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Gender Norms, Society, and Aziz Ansari

Gender Norms, Society, and Aziz Ansari

Alright, before I proceed:

 

I am highlighting different points of view on current media topics and discussions, as well as pulling info from the realms of psychology and sociology about gender stereotypes, etc.

 

This is not a post against the #MeToo and Time's Up campaigns.
I thoroughly support those!

 

Yes, I will be throwing in a few opinions about the Aziz Ansari case. 

 

I apologize to my professors for not having a proper APA/MLA bibliography, along with not having the best citation methods throughout the post.
Quotes are ok, right?? #forgiveme

 

 

I have split this into three sub-posts in the following order:

Stats from Civilian World 

Gender Norms & Cultural Differences

Aziz Ansari vs "Grace"

Feel free to skip around to other burgundy-ish sub-titles if something interests you. 

This is not a research paper, hence not endless hours of extensive comprehension and lots of big words. However, it is lengthy compared to my previous posts. And again I apologize for lack of proper citation. 


Stats from Civilian World

Hollywood and the realm of stardom is quite different from the day to day lives of everyone else. The typical "men are aggressive, women are vulnerable" thing...

To bring some light on the situation - ya know, the stories and studies you don't see on your newsfeed and public media platforms every day - keep reading.

 

The following quote block is from Sexual Victimization by Women is More Common Than Previously Known, an article from Scientific American that highlights study data and draws conclusions from the CDC, NCBI, and their own work.

"... the CDC's nationally representative data revealed that over one year, men and women were equally likely to experience nonconsensual sex, and most male victims reported female perpetrators. 
 
Also, surprisingly, women inmates are more likely to be abused by other inmate than are male inmates, disrupting the long held view that sexual violence in prison is mainly about men assaulting men. In juvenile corrections facilities, female staff are also a much more significant threat than male staff; more than nine in ten juveniles who reported staff sexual victimization were abused by a woman.
 
Our findings might be critically viewed as an effort to upend a women's right agenda that focuses on the sexual threat posed by men. To the contrary, we argue that male-perpetrated sexual victimization remains a chronic problem, from the school yard to the White House. In fact, 96 percent of women who report rape or sexual assault in the NCVS were abused by men. In presenting our findings, we argue that a comprehensive look at sexual victimization, which includes male perpetration and adds female perpetration, is consistent with feminist principles in important ways.
 
For example, the common one-dimensional portrayal of women as harmless victims reinforces outdated gender stereotypes. This keeps us form seeing women as complex human beings, able to wield power, even in misguided or violent ways. And, the assumption that men are always perpetrators and never victims reinforces unhealthy ideas about men and their supposed invincibility. These hyper-masculine ideals can reinforce aggressive male attitudes and, at the same time, callously stereotype male victims of sexual abuse as 'failed men.'
 
Other gender stereotypes prevent effective responses, such as the trope that men are sexually insatiable. Aware of the misconception that, for men, all sex is welcome, male victims often feel too embarrassed to report sexual victimization. If they do report it, they are frequently met with a response that assumes no real harm was done.
 
Women abused by other women are also an overlooked group; these victims discover that most services are designed for women victimized by men. Behind bars, we found that sexual minorities were 2-3 times more likely to be sexually victimized by staff members than straight inmates. This is particularly alarming as our related research found that sexual minorities, especially lesbian and bisexual women, are more likely to be incarcerated to begin with.
 
Researchers also find that female perpetrators have often been previously sexually victimized themselves... Some women commit sexual victimization alongside abusive male co-peretrators. These patterns of gender-based violence must be understood in order to reach the troubled women who harm others."

 

Conclusion: men are not the only perpetrators.


 

When it comes to talking about the existence of "f*ck boys" and why guys act the way they do, some point their fingers at porn. 

A majority of people could say PornHub is one of the more well-known sites for videos to get off to, but I bet you didn't know one of the most popular search terms on PornHub in 2017 was... (drum roll please)

porn for women

Intriguing, eh? If you want more information on what the United States and other countries are looking up on their computers late at night, take a look at Pornhub's 2017 Year In Review.
Don't worry, it's not a scam link like most non-porn-watchers would assume. Just some numbers and words put together in a visually pleasing layout thanks to Mashable.

Even though the US is a top viewer on well known tube sites - that is is only the beginning. Lynsey G writes about the taboo subject of the porn industry in Everything I Learned From Watching as Much Porn From Around the World as I Could. From what types of porn are popular in India, webcam success in Columbia, and how piracy is ruining the industry.

Porn could pose a threat to the development and learning of younger men as they begin to enter intimate relationships with women (or other men). Heck, it could hinder women, too. There are a few views in regards to how porn plays a part in relationships and how men and women interact with each other in the bedroom.

In the abstract of Is Pornography Really about "Making Hate to Women"? Pornography Users Hold More Gender Egalitarian Attitudes Than Nonusers in a Representative American Sample from 2015 in The Journal of Sex Research, it states,

"According to radical feminist theory, pornography serves to further the subordination of women by training its users, males and females alike, to view women as little more than sex objects over whom men should have complete control... Pornography users held more egalitarian attitudes - toward women in positions of power, toward women working outside the home, and toward abortion - than nonusers of pornography. Further, pornography users and pornography nonusers did not differ significantly in their attitudes toward the traditional family and in their self-identification as feminist. The results of this study suggest that pornography use may not be associated with gender nonegalitarian attitudes in a manner that is consistent with radical feminist theory."

Egalitarian is defined as,

relating to or believing in the principle that all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities

On the flip side, a conversation on NPR's "Hidden Brain" segment discussed the effects of pornography in long term relationships. A few points in the transcript include,

"The issue is not whether there's a correlation there. I mean, it's - study after study show that there's a negative correlation between, say, pornography use and relationship quality. But is it people in unhappy relationships turn to pornography? Or is it pornography itself contributed to the relationship decline?" (S. Perry)
 
"Women who stop using porn seem to have happier relationships. But we don't know exactly why. Stopping porn use didn't seem to make much of a difference for the men in the study." (S. Vedantam)
 
"... younger couples and happier couples seem to be more affected by porn use than older couples and less happy couples. The study can also distinguish between people who use porn occasionally and those who use it regularly. It's possible the effects are actually much larger for people for whom pornography is a daily part of their lives." (S. Vedantam)

After mentioning that Vedantam, NPR's social science correspondent, spoke with a sociologist, Samuel Perry, at the University of Oklahoma, I am assuming the study they are referencing is from work that Perry was involved with. Unfortunately I could not find links to the study within the NPR article and transcript. 

There are a lot of sides to the story about the effects of porn on behavior and views on sex, but I think it's safe to say that porn is not always a factor in how some men view their behavior toward women.


Gender Norms & cultural differences

I apologize for a lot of quotes throughout this post, but my paraphrasing would not do justice to the information I want to convey to y'all. 

We see men portrayed as strong, masculine beings in television shows and hit movies. We also see them as witty, smart, or clever. Then on the other side of the spectrum, women can be seen cast as the sexy, girl-next-door. Or, the shy librarian, the innocent bystander. Of course, there are many different shows, movies, and celebrities. Even so, you see that theme a lot right? And when you think about it, you know there are all types of personalities and outward appearances. Are we attracted to idolizing these characters? Is there something about the clever hero saving the innocent girl that we love so much?

The first bits of information I would like to discuss come from Adrian Raine's The Anatomy of Violence: The Biological Roots of Crime. This is a great read and I highly suggest it for all of you obsessed with Cops, Mindhunter, or other material about serial killers and crime. 

The following quotes are from the chapter titled Basic Instincts, in the section of Psychopaths Across Cultures.

"Environmental conditions vary greatly across the world, and throughout prehistory behaviors have evolved in an adaptive response to changing environmental circumstances."

Below, Raine begins to compare the cultures of !Kung Bushmen and Mundurrucú villagers; one culture is focused on cooperation, while the other has a reversal of roles for women and men. Essentially, contrasting "reciprocal altruism" and the "psychopathic cheating strategy & antisocial traits". (8) 

Two definitions before continuing:

altruism - the belief in or practice of disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others

antisocial - contrary to the laws and customs of society
 

"The !Kung Bushmen [of the Kalahari desert in Africa] live in a relatively inhospitable desert environment. Due to the extremely difficult living conditions, cooperation is prized. Men need to hunt together... game is shared at camp... also a high degree of parental investment in children... personal characteristics adapted to the !Kung's environment are good hunting skills, reliable reciprocation of altruistic acts, the careful choosing of mates, and high parental investment in offspring. This personality profile is clearly more aligned to altruism than to cheating, a trait that is argued to be in part an adaption to an inhospitable environment.
 
In contrast, the Mundurucú are low-intensity tropical gardeners living in a relatively rich ecological niche along the Tapajós and Trombetas Rivers in the Amazon basin. Everything grows there, and life is relatively easy... women carry out most of the food production. The relatively greater availability of food frees males to engage in male-male competitive interactions centered around politics, planning raids and warfare, gossiping, fighting, and elaborate ritual ceremonies. Occasionally they engage in hunting game that they trade for sex with the village women. Men sleep in a house separate from the women, whom they hold in disdain.
 
... Mundurucú mothers provide little care to their infants once they are weaned... 
Personal characteristics of the successful Mundurucú male in this competitive society consist of good verbal skills... skill at fighting... bluff and bravado... ability to manipulate and deceive prospective mates on what resources he can offer to maximize offspring.
... for females... those who manipulate their menfolk by deception over an offspring's paternity, exaggeration of requirements, and resistance to the development of monogamous bonds are the most successful.
The Mundurucú's way of life is... more associated with a cheating, antisocial strategy than with reciprocal altruism."
 

Intriguing, right?

What is even more interesting is when Raine talks about the Yanomamo Indians, which live in a similar environment to the Mundurucú villagers. 

"Boys are socialized into acts of aggression from a surprisingly young age, with "play" consisting of throwing spears and shooting arrows at other boys. 
 
If you think the United States is a violent society, consider that 44 percent of all Yanomamo men over the age of twenty-five have killed someone, thus achieving the status of being a 'unokai'.
 
... the most interesting element... is what happens to unokais, the men who kill. They have an average of 1.63 wives compared with .63 wives of men who don't kill. The unokais have an average of 4.91 children compared with an average of 1.59 children for non-killers. 
 
In terms of reproductive fitness, serious violence pays handsomely in two critical resources. First, lots of kids. Second, lots of wives to look after them."

 

In these cultures that have a rich ecological niche, it seems that the social climate, investment in offspring, and social activities share commonalities with "features of Western psychopaths". (Raine, pg 449, source 17)

Not saying that men with relatively easy living environments are more likely to be serial killers. But, in these situations where men and women do not have to work together to survive - they almost seem to be pitting against each other with solely survival for themselves in mind. The individualism of Western society does not help with deterring the "cheating strategy" that is associated with "antisocial traits", but in terms of the paths to stardom in country music and movie theater screens, or conversations and interactions in day to day life - it is hard to deny semblances of antisocial behavior in today's first-world living. 

"Inevitably, Western society does not condone such violence. We hardly applaud and reward people who kill others. Or do we?
 
With significant pomp and ceremony we decorate and reward soldiers who have taken significant risks to kill others in warfare. Crowds cheer wildly as boxers punch each other senseless in a sport that we know results in brain damage. We certainly revel in kung fu movies or other film genres when the good guy beats the living daylights out of the bad guy.
 
Whatever our cultivated minds may publicly say about the senselessness of warfare, do not our primitive hearts still thrill to the drums of combat? Is this why we enjoy sports competitions, to watch the dominant winner end up on top? Is that what gives us the vicarious thrill and excitement of seeing someone win a gold medal at the Olympics? Or when a violent tackle occurs in a football game? Our present-day cultured minds weave an alternative story to explain the feeling - we just love sports, that's all. But why? Is it because selection pressures have built into us a mechanism to carefully observe who ranks where, empathic skills to imagine ourselves as a winner, basking in that reflected glory, giving us that "feel-good" mood and a desire to emulate such achievements?"

Hmm... *wheels are rolling, mind is analyzing*

"Mundurucú women are attracted to men around them who kill. Have you ever wondered why seemingly sensible, peaceful women want to marry serial killers in prison? Their primitive heartstrings seem to be with a strong male, even when their modern minds might logically object. At a milder level, we have a morbid fascination with true crime. Something attracts us to violence. That evolutionary pull may even have partly explained why you bought this book."
 

I read that last line and thought, "OMGoodness, he's talking to me. Am I psychotic for liking Mindhunters so much?" 

Concluding food for thought:

Are we in the process of changing the hardwired primitive biological mechanics of being human? If so, how long until the majority of the world, or our country, will naturally analyze society with equality in mind? Or, is there no way that would happen because of who we are as creatures? 

I would love to copy and paste all of The Anatomy of Violence for your reading pleasure because I believe it has a lot to say not only about violence, but about the way men and women are in general. That would be a REALLY long post though. So just keep reading about other musings on gender norms. 


 

Is it a boy or a girl??

That is a loaded question. Once the gender of your baby is released, and if in a hypothetical situation your baby is a boy... BOOM. 

DINOSAUR TOYS

BLUE QUILTS

TRACTOR & TRUCK T-SHIRTS

FOOTBALL MOBILE OVER THE CRIB

PLAID ONSIES

You see the trend?

Maybe your son won't even like half of those things. What if he grows up to love hiking, would rather play tennis, and likes math more than trucks? I have never seen a baby boy's room themed with snowboarding or computer programming. Have you? 

Yes, much gratitude for the friends and family chipping in on clothes and toys for the newest youngster in your life, but the overabundance of stereotypical "boy things" is a bit much (in my opinion). Your daughter might like airplanes and working outside. Or your son would rather cook than play baseball. They should have the opportunity to explore and not grow up with tunnel vision. This argument holds true for the female gender; pink blankets, dolls, frill and lace... Don't get me wrong, I love a cute themed room #adorbs. It is a complex process raising a child and teaching them about gender, biology and all that jazz. However, from the moment a baby takes their first breath, a color is assigned and swaddled around them. 

Observing how toy companies, clothing lines, and others market their products shows how much America is set in a "boys do this and girls do that" mindset. Which is understandable since our minds categorize everything to understand the world we live in, but right now - we need alternative thinking. #KatalystUntamed #whythisblogexists #letschangetheworld


Aziz Ansari vs "Grace"

Typically I do not dabble too much in expressing my opinion about media topics, current issues, political views - aka sensitive & heated subjects. However, the public announcement of the sexual assault allegations against Aziz Ansari got me heated enough to voice my thoughts on the matter. 

Babe is the one source for the allegations against Aziz Ansari by "Grace". 

I am not going to ramble on about how much I disagree with the allegations and that women need to be smarter and stronger (like my previous draft did), but I would like to point out a few things that I thought were irrelevant and comment on the story.  

 

Things that make you go hmm...

1. Words from "Grace" about the the wine choice during dinner,

"It was white... I didn't get to choose and I prefer red, but it was white wine."

Well honey, you were eating at an oyster bar restaurant. White wine is paired with seafood, and reds are served with red meats. After telling my former-chef boyfriend about the wine comment, he told me that Aziz is a big foodie and has been on a few food shows throughout the years. He was not being indifferent of your wine preference - he was probably wanted to make sure the meal tasted great.

2. "Grace" said she felt pressured to perform oral sex. Honey. I have been pressured into performing oral sex by being asked/told to or with that all too familiar head nudge. If I didn't want to? I didn't do it. According to Planned Parenthood though, part of consent is that it is, 

Freely given. Consenting is a choice you make without pressure, manipulation, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

In the context of this discussion,

pressure - the use of persuasion, influence or intimidation to make someone do something

Unless he was threatening your life or physically forcing your head down, I do not believe "feeling pressured" should lead to sexual assault allegations in this scenario.

3. "Grace" said she had worn jeans on the date.

If she was sitting on the countertop at the time he undressed her to perform oral sex...

Y'all, it is a struggle to get my own damn pants off standing, let alone sitting or laying down!

4. Humorous comments on the Facebook post from Dorian Clark,

... I don't know anyone who goes into shock and wants to suck d*ck... twice.
 
 Only an emotionally stunted adult would interpret a person voluntarily performing oral sex on them twice as a non-call for sex.

5. Aziz is 34 years old. "Grace" was 22 at the time of the incident. Yes, age comes down to only numbers, but in terms of sexual experience - 12 years difference could have played a huge part in this! 

When I entered the world of womanhood by starting to engage in sexual intercourse, I learned a LOT. (Not saying sex is the door to womanhood! For me though, exploring my sexuality was). Who I liked, what I liked, what I did not like, expectations versus what felt comfortable to me, personalities, types of sexual behavior, communication - the list could go on. To add to that, a lot of understanding about myself occurred when I was in situations with guys that portrayed that typical "douche bag, f*ck boy" stereotype when it came to the bedroom. During the first year or so of sex was also a time for gaining a lot of knowledge in the subject of "sex." Because hell, I had no idea what I was doing! It took time, experience, the right partners, Sex & the City, Cosmo, and Google. Lots of Google.

 

I believe Ansari handled the situation properly after "Grace" messaged him about how she felt about their date. If I were to make a case for each side though, I would conclude the incident with the following assumptions:

Aziz - Possibly inexperienced in the sex department when it comes to expectations, etc. In general, aware of the cues we have established in society; going home with your date usually = sexy time, mixed signals = yes, since it was not a no.

"Grace" - Most likely VERY inexperienced in the sex department, and with that possible emotional immaturity when it comes to understanding herself, her body, communicating, and not familiar of the spectrum of styles/types of sex. And I hope one day soon she is able to gain that understanding about herself and know her worth. 

September 25th was a bad date. CASE CLOSED.

A big reason why I got heated about these allegations is that it would be awful for this to distract from the other cases in the realm of sexual assault that are also in the public eye. Like: 

Olympic gymnasts and other victims finally getting justice

Terry Crews coming out about being a victim of sexual assault, and

the dark side of country music radio and Katie Armiger's story

#MeToo and TIME'S UP are very important in this amazing shift in views and power, and am excited in how things can change in Hollywood, and hopefully throughout the rest of the country on every level. 


There was a lot of information in this post.

Let's recap:

Men are not the only perpetrators of sexual assault.

We can't keep blaming porn all the time for the way boys behave. 

The #MeToo movement is powerful and necessary.

Let's not bash all men because of it though. Men are cool, too.

There are a lot of factors that play into how we behave and think as adults - biological factors, the environment, and the way our minds understand the world around us.

Media and easily accessible sources of information like to utilize our already engrained views and societal stereotypes, so

Try to read both sides of the story. 

 

I would like to finish this off with a few words of wisdom:

Be Kind, Grateful, & Open-Minded


 
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What do you think about gender roles across cultures? Was anything surprising or new information to you? What would you like to see in a Part II post about gender norms? Comment, share, ask, be a Katalyst. 

 

Until next time - 

Namaste
xo

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