She rises early while her husband stays in bed. She is naturally beautiful, but by the end of her morning routine, her hair and makeup are perfect. She’s wearing heels with her
blazer and skirt, her hair in a sleek ponytail. When she wakes up the children, breakfast is already on the table, and the lunches are packed with a note written on each napkin. Once the kids are on the bus to school, she begins her workday as a marketing executive. She’s a cool girl, and she fits right into the corporate world of men. At 5:00, she picks up the children from their after-school camps, and soon enough a wonderful dinner is waiting for her family on the table. “Thanks, Dear,” her husband says as she does the dishes; he settles into a comfy armchair to watch tonight’s game. She helps the children with their homework, reads them a bedtime story, makes sure they’re washed, and tucks them into bed. Before she goes to bed, she finishes up the project that is due at work, applies her anti-aging cream, and makes love to her husband.
How many of us have dreamed of this life? It’s this ideal of being the perfect woman, it haunts you. I know that this is approximately what I pictured as I entered my teens and looked to adulthood. I know better now. I’ve always been an ambitious woman, but I don’t want to do it all.
Trigger warning: This article discussing rape culture and violent acts, it may be troubling for survivors.
“A rapist is always at fault.”
“When someone is raped, it is the fault of the rapist.”
Yet, American society tends to belittle the victim with accusatory remarks, placing the blame onto the victim. This societal blame is fueled by “Rape Culture,” a term coined in the 1970’s to describe the normalization of sexualized violence in everyday life. “Rape Culture” is the belief that sexual violence is a way of life. You don’t believe me? You say, “I think that rape is bad, so I don’t fuel rape culture…”
I had just started my junior year of high school. It was my first year in a public school, for I had been practically raised in a private Christian school. Due to the fact that I went to a private school, I had always worn school uniforms. Therefore, I didn’t know what was “acceptable clothing” to wear at public schools. I had worn a tank top, ripped jeans, and flip flops. It was nothing I would consider “sexy.” I didn’t think it was distracting. However, the campus security stopped me on my way to class. They took me to their office and said that the tank top was a violation of dress code and I had the option to: (1) call a parent and wait for them to bring me something else to wear, (2) spend the rest of the day in their office, or (3) have a parent take me home. That didn’t seem fair to me. My education was being inhibited because my shoulders were “too distracting” to the men in my classes.
Ever since then, the question haunts me…
Why is there a double standard between males and females when it comes to dress code?
As I write this article, I want to make it known that the sex industry is not always positive for women and girls. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, sex workers around the world have a 45 to 75 percent chance of experiencing violence during their careers.
When sex workers do experience violence, they are not protected by rape shield laws and are not eligible for compensation funds.
Many see sex workers as objects, non-human, and second-rate members of society. This makes sex workers even more prone to being victims of violence.
Women are forced into sex work without their consent, others are forced into sex work because of financial situations, and some choose sex work as their profession.
Every part of our lives is stereotyped and put into boxes – our class, our education, our gender, our sexuality, and our love. This is frustrating and wrong because love should be the most free, open, and genuine part of life. Instead, it is limited by strict normalized gender roles and heteronormativity. These place implied expectations and create assumptions based on one’s role as the man or the woman in the relationship. Because of this, the possibilities of what love can be are limited. Openness, comfort, and self-love on the individual level also create these characteristics in a relationship. However, these traits are stifled by what is considered “normal” and people’s attempts to conform to it. There is potential to expand the possibilities of how people love through looking at the queer community and through a vision of a post-heterosexual world. I acknowledge that this is a very broad topic. I am only going to do a brief survey of how I think queerness could help us move beyond the boundaries and institutions in place today, but I am aware of the infiniteness of this topic.
When we think of the 1950s today, we think of a time of extremely biased gender stereotypes and strict gender roles. This affected every aspect of life, including one’s daily routine, school, politics, culture, movies, and even art. However, there are more nuances to the gender dynamic in the 1950s than simply very masculine men and very feminine women. Within the Abstract Expressionist art movement, women were treated similar to how they were in general society, but the expectations on them were more complex. Being both women and artists allowed the social requirements for women to be placed on them while also having to play the role of the artist. Simultaneously, they were supposed to be mothers and wives because they were women, but at the same time were not supposed to be mothers or wives because they were artists. They were supposed to support their husbands, many of whom were artists, but if they wanted to be taken seriously then they should prioritize their own art. Additionally, because of the subject matter of Abstract Expressionism, women were not only navigating the art world and social world, but they were also featured as negative themes in many paintings by men.
Abstract Expressionist was a prominent avant-garde art movement in New York City during the 1950s in the United States. Even though this movement features primarily male artists, female artists complicated the expectations of their gender. The gender dynamics of the 1950s in America were deeply imbedded within Abstract Expressionism through interactions between the artists and through the art itself. Men, such as William de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, Barnett Newman, and Mark Rothko, dominated Abstract Expressionism. All of these artists projected extreme masculinity through their art practice and mannerisms. At the same time, several female artists, such as Elaine de Kooning, Joan Mitchell, and Lee Krasner, were aware of this and were trying to find a space for themselves and for success through their own work.
Last week I talked about consent in the context of sex. This week I want to take a closer look at consent and see the environments where consent operates, outside of sex. One of those environments is for individuals that are intersex. According to the Intersex Society of North America (ISNA), “‘Intersex’ is a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male.” As ISNA expands their definition, they emphasize that the term “Intersex” is a “socially-constructed” category that comes from our society’s ideas about gender and sex and what it means to be normal. Continue reading “A Child’s Right to Choose: Intersex Dilemmas and Consent”→