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.

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Are College Campuses No Longer Safe?

According to the Date Safe Project, “ one in four women in college today have been the victim of rape, and nearly 90% of these women know their rapists.”

Rape. Definition: the unlawful compelling of a person through physical force or duress to have sexual intercourse; any act of sexual intercourse that is forced upon us.

From the time we are in our teenage years, us girls are educated on sexual assault and the dos and don’ts of how to avoid these awful situations. We hear lots of stories of rape scenarios, but to most girls they are just that: stories. Though I obviously know rapes exist, until a week ago, I had yet to come across anyone that has experienced assault of any kind first hand.

One of my best friends attends the University of Pennsylvania, and for the first month and a half of college, we talked on the phone at least one, if not more, times a week to catch up and just talk about our respective lives. This was something I always looked forward to, but about six weeks in, my friend (let’s call her Chandler for protection reasons), started to get more distant and not respond to my texts and calls. Though I should have been more worried, I assumed it was due to college and all its accompanying stress. Chandler finally called me last week, bawling, and explained that she had been sexually assaulted. She was one of the 20% of women who had been raped. Chandler was leaving a party, and her friend Rob from one of her classes offered to walk her back to her dorm room. On the way they passed his room and he said he had to grab something and asked if they could stop by. Once they got inside, things got heated but then Chandler realized she was intoxicated and wanted to go back to her room. She explained that to Rob, but he got angry and started using force to hold her down. Chandler started yelling and crying, but he didn’t stop, and no one could hear her. For the next few weeks, she was scared to even leave her dorm room, yet alone face him in class. She started talking to a guidance counselor, and when she finally got the courage to report it to the school, they did nothing about it. They switched all of her classes, but what about the boy? Why does he get to go off scratch free while Chandler has to suffer through this for the rest of her life?

Let’s face it; though college may seem like a safe, carefree environment, it is not crime free. Rape can happen anywhere and with anyone, even someone you trust as a friend like in the situation above. This shouldn’t deter us college kids from going out and having fun, but we should be careful and responsible in our actions.

Currently here at Vanderbilt, we have many rape prevention clubs and resources such as Green dot, Party With Consent, the Psychological and Counseling Center, and the Margaret Cuningghims Women’s Center, which I did not even know existed until yesterday. These are helpful resources but there is not enough to promote that they exist and are here for us to utilize. Additionally, though we are taught many rape prevention caution techniques, each situation is different, and the techniques need to be updated with the modern age.

For a big part of my rape education, consent has been emphasized over and over again. However, especially when one or both parties have been consuming alcohol and or drugs, this is a very thin line to cross. Is consent still consent after a blood alcohol level above the legal limit? Keep I mind, for those of us under twenty-one, the legal limit is .02, so consent is wary even after a few sips of an alcoholic beverage. I am not saying to stop drinking alcohol all together, but to be safe while doing so because there are many unwanted consequences that can occur.

I believe because the lines of rape are hazy, especially when it comes to college campuses where drugs and alcohol are plentiful, we must tailor our education and prevention techniques to fit those situations. There is no specific script for how rapes occur, so we must come up with techniques that outline situations of today. In Time Magazine’s, “The Sexual Assault Crisis on American Campus’s,” by Eliza Gray, the solution to campus rapes is distraction. Trying to pull a drunk guy away from going home with a drunk girl can be quite a task and cause some fights, but innovative bystander intervention can be an advantage. An example they used that I personally thought smart was if one sees their friend in a sketchy situation with another girl or guy, distracting them with participation in a game, a trip to a local fast food restaurant, or even just chatter or gossip. Since most sexual intercourse does happen after parties when students are intoxicated, obviously all drunken sex is not unwanted, and does not all constitute as rape. However, bystander prevention and prevention techniques in general can only be useful to have in our tool belts. So remember to pay attention to those around you and stay safe Commodores!