Intro to Women's Studies 2010

etsu: 2011-2014

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Double Bind

I think that Frye gives a great example of young girls being put in a double bind by the way people talk about being sexually active. I feel that I did not encounter others being put in a double bind until I entered high school. At my high school if it got around that you were sexually active at such a young age then you were called a “slut” or “whore”. I do not think this is a fair assumption to make about someone unless you know them very well. Even if that is the case is it still ok to make that assumption?

In high school I had a good bond with most of my teachers and I came to realize that they too were classifying young girls, whom they had in classes, as sluts. On the other hand, young females who chose to not be sexually active are looked at as innocent, but some might think you have something wrong with you. This is a lose-lose situation, but it happens to young girls in their everyday lives. Frye states: “The “punishment” comes in the form of criticism, snide, and embarrassing remarks, being treated as an easy lay for men, scorn from her more restrained female friends” I feel that this passage from the reading gives a clear description as to what females go through if they are sexually active at a young age.


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The Cult Of Virginity

“The Cult of Virginity” by Jessica Valenti was very interesting to read. It shed light on the fact that in reality, not very many people know exactly what virginity is or means. She even looked up the definition in medical dictionaries and encyclopedias and those either did not talk about virginity at all or it gave a definition that was not medical. That is very strange to me because most everybody has their own definitions of what they think being a virgin is.

A point that caught my attention was one that her friend had told her. She said that it isn’t sex unless you had an orgasm. I have never heard that before and that is something important to take into account. I don’t really agree with her definition with that, but everyone is entitled to their own opinion. This just goes to show that there are so many different opinions and definitions out there of what sex is and what being a virgin is. At the end of the day, people are going to do what they want to do and say what they want to say. As long as one is comfortable with what they are doing, and they know the ramifications of their actions, then everything should be fine.

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The “Ideal” Body

Today in class we discussed Chapter 5 which is “Inscribing Gender on the Body.” We talked about the Beauty ideal, and the way the media portrays the “perfect body.” In the chapter it says “beauty ideals is that such ideals reflect various relations of power in society. Culture is constructed in complex ways, and groups with more power and influence tend to set trends, create the options and enforce the standards.” I agree with the saying, when it comes to setting standards and different trends, it is mostly all celebrities or people with power that do so. For example, when Obama became president, Michelle Obama became the face for African-American women and other women when it came to supporting her husband and just being like the “good wife” as well as having the “perfect family.” Her style also became a trend, the way she dressed, casual but not too casual. Not saying that there’s a problem with Obama or his family because there isn’t at all but it’s an example of how power enforces standards and trends. Also with so many famous women having the “perfect bodies,” or the “ideal body,” when somebody gains a little weight they become the center of attention and is criticized because they gained weight. I don’t think that there is an “ideal body”, I think that women should love themselves the way they are. As long as you are happy with your self then why change.

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“The Cult of Virginity”

       Growing up I always had the mindset what losing your virginity meant. I believed that someone lost their virginity when they had vaginal intercourse. After growing up and being exposed to different theories, beliefs, relationships, and people I have begun to wonder what, in fact, virginity really is. For a long time I was taking virginity into consideration only for heterosexual couples, not even thinking about what virginity meant to homosexuals or lesbians. It wasn’t that I was discriminating at all, but I just basing it on my own relationships. This story of what virginity is brings out many opinions from people that are each very different from the next. While reading “The Cult of Virginity”, it sparked the thought about how I never really have referred to males as virgins and I’m not really sure why. I always would just say, “Oh, he hasn’t had sex before.” It seems much easier to refer to females as virgins. The way I can make sense of this for myself is to compare it religiously to the “Virgin Mary”. I feel that virginity is always going to be a topic that is subjective and people need to be more open-minded, like myself, so that they aren’t giving people a label that isn’t deserved. 

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The “Beauty” Ideal

Who has the right to say “this is the beauty ideal” or “people need to look like this, or they don’t fit into the societal norms”.  Media, billboards, magazines and commercials we see every day make us have a mindset that we must look a certain way, especially women. In the media, women get criticized if they gain too much weight or lose too much weight. All the pressure to look a certain way has an effect on people. Eating disorders can be a result of beauty ideals. All the dieting commercials and ads we see can be a trigger to develop an eating disorder. Eating disorders are caused by the pressure of our society to measure up to the “cultural standards” that are set today. But who sets the “cultural standards”? Why can we just look the way we want to look without being criticized? As we discussed in class today, it is exhausting to try and keep up with all the changing trends and body types that we are expected to have. I think a true beauty ideal is not what you look like on the outside, it’s how you are on the inside, and what kind of person you are. Being a better person is what we need to focus on, not how skinny we need to be or what kind of shoes are in this season. 

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What is Virginity?

After talking about this in class and seeing how everyone reacted I do not think that you can define what it truly is. Virginity is what you make it out to be. You can be a reclaimed virgin as the book states or you can be a person who has never has intercourse of any kind. For me a virgin is someone that hasn’t had intercourse of any kind or messed around. This is where the topic gets touchy because no matter what you say or think about it you’ll end up pissing someone off. The reason I say intercourse of any kind is because I have friends that are lesbians and they don’t consider themselves virgins, but they have never had sex with a man. I also have a gay uncle and he has never slept with a woman and he does not consider himself a virgin. So in my mind a virgin is someone who has never had physical contact besides kissing with another person. Sorry if you do not agree with me, but hey that’s what a personal opinion is for and it’s much easier to talk on a board about it then to get criticized in class.

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I found the Eating Disorders reading to be very informative and at the same time very disturbing.   I had no idea that there were so many different eating disorders.  I always thought that there was only anorexia and bulimia.  During this reading I discovered that eating disorders take on many different forms, such as muscle dysmorphia and anorexia athletica.  The reason that I found the reading to be disturbing is because of how many people eating disorders effect.  We hardly ever hear about people who have eating disorders but the fact of the matter is that they are everywhere.  The person sitting right next to you might have an eating disorder and you would never even know.  I found it interesting that bulimics actually maintain a normal weight and that you normally cannot tell that a person is bulimic.  After reading this passage I think that eating disorders should be paid much more attention than they currently are.  People need to know how devastating these disorders can be.  Maybe if this were to happen we could save some people’s lives.