Sexuality and Space Session

Caitlin Yamada

Zachary Segall, a student from Grinnell college, presented his paper “Investigating Self Presentation in Physical and Digital Spaces,” in which he examined the self presentation of students at Grinnell College on Tinder, the dating app.

Segall spoke about how gender transfers into online spaces. When speaking about gender in online spaces, gender is performed differently with a different set of supporting actions such as text, pictures, comments, likes and shares according to Segall. One of his research questions was how gender is presented online and how a person presents themselves is tied to a standard of beauty.

Segall defined two different types of subversion specifically within technology, subversive by design and subversive by use. Subversive by design is when the platform is “intentionally created to go against norms,” like Bumble, the dating app, and subversive by use is when a person “winds up opposing norms in practice.”

Segall found Tinder is not subversive by design and he hypothesised it is not subversive by use either. Even though he did not get a large enough response to his online survey, he found the second highest response was that people use tinder for validation.

Edie Hunter read from her paper “Sex and Revolution: Politiczing the Death of an ISU Coed.” In this paper, Hunter examined the history at Iowa State surrounding gender and sexuality, and how it related to the sexual revolution.

Hunter gave historical context to what was happening at Iowa State surrounding sexuality around 1967 and before. She then spoke about the death of an ISU student in January of 1968.

Sheila Collins’ body was found on Jan. 28, 1968. She had found a ride home with a stranger and was found strangled. After her death, there was movement in sexuality but there was still victim blaming in the media according to Hunter. The local community saw it was a result of the radicalism in the university according to Hunter.

Sara Davis presented “Steralzation: Inequalities facing Women.” In this, she spoke about the rhetoric surrounding voluntary sterilization and her experiences trying to receive a tubal ligation procedure or female sterilization.

Women have been burdened with the ability to bear children, according to Davis, but she also states society has kept women burdened.

In her presentation, she spoke about how difficult it is for a woman to seek sterilization and the lengthy process women have to go through, compared to men who do no face the same questions.

Davis pointed out there are discrepancies in the way men and women are concealed, specifically surrounding the question of whether or not they were sure they wanted to do it and whether or not they would regret it in the future.

Davis also spoke about the difference in pamphlets given to men and women when they are looking into it. According to her, the male pamphlets spoke about how men should feel liberated after and in turn the women will regret the decision, and provided statistics on how many women regret the decision and how likely it was for someone to regret their decision based on how old they are.  

Talera Jensen, a student from Grinnell College, presented “Blessed Homosexuality: Chastity, Education and Normativity in the Catholic Church.” In this presentation she spoke about how in 2015, Dowling Catholic High School chose not to hire a substitute teacher full time because a background check told them he was engaged to a man.

In her framework, Jensen looked at sources referenced in supporting the decision made by Dowling Catholic, “a deeper search into these dogmatic sources over the years,” and Jensen also looked at Gayle Rubin’s charmed circle method. The charmed circle method has two different limits, the charmed circle, which represents everything “good” or “blessed sexuality” and the outer limits which represents everything that is “bad” or “damned sexuality.”  Things like heterosexuality, being married and being in a relationship are in the charmed circle, and homosexuality, unmarried and alone are in the outer limits.

Jensen spoke about the Catholic Church’s views on homosexuality and specifically how it is connected to the hiring process within Catholic schools and the process of becoming a priest. Jensen also spoke about how there are different views related to chastity.