The OBOV UvA Student Board explains our guilty pleasures

The OBOV UvA Student Board explains our guilty pleasures

Temptation Island, Too Hot To Handle (THTH), and many more. Most of us know those reality shows just too well. The OBOV UvA Student Board, which is a student branch of the Our Bodies Our Voice Foundation, invited guest speaker Professor Dr. Misha Kavka to talk about reality TV’s hook-up culture and what makes them so attractive to watch. 

The Our Bodies Our Voice Foundation (OBOV) is an external nonprofit organisation that has a student board at our university. The student board raises awareness of sexual violence within the university context, promotes consent culture on and off-campus, and arranges relative lectures and events for UvA students. For this event, ‘Sex, Island, and Gender Norms’, they invited special guest speaker Professor Dr. Misha Kavka, an expert on sexuality and media, who published multiple pieces on the intersection of gender, sexuality, and reality TV.

While off to a rocky start––35 minutes due to technical issues––it was very pleasant when it started. The room was filled with students, and an offer of a variety of snacks was widely displayed. We watched several clips of different reality TV shows and discussed them later on. What made this event especially nice was its structure since it was rather a discussion than a lecture. The audience was included and could speak up, but no one was pressured to do so. Professor Dr. Misha Kavka was a very entertaining speaker in the way she gave great insight into the topic while being funny, not preachy, or judgmental. She reflected on reality TV and its controversies as we take pleasure in watching it because it makes dating look so easy and at the same time dramatic. However, reality TV is not our reality as it depicts a controlled environment which a limited number of participants. Moreover, the role of gender and consent was examined in this context. As the ideas of these shows consist of finding or building couples, the way to do so differs. While the concept of Love Island initiates hooking up, THTH forbids physical action. Professor Dr. Misha Kavka points out that THTH is rather gender-equal as the women are as horny as the men, which I guess is a somewhat satisfying conclusion?

In all, the takeaway from this event resolved that reality TV is not all bad for us. Moreover, they help us to navigate anxieties regarding dating culture. Whereas in reality, dating is maybe a bit more complicated than depicted but also not as dramatic. The conversations between the guest speaker, OBOV UvA Student Board’s speaker, and the audience came across as natural. The bottom line is that such events can only be recommended to everyone else.