Rape culture

Rape culture can be defined as an idea in which rape is normalized due to societal attitudes about gender and sexuality. In many rape cases, the victim has been blamed and looked down upon for the negative things that occurred in the rape. Recently, rape culture has grown on college campuses across the nation. Many assume that the victim of rape will actually be viewed as the culprit and seen in a negative light. According to what I’ve witnessed, this definition of rape culture can be refuted because the alleged rapist sometimes gets the bad reputation in rape cases. On June 23, 2013, an incident occurred on Vanderbilt University’s campus involving football players. Four Vanderbilt football players were accused of raping a woman in a dorm room while she was unconscious. Campus police found out about the incident while viewing video footage of another incident two days after it occurred. The campus police stated that the football players were seen on camera acting suspiciously. This incident is a prime example of how males, especially athletes, can be negatively viewed because of society’s stereotypes. Rape culture definitely exists on college campuses. However, although the definition of rape culture deals specifically with the victim, I feel it is necessary to consider rape culture from the opposite point of view.

 

If we take into consideration the example of the Vanderbilt rape case, no one knows what happened that night – other than the parties involved. Many assumptions have been made based on what was perceived as suspicious behavior. It is quite possible that the choices made that night could have been mutual. How does mutual sexual interaction become domestic violence in a matter of minutes? According to society’s definition of rape culture, the victim is supposed to be blamed or objectified sexually. There was one moment within this rape case where the victim’s sexual past/history would be considered. However, that information was quickly removed from the table. That immediately negated the idea of rape culture. It also made me think of rape culture from a different perspective.

 

As a member of the Vanderbilt Football team, I knew some of the accused players. Prior to the rape incident, faculty, staff and the student body had a positive attitude toward the football players. They supported the football Commodores, all the way – no matter what. We were winning and coming off a good season the past year. Following the rape incident, I saw a change in the way people viewed the football players. Those very players who some fans loved to death were now viewed as animals by those same fans. What bothered me most was that it seemed that everyone heard the victim’s side of the story but didn’t consider what my teammates could have gone through. In most cases, the athlete (male) is immediately considered the bad guy. This happens on campuses all over the world. The female is considered the victim and most people gravitate toward her word instead of hearing both sides of the story. Males are viewed as guilty before they even appear before a jury. In my opinion, society jumps to conclusions because of a male’s possible dominance over a woman. There are several factors that can contribute to a rape accusation and these factors should be considered every time someone is accused.

 

For example, women sometimes make the decision to consume large amounts alcohol. Drinking too much alcohol can lead to impaired judgment. The woman can make a decision at that moment to engage in consensual sex, but when the alcohol has worn off she realizes that it may have not been the best decision. On the contrary, after the alcohol wears off she may not even be aware of all of the decisions that she has made and may assume that she was taken advantage of. This assumption immediately puts the male in a bad situation. He is immediately assumed to be the aggressor and guilty of harming the female. Rape culture should have a second portion of the definition in which it highlights the possible negativities that the accused rapist could encounter.

 

The definition of rape culture is definitely one sided. I believe it is necessary to consider rape cases from both points of view. While society can objectify the victim and blame them, society can also victimize the alleged rapist. Without all facts, the football players were considered guilty. Just as the victim has rights, the accused parties also have rights. My proposed part two definition of rape culture is a culture in which the alleged rapist becomes victimized based on society’s assumptions of gender and sexuality. It is only fair for every angle of a situation to be reflected upon. We cannot view or analyze rape culture without considering both/all parties involved.

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What does sex have to do with women on Sport Magazines?

Media separates each other’s strategies when women and men’s sports are involved. Today women athletes are represented poorly and are profiled by the media, which will do whatever it takes to grab people’s attention and to make a profit. Female athletes are being portrayed sexually both through text and through photos. Ever since sports started, males have taken power and credit through the games, making them get the main focus since men are the largest consumers of it. When female athletes are represented through media, are they represented through there sexuality rather than their athletic ability?

http://www.candaceparker.net/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/candace2.jpg  Continue reading

Sexual Standards in Sports

Sexual Standards in Sports

When watching the Olympics, many spectators are not only in awe of the competition, but they are also in awe of the body composition. Athletes typically put years of hard work into a performance that can last as little as two seconds. Some athletes might appear glamorous, like figure skaters or gymnasts; meanwhile others appear tough and rigid like weightlifters or boxers. Typically in the past no standards have been made and gender has not been questioned, but up until recently things have changed.

Caster Semenya, a track and field Athlete from South Africa is one of the most recent athletes to undergo gender testing. In an article titled “Unruly Bodies” by Sharon Preves from “Introducing the New Sexuality Studies”, Caster Semenya is recognized along with another athlete, Johnny Weir.

Semenya was claimed to be tested because of her tremendous speed, and not because of her low voice and physical build. Until this day it is uncertain whether her career as an athlete was short lived. “The IAAD has yet to rule on whether they consider her ‘female enough’ to continue the tremendously promising career that she only just began.” (Preves 129).

Results from the tests were leaked and the test reported that Semenya had no ovaries or uterus, but she had external features of female genetalia and a testes that wasn’t fully developed. All of these characteristics gave Semenya extra testosterone.

Less than a year later, Weir, a figure skater from the United States, was tested because of his questionably flamboyant attitude. Tested only 6 months apart, this caused major uproar amongst the International Association of Athletics Foundation (IAAF) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC). In solution of multiple meetings and conferences, the IOC decided to create facilities where female athletes can undergo treatment as extensive as surgery in able to be able to compete.

Regarding transgender athletes, October 2014 was the first time that the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) allowed transgender athletes to play, as well as the first time a Division 1 NCAA Transgender athlete opened up. Regarding the AIA, allowing athletes to play is case by case. The article on azcentral.com stated, “We look at the school,” Schmidt said. “Do they support the request? We look at the student. There is a lot of documentation to explore, the gender dysphonia. Are they working with medical professionals? Where are the parents and students themselves? What are their positions? How long have they identified as the opposite sex they were born?” However, not all schools are willing to let transgender athletes participate, so they do look at outside circumstances such as other students as well. More and more schools and recreational sports programs are recognizing transgender athletes today. According to transathlete.com, here are the policies for NCAA sports (via transathlete.com):

“The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), which organizes competition in 23 sports at over 1,000 colleges and universities, does not require gender confirming surgery or legal recognition of a player’s transitioned sex in order for transgender players to participate on a team which matches their identity. However, things become a bit more complicated when hormones are used. The recommended NCAA policy requires one year of hormone treatment as a condition prior to competing on a female team. Conversely, athletes assigned female at birth remain eligible to compete in women’s sports unless or until that athlete begins a physical transition using hormones (testosterone).”

The NCAA’s most recently opened up athlete, Kye Allums, who is now 25 years old, played basketball at George Washington University and opened up in 2010. In an interview with Time magazine, he often used the word ‘uncomfortable’ when describing his life as a female. When Kye Allums opened up in 2010, he said he received extensive negative feedback doubting his claim. However, opposing teams’ players supported his decision, and did not let it affect the game, but fans were said to have pointed in surprise of a ’not so shocking’ appearance change. Today, Allums travels nation-wide to talk about his life as a transgender.

According to the NCAA, here are reasons why transgender athletes need to be addressed right now:

-—Estimates are that 1-2% of the population identifies as transgender
—-More young people are identifying as transgender at younger ages
—-In recent years, the NCAA has had at least 40 inquiries from member schools about how to include transgender students on athletic teams
-—Participation in athletics contributes to students’ overall educational experience
-The NCAA is a part of the higher education community and supports a broad commitment to inclusion and equal access

In conclusion, sports alone are a very controversial topic. When questions about gender are involved, the topic becomes very serious. Today, many organizations and strong individuals are making history in the sports world. The NCAA, IAAF, AIA, and IOC are only a few of the many organizations taking risks and making changes. There are many aspects that need to be looked at regarding performance and gender dysphonia.

How would you feel if your sex was questioned based on your athletic performance?
Do you think that transgender athletes should be allowed to play in the NCAA?
How would you feel about locker room showers in schools?
How do you think this will change the way gay men and women appear in sports today?

What do sports and exercising have to do with sex?

What do sports and exercising have to do with sex?

According to research, physical activity enhances sexual arousal. CNN.com stated that sex prior to competition can actually help an athlete with mental stress. Many athletes reported that sex before a match or game actually helped the individual to relax. Did you know that the Olympic Village gave out over 150,000 condoms during the London Games? Mostly soccer and tennis players were interviewed. CNN also stated that “Sex is apart of the Olympic spirit”. USA soccer goal keeper even claimed that “there’s a lot of sex going on” referring to the London Games. Ryan Lochte, Olympic Swimmer also said that there is a lot of sex going on behind the scenes, and “sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.”
However, Plato and Muhammad Ali have different theories. Plato, back in 444 BC said “Olympic competitors before races should avoid sexual intimacy.” Following Plato’s perception, many current day wresters and other athletes abstain from sexual activity easily to avoid distraction and mental and/or physical fatigue. At least they feel that it may help. There are also athletes that strongly disagree that sexual activity should be avoided before competition. A famous MMA fighter, Ronda Rousey, claimed that she liked to get busy in bed prior to competition. No studies have accurately proved this theory to whether sex helps mentally, but it is proven to increase testosterone levels. 
Here is a link to a video of a professional boxer, Liz, who’s blood’s testosterone level increased by 30%. Previously tested by the same group was a male boxer, who’s performance and testosterone level did increase post sex and orgasm.
Aside from athletics, how about the average joe? As men grow older, they usually produce less and less testosterone. Weight training has been known to increase testosterone levels, which increases sex drive. However, sex isn’t always going to help one weight train more efficiently. Yet, it might help one exercise better. You can also harm testosterone levels by over training. According to fitbie.com, “Research shows that exercise can boost your testosterone levels, increase blood flow “down there,” and even improve your orgasms.” For men, increasing blood flow is supposed to intensify an erection. Not only does exercise help men improve their sex life, but it also helps women. At the University of Texas Austin, a study was made where 35 women were brought in at 2 different times, and watched an erotic video during both sessions. After one session, where the women bicycled for 20 minutes before the video, blood flow levels to the vagina significantly raised, which meant a better sex drive.
What are your feelings towards sex before sports?
If you play college sports, would you participate in this?
Do you think your favorite athletes avoid sex or do they have sex before competition?
Do you think the studies done are accurate or do you think they vary per person?

Sexualizing Women’s Sports

Women are sexualized in every aspect of our lives: In music, movies, books, advertisements, language, anywhere you look. You would think that sports would be the one outlet that women would have to not be sexualized, but unfortunately this isn’t true. Sports have used women in various ways to make money by sexualizing the sport through the actual acts of sports and what the women wear during competition. In women’s wrestling, surfing, and football, women are advertised as things to look at based on their uniform. For example, Total Divas is a show on television that is about women’s wrestling. The girls wear tight, skimpy outfits such as leather shorts and tops, and bikini tops. The entire time that they are wrestling, is for show so that they can attract male viewers because of their looks. This is the only way for the sport to be funded because there may not be as much support if the wrestling was all about skill and not sex. All of the girls are covered in makeup, tans, blown out and perfect hair (even extensions), and their outfits are barely there. Though these women might have athletic abilities, that is not the focus of the sport. They are trained to sexualize their bodies so that they can make money. In the following clip, you can see how the focus has left the sport and focuses on their looks and hooking up with others.

http://youtu.be/JskrJCZPdV4

Deborah Tolman in Adolescent Girls’ Sexuality discusses the role of sexualization at an early age. I believe this is important to pay attention to because young girls have access to watch Total Divas or access to see how women are sexualized in sports. They are trained at a young age to believe that if they look “hot” they can get more attention and be more successful. This path makes it seem like they can make their way to the top if they capitalize on their sexuality. Taking away the purpose of sports and using it as a way to make money off of women contributes to this. Deborah Tolman wrote: “Sexual socialization includes learning to find the “right” people desirable, the contexts in which it is “appropriate” -or not- to have or express sexual feeling, and what are acceptable “sexual scripts.”” This is necessary to hear because women should not be trained to think this way from an early age. If young girls idolized these women that are sexualized, these young girls could follow in their footsteps.

anastasia-ashley-in-sports-illustrated-2014-swimsuit-issue_4.jpg

This is a picture of Anastasia Ashley, a professional surfer who has posed for Sports Illustrated many times. In this picture, she is basically posing naked. She has a great athletic body but is using her body to sexualize the sport rather than advertising her skills surfing. She is making money off of posing for the magazine rather than promoting her skills in tournaments or other sports related events. Deborah Tolman wrote “It is about the desire to look and be seen as sexy.” I believe this relates to Anastasia Ashley because she is relying on these pictures to make her famous and well known.

http://youtu.be/nD5yJTsivB8

The Legends Football League is a football league for women. When first hearing this, you might think “Finally! A league for women!” However, after watching this video, you see that it is entirely sexualized. These women have true athletic abilities and follow the same rules as male football players but the difference is quite obvious. The female football players, like men, wear shoulder pads and helmets, but there is a big difference in uniform. The female players are wearing bikinis to play in. What is the point of wearing bikinis for a football game? I think we all know that it’s not to make the athletes run faster. It is just to sexualize the sport and to make it more desirable for men to watch and support. As a female athlete, it makes me upset that these girls cannot show off their athletic abilities because no one is watching them make great plays. People are only looking at their bodies.

Deborah Tolman said: “…it is on average, normative for girls to start have sexual feelings in early adolescence.” How does this connect? Well, I believe this connects to sexualizing sports because if girls begin sports at a young age and all they see are female athletes using their bodies to become successful, it will train these younger girls to do the same and follow in their footsteps. I think its important to make sure we have athletes that are famous and looked up too because of their athletic abilities, not their sexual appearances. I also believe that a sport should revolve around the hard work and natural talents of an athlete. They should be supported and praised because their work hard has paid off and can out play anyone they are in competition with. The women in wrestling, football, and surfing have talents that not everyone has, so why don’t we focus on that?

What’s Sex Have To Do With… The NBA?

In the past year and a half, the elephant in the room has finally been revealed, and questions have been answered. Are there gay athletes playing at the highest level of competition? The answer is yes, yes there are. Jason Collins has been in the NBA since 2001, last playing for the Brooklyn Nets last season. He is a 7’0″ tall gifted athlete from Los Angeles, California. He played basketball at Stanford and was drafted as the 18th overall pick in 2001 by the Houston Rockets- he is no scrub whatsoever, just past his prime currently. He has played way more years in the NBA than its average player, and also has a twin brother Jarron who played along side him for many years in the NBA. Last year, he announced he was gay and had his face graced the cover of Sports Illustrated. He will forever be remembered as the first openly gay, male, active professional athlete. The amount of courage it took for Jason to come out of the closet to the world must have been unbearably tough; however, having the guts to continue to play basketball after doing so is something that will be remembered by the sports world forever. Of course the immediate questions swirled: how will his teammates react? How will he be received by fans? How will the locker room dynamic work? Where will he shower? Although I have heard not how the locker room and shower situation worked out, it is a general consensus that Jason Collins has been treated as he has his entire career. He is a player with talent, who is respected as a result of his humble nature and work ethic. Here is another question: well it took Jason Collins 12 years into his career to come out… are there any other gay players in the NBA? Personally, I feel that there at least a handful of gay players in the NBA; I was shocked and surprised to hear the news that Jason Collins was gay, so why wouldn’t there be room for any others out there? It is only a matter of time before the next player comes out, once they gain the courage it takes. It was a big step in the culture of the NBA to generally accept a gay player- but hey, the way they see it is: if you can play, then you can play! Who cares who you like to date anyway?