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

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?

Global and Transnational Sexualities

Being an immigrant in a culture affects a myriad of aspects in a person’s life. The way they interact with people, their everyday routines and practices, and all aspects of their lives in an immigrant country are all altered and begin to fall into the mold of that of the host nation. Women immigrants see and feel the effects of being an immigrant more so than other people. Racial and gender hierarchies become a prevalent factor in how their lives are lived, and consequently, their sexualities and employment statuses are shaped based on the expectations of the dominant race or gender. When people immigrate to other countries in numbers, the people of that country typically experience moral panic, fearing that their social order and habitual customs are at risk to change due to foreign people coming in with their “alien” practices. This forms a resentment toward the immigrant people and culture, and gives the host nation’s culture a sense of informal power over them. Consequently, racial hierarchies confine immigrant women to a status of diminished personhood where their rights, culture, and sexual agency are treated as second rate to a dominant culture.

In the United States, hispanic and latino populations have grown immensely in the past decade. Many Mexican and Latin American people have immigrated to the United States seeking better work and opportunities for themselves and their families. Many have joined the labor force, working jobs in the realms of farm work, agricultural work, or on construction; a good amount of these workers are undocumented laborers. The employees in these situations, including the Mexican women who worked on the fields in California who were featured in the documentary, “Rape in the Fields,” are a part of this population. However, because they are immigrants, and are women, they have little to no power; they are easy to take advantage of. Their statuses and sexualities are at the disposal of people of higher racial or gender standings through neocolonialism. They are at the disposal of their employers. Because they have no rights, papers, little money, and need to provide for their families, these women are forced to keep working in unhealthy situations, where they are confined and mistreated. They have no choice but to submit to their employers and obey what they or told for fear of being acted towards violently.

The lack of rights that these women face impacts them in the most negative possible ways. Employers and people of higher racial or social standing feel as if they can take advantage of these women. These women are raped because of this, yet have to bite their tongue and endure the conditions just to provide for their families. Even when these women tell of their experiences of being exploited and taken advantage of, they are treated as second rate. Their claims are dismissed and they are forced to live with the violence and rape they face in their workplaces. If a white woman claimed rape, then she would receive all the attention and her needs would be met; but because these mexican women are part of a diaspora culture and carry no social weight compared to the dominant culture, they are completely disregarded. Historically, rape cases for white women have taken precedence over rape cases for minorities- some cases have even become national news, yet minority cases go completely under the radar.

The documentary “Rape in the Fields” portrayed this idea well. It displayed the notion of rape against Mexican immigrant workers as insignificant when showing the story of the man that would continually take a woman worker far away in the fields and force her to have sex with him. She told authorities about this man, and no one listened. He would rape her and threaten her, yet she had no power whatsoever to combat these actions. When authorities actually did take the situation into their hands, the man pleaded innocent and was not questions, getting away for free. Unfair situations like these cause life-lasting feelings of unrest and fear for the women who have to face these types of men. Situations like these happen often in these certain worker communities, leaving the women hopeless and feeling as if they cannot receive any help. This perpetuates over time, and becomes a culture. When it becomes a culture, it creates an environment where there is an unsaid expectation of the women to submit to the men in authority and their sexual wants without even questioning it or fighting it. These notions become widespread, and women are expected to keep their mouths shut, and they do because it is what they have to do to make a living and survive.

Unfortunately, I do not believe that this culture exists only in these realms, but probably also exist in other circles of immigrant and minority cultures. It probably exists not only in the United States, but in countries across the world considering the historical  gender bias and power complex that has been present for years. Do you think that the assertion above is potentially true? Will there ever be justice for these women immigrant workers, or will they continually be disregarded by the authorities and the United States’ justice system? What do you think it would need to take for this culture to change? Why do you think it is that these women who face these situations are completely disregarded?

 

What’s Sex Got To Do With…The Military?

According to servicewomen.org, despite 25 years of investigation under the Pentagon due to sexual assault cases in the military, military cases of rape, sexual assault and harassment continue to grow. One would think that an institution of our country that prides itself on justice and valor would be different, however, tens of thousands of unwanted sexual acts are committed yearly in the military, and only a fraction are reported. Those that are expected to be covered up and not talked about.

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These statistics are shocking for multiple reasons. One of the most is because these assaults occur in all realms of the military, including present Active Duty, the Reserves, the National Guard and in the military academies. More importantly, there is a culture of victim-blaming, lack of accountability, and lack of liable command in these situations and it has become prevalent. These statistics threaten the strength, readiness, and morale of the United States military system. It takes away validity from our nation and US national security.

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Recently, a New York Senator, Kirsten Gillibrand has been making a bipartisan push to change how the military deals with cases of sexual assault with the help of Col. Don Christensen, former chief prosecutor of the Air Force. They are hoping to bring recognition to the Military Justice Improvement Act, which aims to remove commanders from the process of deciding whether or not to prosecute sexual assault cases. The issue with this is that commanders are oftentimes friends with both the alleged victim and perpetrator, and they become the enablers in this situation.

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The current situation present in the military is no different than that of college campuses. Both contain a lack of accountability, however, at colleges, it is that of university administration in failing to handle cases properly. Also, in both institutions, the misconception that victims ask for it and are at fault in sexual assault cases is present, when in reality, victims are never to blame. Another similarity between the two is that there are similar programs present at Vanderbilt and within the military to combat sexual assault and educate people about it.

Why do you think that there is such a heavy push-back on sexual assault and measures of prevention are just now being brought up with both institutions?

Rape in the Fields

After watching the documentary Rape in the Fields over again, it really struck me how serious sexually assault is to our society in these fields and in the work place because no one would ever expect that this is happening. This is a story about immigrant women who say they have and are being sexually assaulted in the American fields and packing plants. These situations are under the radar and our society needs to be more aware of these types of situations that are taking place. Women go through this abuse just to keep a job and to get food on the table.

 

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