Samantha Pugsley is one of many women who waited until marriage to have sex and regretted it. When Samantha was 10 she took a pledge at her church to remain a virgin until marriage. She recited this vow along with a group of other girls, “Believing that true love waits, I make a commitment to God, myself, my family, my friends, my future mate and my future children to be sexually abstinent from this day until the day I enter a biblical marriage relationship. As well as abstaining from sexual thoughts, sexual touching, pornography, and actions that are known to lead to sexual arousal.” Samantha recounts her wedding night and writes that what her parents and church leaders didn’t tell her is that she would be crying on her honeymoon because she felt dirty and sinful.
Gender Trouble by Judith Butler, published in 1999, is a key text for feminist theory, queer theory, and continental philosophy. She wrote several other books on gender and has a position as a professor at the University of California Berkeley. Her books are regarded as difficult to read due to their long, unstructured sentences and many references to other philosophers that it is assumed the reader knows. Regardless, I still think her work is valuable because of its contributions to the larger field of gender theory and how we think about gender today. I will give a summary of Gender Trouble, explaining the concepts she covers.
In this essay I am going to be talking about orgasms specific to people who have a vagina and clitoris, there are people who do not identify as female who experience these kind of orgasms from this anatomy, so I am going to refrain from using gendered terms as much as possible. Instead, I will just be referring to the orgasm produced from this kind of anatomy as simply an orgasm.
A majority of current media surrounding sex focuses on how to maximize male pleasure, while almost entirely ignoring estrogen-bodied pleasure. Porn primarily serves a male audience and includes acts, such as blowjobs, oriented towards male pleasure while rarely featuring female pleasure or female-centered acts, such as cunnilingus. Advice columns and magazines write about how to be good in bed, how to look good in bed, and how to pleasure your partner. These are instructing the women what to do and alienating themselves from their own body by sending the message that all of their efforts are to increase male pleasure. Popular culture sexualizes and infantilizes women for the pleasure of men.
A concern for many parents is the sexualization of children, which is defined by the American Psychological Association as occurring when, “A person’s value comes only from his or her sexual appeal or behavior, a person is held to a standard that equates
physical attractiveness with being sexy, a person is sexually objectified, or sexuality is inappropriately imposed on a child.” As this article points out, children are not inherently sexual. When we see babies’ upper thighs in their onesies, we aren’t concerned with people thinking that our babies are sexy, and it should be the same exact way with a child. A child wearing short shorts and a tank top isn’t inherently sexy, but they become that way when the child is taught to engage in inappropriate behaviors, such as the dance routines on Toddlers & Tiaras. Children do not behave that way unless they have been taught to behave that way through the constant media bombardment of sex culture, whether it’s through video games, movies, television shows, advertisements, or their toys. There was a study conducted by Bandura in the sixties that showed children mimicking, or “modeling,” the behavior of adults after being exposed to short video of adults playing with a doll happily
or violently. If they viewed the adult being violent with the doll, they were much more likely to be violent when exposed to the doll in their play. This concept of modeling can certainly be applied to the sexualization of children as well. Children whose parents and the media model behavior that model sexualized behavior may transfer the behavior to their own actions, according to Bandura’s theory of learning. I can remember as a child wanting to wear lipstick just like my mom, and it felt so special when I got to wear it for a special occasion. That is an example of modeling. Continue reading “The Sexualization of Children and Sex Education”→
For the past two weeks I’ve talked about consent in the context of sex and how consent relates to individuals who are intersex. This week I want to broaden the discussion on a child’s right to decide what happens to their body through an exploration on circumcision.
During the Victorian Era, circumcision became a widespread practice as a treatment for masturbation. At this time, it was the belief of many doctors that masturbation led to many diseases, and that by removing one of the most sensitive parts of the penis, it could be prevented. Male circumcision was not just prevalent in the United States, but in all English-speaking countries at the time, such as Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand. However, the practice decreased significantly in all of those countries except the United States in the following years. Now, between 60 to 90% of American boys are circumcised, depending on the region they live in, but only 16% of boys in Great Britain are circumcised, even though both countries were influenced by the ideas in the Victorian Era. So why is the United States still engaging in this practice?Continue reading “Male Circumcision in the United States and Consent”→
Time and time again, I’ve listened to women who are frustrated with their chosen type of contraception – myself included. For a lot of women, there is a constant battle between enjoying our sexual freedom and protecting ourselves from the possible risks of sexual activity, and it can often feel like a lose-lose situation. Whether it’s the annoying (or harmful) side effects of hormones (the pill, IUD, vaginal ring, etc.), the struggle of consistent condom use by both partners, or the sheer inconvenience of pausing the passion to check dates, insert, replace, unwrap, etc., it can feel as if we no longer have control of our sexual experiences when the options we choose from are not the best fit.
Don’t get me wrong; all types of contraception have their advantages, and every woman is different in what she prefers and what is right for her body. I do believe, though, that because of the society we live in, we can feel restricted to selecting from among just a few options when trying to protect ourselves against unwanted pregnancy and STIs. As more and more of my friends became dissatisfied with their choices, I began to explore what else is out there. Continue reading “Not Your Mother’s Birth Control”→