Monthly Archives: March 2014

“Steal the beer, meet the girls, get them drunk and try to get some.”

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Brad Perry discusses the lessons that young adolescent boys are taught – get girls drunk so that they will want to sleep with you, without any concern of her own sexual pleasure. As he discusses his encounter with a young girl who after four beers continues to say no as he continuously paws at her, it made me realize just how easily sexual violence can be brushed off. Brad Perry mentions that the first time she says no, he is confused and keeps trying because he was told by peers that getting girls drunk is how to have a sexual encounter with them. I used to think that sexual violence and rape meant that you are held down in an alley way and brutally raped by a stranger. I’m sure I’m not alone with this kind of thinking, because we are not properly informed in sexual education what a healthy sexuality means. Women are constantly taught not to go out walking late at night, not to wear short dresses/skirts or they are asking for it, etc. These types of ‘prevention’ tactics make it seem like women are going to get raped by a stranger. But the sad reality is that, rape and sexual violence is more prevalent than predators in an alley way. The part where he mentions that a close friend of his was raped by her boyfriend is proof that rape can happen anywhere, by anyone. Boys are taught, “get girls drunk and you will get some” and men brush off accusations of rape with, “boys will be boys.” These types of lessons are so prevalent in popular culture, whether it is as subtle as the lyrics of, “Blurred Lines” or as direct as the plot in movies such as Super Bad and American Pie. These lessons that boys and men are taught around sexuality might be the reason why rape culture and sexual violence will continue to flourish. This should not just be a women’s issue, men are just as much involved.

-Cierra

Consent is Sexy – Consent is Mandatory

Dictionary.com says that consent is: to commit, approve, or agree. So my question is, why is this such a hard concept for some people to grasp, and why are we not teaching this to young people?

Within her chapter Beyond Yes or No Rachel Bussel discusses how youth need to know the importance of consent, not just in the beginning, but all through sexual activities. She gives the example of a Yes, No, Maybe Chart to go through with a sexual partner as a way of recognizing what you or your partner may potentially find erotic. Bussel goes on to discuss enthusiastic consent which states “unless you get an affirmative yes from a sexual partner, you don’t know what they really want” (Yes Means Yes, 2008, p. 46).

The reason that consent is so important is because both partners need to feel comfortable voicing what they are/are not comfortable with. By doing this we may begin to eradicate the idea of the sexual double standard, in which, men are allowed to have all the sex and women are not. A perfect world would be on where everyone was free to do what they wanted with their bodies without scrutiny, particularly women.

In the chapter Hooking-Up with Healthy Sexuality Brad Perry continues the discussion on consent. He describes his first sexual encounter, which did not go well. He was denied by a young girl who he tried to “hook-up” with. Instead of getting angry and blaming the girl, he took his actions and really thought about what he did: was it right to try and get her drunk first? Later in his life he found out that one of his close female friends was raped by her boyfriend and he again looks back at his choice to comply with Janice’s refusal to perform sexual activities with him and questions himself on the idea of: what if he ignored her request?

Perry explains that as a young boy he thought that the only way to “get some” was to have the girl be under the influence. I’m sure he is not the first male to believe this notion and he won’t be the last. This directly links to Perry’s idea that school systems can’t teach young people about sexual health promotion and sexual violence prevention separately, they must be intertwined. Healthy sexuality and knowledge about sexual violence go hand-in-hand. Which means, government funding cannot continue to pump funds into abstinence-only programs because they are proven unsuccessful, and this needs to be recognized.

In closing, I believe in the words said by both Bussel and Perry. We need to create sexual education programs in which students learn to become knowledgeable about their bodies, and potential sexual violence. To continue to build stronger programs we must take into account other important factors in young people lives, such as: sexuality, gender, race, and class, among others. By beginning to recognize these multiple aspects society may begin to see break downs in violence, stereotypes, and discrimination.

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– Racheal

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SlutWalk

Slut
1. an immoral or dissolute woman; prostitute.
2. Obsolete . a dirty, slovenly woman.

The term slut has been used against women negatively throughout the course of history, dating as far back as the late 15th century.
Once this label is stamped on some unlucky girl’s forehead who seemed too flirtatious, she will get to endure the wonders of slut-shaming. Over time the magnitude of slut-shaming has increased tenfold, a woman can be criticized over the shortness of her skirt, her drinking habits, etc.Even rape is considered a justifiable act if its just some ‘drunk slut’ and most rapists get away without any charges because of slut-shaming.

Personally, I like the idea of SlutWalks because it gives women a chance to come together to participate in peaceful protesting and speak out. It was only after reading Amanda Watson’s article “The SlutWalk Paradox”, that I became aware of the complications these SlutWalks were creating. The author points out how SlutWalks can be seen as racist because of “baring skin implies liberation”, this singles out muslim women and is seen as white feminism (according to transnational feminists). Another problem Watson talks about is how “raunch” was used to make a political statement and gain the attention of the mass media, “On the one hand, we’re expressing our sexuality to politicize and resist our sexual repression in the public domain. On the other hand, we surrender to the very gaze we resist by relenting…”. It seems that stripping in public is the only way for women to gain political attention, which does not surprise me. If you look back at the long battle for woman suffrage, it took approximately 70 years before women would get to vote; and that is with their clothes on. The tactics SlutWalks use may not be considered ‘moral’, but I see using the mass media to their advantage as smart and a common occurrence. Quite a few people use the media in their favor, for example politicians, terrorists and celebrities.

Sources: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/slut?s=t
-Briana

This Society Sucks!

While reading the two blogs assigned for today, I felt many emotions including shock and complete sadness.

In the first piece Katie states “Cyber sex is the most disgusting thing ever. Honestly. Sex without intimacy. Sex without love. I wouldn’t touch that shit with a ten-foot pole.” I found this shocking because why can we not have sex for pleasure? Why does it have to be with an intimate partner? Heck, why can we not just do it ourselves! Sexual encounters are not always to express love. (I mean, if you have that special someone, all the power to ya!) But, sometimes it is just what we all need. Many people are blaming everyone else for slut-shaming but, I feel as though we have to blame ourselves. Yah, we have all victimized someone in our life as a “slut” whether it be for someone having multiple sex partners, a girl talking to another girl about someone they don’t like, to even a guy calling a girl down just because he thinks it isn’t a big deal. This is just disgusting. But what is even more disgusting is if a girl is labeled as slut she will never be considered a serious victim of any type of non consensual sexual enactments. This brings me to the heart breaking blog about Reteah Parsons.
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Retaeh was raped by four boys at a party when she was under the influence. First of all, if alcohol is involved, it will never be consensual. (So boys, and girls, you’re already raping. Even if you didn’t know it!) This is a very sad story because not only was Retaeh part of a very traumatizing experience, she attempted to take her own life. These four boys not only raped her, but took a picture and made it go viral. Where anyone thought this was a good idea is beyond me. When reading this blog what really shocked me aside from the gang rape, was that the police would not punish the boys for taking the picture because “they can’t prove who pushed the camera button.” Really? What is wrong with society today? On top of that, what will be wrong with society tomorrow? This is just not okay!

Samantha

Sluts get raped?

After reading the first blog that was assigned for this week I found myself very moved. In the blog we see Katie describing the ultimate sex life as one that exists between two people in a relationship. I found this very interesting. All too often we miss the comments that imply such a thing. In the society we live in the only acceptable sexual relationships are ones between those in a relationship. Everyone else who is having sex with people outside of a relationship is a slut (the girls that is, lets not forget that men don’t get shamed for having numerous sexual partners).

How many of us have been to high school? How many of us labeled girls as sluts in high school? Me, I did and I’m not afraid to admit that. When word got out about a girl having multiple sexual partners outside of a relationship she was instantly a slut in my mind as well as many others. She was labeled. I never realised how wrong this was until I took this class. Why is it wrong to have sex for pleasure and not love? I can’t answer that question, I don’t think any of us can but, what troubles me even more is that as soon as a girl is a “slut” it’s okay to rape her. An example of this is Rehtaeh’s story.

Rehtaeh is a young girl that committed suicide after being raped by four boys. Amongst the rape a photo was taken of her that was then released to the public. After the photo was seen by the public instead of Rehtaeh being a victim of rape she was a slut. This baffles me! We are in a negative downfall where sexually active girls are sluts, and boys get to rape sluts because they are asking for it. And who pays the price? Girls like Rehtaeh because no one sticks up for the victim, they blame them.

This generation scares me, and what scares me more is the generations to come. Now is the time that we need to make a change.

 

Kristie

Assumptions about Women of Colour

Coming into this class I never knew that racialized women in the past were thought of in such a terrible way, I was completely oblivious. As I read through the chapter “Queering Black Female Heterosexuality” by Kimberly Springer she opened my eyes to how many stereotypes follow black women in the form of sexuality. Many of these stereotypes are rooted from the years of slavery when black women were the victims of being raped by high class white men thus being seen as promiscuous. How ridiculous is it to see black women as promiscuous as a result of what their ancestors had to suffer through in the past. Even though we are far away from the era of slaves, women of colour remain to walk around with this stereotype. When I look at this I think that is terrible that black women are so far under the microscope that if they do express their sexuality they are considered to be “bitchy,” “promiscuous,” and “overly fertile”(Springer 80). As Kimberley states this can be commonly seen in music videos, however not just black women are seen in music videos showing their off their “stuff”. It is not a women’s race that makes them want to do something like that, it is a women’s personality. Black women are also highlighted in other media. For example in television when they do not express their sexuality such as Oprah, Clare Huxtable from The Crosby Show, and Renee Radick in Ally McBeal. (Spring 80). Since these women are not expressing their sexuality they are labeled as “closet lesbians” even though they are not.

When I look at all these few examples (which did not even cover half of them) I think that just because someone is not Caucasian that they are judged by society through the years on false accusations. When women do not choose to express their sexuality publicly that they are assumed to be a lesbian. Why can’t they just be women living their life the way they want, they just might be uncomfortable with the public knowing about their lives. I think that we judge and justify black women’s actions way past acceptable. They do or do not express their sexuality because they want or do not want too. I feel that we are putting to much pressure on both African-American and Caucasian women or just women in general. We are always being judged for what we do and do not do.

Real Sex Education

      I can remember  back in the day when we were supposed to be learning about sex education in school. It was probably one of the most stressful years of mine and my classmates’ lives. We didn’t want to see or hear about what our body parts were supposed to turn out like once we hit puberty, let alone what boys body parts looked like. I think the most horrific part of the class was when the instructor whipped out a banana and nonchalantly slid a condom on it. Back then, and just prior to reading Cara Kulwicki’s piece, I never actually considered sex education to have any concerns other than how traumatizing putting condoms on bananas at twelve years old was. However, after reading her chapter in Yes Means Yes, I’ve come to find that she points out some very troubling issues that sex education has.

     When it comes to looking at the girl’s side of sex, Cara points out that the information provided is pretty vague. It’s almost as if the course’s purpose is to make the students feel like sex should only be practiced when conception is the desired outcome. Not only that, but these courses only discuss what happens when two heterosexual people participate in vaginal intercourse. They give no description of anal or oral sex for the students in the class that may be homosexual or not interested in vaginal sex. This could have a sort of shaming effect on students because if you aren’t educated about it and your teacher doesn’t talk about it then it can imply that you shouldn’t be doing it. It also leaves girls unaware of their pleasure points. What is mainly talked about is penetration, and how a man orgasms (because that is how babies are born and that is the only reason why you should be having sex, right?). Students are so misguided by the briefness of these courses that girls don’t know that they can enjoy sex too and gays and lesbians can participate in sex just like heterosexuals can. To quote Cara on this point, she states that:

“For me, real sex education… requires actually teaching about sex. Real sex education requires, in addition to teaching about protection, teaching sex as a normal and healthy part of life that is varied in terms of both preferred partners and preferred acts. Real sex education teaches that sex is more than heterosexual intercourse and should be consensual and pleasurable for all participants.”

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     In addition to learning about all different types of sex, Cara Kulwicki brings up another good point that sex education disregards as a huge factor when it comes to sex — rape. When I think of rape, I think of violent, aggressive and forced sex. In this chapter though, it’s come to my attention that even not giving enthusiastic consent falls under the category of rape. The author points out that even when one partner does not fully want sex but after saying no several times and still being nagged to do it and they oblige, is still considered rape. I think that many people would be shocked to realize that they’ve either acted out the crime or been a victim of rape without even being aware of it. That’s another reason, as Cara points out in this chapter, that rape needs to be another key component in the curriculum of sex education. Students need to know that sex has to be wanted by both partners for it to be okay, otherwise it is wrong.

     Cara caps off this piece of writing by explaining that sex education should be about teaching young adults that pleasure and consent are important and necessary for any relationship and that nobody, whether, gay, lesbian, or straight, should feel ashamed about wanting to feel pleasure through sexual acts. It’s completely normal and healthy as long as it is acted out safely through protection. She also states that, “…there is more to sex than sticking penises inside of vaginas.” There are a variety of different ways in which partners or individuals can go about feeling sexual pleasure. Real sex education should teach these practices and stress the importance of enthusiastic consent, protection and smart choices to all the teens confused about where to stick what, what to stick where and how to touch that.

– Kelsey Gray

Under Western Eyes

male dominated culture comic

Well, after much re-reading and trying to hack through the extensive vocabulary used by Mohanty, I think I’ve got the just of it.

In this piece, Mohanty is attempting to criticize hegemonic feminist discourse for the assumption and therefore creation of a monolithic “third world woman”.  She is arguing that the use of monolithic terms and classifications by Western feminists creates an image of the “Third World woman” as “.. ignorant, poor, uneducated, tradition-bound, domestic, family-oriented, victimized, etc.” thus implicitly representing themselves as “.. educated, as modern, as having control over their own bodies and sexualities and the freedom to make their own decisions.” Mohanty focuses on the textual strategies that many feminist writers use that end up “Othering” anyone who is non-Western (as well as implicitly codifying themselves as Western).

This codification of Western and Third World women in feminist discourse totally ignores the historical, sociological context of women in both regions as well as ignores issues such as class, race, religion, and daily material practices.  Homogenization of these issues creates a false sense of commonality of struggle, oppression, and interests among all women globally, as well as perpetuating Western (feminist) hegemony.

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This piece left me thinking about Western privilege and language.  I honestly hadn’t really ever thought about Western scholarly and academic hegemony in terms of what is published, read, reviewed, and considered valuable in feminist discourse.  I also had never thought about the necessity of an extremely careful and in-depth nature of analyses of political, economic, cultural, religious systems present when studying people from non-Western societies.  It is too easy to ignore the Western privilege and make blanket statements about societies that perpetuate dominance and superiority.  I think that more scholars and academics should be called out when they make general statements such as some of the ones Mohanty critiques.

For example, Mohanty cites a quote from feminist Maria Cutrufelli’s book Women of Africa: Roots of Oppression, “My analysis will start by stating that all African women are politically and economically dependent” (Cutrufelli 1983, 13) and “Nevertheless, either overtly or covertly, prostitution is still the main if not the only source of work for African women” (Cutrufelli 1983, 33).  The main problem here is that Cutrufelli uses “women of Africa” as a group characterized by dependency and powerlessness. Because “women of Africa” is seen as a group who are generally dependent and oppressed, “analysis of specific historical differences becomes impossible, because reality is always apparently structured by divisions … the victims and the oppressors.”

I didn’t totally understand Mohanty’s descriptions of types of analyses, but I think her point is that when writing, analyzing, discussing, etc. about the “Other” (in this case, Third World women but this is also including a Third World woman writing about Western women or any combination of author/subject), Western feminists must be very careful in analyzing all of the institutions and systems that are present, to provide an accurate and “fair” context, and account for the implications of these systems.

I thought it was interesting that the piece is named “Under Western Eyes” .. this in itself implies that the Third World is below the Western world.  Though, I am sure Mohanty was aware of this when she titled it.

I think that privilege in all it’s forms (white, middle class, Western, Christian, thin, male, etc.) is something that all of us take for granted in some way, shape or form at some point, and it takes a lot of energy and courage to acknowledge.  As a feminist academic who writes scholarly articles, I think that taking in to consideration and implementing what Mohanty has presented is not only responsible, but admirable and has potential to change feminist discourse in a very positive way if adopted on a wider scale.

 

Julia H

 

The End of Marriage

Sex and the CityAnne Hathaway

When I first dove into the article “Gage Relations: The End of Marriage” I was pretty sceptical about what I could find. Not being one to really pay attention to LGBT affairs, I do however find myself to be a supporter of gay marriage but through the reading of the said article, I found myself putting on a different pair of “lenses” and reaching a conclusion that I found to be quite to the contrary of what I thought and believed prior. As I mentioned before, I would be lying if told you that I spend a lot of time thinking in great detail about, or to go even further advocating for LGBT rights, but I do however think critically about the main theme of the article, that being marriage. I have always held a critical eye over marriage and the article really fuelled a new and alternative viewpoint about marriage that changed my opinion about whether or not gay marriage is the best solution for individuals to strive for.
At first I found it extremely strange that the author as well as many members of the LGBT community were grumpy about the notion of gay marriage. I figured that the majority would be all for the movement, but I was wrong. I found more and more through my reading that the argument was solely based around attaining freedom of love rather than marriage. This idea wasn’t completely novel to me considering I have never been the kind of girl to fantasise about the perfect wedding, but rather spent my time daydreaming about the ideal partner. This was the key to the articles argument- the distinction between a wedding/marriage and love. The fundamental difference between a wedding/marriage and love is that the first is a cultural and socially constructed institution, and the second is a basic human emotion. It is so common to equate the two together, but the article works to destruct the connection between them as they are far from the same.
From what I can understand, the whole basis of LGBT movements to reach equality, and I fully support that. We are all human beings and I believe strongly that we deserve equal rights and freedoms. However, I agree fully also with the article’s conclusion that the present version of marriage isn’t something LGBT individuals should be lining up to participate in because it is indeed flawed. The main point of the whole article is to expose what is wrong with marriage, and it is a very long list.
Marriage is an institution that is far more exclusive than inclusive, which is all too clear, and is problematic in the sense that it has been sensationalized into something that is the core, one and only life defining moment for all people. It has been moulded to be perceived as the gateway access to adequate healthcare, tax breaks, and putting material aspects behind us, as the only way to attain true happiness and success. It has been drilled into us that marriage has to be part of the normative timeline of our lives and that it is absolutely necessary, but this is wrong. The fact is, marriage (including the wedding) is a very tired cliché. We must work to exceed the marriage model that is proven to be far too simplistic and conditional to suit every individual’s needs. It is only valued if it fits certain criteria of race, class, and sexual orientation. Marriage is yet another forced agenda. Although we (including LGBT people) seek to be incorporated into pre-existing institutions such as marriage, the justice issues that need to be resolved are much more complicated that what the folds of marriage have to offer. “When gay people get married, keep in mind that they may well extend the institution of marriage but they do not change it. The institution is instable and like the wedding, marriage is overpriced, overvalued, overestimated, and maybe soon, simply over.” So here the institution of marriage stands, naked and revealed, replete with all of its disappointments and coercive aspects, and yes despite it all, we all still run open armed towards it. The point is that we all need to stop running to enter into the “mayhem and mishap of holy matrimony”. The creation of novel and all inclusive forms of human interactions is the solution. We are in great need of total and complete transformation.
And while it is great that Lady Gaga alongside many other celebrities support and advocate for LGBT affairs especially gay marriage, actions and words are two very different things, as words are ordinary yet what a person chooses to actually DO about something is what is extraordinary. Take Dory (played by the fabulous Ellen DeGeneres) from finding Nemo for example, as explored in the article. She literally “forgets about family, marriage, becoming a mother, and in the process opens herself up to a new way of being. I suggest we do the same”. The future of marriage, if it is continued on as is will come to an abrupt and well-deserved end.

– Brittany Marshall (110199)