On Tuesday, April 10, Lona Whitmarsh, associate professor of psychology, helped lead a participatory lecture on gender and relationships in Twombly Lounge.
The event was sponsored by Jersey Battered Women’s Service (JBWS) and corresponded with the story of Michela in the freshman reading requirement, “In the Company of Angels,” by Thomas E. Kennedy.
The event, which lasted about an hour-and-a-half, began with a series of questions.
Based on the opinions of the audience, the room was divided into sections of those who strongly agree to those who strongly disagree.
Whitmarsh posed the questions, some of which included: “Are girls more emotional than boys?” “Are boys born more aggressive than girls?” and “Is it a man’s responsibility to pay on a date?”
These questions brought about discussion.
Society plays a major role in the socialization of a child. For instance, an emotion that is acceptable for men to express is anger, but if a woman is aggressive she is looked down upon.
American culture, as a whole, has an immense impact on gender, in particular. From the moment a baby is born, he or she is often wrapped in pink or blue blankets, told to play with Barbies or toy cars, and taught to dance or play football.
One woman in the crowd brought up a hypothetical situation of two toddlers, one boy and one girl, who both want to wear nail polish.
The comment stirred up quite a bit of controversy and a mix of opinions.
Many argued that by not letting the boy paint his nails, more problems would arise in the long run, while others were startled by her comment.
Yet one of the questions that produced the strongest opinions and a plethora of oohs and ahhs was, “Are men and women treated equally in society?”
Whitmarsh repeated this question a few times.
Although most students, including the men, went to the “strongly disagree” side, some thought that women were making great strides, for example, in terms of careers.
The other question was what helped lead the group into watching a video clip of an infatuated girl and her overbearing boyfriend. “Do women who dress sexy share some responsibility for date rape?”
It was apparent that the video was slightly disturbing to some and made people uncomfortable enough to squirm in their seats.
Megan and Anna were best friends until Megan found a boyfriend in high school and spent nearly all of her time with him. They began drifting apart, though Anna could tell Matthew was too possessive. He made her change her clothes if he thought they were too revealing, pushed her to the ground, and fooled her into sexual acts she did not wish to do.
Megan claimed to be in love, but she barely knew Matthew. He told her he loved her after two dates.
Whitmarsh referred to their relationship as an onion; they only know the first layer of one another.
She continued, saying, “Instant love is like instant mashed potatoes.” In other words, there is no substance yet.
Arguably no one is being themselves in the first few dates, the audience said. Each one is putting his or her best foot forward and doing everything right.
Megan thought that if she loved Matthew enough he would change; yet the reality is that most do not.
According to JBWS, one in three college women have been in an abusive relationship, whether sexually, physically or mentally.
Sometimes women are fooled by the men who shower them with affection before controlling their every move. After all, asked Whitmarsh, “If someone punched you in the face on a first date, would you go out with them?”