Sorry I haven’t posted in a while. I think this is becoming a once a month maximum type of thing until I graduate in a couple of years haha.
Luckily, there is no shortage of issues for me to write about: the Affordable Care Act, Miley Cyrus and appropriation, etc., etc. I am going to get to those and my ideas on them might surprise you (right now they surprise me). But today I wanted to talk about something much more dangerous than a law adults can’t agree on and a confused young adult, and that is what is commonly known as America’s Rape Culture. You thought sex was just about the bedroom? Nope!
What inspired me to write about this are two pieces I ran into yesterday. The first was this video by chescaleigh. First I have to tell you, this video is powerful, and I encourage you to watch it before you finish reading this. In the video she shares her personal experiences with “slut shaming.”
For those who don’t know, slut-shaming is judging a person (men can be slut shamed too, yay inclusive-ness!) based on what they wear, their sexual behaviors, or how they look and giving them the label “slut.” (A note about the 2nd video, I strongly disagree with her points of how men are slut-shamed but it served the purpose of understanding that men CAN be shamed).
So now go watch the video (if you didn’t already).
In her video, chescaleigh makes reference to another video, by Jenna Marbles. I went and watched that video to really see if it shined light on a lot of the logic behind slut-shaming, and it did.
In the video, Jenna talks about what a slut is, and the definition is one I think we can all agree society at large would agree on, that a slut is someone that has a lot of casual sex (men are typically referred to more so as dogs or man-hoes, but since they are all logically equivalent in that they are used to describe sexually “deviant” behavior, slut will suffice to mean men and women in this post).
She then, in the line almost directly after, makes a statement that completely derails most of her argument: that it is not the person she is judging but their choices. And that is where we lose the logic. Simply put, people are free to make their own choices- whether it is to have a lot of sex, little sex, no sex, or sex laying sideways against a wall- it’s their body and their choice. You have no judgement available.
So let’s start with that assumption, that it is their choice (and we’ll talk about when its not a little later). That being said, we may disagree with some of those choices, but that does not allow us the right to make an entire judgment on that person; it denies them the complexity we all have as humans.
What’s all the hoopla about anyways? Some people are getting it on, so what? Nothing new. How do you think you got here? (Enjoy that thought).
Well, a lot of research in psychology has shown that sex isn’t really all about pleasure or the babies. It is, just as race or gender, a social construct. In one of my favorite shows, House of Cards, the main character quotes Oscar Wilde and says “Everything in the world is about sex except sex. Sex is about power.” As a construct then, society says what we believe it should be about and so sex interacts with a lot of social norms and constructs (and stereotypes), like clothing, ethnicity, gender, etc. to a point where we make connections when we lack all the information. That is, largely, what has led to the idea of slut-shaming. We, as a society, believe that certain things indicate a sexual urge that don’t necessarily. A guy acts a certain way or a girl dresses a certain way so we think they must want sex, when it is not necessarily the case. And when it is not the case, and sex is still forced upon them, we fail to see our fallacy and blame them for fitting our stereotypes (best known as victim-blaming).
Can sex be suggested because of how a person dresses or other characteristics? Absolutely! We didn’t build those stereotypes on our own! Society and its norms helped, which includes clothes. However, we have to learn that those stereotypes aren’t always right and can lead us down a very dark path. Like believing that a girl wanted to have sex because she had too much to drink or that an 11-year old girl wanted to be raped by 18 guys (EIGHTEEN, in case you missed that) because she “dressed older than her age, wearing makeup and fashions more appropriate to a woman in her 20s.” (grade-A victim blaming via the New York Times).
And its not just women that these false ideas of sexual behavior can hurt, but men too and that was the second piece that inspired this one. An article by Olivia A. Cole leads to an interesting idea that stems from this social construct of sex, which is “What if we have been normalizing male rape victims’ symptoms for centuries?” In the social construct of sex and sexual pleasure, men are supposed to have sex and somehow that makes us a man. So when a boy has sex at an age that developmental psychology would tell us is far too early for them to really consent to sex, they exhibit symptoms typical of rape victims such as “depression, promiscuity, unexplained anger, [and] anxiety.” However, that’s what the social constructions of gender tell us males are supposed to be- violent, unemotional, promiscuous, etc. Olivia talks about this when she says:
This is not to say that every man has been the victim of sexual abuse, but I know more than a few who have been, and their cries for help—the ones that get such attention when our “ladylike” daughters act out sexually and/or aggressively—went unnoticed, chalked up to a male standard of behavior that not only turns a blind eye to promiscuity but rewards it. Can you imagine? Can you imagine being sexually abused and then growing up being told that this is a good thing? That your sexual potency has been enhanced? That rape was a “head-start” into the wonderful world of sex? The damaging system that tells girls they are worthless after rape has a disgusting flip side for boys: you have worth now.
Tying sex to worth of anyone is illogical because it wholly depends on our schema, which are often too limited to realize fallacies. It also doesn’t line up when you consider the respect we have for people even when we don’t know their sexual behaviors or experiences.
How many people know how good Martin Luther King Jr. was in the sack?
How many want to know?…
My point exactly.
So why does it matter for anyone else?
That’s Where I Stand.