Gendered Violence: 3 Essays

Men and women both have gender normative roles in society that they are expected to before. In his Ted Talk, “A call to men,” Tony Porter discusses how these roles, particularly men’s expectations to be strong and aggressive, can affect the way our society functions. Young boys are taught that the way to be a man is through anger, sex, and courage. They’re taught that women are inferior and men are the strong ones. The myth of the macho man causes obvious identity issues for any men that don’t fit that ideal description, but also threatens women’s place in our society.

According to Porter, “we as men are taught to have less value in women, to view them as property and the objects of men.” Teaching boys to view women as the lesser, weaker sex can have serious consequences. We’ve seen how the poor treatment of women can affect what we deem as ‘normal’ in our society. Unfortunately, I’m writing this essay post-Friday evening which means that presidential nominee and worst human ever created, Donald Trump, has been caught on tape saying truly horrific comments about the women he meets and how he feels entitled to behave around them. His comments included the want to act sexually violent towards these women. It’s truly unbelievable how anyone could deem this, as the Trump campaign did, as ‘normal locker room talk.’ Porter agrees that “we have to come to understand that less value, property and objectification is the foundation and the violence can’t happen without it.” Comments like Trumps, whether private or otherwise, have no place in our society because it promotes inequality and violence against women.

The backlash from the Trump scandal is still not settled and I’m sure it won’t be until November. However, his clear misogynistic rhetoric is opening up a discussion in our society about what how far we are willing to go before standing up for women. Now, not all men are like Trump (thank goodness), and I know there are plenty of men, like Porter who feel trapped in this “man box.” The best way to break out of the box is to teach young men that they can be emotional, or really anything at all, and their manliness won’t be in question. We should do the same for young women. There’s no right or wrong way to be who you are and your gender shouldn’t dictate your life.

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According to the author, Suzanne Pharr, homophobia is bred from the fear of breaking away from the heterosexual norm. As we’ve discussed in this class over and over, everything is about power and in our society heterosexuality has power. Gay men and women can be seen as people who have broken down expectations and that threaten ‘the way things have always been done.’ It’s just like the time old saying that we fear what we don’t understand. Homophobia and violence against the LGBTQ+ community are bred from the fear of change, but I believe those individuals to be wrong.

Pharr says, “Visible gay men are the objects of extreme hatred and fear by heterosexual men because of their breaking ranks with male heterosexual solidarity is seen as a damaging rent in the very fabric of sexism.” Straight men are at the top of privilege chain but gay men are often not seen as ‘real men.’ Heterosexual men are threatened by men that are different from them and that can cause violent hatred. Gay men are often attributed as men that act like women, which can be very unsettling to men that are most comfortable dominating over women. They feel they can’t treat a gay man like a real man.

On the other side of the issue, lesbian women are also a risk to male dominance. Pharr says, “a lesbian is perceived as someone who can live without a man, who is therefore (however illogically) against men.” Women have gender roles to complete as well as men and lesbian women don’t fit the image. Lesbians are the embodiment of a woman-dominated society that men fear, a world where male authority doesn’t mean a thing. Like gay men, lesbians put the heterosexual system at risk and that can make men defensive, and these are men that buy into the macho identity therefore are more likely to be violent and aggressive.

There are too many ways our society still punishes the queer community for living their lives. In Indiana, our former governor and 2nd worst human alive, Mike Pence signed a law allowing discrimination against the gay community for religious business owners. In many states, including Indiana, don’t even offer gay men and women civil rights which includes job protection, health, discrimination, and so much more. Progress is being made all over the world when it comes to the equality and safety of gay men and wo

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This content analysis of misogyny in rap music identifies 5 themes that can be found in 22% of the songs in the study. While this may seem like a lower than expected percentage, misogyny is still clearly a major part of rap music. If you don’t believe me, just turn on your radio.  These themes included: Naming and Shaming, Sexual Objectification, Can’t Trust ‘Em, Legitimating Violence, and Women as Prostitutes, Men as Pimps. These are all pretty terrible depictions of women but they’re the most common found in rap music.

I’ll be focusing on is Can’t Trust ‘Em, the theme that promotes suspicion of women and deep distrust. I’m a pretty big fan of the song “Bitches Ain’t Shit”, originally by Dr. Dre but amazingly covered by my favorite Ben Folds. It’s called out in the essay as an example. The title itself explains a lot, but the lyrics are even more revealing. This theme depicts what the essay calls a ‘femme fatale,’ a woman that will set up men to get what they want. Men are taught in these songs to be warned about women that will take you for all you’ve got, or love you and leave you. It perpetuates the idea that women are crafty, malicious people. I’ll go ahead and point to one of Kanye’s best chart toppers, “Gold Digger.” That entire song is about not trusting women and furthering this persona. “She take my money, when I’m in need,” the song goes. Kanye tends to paint women this way in his songs.

There are obviously harms to these themes being present in our most popular music. I’m a woman that likes a lot of rap and chooses to not think about how badly women are portrayed. It’s not easy to block it out, but I do my best. It’s not good for women to hear this all over the radio because eventually we start believing this is how we should behave, that it’s what is expected. This can be a vicious cycle. Young women and girls are at the most risk of being influenced by these lyrics. It’s important to give women role models. It’s also important to treat women with respect, but rap music promotes exactly the opposite most of the time. The presence of female rappers and the general progression of the feminist movement has helped in recent years, but it’s about time that women are given a fair shake in music too.

Gender + Media: 3 Essays

Barbie was my favorite toy growing up so I feel like I’m a really good counter to the author. Susan Gilman, in her essay Klaus Barbie, makes it clear that she hates the iconic doll and everything she stands for. Gilman says Barbie is “clumsy, stupid, overly obvious.” A lot of the reason the author claims to dislike the world of Barbie is that it, according to her, “was meant for vapid girls in the suburbs.” It’s not a stretch to blame Barbie for perpetrating the basic tall, tan, and blonde standard of beauty for women in our society.

Personally, I think Barbie is a lot of what helped fuel my imagination growing up. I played with Barbies non-stop as a child, making pretend films, music videos, and even series of soap operas. I can’t stress enough how much I loved to play with Barbies. For me, these beautiful dolls were only real to me the way celebrities were. I kept a kind of distance from the way the Barbies lived and how I did.  I wasn’t expecting a dream house or my Barbie’s yellow Volkswagon bug.

The author’s claims about how Barbie shaped her childhood is completely true, it just wasn’t my personal experience. Today’s young girls have some less-than-perfect role models too. Although Matel has done nearly everything in their power to be a more progressive Barbie, changing the style and branding of the famous doll, there are still expectations for these young girls. You can’t escape beautiful women on TV, in movies, magazines, advertisements, etc. It’s impossible not to compare yourself to women you see on the red carpet. Making these comparisons, like the author had when she was eight, make lasting impacts on the mind of a young girl.

In so many ways I see society progressing for women and I’m hopeful for young girls and their futures, however, the cost of beauty is still too high. Young women like Kylie Jenner, who is recently 19, are showing girls that the way to success is through false lashes, false nails, false skin tones, false hair, and who knows what else. She slaps her face and name on a make-up brand and suddenly the only way to have the perfect lips is to shell out the money. We’ve come so far in how women are treated in society, but the pressure to be beautiful is still inescapable for girls.

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According to Naomi Wolf, author of The Beauty Myth, beauty is currency in our society. “Like any economy, it is determined best by politics, and in the modern age in the West it is the last, best belief system that keeps male dominance intact.” Like we’ve talked about in previous lessons, sexism is all about power, and according to our society, the most powerful thing a woman can be is beautiful. The myth that a beautiful woman can breeze through the world unchallenged is seen all over our movies and real life. It’s a terrible truth that keeps women from developing into thoughtful adults.

Now the author admits that beauty is always changing in terms of what’s popular and I agree, but I think the pressure to be beautiful is always a part of a woman’s life. Because of that, I think this article is absolutely still relevant to our society. Like the author says, “the beauty myth is always actually prescribing behavior and not appearance.” The want to be beautiful dictates how we act, dress, shop, and identify ourselves. Being a woman means getting waxed and plucked as much as it means acting sweet and thoughtless. The image of a beautiful women isn’t just appearance.

In today’s society, this article could strongly align with the idea of selfie culture for women. Online self-portraits are all about being perceived as beautiful. The internet allows for these online images to become an entire persona. Instagram has foster celebrities based on their selfies and online life. These surreal women on Instagram also perpetrate the beauty myth by providing a standard of the perfect women for modern women to pine after. We suddenly think maybe we need a picture of ourselves with stylish sunglasses, Starbucks, and perfectly manicured nails. These images are placed in our feeds and we are reminded of how messy, imperfect, and non-manicured our own life is.

The beauty myth is present in our current society because it’s been a part of women’s history forever. I think beauty will always mean power in our society so our best hope is to create a more inclusive view of beauty. Showing women of all shapes and sizes the reality of life as a woman could change the way beauty is defined. We can change the beauty standard if normal, healthy women are visible and that will mean no more Photoshop-ing the world to be prettier.

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Young girls and boys don’t know how to act until they’re shown and media is the number one source of information in our society. Children are taught how to behavior through observing those who are similar and imitating their actions. The messages shuffled out by mass media shape our society and our expectations. Movies, TV, magazines, and advertisements are just some of the ways we show young girls and boys how to behave like women and men.

By pre-determining behavior based on gender, we miss out on the opportunity for change. In the trailer for Miss Representation, the documentary about women’s portrayal in media, they say that an equal number of young girls and boys want to be president, but the gender gap is created as time goes on. The film would suggest this is because there’s little female representation in politics. When I was in first grade we were told to choose what we wanted to be when we grew up for a project. I told my teacher, after a lot of thought, I wanted to be president. She told me that since Alex, a boy in my class, had already chosen president I had to choose something else. I remember thinking how cool it would’ve been to create a project with a girl president, but I didn’t get the chance.

This is how dangerous the media’s influence can be, children imitate what they see and if they only image of women is sexed up and stupid, how can we raise women to be president? The media is controlling how we see ourselves. The biggest blame for objectifying women can be placed on advertising. Don Draper would tell you that sex sells, and it’s true. Sexy women are used to sell cars, cheeseburgers, perfume, shoes, jeans, and really anything else you can think of. Marketers want to play on a consumer’s insecurity to look or feel a certain way, causing them to buy something to fill a void. It’s a cruel truth about the way our capitalistic society works. I unfortunately have first-hand experience from many, many marketing classes. It’s disgusting that companies are willing to sacrifice the image of women in our society all in an effort to sell something. Personally, that seems like a lot of risk to our future just for money.

Gendered Bodies and Intimacy: 3 Essays

Double standards are present in all societies, if they weren’t, then this class would have very little to discuss in the ways of equality. Having double standards implies that women and men play by different rules and are held to a different standard. Some of the most outrageous examples of double standards come from women’s health like breast feeding, PMS, and childbirth. Breasts, after all, are one of the primary differences between women and men and these differences cause controversy.

In Lisa Latham’s essay, she discusses all the different ways women conceal, shape, and grow breasts and what they mean to womanhood. This makes me think of the scene in Sixteen Candles when Molly Ringwald’s grandmother embarrasses her about her breast growth. From a young age women are subjected to this kind of attention paid to their chest, until it becomes time to be a mother, of course. Breasts are sexy, sure, but there is no parallel to even compare these experiences to manhood. Latham argues that breasts for sexual expression seem to be taken just fine but our society, but breast feeding and other non-sexual acts involving breasts are to be done in private. This is a huge double standard in society.

In any community there are societal rules and standards that create what we see as “normal.” In the trans community, it’s “normal” to make the claim that your assigned gender at birth made he/she uncomfortable in their own skin, always feeling like gender and sex weren’t in line. For Kai Cheng Thom, this was not the case. Because of her abnormal origin story, Thom felt she wasn’t passing as a trans woman. Passing as normal in a community means following the boundaries set in place by society. If you stand outside of the boundaries, you can truly feel like an outsider.

The “normal” trans narrative implies that trans men and women were victims of their minds, according to Thom. She believes that society is comfortable with the trans stories they’ve heard and continue to hear because it absolves the trans person of blame. This is similar to many women’s experiences, since being a woman is often an apology in itself. You could insert any stereotype about women into a conversation and the absolving comment would always remain, “well, she is a woman.” These types of responses have no place in a progressive society when gender doesn’t dictate the borerder

In analyzing the article, discuss the three ways hook-ups are gendered. Do you agree with the findings?

Like most situations involving men and women, hook up culture has traditional gender roles of its own. The study in the reading mentions three main “gendered” aspects of hooking up: how the male approach is more sexual, how men orgasm more than women, and the ever popular double standard about having multiple partners. Men and women are both sexual beings, but gender roles set boundaries for even casual relationships like hook ups.

Being a college student, and former sorority girl, I can say for sure that these findings align with my experiences in hook up culture. I can’t even explain how many times my sorority sisters were at each other’s throats for hooking up with the same guys, all the while no one seemed concerned that these guys were completely aware of the girls’ friendship. Double standards are so exhausting when it comes to hook ups. Men are allowed to sleep around and it’s considered the norm, but women are still judged on their sexual history. Not to even mention the controversy surrounding victim blaming in rape cases due to these gender roles present in hook up culture. “She was asking for it,” they’ll say. It’s as if women are stricken of all power in casual sexual relationships.

As someone who has seen a lot of Sex and the City, I’ll note that these doubles standards about women and sex were the central theme of show. Why can’t women have sex like men? This question was posed in the pilot of the show, opening a conversation about modern women and their sex lives. Slut shaming is a huge part of hook up culture and I know too many women who have been at the brute end of it. Men, on the other hand, are generally praised in media for being promiscuous.

Even today, one candidate in the current presidential election is held in esteem by supporters for being a play boy while the other, a woman, is shamed for remaining with her “cheating” husband. It truly amazes me how these gender roles shape our culture from college hook ups to how we treat women in power. I completely agree with the findings of this study. Like the reading says, college campuses may hold the key to the sexual revolution and the gender revolution, and may finally give women a chance to shed these horrible double standards.