SRC and CDI Present on Amatonormativity in Relationships

Allison Ringold

Staff Writer

 

On Saturday March 13, students explored the topic of relationships at an event titled “Breaking out of Amatonormativity.” The event, put on by the Sexual Respect Coalition (SRC) and The Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI), focused on common assumptions that are made in relationships; for example, what a relationship actually is and what it means for two (or more) people to be in a relationship.

According to Casey Lohman, Graduate Assistant for the CDI, “The ultimate goal of this event was to expose the ways in which people in U.S. society are expected to want, have and prioritize monogamous romantic/sexual relationships, both on individual and structural levels, and to encourage participants to discover their own desires outside of those expectations by presenting alternative relationship models.”

The event introduced the idea of “amatonormativity,” a term coined by Arizona State University professor Elizabeth Brake to describe the societal pressure and desire for monogamy, marriage and romance. The leaders of the event made the point that general society’s expectations of people when it comes to relationships are not very inclusive. According to the PowerPoint presented at the event, “Amatonormativity affects sexual folks and all people who do not want sexual relationships, aromantic folks and all people who do not want romantic relationships, polyamorous and nonmonogamous folks and all people who do not want a central monogamous relationship, all who have lost touch with formerly close friends due to one or both people entering relationships, all who prioritize/want to prioritize non-romantic/sexual relationships and all who feel they cannot leave abusive relationships because divorce is frowned upon and/or they’re scared to be single.” That’s a lot of people, and yet this topic isn’t often seen in mainstream society.

However, that was the whole reason for holding the event: to bring this topic into the limelight. “I hope that this event leads each participant to question their own desires and the ways in which they engage in relationships — all relationships, not just romantic and sexual ones,” said Lehman. “I also hope that it exposes some of the ways in which U.S. society makes it difficult to break out of those assumptions, awareness of which could eventually lead to systemic change,” they said.

In this aspect the event was successful: it started a conversation. “I consider the event successful because we had many participants and a lot of active engagement,” explained Lehman. “People seemed to value and learn from the information that we shared.”

Casey Lohman (They/them/theirs), Graduate Assistant for the CDI

“The ultimate goal of this event was to expose the ways in which people in US society are expected to want, have, and prioritize monogamous romantic/sexual relationships, both on individual and structural levels, and to encourage participants to discover their own desires outside of those expectations by presenting alternative relationship models.”

“I hope that this event leads each participant to question their own desires and the ways in which they engage in relationships – all relationships, not just romantic and sexual ones. I also hope that it exposes some of the ways in which US society makes it difficult to break out of those assumptions, awareness of which could eventually lead to systemic change.”

“I consider the event successful because we had many participants and a lot of active engagement. People seemed to value and learn from the information that we shared.”

“This event was co-led by SRC and SGI. Ella Lang, Ellen Nikirk, and Veda Massanari-Thatcher were involved in the planning and presenting of the event.”

Google Slides link: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1xaOGZqQfoV0RGJ4j6jm7J_KFbb6JaVIbDHRc8RJyIJk/edit#slide=id.p