Sex+: Taking out the stigma behind romance novels

by David Mair, Staff Writer

Sexual shaming is cast upon romance writers because some people see their genre as autobiographical, porn for women and smutty.

Professor of sociology Joanna Gregson disproved these stereotypes in her lecture, “Love Between the Sheets,” held at 4:30 p.m. Nov. 12 in the AUC. This lecture was part of the Sex+ series which hosts two lectures each semester.

According to the Pacific Lutheran University’s website, Sex + “will give space for students to learn, unlearn, and relearn while giving them the tools to engage in positive and healthy sexual relationships.

The Diversity Center, Lute Fit, the Health Center and the Women’s Center all sponsor the lecture series.romance

Gregson’s lecture was the first Sex+ event of the year. Gregson’s goal was to disprove any stigmas against romance genre writers. Gregson said to combat the stigma, writers will either personalize it. By embracing it head on or professionalize it by pointing out the sexism.

“Though, in the end, there’s this double-bind tension formed as a writer of the genre,” Gregson said. “That you can embrace what you love to write, but at the same time you’re still writing about sex.”

She explained that it’s a genre written largely for women by women.The room held roughly 40 students with only 10 men in attendance. Continual nods of appreciation and agreement, along with laughter came from the audience. After the lecture finished, about 25 people stayed to talk about the lecture.

“There’s no good position to be in,” student Allison Sullivan said. “Writing in the romance genre is a double-edged sword and this lecture gave me a new perspective on it.”

Gregson began teaching as a sociology professor at PLU in fall 1998. She has published work on teenage mothers, incarcerated mothers and divorced women. The manuscript taken from the data collected by Gregson and her co-researcher Jen Lois, a professor at Western Washington University, is currently under review.

“We hope to have something out in print by the end of the academic year,” Gregson said.
The two are the first to conduct any research on romance fiction from a sociological perspective. Gregson said her favorite book is “Pride and Prejudice,” which Gregson said clearly fits the definition of romance. Her favorite contemporary romance fiction is anything by Jenny Crusie or Kristan Higgins, “both of whom write stories filled with humor,” Gregson said.

The next lecture in the Sex+ series will be California “Yes Means Yes” Legislation, presented by Kaitlyn Sill, a political science professor at PLU. It will take place 6 p.m. Dec. 3 in AUC room 133. 🅼

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