Contestations of the meanings of love and gender in a university students' discussion

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Peer-Reviewed Research


Love is a fluid and complex concept that is difficult to define comprehensively. Its expressions, however, show that love is not only gendered but also influenced by one's social and economic positioning. Family upbringing, friends, race, culture and religion shape and constrain experiences of love. Third year students in a women's and gender studies class carried out a qualitative feminist study to explore how university students understood rights and responsibilities in romantic love. In a class of 127 students, each student conducted two semi-structured interviews with two university students of either sex. The findings were discussed in class through a panel discussion steered by five students. The students' findings revealed that contextualised relational power issues, economic factors and the role of sex had importance in the way romantic relationships were understood. This Briefing presents the discussion in which multiple issues are raised on the dynamics of love among some university students, as they strive to find the meaning of romantic love.