UWO panel talks sex & spirituality


Allison Russotto

Panelists at Reeve Union speak about how spirituality has impacted their views on sex.

Megan Behnke, Reporter

Last week the “Navigating Spirituality and Sexuality” panel discussion was held in Reeve Memorial Union to discuss how spirituality impacts views on sex, how sexuality can be viewed positively in light of spirituality and how to combat feelings of shame.

Panelists included UW Oshkosh senior Joy Evans, Women’s Center program assistant Eliza Farrow, second-year student Liz Jacobson and grad student Jon Wills.

Farrow, who goes by pronouns they/them/their, said their views on sexuality and spirituality were influenced by pop culture references.

“When I was in middle school, I saw a sketch on TV from SNL about masturbation that really made it into a joke and made it seem not so great,” Farrow said.

Farrow described discussing the SNL sketch with their mom.

“I kind of got a sense that that was wrong,” Farrow said. “I got to high school and learned more about … how society constructs these things and tries to shame people about sex.”

Evans said that she mostly stayed true to the principles she was raised with but considered alternative ideologies.

“I was a little rebellious in high school,” Evans said. She added her views on sex and spirituality changed during her senior year of high school after she turned 18.

“After that I was like, ‘Well, that’s not me,’” she said. “I know it wasn’t the way I was taught.”

Jacobson said sex was never discussed in her household growing up. Her views regarding sex changed over time.

“I think when you get into middle school and maybe just high school, your world opened up a bit because you meet more people,” Jacobson said. “And for me, it was middle school and realizing number one, there were different backgrounds, which sounds so late to figure that out, … that not everybody has the same assumptions your family had.”

Wills said his perspective of sex and spirituality shifted in seventh grade when the topics of sex, sexuality and marriage were finally discussed.

“This is a moment where I realized, ‘Wow, I now really have a say in this,’” Wills said. “There was a short period of time that I broke with the Lutheran tradition, which I was raised in, because at that time the Lutheran church did not embrace marriage equality.”

Jacobson said she still embraces some aspects of how she was raised in terms of sexual activity.

“For me, personally, I plan on waiting until marriage,” Jacobson said. “I’ve acknowledged that that’s not how it should be for everyone because that’s not a good way for everybody to experience things, and that’s sort of where that tension, so to speak, comes in between my views and the views that were brought up with how I was raised.”

The “Navigating Sex and Spirituality” panel was held as part of The Red Zone’s Healthy Relationship week for Sept. 30-Oct. 6. For the week of Oct. 7-Oct. 13, the topic will be alcohol and consent. The annual UWO Take Back the Night event which allows attendees to take a stand against sexual and domestic violence will be held Oct. 29 in the Reeve Union Ballroom from 5-8pm.