Sexual Morality is defined as morality with respect to sexual relations. Sexual morals in our current society dictate that sex is only morally acceptable within the confines of marriage and only in ways that do not cut off the possibility of procreation. These morals rest on themes of social utility and personal excellence. The overarching theme being that the well-being of a society depends on a stable family life, and sex outside of marriage destabilizes the family. These sexual morals have developed in such a way that they permeate every aspect of our lives as Americans. These predominant morals are especially evident in the sexual development of our countries youth.
Green Dots is an organization on the Vanderbilt University campus that addresses and supports victims of personal violence and why personal violence situations occur. Green Dots are individual choices that meet in a shared vision trying to create a social movement. It is a person’s choice to save or prevent someone from being in a dangerous situation. The organization symbolizes moments where someone can help a person in potential danger and prevent a dangerous situation by going through the training and identifying the signs. These green dots will increase the safety of everyone on campus and in the community and believing in Green Dots could end the perpetration of violence. Through education, outreach, and staff development we can create more green dots around the community to help more people avoid sexual assault. At Vanderbilt, the organization aspires to integrate in all aspects of campus life, increase faculty and staff support, serve diverse populations, and implement the best practices to enhance programmatic efforts. They truly want to make a difference in people’s lives.
Green Dots even includes the athletic department in their goal of educating the entire campus about how to avoid personal violence and what the signs look like. A majority of the athletic teams went through the training. It was a great way to learn about the signs of a potentially dangerous person and situation. For example, the trainer from Green Dots explained what steps a guy at a party might make to persuade a girl to go home with him for a sexual interaction. Some signs include; buying the girl drinks, encouraging her to drink a lot, complimenting her, engaging in a conversation so it seems like he is very interested in what she is saying, various physical interactions, and finally taking her home. The instructor also gave a booklet about documenting personal experiences. This was a way to reflect and grow from various experiences. We also learned about stories of young women who were victims of personal violence. Going through this training was more than beneficial because it helped to realize how important it is to protect each other when people are drinking or going out. Being sexually assaulted can happen to anyone, so being aware of the people around you is essential.
Sexual assault has fallen by more than 50% in recent years. Had the 1993 rate held steady, 9.7 million Americans would have been assaulted in the last 20 years. Due to the drastic decline over the last 20 years, the actual number of victims was only 4.2 million people. The decline of these numbers is heavily due to the rising awareness of sexual assault across the nation. To put things into perspective, here are some statistics about sexual abuse: every two minutes, another American is sexually assaulted. And each year, there are about 237,868 victims of sexual assault. Organizations, like Green Dot, are working towards ceasing this phenomenon and ending sexual assault. Green Dot parallels many of the ideologies and concepts we’ve discussed in class. Although sexual abuse is a new concept to our classroom discussions, it is not a new occurrence in everyday life. Green Dot isn’t the only organization addressing and supporting victims of personal violence. Lately there has been a huge push against sexual assault on college campuses, and we have read many articles focusing on bystander intervention and the emphasis on the victim never being at fault. A huge problem in today’s society is that many times blame will get put on the victim. “She was asking for it” or “she wasn’t that drunk” or “oh, she was flirting the whole night…” are common excuses we hear after sexual assault takes place. Society continues to misplace blame and shame on survivors, both men and women, on college campuses and everywhere else. Many famous people have been working to end this stigma that often get placed onto a victim. Marisa Hargitay, Law and Order SVU star, is a huge advocate for survivors of abuse—working to make sure they receive the justice they deserve. Many other organizations have been working to promote bystander intervention. Philip J. Hanlon, the president of Dartmouth, has also been working heavily on informing his students of the important of intervening when deemed necessary. Hargitay and Hanlon are just two examples of people that are working towards stopping sexual assault.
Another concept we discussed in class is the difference between consent and coercion. Consent is when someone agrees, gives permission, or blatantly says yes to engaging in sexual activity with someone else. Central to the concept of consent is the understanding that every person has a right to control his or her body. Unless clear permission is given, no one else has the right to engage in any sort of activity with another person. Consent is not body language, assumptions, being drunk, marriage or even coercion. Coercion is a tactic that perpetrators use to exert power and control over another person. Coercion typically occurs when a person intimidates or manipulates someone into engaging in sexual activity without the use of physical force. Green Dot is working to ensure consent is given before someone goes off with someone else. It is all about bystander intervention. Green Dot promotes the idea that it is the job of outsiders observing situations to intervene if they feel they must. No one should feel like they can’t step into a situation that just doesn’t seem right.
Understanding what Green Dots can truly change your life. You gain a better understanding of how to protect yourself and others, as well as preventing a potentially dangerous situation. If you would like to learn more, you can visit their website at: http://www.vanderbilt.edu/greendot/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org. It is partnered with Project Safe so you can also contact Cara Tuttle Bell, Director of the Project Safe Center, at email@example.com with any questions.
By Amanda Lockwood, Kayla Peterson, Liam Sabino
House of Cards is a political drama on Netflix that has certainly gained a lot of attention and popularity in the past year or so. It’s one of those shows that has us simultaneously terrified of, yet ultimately rooting for, the villain. Frank Underwood is a manipulative, maneuvering, and dark politician, who will stop at nothing to achieve ultimate power—which for him is becoming the president of the United States, and thus, becoming one of the most influential leaders of the “free world.”
And what would a political drama be without sex and scandal? Am I right? At one point in the first season, Frank references Oscar Wilde and talks directly to the camera and advises those watching, “A great man once said everything is about sex, except sex. Sex is about power.” Of course sex is about power, Frank. He says this to provide reason and rationalization for his affair and political relationship with Zoey Barnes, a youthful, cute reporter.
Let’s think about the economics of sexuality, as Marxist social theory would have us do. Marx argued that the economy is the most significant social force shaping human behavior, and as scholars, we can go one step further and conclude that the economy (which the government, and thus Frank, is intimately intertwined with) must also be the most critical force shaping sexuality. As capitalism emerged as the dominant economic ideology, the commercialization of sex quickly followed, which simply means that with sex comes a certain value, and in Frank’s case, it’s not necessarily a monetary value. We could call Frank a Marxist if we were to critically examine his and Zoey’s relationship and the negotiation of power between the two. Frank lives up to Wilde’s thoughts about sex and power, as the sexual relationship between him and Zoey has nothing to do with sex and everything to do with obtaining power. Both use each other’s different types of power, Frank’s political power and Zoey’s power in the media, to empower themselves respectively even further. For them, sex thus becomes a tool that can be used for bargaining or negotiating.
Kristen Barber, in her article “Sex and Power,” references many feminists who argue that heterosexual sex is a means for men to assert dominance over women, and that men define sex and sexuality through aggression and violence. In a way, this describes Frank perfectly. He makes it clear to Zoey that having sex with her is his means of establishing and maintaining control over her, that she is nothing but disposable to him once he gets what he needs out of the relationship. However, Zoey is not a passive, submissive, and weak female in this relationship. She, too, uses Frank for her own gains in the media. Moreover, as their relationship develops and grows more complex, Zoey finds Frank’s weaknesses and uses them against him to get what she needs from him. What would feminists that Barber mention, like Dworkin and MacKinnon, have to say about Zoey? How does Zoey fuck up their perceptions of gender, sexuality, and power?
The topic of religion can be quite controversial when we’re discussing gender identities and sexual preferences. Many practicing denominations do not accept non-heterosexual people, because it does not follow what they believe is stated in the bible. If a non-heterosexual person is religious, how do they find their place? Through the song “Take Me to Church” by Hozier, we can explore the difficulties that people face when non-heterosexual people are not viewed as equals in ‘the church.”
Janelle Monae, an R&B singer, speaks out against many cultural and gender norms and takes it as her social responsibility. In her song “Q.U.E.E.N” featuring Erykah Badu, she speaks up for people that want to be their own person without the worry of being judged.