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Woman Study Gender study reaction paper 1

Introduction

The issues of gender and sexuality are very important in social studies. Without the

clear understanding of these terms it is impossible to analyze many processes in the

contemporary society. Three articles, “Pop culture gone wild” by Jessica Valenti,

“Pornography and Freedom” by John Stoltenberg and “Six Ways the Male Corporate Elite

Keeps Women Out” describe some aspects of female sexuality in the contemporary world.

Speaking about gender and sexuality it is necessary to start from the distinction between these

terms. The main difference is the following: gender is the biological term, and sexuality is a

social one. Initially the term “sexuality” appeared as a medical term describing the abnormal

thirst for sex at the beginning if the 20th century. Within the last century the meaning of

sexuality changed along with the transformation of the society. Nowadays sexuality isn’t

abnormal, just the opposite: it means thirst for sex and at the same time the individual

attractiveness for other people.

Criteria of sexuality in the contemporary society and the origin of these criteria are

considered as the problem by all the three authors. Despite the American society declares

equal rights and opportunities for people of every gender (ethnicity, skin color, etc), the

reality is different. Sexual relations and standards in the society depict the domination of

men. Jessica Valenti describes “how” the male supremacy shapes the sexual culture in the

society, in which women have to be sexually attractive and virgin, available but unattainable

at the same time. Valenti notices that the development of technologies allowed the

popularization of ideal woman image – skinny, white (or Caucasian-looking), with big leaps,

boobs and long legs. The problem is that the social pressure makes women following these

standards despite the price. All the beauty industry makes women achieve the imposed beauty

standards. The equivalence to beauty standards means the social success and better

perspective for women, and vice versa. Britney Spears was mentioned by Valenti as the
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product of imposed standards: she propagandized the absence of premarital sex (Valenti,

551), but at the same time it was her who implanted silicon in the boobs at the age of fourteen

to be sexually attractive.

The criteria of sexual attractiveness lead us to marketing technologies. Valenti

mentions that sex sells; however, every marketing technology is pointed on the proper target

group. The target group of modern female beauty standard is something that Marra Burks

calls “Men Corporate Elite”. Burks explains “why” the male supremacy obtained the

possibility to shape the sexual culture in the society. The corporate elite – the most influential

and powerful people in the country – consists mostly from the Caucasian men. According to

Burke, for many years the continuity of generations among the top management existed.

“Power re-creates itself in its own image.” It means that white man most likely will hire

another white man. It is important that gender plays more significant role in this issue.

“Statistics shows that when it comes to income, black men gain more from being male that

they loose from being black (Burke, 484)”. There are a few women in the corporate top-

management, and Burke mentions that women on high positions have to shift their behavior

to male standards; at least they don’t hire other women too. This powerful target group

defines the beauty standards in the society, and young thin blond women are the part of status

badges, together with high-priced cars, expensive clothes and fat cigars. Thus, women are

considered as an object with the definite quality standards. It should be inappropriate for

really equal-in-rights society members, but this is current reality.

It is obvious that from the female sexual attractiveness the marketing technologies

moved the sex itself. Despite the legal restrictions and bans, the pornographic industry

prospers in the country. The TV-channels and the Internet provide the easy access to different

kinds of pornography, and the pornographic industry imposes the standards of good sex.

Unfortunately, according these new standards women are often victimized. There is no
Woman Study Gender study reaction paper 3

sexual freedom there is sexual repression, writes John Stoltenberg. Stoltenberg thinks the

sexual freedom can exist only at the same time with sexual justice, and there is no sexual

justice in America. Women are still objects in the contemporary sexual culture. The

humiliation and aggression against women is considered as a norm. Every three minutes one

woman in the country is raped (Stoltenberg, 603). The aim of sexual injustice is to maintain

the male supremacy in the society. By the way, Stoltenberg also provides he interesting idea

about the roots of homophobia: it is just the defense mechanism to protect men form other

men. Some advocates of rude modern pornography think that the pornography lovers spill put

their aggression viewing porno. However, Stoltenberg thinks that pornography provokes the

development of aggressive thoughts and feelings, because men watching porno identify

themselves as those men in the movie: rude and cruel. Men believe that the sex in porno is

the only way to be sexual, popular and to get sexual satisfaction. On the other hand, women

watching porn believe they are obliged to satisfy men, and the best way for this is the

pornography-like sex. As the result pornography supports the attitude to women as to the

sexual objects.

Conclusion

All three articles are related to the problem of sexual injustice in the contemporary

society. Despite the formal equal rights for men and women the sexual discrimination exists

in the modern culture. Its main danger is the attitude to women as an object. The beauty

industry and the industry of pornography support this attitude and the concept of male

supremacy.