Mar 252016
 
 March 25, 2016  Posted by  Tagged with:

YesI heard two separate accounts of a professor’s lecture a few weeks ago. The professor proposed a consent app that would give a Breathalyzer test and then ask for consent before any sexual activity.

In retrospect, I assume this is a reducto ad absurdum argument. However, the proposal of this app seems just reasonable or legitimate enough that it warrants a discussion. So let’s break down the absurd reasoning behind this app.

Suppose you are at Shooters. You’ve been drinking and dancing with this one partner for most of the night. You two have been having fun, and one of you asks, “Do you want to go back to my room?” You two make it back to campus, kick a roommate out, and things are happening…

Now stop. Grab your phones with that harsh backlight (let’s hope you didn’t lose it), take a Breathalyzer test, and sign a scary legal consent form on an app. It almost sets the mood as well as Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On.”

Excuse me while I swoon.

Rather than make consent a simple conversation between partners, it makes it a scary-legal-you-must-do-this-or-else process. No one wants a scary-legal-you-must-do-this-or-else process involved in their sex lives, so no one would use the app. Even worse, because the app acts as the alternative to the conversations, the conversations don’t happen.

I wasn’t taught how to have conversations about sex or consent. My high school sex ed, and I assume most other sex ed courses, only covered the biology. So when college begins, we have 6,500 libidinous 18-22 year olds in one area who know next to nothing about sex and even less about consent. It’s a recipe for disaster. The blurry line between consensual and nonconsensual sexual encounters has lead to 1 in 4 women experiencing sexual assault on campus.

So how do we start talking about consent? An app may be a decent place to start in the abstract: it starts a conversation about how we twenty-somethings can give consent, but it should only serve as a starting point.

We need to talk more about consent, even if we really don’t want to. These conversations are awkward because we don’t talk about sex. If consent is awkward in formal conversations, imagine how much more awkward we would feel talking about consent in the heat of the moment.

I only learned what consent is after asking a friend who works with the Women’s Center. Consent simply must be clear, freely given and enthusiastic.

Under that definition, consent looks more like Sally eating a salad than an iPhone app.

Nov 032014
 
 November 3, 2014  Posted by  Tagged with: , , ,

If you’re a stereotypically broke college student who is looking for some consistent work and steady pay, you may consider dropping that part-time on-campus job and picking up a full-time job as a “sugar baby.” All you need is a “sugar daddy” or a “sugar mommy” who can provide financial incentives in exchange for your companionship – simple, right?

When I first read this CNN article over a year and a half ago about the creative ways that students have been making money to pay for college tuition, I was drawn mostly to the idea of sugar daddies/ mommies and sugar babies. At the time, the idea of online-originating arrangements seemed like a fad concept – one that would fade away with the regular tide of social networking websites. But even a quick Google News search today shows that the promotion and criticism of sugar-babies wasn’t new in 2012, and it hasn’t stopped being a short form newsworthy topic a few years later.

On SeekingArrangement.com, one of the most popular sites that has been drawing attention for its promotion of what they call “mutually beneficial relationships,” wealthier men and women (but overwhelmingly men) can find younger and more attractive men and women (but overwhelmingly women) who are looking to make some money. On the site’s general information page*, it claims to have a “solution to the problem of imbalance and broken expectations in dating relationships” by eliminating “awkwardness” and “guessing games.” It writes as fact that “older, wealthier men and younger, more beautiful women have been seeking each other out for… let’s see… THOUSANDS OF YEARS,” and that “it’s a tradition that’s not going to change anytime soon.”

If the patterns of wealthier men looking to find younger women haven’t changed and won’t change, maybe that’s the reason that sugar daddy/baby connection websites are still around. Even now, there continue to be articles written about the growing number of sugar babies at universities including Georgia State University, Miami University, and even at Cambridge University in the UK. And though I do not personally know anyone involved in a sugar daddy/ baby relationship, I generally agree that healthy dating relationships can form when there are clear expectations.

So what makes me uncomfortable about the growing number of sugar daddy/ baby relationships formed by these arrangement websites?

Though sites like SeekingArragement.com claim to set clear expectations for these relationships, these websites seem only to make clear the financial expectations, not the expectations for companionship – and more specifically, sexual intimacy. While sugar babies can clearly state their “lifestyle expectations,” which range from “negotiable,” to “minimal” or less than $1,000 monthly, to “high” or over $10,000 monthly, there are no equivalent metrics for companionship. And how could there be a set of easy-to-list companionship expectations to choose from? What would even come close? The number of nights per week expected to have dinner, or to watch a movie, or to be sexually intimate? And could you even begin to quantify the emotional commitment aspect?

Websites like SeekingArrangement.com advertise relationships that are ambiguous and imbalanced from the beginning. If we evaluate relationships on a gradient from romantic ones to transactional ones, the explicit transfer of money within sugar daddy/ baby relationships seem much more transactional but are marketed as more romantic. A sugar daddy knows exactly how much he will pay for the companionship of a sugar baby, but a potential sugar baby doesn’t know what form her companionship should or will take. When these relationships fail – at least in part – because intimacy expectations are not met, then the sugar baby will always be at higher risk for blame, because the conditions are unfair and unclear to begin with. Arrangement sites bring this type of inequality to a larger scale.

*The site has since updated its general information page and the link provided above directs to an archived version.

Nov 282011
 
 November 28, 2011  Posted by  Tagged with: ,

John P/onemansblog.com via Flickr

The first ever time I read about LFL, I thought it stood for Ladies Football League. I pictured women in shoulder pads and helmets and you know, football. Well, I was right about all of that except for the “Ladies” part, and from the title, I’m sure you know what is coming.

Yes, LFL stands for Lingerie Football League, and it is, as the name suggests, women playing football in their lingerie.

Attractive women in lingerie playing football? It probably does not take wild imagination to realize why it attracts a primarily male audience.

Judging from the highlights, the football part is real and it is definitely not just a strip show designed to appeal to men’s pleasure. In fact, judging from everything I’ve been reading, the women players love it—many of them have actually been playing for free.

But this just does not seem quite right to me. I think it is awesome that there is a league that supports women football players, and I most definitely understand the need to distinguish from NFL and drive in profit, but dressed in that? Does that really help promote women’s football? And what kind of message is it sending out to society?

This reminds me of Eddie’s post on “PETA porn” and my other post on, well, “news porn.”

So now that we are also throwing “football porn” into the mix, is this really what we want from our society? If not, how do we ensure that the “market pull” does not turn everything we know into something like that? (I personally don’t think high school teachers in bikinis teaching trigonometry is a good idea.)

And if you agree with me that LFL is not that great of a concept (and if you disagree with me, I would love to hear your point), how do we also approach the fact that the women players seem to have zero problems doing this? Even if a less scantily clad version of women’s football exists, I am guessing that many of the players would rather play in lingerie and be watched than play in an empty gym.

(On a more unrelated note of the day, should little kids play football like this?)

Oct 252011
 
 October 25, 2011  Posted by  Tagged with: ,

According to a recent Reuter’s article, a New York artist was arrested on lewdness and indecent exposure charges for painting (on) a nude model in the middle of Times Square.  His lawyer argued that that public nudity is acceptable in the name of art, and as a result, an interesting compromise has been reached.

Charges against Mr. Andy Golub (the artist) will be dropped if he agrees to:

  1. Only paint bare breasts during the day.
  2. Instruct the model to keep her g-string on until after dark.
  3. Not violate conditions 1 or 2 for the next 6 months.

This contract raises two interesting questions. Continue reading »

Sep 232011
 
 September 23, 2011  Posted by  Tagged with: , ,

PETA doesn’t beat around the bush. Rather, it is generally quite outspoken and direct about our questionable animal practices. And it doesn’t shy away from provocative advertising tactics, often with the help from scantily clad women.

PETA poster from 1994. Photograph: Rex Features. Source: The Guardian

But it seems like the folks at PETA are kicking it up a notch. NPR reports that PETA is planning a website that will “feature ‘tantalizing’ videos and photographs” (read: pornography) leading to its usual animal rights messages. Never mind that “tantalizing” summons up images of that medium-rare filet mignon oozing with the last drops of life force, it’s easy to see why this new initiative is questionable. The obvious objection is that using an immorality to promote an ethical viewpoint reeks of hypocrisy. Moreover, from a practical standpoint, this new enticement is bound to be a turn-off for “mainstream” audience, adding further to the perception of PETA as a fringe movement.

But are there really no justifiable reasons to put naked bodies on the line for animal rights? Continue reading »

Mar 142011
 
 March 14, 2011  Posted by  Tagged with: ,

Photo credit: www.womenonthefence.com

The other day I ran into a professor from Auburn University whom I personally know very well. By chance, we started talking about the recent live sex demonstration in Northwestern University and it was obvious to me that she was absolutely horrified by the thought. She told me she read it in the Chronicle of Higher Education and suggested to me some things from there. When I got home and started browsing through, I saw this.

To summarize (these all happened within four days of each other):

-A student in UMass made the claim in her column that drunk flirtatious women who dress scandalously in a party should take responsibility if she was raped.

-A Northwestern professor allowed a live sex-toy demonstration in class to show female orgasm is real.

-A basketball player in BYU was dismissed from the team for having pre-marital sex (violating the BYU honor code).

-A How to Better Masturbate Guide was distributed by Skidmore College’s Center for Sex and Gender Relations.

As you can imagine, there are many outcries and discussions going on related to all these topics. What I find intriguing is the involvement of the college institutions and their approaches.

Continue reading »

Mar 022011
 
 March 2, 2011  Posted by  Tagged with: ,

In Jamaica, there has recently been a lot of hype over the dance craze known as “daggering.” The dance mainly consists of rapid dry-humping to dance hall music, likening itself to its English translation of “cabin stabbing” (could they be a little more graphic?).

Before reading any further, take a look at the following Youtube video.

Continue reading »

Feb 032011
 
 February 3, 2011  Posted by  Tagged with: ,

Gentlemen, I have a task for you (sorry, straight men only on this one).

Please take a look at this and tell me, what was the speed limit?

Okay, you might have answered that one correctly, but what if it was not censored?

What speed limit?

What if you saw this on the street while driving 40 miles per hour?

What street?

(I did the conversion and you would be speeding in this case, assuming you didn’t slow down to…um….not run over the lady of course…but slowing down is what we are aiming for, right?)

So…I know I am currently speaking to the segment of population that hasn’t stopped reading this and flown to Denmark yet, and for that you have my thanks. But anyways, what if something like this happened during a news broadcast?

Continue reading »