by BRUNA LAUERMANN, Contributor
On the evening of Monday, Feb. 11—the night before New York City woke up to its second biggest snowstorm in the year— room 3C at the Kelly Commons building was one of the warmest places at the Manhattan College. Not only due to the body heat of 42 people gathered at the Lasallian Women in Gender Resource Center but also because of the atmosphere of empathy and safety forged for discussion and sharing ideas about love, sex and relationships.
Manhattan College’s very first Love in the Dark meeting began at 6pm an it was facilitated by Jordan Pascoe, Ph.D., co-director of the center and director of the Society for the Philosophy of Sex and Love. She answered questions and tackled issues written anonymously by students.
With the room completely in the dark, lit only by the smooth halo of a few candles and glow sticks, participants felt loosen up to entertain questions and taboo subjects right on the spot. One student even confessed, “If the lights were on, you’d see I am blushing”.
One could feel huge amounts of curiosity which translated to a large range of topics discussed including how to improve the way people communicate with their partners, the definition of sex and virginity as well as how to explore and enjoy the journey of a sexual being, even with oneself.
Pascoe leveraged the answers to take participants beyond the obvious and score important issues such as consent, prevention and even the pitfalls that gender roles offer to the way we face love and sex.
According to her, the progressive theme of the event has everything to do with the Lasallian philosophy.
“If we stand in solidarity and advocate for those suffering from social injustices, we need to talk about love and sex, because we know there is a lot of space for vulnerability in this subject,” she said.
Pascoe also took the opportunity to emphasize the unquestionable need for this kind of platform and how it benefits students.
“We need to meet them where they are, and this room full of people shows us that they want this open space where they can ask questions openly and we can challenge the way we were taught to think about sex,” she said..
Alen Mo, who is a philosophy major, said his interest in learning more about love and sex perspectives was the main reason to attend the event. After all, he endorsed the atmosphere of intimacy in the room and even encouraged male presence in the Women and Gender Center.
“I think the event was great because it felt like a safe space. I was uncomfortable sometimes when people shared things they experienced, but because I am a biological male and I see myself responsible. That’s why I believe more men should come to this kind of event,” he said.
For Mo, the key takeaway from the meeting was when Pascoe highlighted the importance of being able to say no even to people that we like.
“It is always hard to learn to say no, But I guess it can be even harder to say no to our loved ones. I liked when Professor Pascoe explained that there is a way to turn denial into what she called a ‘loving no.’ In that we respect our boundaries without creating less friction in our relationships,” he said.
For Erin Mcwilliams, a junior in chemical engineering, the session was surprising.
“Dr. Pascoe was so open to talk about any kind of life experience. And the cool thing is that the energy of the meeting was remarkably light, despite the fact that we were debating critical and fundamental topics,” she said..
After nearing two hours of conversation, laughter and chocolates going from hand to hand the lights went on but weren’t able to disperse all the students. Many remained chatting about the meeting and exchanging thoughts with each other while consulting Pascoe regarding especifics cases which, in her view, was evident proof that the Center would benefit from more meetings like this one.
“We’re planning more of these for the near future with added panelists. I’m a philosopher which makes me capable of discussing sex and love from one angle but there are so many other points of view. The Center is open to hear which students fancy debating more on sex and love and what their questions around the matter are,” she said.