affecting his career as an actor “I don’t need a p**is to be the karate kid; What’s between my legs shouldn’t determine the length of my acting career”

Read more at: http://nahadaily.com/articles/jaden-smith-pen-remove-upon-turning-18/ | The Most Entertaining Page of the Day

I am sure you can understand the type of reaction society has had to it from saying that Will needs to control his children to people saying that he will change his mind by the time he grows up. This relates to those articles because with him doing this, it gets rid of the binary of female and male, and it completely obliterates gender roles in society. It makes me wonder if that makes him asexual or if it even changes his sexual identity at all. All in all, it confuses a lot of people because it gets rid of almost every label there is. He is not a boy, but he is not a girl. He evidently does not want to engage in sexual intercourse, but maybe he wants to engage in things other than that. I think it is a pretty big deal that he said that, but then again a lot of things are becoming more and more acceptable. I understand that he does not want the fact that he is a man to be the reason his acting career gets very far, but there really is nothing he can do about that because it is just a social construction that men prosper better than women; however, I am not sure how accurate that is in the acting industry.

The biggest question, though, is, “if he is not going to be a boy or girl, then what will he be?”   He said he would be a p****less boy named Jaden, but how is that possible ? This article confuses me also because not only does it cross the binary of male-female, but because it crosses that binary and the DSD, it leaves no other option to call him. With that being said, how is he supposed to fulfill his gender roles in society if he does not have a gender role? Does that automatically make him asexual?