Dr. Jane Rinehart, Gonzaga Professor of Sociology and Women and Gender Studies, gave a lecture titled “Gendered Sex & Love” on Tuesday night, speaking about society’s changing expectations of gender in relationships of sex and love. This lecture was the third and final discussion in the Spring Speaker Series, hosted by Students Advocating Sexual Health Awareness (SASHA).
The series incorporated several Gonzaga professors to talk about sex from psychological, philosophical, and sociological angles.
“Our mission was to start conversations about sex from all these perspectives,” Laura Forester, co-president of SASHA, said.
Forester, a senior at GU, is one of six members of the board that organized the Spring Speaker Series. Earlier speakers included Dr. Hoffman, a psychology professor who discussed the psychology of intimacy, and philosophy professor Dr. Bradley, whose lecture explored the ethical side of sex, and questioned what humans consider sacred.
Rinehart, who is in her 40th year of teaching here at GU, began the evening by showing a compilation of clips from Disney Princess movies, set to Taylor Swift’s iconic romance song, “Love Story”. This was one example of many illustrating how media depicts relationships and the feminine and masculine roles that society expects.
Through various images of on-screen couples, Rinehart illuminated the contrast between what our society presents as acceptable depictions of love and as acceptable depictions of sex.
“There is a clash between images of love that promote mutuality, affection, tenderness … and images of sex that promote domination and degradation,” Rinehart said. “This clash is happening at the same time as the opportunities and experiences of women and men are converging.”
According to Rinehart, gender is the ultimate means of social categorization, and is a system of social practices that people act out on a daily basis. Even as our society moves toward equality of opportunity, the gender stereotypes of behavior remain.
Rinehart discussed our society’s perception that women begin to decline in physical beauty once they reach the age of twenty-five. “People say I depress people … I say I do it well,” Rinehart joked. This was one of several pressures discussed by Rinehart that women experience in their search for love. This search thus becomes the woman’s downfall.
Rinehart’s lecture grew into a discussion with the audience about the double binds of gender expectations and the pressures they place on both men and women.
“I can have certain goals and be encouraged to pursue them, but I am still told to act a certain way … these goals are kind of restricted by the behavioral expectations of your gender,” Junior Broadcasting major Tiffani Lee said.
Finally, Rinehart brought up moral questions of religion and ethics that we face when considering or discussing sexual relationships. She verbalized opinions that matched the mission of the SASHA Spring Speaker series: we should be talking about sex.
“I think it hurts our project at Gonzaga to remain silent about the contradictions between the choices and experiences many students are living,” Rinehart said. She called to question the stigma against sexual discussion at a religious university. “We can’t talk about sex here at Gonzaga before we trip over the claim that ‘we’re not having it’.” She criticized this dishonesty, concluding, “Twenty-something’s should be able to talk about sexual relationships.”
By Jenna Mulligan