Being a Stud vs. Being a Slut……

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One of the most important takeaways from this article is the use of people centered language. I find it really interesting that the people don’t see the differences in language that demonize women for their sexuality. Woman a forced into a condition of either being a virgin or a prude or they are considered slutty for having sex. Meanwhile, men have a really opposite experience. Men who don’t have sex are seen as inadequate or undesired but when they do they are praised for their cunning, charm and more. The double standard is more favorable towards men because men at least have an option for positive regard while woman are, metaphorically speaking, in between “a rock and a hard place”.  Because of these ideas, it creates a situation for women where they feel they need to rationalize every sexual act they participate in or they internalize the double standard and begin to identify themselves as sluts. It’s very sad to see how the double standard affects the women’s own perception of their sexuality.

Another problem that I gauged from the double standard is that women are generally thought as to be a docile, submissive, “prey”. I this belief emerges from the Bible and other similar religions. In Christianity, the bible says that men are the head of the household and that women should follow the orders of their husbands. Although many of these ideas may seem outdates, remnants of these ideas exist in the way we behave. Our attitudes in society have a narrative that girls are need to be led astray by a man to let go of her values and have sex when in actuality a girl is acting on her sexual impulses just as much as a man would. This also eliminates the narrative that women can prey on men or be dominant of their sexual acts.

The double standard is very dangerous because it also eliminates the narrative of male rape. If men are always preying on women, the idea that men can be raped by women is impossible. However, we know that male rape is something that happens in our society. This is very dangerous because rape has been a crime that has been thought as only being a crime against women. In recent years, this idea has changed but it’s very alarming to think that it’s only been in recent years that this mentality that women were incapable of rape still existed. Having a double standard that paints a group as weaker than the other can really limit the protections afforded to the dominant group.

An interesting point that the article made was about woman’s bodies being constantly under a state of “conquest”. This statement was pretty profound, however, it resonated with me because it’s true. Woman are constantly at odds with different groups in society who are trying to colonize their bodies for their individual interests. All of these acts by these different interest groups are groups trying to exert their power against women as if women are not able to control what happens with their own bodies.  I find it very insulting that these double standards exist because it implies that women in my life like my mother and sisters do not know what to do with their bodies and I know that they do.

I also thought the commentary the author made about heterosexual sex was the only kind of real sex that existed is a sentiment that is really pervasive today. There is a very specific definition of “sex” in our society that is very heteronormative. If I could ask the author of this article a question it would be, “How can we define sex in a way that in gender neutral?” Defining sex as something that is gender neutral would be very beneficial because I think it may help with language around dominance and submission.  For example, if sex was defined as an exchange between two people rather than a man preying on a woman, then it would really remove the assumption of a gender power dynamic.

The purpose of this article was made clear in the final paragraph. Valenti wrote this article as a call to action. As a man, reading this article was very impactful. I was unaware of the impact my double standards could have on women and how they experience the world. There are a lot of changes I can make to ensure that I do not reinforce double standards with my language and actions.

I think it is very important for people to read articles like this because they can really enlighten people and change their perspectives. We are all human beings and deserve to be afforded the same rights regardless of people’s varying beliefs. Although this idea seems like common sense, there is going to have to be a lot of explicit education and changes in the representation of women in media. Woman need to be represented in media as positive, powerful icons rather than images that reinforce these sexist ideals.

If I had to ask some questions from this article, I would ask:

How can we remove the notion of “purity” around women since it is so deeply rooted in religion?

How does this affect women who want to uphold traditions of virginity until marriage?

What are ways that larger populations of people can be made aware of how these double standards affect women?

Resources

http://www.alternet.org/story/86736/he%27s_a_stud,_she%27s_a_slut%3A_the_sexual_double_standard

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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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Representation of Women in Media

The human body has been mystified from the dawn of time. Their bodies are not only temples of deities up above, but also kingdoms that are to be praised through good health and body appreciation. Modern day portrayal of bodies in the media has come under heat by a lot of different feminist and womanist groups because of different gender expectations between men and woman and furthermore, between races. Media shapes how we perceive their reality and influences what we determine beauty is. However, the images that media bombards us with are a false representation of the lived experiences of people especially minorities in the United States. We all battle with their imperfections, and they are further highlighted when their role models in the media are presented as flawless sex objects. Magazine covers featuring women are often inherently sexual and downright unrealistic whether that stems from clothing choices, provocative headlines or manipulation of images to manufacture a more appealing feminine appearance. These images are everywhere we go, they are on television, in supermarkets, at bus stops, and on social media. Everyday, we subconsciously consume these images and strive to achieve these unrealistic beauty goals. We want to be lighter, thinner, taller, just like the girls in the magazines, when at the end of the day, not even the girl in the magazine looks like the girl in the magazine. This is especially damaging to groups who are not even featured in popular media, groups like people of color are often entirely left out from the narrative of beauty in this country. When they are included, they are generally objectified as a commodity, or ytheir “token” girl of color. Media representation of people of color is very limited and its limitations are pretty offensive considering there are millions of colored models, actresses and actors looking for employment. For example, why cast 16-year old white model, Ondria Hardin, for an “African Queen” shoot when models like Tyra Banks, Naomi Campbell and Chanel Iman are African descendant and also mentor younger African descendant models. This idea really supports the premises of multicultural feminism. Woman of color are treated as other. Media fails to celebrate differences but rather to serves as a force to disenfranchise black faces from the big screen. For example, there has been a lot of controversy regarding movies based on real life in Africa where there have been white protagonists and black antagonists. Currently, Angelina Jolie is in talks to play the role of Cleopatra in an upcoming film. The controversy surrounding this casting choice emerges from ancient Egyptian art, we know that Cleopatra was a woman of color, yet Hollywood has whitewashed history, yet again, limiting representation for little girls who do not believe they can aspire to be queens like Cleopatra. The problem of representation is a lot more insidious than denying people of color, roles that they were born to do. The problem lies in destroying the self-efficacy of people everywhere who do not feel like they can aspire to greatness because no one who looks like them has ever accomplished such greatness. Media is an insidious force that exploits woman as a whole especially woman of color. The lack of representation and the unrealistic beauty standards that permeate their daily lives are toxic and as a society, we need to take steps to remedy these societal ills for generations to come.

According to Gamson ‘s article, a lot of the ideas that I wrote are the sentiments of our society. Popular culture constructs sexuality however it doesn’t make room for different sexualities. This is a problem because many may feel as if the media defines what is normal in our society. Our media is a representation of our ideals and if a group is not represented it could hurt the self-efficacy of the group of lead to objectifying other groups. I think the lack of representation can also hurt groups because it eliminates their narratives from the American experience and almost labels them as “other”. For example, the article mentions that media really excluded the experience of homosexuals in media for so long, this had a really terrible impact on the perception of the general public of people who are gay. People who were gay had very limited narratives in American media for a very long time. Most of the stories surround people who were gay were often based on stories of HIV.

Gamson also notes that often times when media does have representation of diverse groups, that media often objectifies the person or represents them as exotic. It’s important that the media stay away from exoticizing groups of people because it will affect the public perception of that group. For example, there was an event on campus that was put on by Vanderbilt’s chapter of the NAACP where there was a discussion about sexualizing women of color. It talked about how in media, minorities are underrepresented yet when they are represented, they are over-sexualized. They gave examples of how Black women are seen in music videos, half naked and dancing provocatively and how Asian woman are perceived as being submissive. This is a really poor attempt by the media to represent different demographics in this country. This is dangerous because for people who have no exposure to diverse groups in this country, this poor representation is the only exposure they have to these groups.

Why does media continue to whitewash Hollywood?