Final Reflection: A Post on Society & Sex

Upon being asked the question of what the most important and influential concept to understanding the relationship between sex and society covered in this semester, I began to think about all the different concepts talked and read about in class. When thinking about everything, I began to see connections between different terms that came up throughout the semester that were discussed that I had never seen before. The concepts are all fairly different, yet are all still related in some ways because of the manner that society has been formed over the years. Agents of socialization, sex education, social constructions, and heteronormativity have all become interconnected, creating an environment of hostility towards people who do not identify as heterosexual.

The agents of socialization people are exposed to impact their views on everything in life. However, their views on sex are affected more so than some other aspects of life are. The socialization of sex and sex education has a more prevalent impact on how a person forms their ideas and views on sex. The environment a person was raised in, their religion, schooling experience, family, friends, and the media all heavily influence the formation of what sex means and should mean to a person. But, this can be dangerous- with the amount of societal constructions (such as what “good” or “normal” sex is, gender, etc.)  that exist today, it is easy for the manner in which a person was socialized to negatively affect their views on sex or gender. For example, many religions do not condone homosexuality, so if someone is raised in that environment, it is likely they would judge and discriminate anyone who is homosexual.

SInce gender is a social construction, it easy to stereotype and discriminate against those who do not fit into the gender binaries that exist today (boy and girl). So, those who appear as  lesbian, gay, queer, bisexual, or transgender are easily stereotypes and judged. The heteronormative ideals that are held by the majority of the people in this country also lead to stigmas and discrimination. When people who have other sexual orientations other than heterosexual, they are often mistreated by society and can even be susceptible to violence, sexual violence in particular (as seen in the video of the transgender man who used the bathroom of a New York McDonald and was beat for it by the manager, yet was charged for a misdemeanor when in actuality he was the victim ).

Over the years, this problem has perpetuated. It has become easier for discrimination and violence to occur without any repercussion on the perpetrator. The connections between these terms and these societal constructions and manifestations all lend to why society is as it is today and why people discriminate, act violently toward, and outcast nonheterosexual people. Having a good understanding of all these terms allows for a person too see the interconnectedness and understand why these horrible things occur. It allows for people to be aware of  the problem and not lend to it or be an enabler.

What’s Sex Got to do With Bases?

baseball

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word “bases?” When I hear this word baseball is the first thing that comes to mind, but would you believe me if I told you bases can refer to sex? Well believe it because every base is a step to going all the way with your partner. In my opinion, first base is kissing, second base is touching or playing with one’s private part, third base is oral sex, and a home plate is penetrating the penis into the vagina. Kathleen Bogle defines the usage of bases in two different ways. The first way was from “only yesterday:” first base is kissing, second base is deep kissing, plus groping and fondling, third base is oral sex, and home plate is going all the way. In today’s world was the second way: first base is deep kissing, second base is oral sex, third base is going all the way, and home plate is learning each other’s name. From personal experiences I would agree with Kathleen Bogle’s second definition of bases.

In this situation bases can also refer to going on dates or hanging out. For example, my first year at Vanderbilt I met a girl and the first time we hung out we were deep kissing. The second time we hung out we had oral, and by the third time we hung out we went all the way. After going all the way my partner and I started to go on dates and attend events together. Looking back on the situation it amazes me how so called relationships on college campuses work. Like Kathleen said we have sex first and then get to know each other.

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Why is it that in today’s world we have sex first then get to know someone after sex? How would you define these bases?  Do you still hear people use the base terminology in today’s world?

What’s sex have to do with …romance?

 

Have you ever been in love? I’m not talking about the love where you exchange ring pop, kiss on the playground, and post pictures with cute captions on social media. I’m talking about falling in love with someone, making love with them and marring that person because you two belong together. Well isn’t that what happens in romantic movies? Two meet and cant resist each other and although they don’t have sex until the end, they do everything in their power to make it to that point.

I connected this to Kerwin Kays “sexual intercourse” article because I feel that sex when it comes to love isn’t just an act. When it’s romantic sex, it’s calling making love. Having sex is natural but making love is a step farther when it comes to sexual intercourse.

In love and basketball, the two main characters are in love. They go through ups and down. The double standard is shown in this movie because the guys has sex with multiple girls just because he is/wants to be the man while the girl saves herself for him.

Here is the YouTube link to the sex scene in love and basketball.

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xduuf4xdEvw

Is this scene cute and romantic because they both obey the double standard? If she had been having sex with other guys, would it still have the same meaning? If he didn’t know how to put on the condom because he does have experience, would this scene still be as special?

 

Walk of Pride?

It’s November 1st. As I walk to breakfast, I see two cats, a schoolgirl, a pizza, and a firefighter. Wasn’t Halloween yesterday?

Though everyone knows these individuals are still in costume because they “shacked” or spent the night in someone else’s room, this walk of shame is taken lightly and even seen as humorous.

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50 Shades of Grey : A love story?

An assigned reading for this class that I found very entertaining was E.L. James 50 Shades of Grey. The book, in itself has received a large amount of attention nationwide, both positive and negative. The book, itself, was not praised for its sophisticated writing as its attention was paid due to its provocativeness and sexual content. I found the book to be poorly written and quite shallow but nonetheless I was entertained and it evoked a response from me personally. The book tells the story of a man and woman that engage in a BDSM relationship. As we discussed in class, this type of relationship involves practices involving dominance and submission. In the book, Anastasia is a woman with little to no sexual experience, being a virgin, and Christian Grey is a man that practices this type of sexual behavior already. Anastasia ends up engaging in this type of relationship with Christian Grey and their experiences are depicted throughout the book.

The scenes within the story that describe in great detail these BDSM practices received a lot of attention because of its provocative and controversial nature. A focus point from the story that was paid much attention is the “contract” that was presented to Anastasia by Christian that explained the terms of the relationship and gave her certain restrictions or behaviors she had to agree to participate in and confidentiality that accompanied all of it. The fact that she was a virgin before Christian also sparked controversy.

As discussed in class, we referenced certain interviews and reactions from critics that described the book as equivalent to pornography or even claimed the book told a story of rape. The arguments I found most interesting were those that were skeptical of BDSM and its nature of dominance and submission. The book has been critiqued and analyzed in terms of Anastasia’s lack of “consent” for these BDSM practices and question her actual and realistic desire for it. Since Anastasia was a virgin prior to Christian Grey, the argument of whether or not she knows that this is the type of sexual relationship she wants to be in or not because she is “inexperienced” and has not been exposed to anything else. The other argument that the contract provoked was one that questioned whether or not signing that contract is considered a form of consent if its content in its raw content indicates submission to the other person. The reactions to this book, I feel were more indicative of society’s view of BDSM than the actual story or book as a form a literature.

I feel that the book was beneficial in that it created controversy. It brought about a form of sexual practice that may seem “taboo” or one that is usually behind the scenes and got America “talking” about the topic and for me at least, provided insight on the feelings and drives behind it. I think a limitation that the book has is it’s unrealistic plotline in that the woman is swept off her feet by a man and how they defeat all possible odds and conflicts because of their infatuation with each other by the end of the trilogy.

A connection that I made with this book was the reading that was assigned titled A Loving Introduction to BDSM, that explained the nature of the practices and gave more insight on how and why it provides pleasure for both individuals in the relationship. The article touches on trust as a key element of the relationship and describes the behaviors as “completely consensual.” These practices are considered to be completely non-abusive and merely used to create more sexual excitement. The article connects to the book clearly by its expansion and explanation of where the practices derive from in terms of desire and sexual pleasure. It tells almost a “dummy” version of BDSM that give insight to the book and the behaviors in general. Another topic that I feel connects with this book is the discussions from class that focus on consent and sexual violence. After reading this book and the article, I have a more informed perspective on BDSM and its separation from abuse. As stated in the article, the submissive partner is not free from pain but has consented to the pain and even provided his or her own specifics about the type of pain inflicted upon him or her. Safe words are established and the focus is on pleasure and excitement that is intended to be consensual and desired by both partners in the relationship. I think sometimes there are misunderstandings or questions about BDSM and its “painful” nature and these articles, book, and discussion address some of these.

An example that I found relevant to this topic of BDSM and 50 Shades of Grey was a quote that I came across on the Internet.

This quote addresses the idea of pleasure and pain and how they interact within a person. Although this quote does not imply anything about BDSM it references the supposed basis of the sexual practices. The relationship between pleasure and pain is quite interconnected. I can relate this to the simple act of running. A personal experience of mine would be being instructed to run fitness tests at soccer practice. Running through and past the point of physical achiness and pain is not something that I would immediately describe as pleasurable however there is an aspect of it that I do find exhilarating. There is something about running through pain that I would deem as satisfying, whether during or afterwards. This quote highlights that idea that pleasure and pain often go hand in hand and can provide a basic insight on how and why BDSM exists in society.

 

Would you consider BDSM to be something that would be shameful?

Is consent valid if you are consenting to pain inflicted on by another person?

To what extent is 50 Shades of Grey a “love story” in your eyes?

What deems a relationship between two people as “sexually normal” or acceptable to society?

Is social media responsible for the “Hook-up culture”?

The assigned article titled “What I’m Reading: Sex, Teens, and Social Media” by Sasha Belenky really interested me not only with it’s content regarding social media, but also its broader reference to the “hook-up” culture that we addressed in class. The article touches on numerous topics in its content but is consistent on its emphasis on teenagers and this evolving generation and how sex is evolving with it. The article highlights on the impact of social media and how that has been a major vehicle to the changes in sexual norms or expectations.

The article quotes many young teenage girls about their use of social media and most respond with a consistent idea that social media allows for information, pictures, or rumors to be passed around more readily and more often. Because of how easy and rapid it is, the more frequent it seems that teenagers consider taking nude pictures or “sexting.” The more ways it is possible to evolve sex, the more it seems to change and grow. The article also talks about how with all these tools and technology, a “hook-up” culture has evolved. A young girl from L.A. is quoted saying, “We don’t date. We just hook up.” Another teenage girl from New York is quoted saying, “Oral is, like, the new kissing.” The article captures the essence of this generations “hook-up” culture. The article describes this technology as “robbing America’s youth of meaningful, loving relationships” and claims that this culture is “devoid of emotional intimacy.”

I find this article beneficial in terms of its focus on the “hook-up culture” by attempting to define or describe it in terms of how it has evolved with this use of social media and the advanced technology of this generation. A limitation that I feel that the article has is that it does focus much on how social media might be impacting the “hook-up culture” in its juicy and exposing nature. I personally think that the mere essence of social media is to let the world know exactly what you are doing, thinking, eating, wearing, and more. Privacy and mystery seem to be valued much less in our culture than in previous cultures. I feel as though this is something to pay attention to closely because I find it connected to the promiscuity and “forwardness” in regards to sexual experiences of our generation in the eyes of society.

A connection that I made with this article was to another assignment and video from class when we discussed “hook-up culture.” The video of Miley Cyrus’s response to her and Robin Thicke’s VMA performance on the Ellen Show sparked my mind as I read this article because the article itself actually includes a piece about this performance. The article, as well as the video watched in class reveals Miley’s frustration with the negative attention the performance received nationwide. The performance was progressive in its sexual and exposed nature but she claims that it is America that is “so weird about what they think is right and wrong.” She also points out the double standard that exists in our society in reference to the fact that Robin Thicke was not criticized as harshly as Miley was, even though he was an equal part of the risqué performance. The video we analyzed and this article touch upon the influence of media in our generation in that it simply provides for this type of performance to be broadcasted and given attention publicly. It also is an example of how morality in performances and its relation to sex is evolving in this generation and through media like the Ellen Show, we as a nation are trying to make sense of it and grow with it to determine what is or is going to be acceptable or not.

 

An example that I find relevant to this reading or discussion topic is an image or that I found on my Twitter newsfeed.

 

 

This image is not an obvious image that indicates “hook-up culture” but I found it to be personally related to the phenomenon. This image was posted by Common Girl, an account on Twitter, with the caption, “If only times were still like this.” The image shows three pictures that represent a past generation. The pictures above project passion and romance in a way that is not overly sexual. A girl is clothed in a sweater and skirt that appears to be the girlfriend of the boy she is embracing after he played in a football game. It is sweet and affectionate and implies a loving relationship. Another picture in this tweet is the image in the upper-right-hand corner that shows a girl and boy that appear to be dating while the girl sits on the boys lap and he kisses her on the cheek romantically. All of these images suggest a more modest public expression of intimacy and in my opinion appear to represent a more sincere relationship. I think that this relates to the “hook-up culture” discussion because it represents an emphasis on relationships and interest in each other while the “hook-up culture” of this generation is seen as one that has evolved with more stress put on sex and lack of interest in the building of genuine relationships. I find the caption to the image to be indicative of the awareness we have of this change in sex culture from past years. The fact that the twitter user acknowledges this shift in our generation is important because I think it reinforces the casualness of sex that is growing to define our generation in the ways that these readings and this article points out.

 

A question I would surely ask the reader to ask him or herself would be whether or not you consider this “hook-culture” to be a “real” thing of this generation? Also, if so, are you comfortable with it or think it is something that is beneficial to you personally or our society as a whole?

Do you think that social media is something that has caused this shift in sexual norms or has maybe this shift just become more apparent through the use of and/or social media?

Bigger Love

What does it mean to be non-monogamous? Are you gaining or losing power? Does your position in a relationship change? But, more importantly, what implications does your membership in the non-monogamous community have on the other communities of which you are a part?

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what’s sex got to do with… LOVE

“Sex is not love. Jealousy is not love. Pressure is not love. Possessiveness is not love. Control is not love…

Love is gentle. Love is kind. Love is brave. Love cannot be beat or be beaten. Love is unbeatable.”

This past September a new exhibit opened at the art gallery right here at Vanderbilt University. I AM UNBEATABLE is a new mission to raise awareness, educate and prevent domestic violence against women and children through real stories of real people. One story that this exhibit primarily focuses on is the story of a thirteen year old girl who got pregnant and was forced to drop out of school and raise the baby by her abusive partner. For years following the birth of her first child and even the birth of a second child, she was abused physically, mentally and emotionally by the father of her children. Now 29 years old, the mother of two boys and finally free of her abusive ex, Sarah Augusta’s story is photographed through a series of pictures displayed in this exhibit. Sarah is portrayed as no longer a victim, but a fighter.

As I was reading and examining the various photographs and captions throughout the display, the words which appear at the top of this page (which were presented as an explanation to one of the pictures in the exhibit “I Am Unbeatable”) really resonated with me and got me thinking. What does sex truly have to do with love? Many times in abusive relationships this idea that sex is love, and doing what your abuser desires, is “love”. However, love often times has nothing to do with any of this. There is no distinct description that constitutes what love really is, but if one this is for certain it is that pressure, possessiveness, control and jealousy do not have to do with it. The photograph that accompanies these words portrayed a young girl, Emma, who was the neighbor of Sarah and her two sons. At only 13, the age of Sarah when she got pregnant, Emma strongly believes that parents should start talking to their children from a young age about how to recognize abuse. This is something I completely agree with. It’s never too early to talk and inform people everywhere of the realities of abuse in this world.

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In fact, one in five girls are found to be victims of abuse. Alongside of this, it is said that one in twenty boys are victims to abuse as well. Self report studies show that 20% of adult females and 5-10% of adult males recall a sexual abuse incident during childhood. These terrible statistics show the realities of abuse, but sometimes numbers do not always do the trick. Seeing the exhibit, “I Am Unbeatable”, today allowed me to visualize a real family that underwent the atrocity of abuse. How one person be so strong and overcome such adversity? Sarah Augusta and her family are inspiration for us all…and they show us that real love is truly gentle, kind, brave and most importantly UNBEATABLE.