Sexual Agency and Experimentation

Deborah Tolman’s Adolescent Girls’ Sexuality brings to light the idea of sexual subjectivity, or a young woman’s sense of self as a sexual person who is entitled to have sexual feelings and make active decisions about sexual behavior. Being sexual subjects requires young ladies to have more agency with their sexuality–to be active agents in the choices they are making. It also requires that these young women have sexual well-being, including sexual and reproductive health, comfort with one’s body, feelings and desires, and awareness of and having the freedom to act upon sexual desires.

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Hooking Up

Since when did people start using the term “hooking up”? For as long as I can remember, people have used the phrase “hooking up” to refer to having a sexual encounter with another person. On the other hand, neither of my parents had heard of it before my generation. Where did the word even come from? To start, I think the term may have been developed to give people the luxury of being vague about a sexual experience. As younger and younger people started having some type of sexual experience earlier and earlier in life, a maturity issue must have been developing. These boys or girls are not at the age where they are comfortable talking about the actions that they are performing. This lack of maturity was the reason the word hooking up was even made.

The word eventually blew up into a term used on a daily bases. It would be hard for a sentence to be said without using the word hooking up. Nowadays, hooking up is one of the most talked about things on college campuses. The consequences however are what needs to be talked about. Hooking up made definitions and sexual acts so vague that interpretations can be made from extreme to boring. False rumors get spread that can make a girl regret trusting anyone. The world hooking up is dangerous to the mental health of teens.

To further understand hooking up, I think who we “hook up” with needs to be talked about. In most cases, heteronormative stances occupy the social aspect that is hooking up. Thus, shaming and diminishing the queer movement. Homophobic tendencies controlled the means in which hooking up was used, turning it into a danger. Hooking up never meant to be a word that sparked controversy into the gay community. Although people knew this, the LGBTQI community felt disrespected.

What’s sex got to do with…Labels?

Can you remember a time before you were who you are now? A time when society was not telling you who you are, innocuously, through seemingly inconsequential labels? Think about who you are, how you introduce yourself. For most of us, we say something like “Hi my name is X I am a girl/boy, I am gay/straight, I am a student/professor/parent” the list goes on and on, but there is almost always a qualifying label. The great, “I am,” phrase implies that your essence is inextricably tied up with that identity. However, this thinking can be very dangerous because, most often, individuals are not choosing their own labels, but rather are being labeled and then internalizing those labels.

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Final Concept Analysis: Heteronormative Culture

 

The most important concept that I learned this year is the theories of our heteronormative culture. According to Webster’s dictionary, heteronormativity is defined as, “The belief that people fall into distinct and complementary genders (man and woman) with natural roles in life. It asserts that heterosexuality is the only orientation or only norm, and states that sexual and marital relations are most (or only) fitting between people of opposite sexes.” From all that I have learned this semester (so much I never knew before), it may seem somewhat lame that I picked heternormativity but I believe that it is imperative to understanding all the other theories we learned. Additionally, it is this heteronormative mindset that leads to the LGBTQI? community having to fight for inherent rights that they should already have, because sexuality should not define ones identity.

During the first half of this class, we read Introducing the New Sexuality Studies, and discussed many terms and theories within it such as BDSM, adolescent girls sexuality, gay and lesbian sexuality, anal sex, lives of immigrants and migrant workers, porn, fag discourse, femininity, domestic violence, medicalization of desire, sexual socialization, gender roles, and much, much more. However, as our knowledge of these concepts and identities exponentially increased, I kept facing the fact that in our heteronormative culture today, any forms of sexual relationships that is not between a man and a woman are considered wrong. This should not be the case because last time I checked it was 2014. Putting things in perspective, we have smart phones that can talk and are merely years away from self-driving cars, yet society cannot handle the fact that some men like men and some women like women.

Though I found all of this to be interesting, the second half of the semester so far is my favorite. We read Katherine Bogle’s Hooking up: Sex, Dating, and Relationships on Campus, and are focusing on applying these concepts to the hook-up culture seen on college campuses. Though we shifted to the hook-up scene, the heteronormative culture that we have here is still applicable. Though students often think that since there are no parents on campus, they can do whatever they want strings free, this is not true. There is a shift to hooking up instead of dating, but through interviews conducted in Bogle’s book show, there is a double standard between males and females that is also part of our heteronormative culture. For a male to have slept with a triple digit number of girls is extreme but okay, but for girls to even hit the low double digits, there is a stigma and they are considered “whores” and “sluts”. How does this seem fair? Our heteronormative culture is accepted widely, but shouldn’t be. This is not the 1800s, men and women should be equal in all facets.

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Before this course, I would have accepted the heteronormative culture that our society holds us to without a doubt, but now that I am enlightened to its discrimination, say we should all take a stance and be equal as human beings where sexual stance has no say in ones identity.

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?

What does sex have to do with Brittney Griner….

Brittney Griner is the world’s most famous female basketball player. She can dunk over you and do not try to get to the rim because she will block your shot being 6’8” tall. She attended Baylor University for four years at college and than got the number one draft pick with the WNBA Phoenix Mercury. After she graduated she wrote a book “In My Skin: My Life on and Off the Basketball Court”. This book reflects on painful episodes in her life that led to her signature openness.

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