Wednesday, April 23, 2014

No Glove, No Love

This humorous ad was shown on French national television, promoting the use of condoms to protect from sexually transmitted infections, specifically HIV/AIDS.  Using no dialogue and two simple words at the conclusion, “protegez-vous” (protect yourself), the commercial effectively and clearly communicates the intended message; use a condom whenever you have sex.  The way in which the message is communicated highlights the idea that condom use is beneficial in every country, by all people wanting to participate in sex.

I believe that this ad is effective because it tells a simple but engaging story.  The viewer is able to glean the important message from the both the animation as well as the entertaining music that is cleverly integrated into the short story.  In this way, the commercial is able to hold the viewer’s attention all the way through the 1:38 long ad.  The effort that was put into designing an engaging and non-offensive short story-like ad truly shows in the way the viewer will likely engage with it as opposed to quickly changing the channel or muting the television.

Thus, I believe that campaigns promoting condom use, safe sex, awareness of sexually transmitted infections, as well as other sexually relevant topics would benefit from the use of media that is engaging to their target audience in this simple manner.

What is your response to this ad? Do you find it more effective than other campaigns you have viewed in the past? Do you think it was inappropriate to broadcast this on national television?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Like a Virgin

Wikipedia states virginity as, “the state of a person who has never engaged in sexual intercourse”.  Going beyond google searches seems to make this definition much more complicated. Growing up we heard things like “Only if he cums”, “Only if her cherry pops”, “Anal doesn’t count,” and endless other descriptions. Interviewee from Losing Virginity Stories from the Huffington Post states, “It’s kind of a double-edged sword isn’t it? If you say you haven’t, you’re a prude. If you say you have, you’re a slut. It’s a trap.” Our society sends mixed messages about virginity and certain expectations are prevalent for both males and females.

A 25 year old women, interviewed in Losing Virginity Stories, stated, “I lost my virginity quite late, I was 24: way too old. I was dating a guy but the only thing he didn't know about me was that I was still a virgin. Every time we made out I made up a silly excuse not to have sex because I was afraid I'd bleed and reveal the embarrassing truth: that I was a virgin. I say "embarrassing" because I assumed being a virgin at that age was something wrong -- that I was unwanted, ugly, undesirable and therefore, unworthy as a woman, that all the times I had said no to sex because I didn't like the guy or didn't feel comfortable with it had made me a prude and that I probably didn't deserve the sex. I wanted to have sex with [my boyfriend] but at the same time I didn't, because I didn't want him to know my secret. So one day it just happened: we were having drinks, we went to bed and we did it. I didn't even bleed (maybe because I had already broken my hymen masturbating) but he didn't notice it was my first time. I was nervous, I wanted him to feel he was having sex with a "normal" girl (thanks, prejudice) so I didn't particularly enjoy it.”

The interviewee explains that she felt she was too old to be a virgin. At what age do you think that our society claims it to be too late to be a virgin? After college? Before college? At what age would you claim it to be too soon?

Another interesting point when analyzing the concept of virginity is to understand that the word itself is gendered. It comes from a Latin word that means young woman, and while the term can be referred to both, there always has been pressure for the woman to perform in some way (Vagianos 2013).  The concept of virginity is heteronormative and leaves little room for people with a same sex orientation to identity with the term. Something that I found interesting was all the popular press articles I found never discussed virginity with same sex couples, and all the fun tips and truths were presented to straight women or men.

What do you all think about the concept of virginity in relationships? Do you hear about it being a deal breaker?
Do you feel that since Kalamazoo College is a sex positive campus it puts pressure on people to have sex for the first time?

Josie Cibelli

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Peaches, Snowflakes, and Envelope Factories

Trigger warnings: gendered slurs, crude language, sexual content

“Key & Peele” is a popular series of sketches produced by Comedy Central. In the linked video, two men are depicted as teaching a “cunnilingus class” to male youths, and later the teachers are revealed to be women with the goal of teaching their techniques to all men. As the characters so eloquently point out: “Now, bitches aren’t being satisfied, so check it!” What was your initial response to the video?

Although primarily amusing, the sketch has problematic elements. The video uses gendered slurs to grab the viewer’s attention and to colloquialize the content. In addition, the women at the end of the sketch are portrayed in a malicious, “taking over the world” light. Media often portrays women who seek a fulfilling sex life as being manipulative, nymphomanic, or immoral. How does this sketch perpetuate these stereotypes?

“Key & Peele” also fails to mention the reasons for youths to engage in oral sex, choosing rather to focus on the techniques of such acts. In a study conducted by Jodi L. Cornell and Bonnie L. Halpern-Felsher at the University of California, 425 ninth-grade adolescents were presented with the the following prompt: “Please list the reasons why teens your age have oral sex.” Responses (in order of frequency) included: improve relationship, pleasure, curiosity/for experience, peer pressure/friends are doing it, pressure/force/fear, wants to/can’t wait, under alcohol or drug influence, to rebel, popularity/reputation, media, low self esteem/stupid, less risk than vaginal sex, fun/bored, family problems, and don’t know. Which reasons (if any) for oral sex have you or your friends experienced?

Cornell, J. L., & Halpern-Felsher, B. L. (2006). Adolescents tell us why teens have oral sex. Journal of Adolescent Health, 38(3), 299-301.