'Sex Signals' addresses culture, language of consent
August 17, 2010
WIESBADEN, Germany - Recognizing and understanding consent before engaging in sex can significantly lower sexual assault and rape statistics in the Army.
Catharsis Production players Ben Murrie and Amber Kelly presented "Sex Signals" to audiences in Baumholder and Wiesbaden in late July to heighten awareness of sexual assault and rape and to inspire a culture of respectful dialogue and intervention.
While some of the language and subject matter presented bordered on graphic and offensive, it addressed realities common in the current dating scene making a concentrated attempt at demystifying generalizations and cultural expectations among the genders.
"Enough people are getting hurt by sexual assault that we have to make a cultural shift ... get consent ... practice the language," said Murrie. "It's about getting a conversation going, getting beyond the awkwardness."
The players presented a number of scenarios addressing relations between men and women.
"It's something more to do with respect. It's not just a sex thing," said Murrie, who underscored the importance of respect in all relationships.
And while some of the content caused the audience to erupt with laughter, many of the facts about rape, "the most unreported felony in our country," were presented to compel viewers.
"Only like an eighth of these people have done something about it," said Murrie from the stage after polling the audience to learn how many people have intervened on potential situations of sexual assault. "Rape is the most unreported felony in our country."
"You have to be careful that people not perceive things that could reduce risk of the victim as blame," said Kelly while probing the audience for opinions regarding the fictitious victim's actions that led up to the alleged assault depicted on stage.
Though the scenario led many to question fault and reason, the pair clarified what defined rape to solidify the audience's understanding.
"Rape is sex without consent ... regretted sex is not rape," they said.
Even as some may think rape is conducted primarily in dark alleys by cloaked assailants, the garrison's law enforcement chief offered testimony demonstrating the opposite.
"I haven't seen the case (reported here) where the victim jumped from the tree line in a ski mask," said Lt. Col. Mikel Russell, director of emergency services, who reiterated the likelihood of a person being victimized by someone he or she knows. "Every case (reported here) has been where the victim knew the assailant."
"This has been great for the Soldiers because it gets to their level," said Allie DeLegge, U.S. Army Europe G-1 event planner. "We're trying to get people to talk about it without gaining attention."
"It's an honor to spotlight the ability to create change values and moral code. Getting the Army on our side gives us a better chance at making a change," said Kelly.
When sexual assault happens, victims and third-party witnesses are encouraged to report it to any of the different venues offered through the Army such as the chaplaincy, unit victim advocate, medical, Military Police or the sexual assault response coordinator.