By Gianluca D’Elia
The 33rd annual Gender and Sexuality Studies Colloquium kicked off with a panel titled “Cultural Representations of Gender.” The student presentations examined the influence of gender and sexuality on current political issues such as gun control, and popular culture media such as video games, music, film and literature.
Presentations and papers by senior history and secondary education major Jonathan Murphy, junior elementary education and English major Caroline Forde, sophomore English major Samantha Traina, and senior English and history major Rachel Jensen were included in the panel.
“All four presentations demonstrated how discussions of gender and sexuality influence cultural debates in ways that we might not realize,” said Dr. Mary Morse, director of the gender and sexuality studies program. “Before I heard Jonathan Murphy’s paper, for example, I really had not considered how both sides of the gun control debate used gender stereotypes.”
Murphy’s presentation, “Guns and Control: Gender, Children and Patriotism in the Gun Control Debate,” examined how organizations on both sides of the gun control debate use gender roles to influence the public’s view on the issue.
“Many argue that guns are masculine objects that allow men to protect their families, while others say both women and men can protect themselves with guns,” said Murphy.
Forde’s presentation focused on transgender acceptance in Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, a novel about an individual who was born as a male but mysteriously changes her biological sex.
“Society has never been this aware of qualities of both sexes in all people,” Forde said. “This self-awareness is atypical of any group, and it is a response that could only be possible in a perfect world.”