Adolescent/ College Aged Sexuality

It’s time to talk about it: AU and EI

Alright, alright, alright. It’s time to talk about this. I tried to avoid it, but the more conversation we have around this issue, the better. For about the last week, students on American University’s campus have been buzzing with furry over beyond vulgar messages leaked by an anonymous source regarding an unrecognized organization called Epsilon Iota (EI).

*If you would like to read some of the 70 pages from listservs and texts, you can read The Fratergate AU, which highlights some of them. However, do understand that by clicking and reading, you will encounter some seriously disturbing conversations that can be triggers, so read at your own risk.*

Let’s get this straight. According to the University, “Epsilon Iota – Also referred to as EI is the former Alpha Tau Omega (ATO) chapter that was closed both by the University and Alpha Tau Omega headquarters in March 2001.The fraternity lost university and national fraternity recognition for serious policy violations which involved hazing and alcohol abuse. Upon loss of recognition, members of this group formed this unrecognized organization.”

It’s common knowledge on AU’s campus that EI is the “frat” to stay away from during Welcome Week and throughout the year. As a freshman girl, you’re told that they put date rape drugs in their jungle juice and that you’re more likely to be raped there than any other frat. (Keep in mind, EI is NOT a recognized frat, however, they are still referred to in that manner. It is even rumored that they are recognized as a gang by DC police). On campus, they have a reputation for being the “bad” guys. However, let me be clear in saying that I do not believe that every single person in EI is a terrible person. Instead, what I believe is that group mentality gets the best of the members of this group, time and time again. Let’s face it, group mentality is like a bowling ball rolling down hill: easy to start and difficult to stop, especially individually.

Now, I’m not going to blame this on group mentality though, because I wish that someone would have stood up. Sure, not every member in the group may have participated in actually saying these atrocious things, but when you see them written down in an email, I question how not one person spoke up. It’s one thing to do it, but if you either see it being done or hear about it and don’t say anything, it’s silent consent. (I will acknowledge that there was one set of emails exchanged where a guy stood up and said that it was unacceptable to hit women. However, later in the email train it’s discussed as to how they are going to cover up the fact that this incident happened.)

But here’s my issue with the way we are looking at this entire situation. EI is not the only group behaving this way, they’re just the only ones who are documented. I don’t have written proof that this is happening within other organizations on campus, however it is hard for me to believe that EI are the only ones. They also might be the most extreme case, but it’s not to say that other groups don’t talk to each other this way. Our culture has come to condone men talking down to women: calling them bitches, whores, “easy”, etc. We joke about rape and sexual assault and it’s simply not okay. These messages between the guys in EI are proof that change needs to occur. On AU’s campus, it’s great that both women and men are outraged by these leaks. But it’s not enough to just be upset by them. It’s time to make a change.

You can sign the petition, No More Silence: Demand Sexual Assault Prevention and Consequences for Epsilon Iota, for change on AU’s campus by clicking here.

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Although I think it is important that the University take action against EI for their actions, I think that is only the first piece of the puzzle. There needs to be a new standard put into place about the rape culture that exists on our campus and there needs to be accountability for those actions. If the correct treatment of women (and men too) is not being taught prior to college, there needs to be education during college to eradicate misconceptions. Men need to learn that treating women well, isn’t an option, it’s a necessity.

In short, although these messages are highly upsetting, they can be used to create social change. I hope that the University understands that this is an issue that needs to be addressed beyond the confines of EI and extended to the entire community. We have an opportunity to change the way in which men are expected to act in groups, and I hope that we use this chance to create a new culture. If this isn’t the time, then I don’t know that it will ever happen.

How I Went From Obsessing Over Tinder to Being Disgusted

When Tinder first came out, I was a huge fan. It seemed like a great tool to be able to use to meet new prospects of either hookups or real relationships. According to the description in the app store, it states that, “Tinder finds out who likes you nearby and connects you with them if you’re also interested.” For those of you who are not familiar with the logistics of Tinder, the way it works is you sign up through Facebook so that your accounts can be connected. The idea is that Tinder accesses your likes and friends so that when you are being matched with people, you can immediately see if you have any mutual interests or friends. You can put a few parameters for what you’re looking for: ie male or female, distance, and age and once you set those parameters, you are given an influx of people to choose from. From that brief introduction to the person, along with a few selected pictures and a quick bio, you have the chance to either “swipe right” (yes) or “swipe left” (no). The key here is that you only gain access to chatting with the person if you have both mutually consented by swiping right.

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what will you choose?

The reason I loved this app when I first discovered it, and at the height of my addiction, four months ago, was because it was pure fun. For a single girl like me, it was great to be able to log on and see this endless possibility that if I wanted to, I could pursue anyone I found on Tinder. That’s the thing: there are so many options on Tinder and unlike other dating sites or real life (ew), you don’t have to deal with people hitting on you that you at least don’t okay first. Sure, it might seem superficial to let people gain access to talking to you mainly based on the way you look, but let’s be honest, isn’t that the way it is at a bar or club, or even just on the street? Tinder gives you access to creating relationships (I use that term loosely) that wouldn’t exist otherwise. You can sit in your bed looking like crap after a long day and possibly make connections with someone you would have never met any other way, other than chance.

So that’s great and all, but here comes my issue, and it’s not the usual, “you’re judging people by the way they look” argument. I mean, yes that is a factor, but it really isn’t what bothers me the most. What bugs me is the way Tinder makes you feel. Sure, for some people it’s great because you know that almost every time you swipe right, it will be a match.

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So exciting when this pops up

But here’s my issue: We are basing our worth on how many Tinder matches we have. Take for example, two of my friends who are guys who have a competition to see who can get more matches. Like when did that become a thing, because it needs to stop. We aimlessly swipe right and left, as if it’s a game. But doesn’t it defeat the purpose if you spend all day swiping on Tinder but never make the effort to actually talk to the people you once “liked”?

To me, it doesn’t matter if you’re looking for someone to hook up with or if you’re trying to find the love of your life, but as long as you’re actually talking to the people you’re swiping, then that’s what its all about. Take for example the fact that I actually went on a date with a guy I met through Tinder. For some reason though when I told me people that I was going to do that, they were shocked. That’s when it clicked for me that Tinder has become a place that’s almost like the early version of Facebook’s “hot or not”. It’s now all about how many matches you have (aka how hot you are) instead of a forum to make connections.

It’s fine to use Tinder in any way you see fit, but understand what your motives are going in. Because after a while, you’ll begin to see that even if you have a high number of matches, you’ll feel unfulfilled that no one initiates conversation, or almost worse, when they do, it’s creepy.

With that, I’ll leave you with a few of my favorite “Tinder Fails” because we have to admit, some of them can be pretty damn funny.

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I’ve never thought about this until now!                             I wish cat people got more credit.             It’s probably best not to mention your wife… #awkward

And then one that TWO of my friends got recently:

“Damn girl, you so cute, I just wanna douse you in green paint and spank you like a disobedient avocado!”

What are your thoughts on Tinder? I’d love to know!

In my next post, I’ll be exploring one simple way to boost your confidence and happiness. So if you’re feeling a little blue because of Tinder, make sure to check it out!

A Revolution for the Prudes and Sluts: A Few Thoughts on Virginity

 

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“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.”- The Breakfast Club

Why is that? This whole concept of virginity is so intriguing yet confusing to me. It’s this way to me because when talking about virginity, you first have to define what it even means. Is it strictly penetration? If so, does that mean people who identify as lesbians are incapable of ever losing their virginity? In that case does losing your virginity mean oral sex? Once you define it, I begin to wonder why it even matters. Why does it matter that we know that two people came together to pleasure each other? But more than that, why are we placing so much emphasis on it? After all, if you’re anything like me who is in her first year of college, you cringe when you hear stories of people you know losing their virginity (most commonly to random “hookups”), yet you are taken aback a little to find out that someone is still a virgin. We ourselves are hypocrites and because of that, you can never win with this virginity battle, and it’s because no matter which path you choose, there’s going to be some stigma around it.

So why is it such a big deal to be a virgin? Or is it?

To some, having sex is kind of like a right of passage, something that shows maturity and coming of age. Others hold the act sacred or at least live with the belief that sex should be taken seriously and virginity should be lost with someone special. Neither are better or worse than each other, especially because they both hold their strengths and weaknesses. But for some reason, it is still more socially acceptable to have lost your virginity than it is to have kept it. There is such an emphasis for your first time to be something magical, unforgettable and pleasure filled, but often times it’s not and when that happens, it’s hard not to feel as if you’ve done something wrong. Not only that, but there becomes a component of regret. It sets in and it begins to be hard not to feel as though you didn’t handle the situation right. There are so many mixed emotions about what the “right” way to lose your virginity and I strongly believe in eradicating those ideas set in place about the way we “should” do it so that each time a girl loses her virginity, her story is valid and not judged, all because she didn’t do it the way you thought she should.

It frustrates me that girls are still shaming each other into believing that the way they are handling situations aren’t right. Everyone decides to do what’s best for them and there is not right or wrong scenario when it comes to losing your virginity. Sure, some might have wished they waited or that their first time was different than it was, but at the same time it doesn’t mean that they were wrong to do it the way they did. But on that same token, there seems to often be this odd sense of despair when girls who have had sex talk to virgins about sex. However, it shouldn’t be like that. People shouldn’t feel pitty for the virgins because they haven’t had the same life experiences.
This double edged sword is tough and it saddens me that it still exists. The Breakfast Club was made almost thirty years ago and yet the line about virginity still holds true. So I challenge you. I challenge you to stand up the next time you hear someone bash either side. I challenge you to stand up for the perceived sluts. And I also challenge you to stand up for the perceived prudes. Nobody deserves to be labeled a certain way based on something so silly as virginity, or lack there of. So take a stand and create a change. We might not change the world, but you might change someone’s world.

Violence Against Women: Why Should Men Care?

April is sexual assault awareness month. It’s sad to think that I didn’t know that until this year, but hey, it’s never too late to learn (after all, at least one more person is aware!). The reason I now know this is because I had the pleasure of listening to Jackson Katz, who is recognized as one of America’s leading anti-sexist male activists, talk about how violence against women is also a men’s issue. His talk that he gave to various members of the student body here at AU was loosely based off of his TED Talk, Jackson Katz: Violence against women—it’s a men’s issue and provided a unique viewpoint on violence against women- one that I had never heard or pondered.

If there was one main thing that he wanted to get across to those who attended his talk, it was that it enrages him that violence against women has, “been seen as a women’s issue that some good men help out with” because he believes that, “calling gender violence a women’s issue is part of the problem”. By calling sexual assault and violence against women a women’s issue solely, he believes that it gives men an excuse to not pay attention. Even here at AU, his belief was held true. When you look at who attended his talk, the majority were women. Not only that, but even though all Greek organizations were required to have at least 70% of their organization in attendance or else they would be faced with a fine, only two fraternities of thirteen on campus met the requirement, while almost every sorority did. (I guess now I know which frats to avoid). This is part of the issue: gender violence is a problem that affects both men and women, yet it is viewed as “unmanly” to actively support women in the effort to alleviate said violence. Every man has a mother and grandmother. Some have sisters. Eventually, most will have wives. We can’t coexist on this planet without members of the opposite sex, so it baffles me that in 2014, there is still gender inequality and patriarchal dominance that reigns superior in our society.

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April is sexual assault awareness month.

But what can we do? There’s still work to be done and it all starts with taking action instead of only taking interest, so I’ll leave you with this idea from Katz.

“There’s so many men who care deeply about these issues, but caring deeply is not enough. We need more men with the guts, with the courage, with the strength, with the moral integrity to break our complicit silence and challenge each other and stand with women and not against them.”

What do you think about this topic? Should more men be challenged to stand up for women or is it too ingrained in their minds to put women down? How can we begin to make positive changes to help the genders become more equal? Is this even possible?

*If this interests you, make sure and check out my post about AU and EI and how sexual assault plays a part in the whole debacle.