'Sex Signals' teach about preventing sexual assault
April 2, 2012
YONGSAN GARRISON, Republic of Korea -- Sexual Assault is a serious offense. The Military has zero tolerance for sexual assault. An assault can degrade the abilities of a unit, sow distrust among its members and keep the unit from being able to perform at their best to accomplish the mission.
The Leadership of the Army has made training against sexual assault one of its priorities, and has spent time and money on the I AM Strong Campaign, which encourages Soldiers to Intervene, Act and Monitor against sexual assault. To help this new campaign, the Army has invited 'Sex Signals', an improvisation/sketch comedy act that concentrates on sexual assault training, to teach Soldiers across the Army.
Sex Signals made its debut on Yongsan Garrison as a part of their overall South Korean tour, March 27, 28 and 30 at the Yongsan Movie Theater. Judith Lesser and Chris Sanders, one of the 'couples' who present the training, held multiple classes to allow the units of Yongsan to rotate through and get educated on the matter at hand. Soldiers sat next to senior leadership, from colonels to sergeants, for the Army-Wide mandatory training.
Addison Elliott, the Installation Victim Advocate, said that the training offers something different for the Soldiers than what they would normally have for training.
"Everyone's tired of having a slide deck, they're tired of having someone stand up and be lectured to," Elliott said, mentioning the dreaded 'Death by PowerPoint'. "They use Sex Signals because it's a little bit racy, a little bit crude sometimes, but that's the reality for a lot of these Soldiers."
The show began with an improvisation skit, taking in suggestions from the audience for what their 'characters' should act like, including pick-up lines. Even though the Soldiers in the audience tried to throw the presenters off with random suggestions, they made their way through the first skit without a problem.
The skit then broke down into a discussion over its content, bouncing ideas and review off the Soldiers in the audience. This branched out into other topics, which led into a separate skit.
The skits often hit on harder topics like female sexuality, appearances and expectations for both sexes, and how we tend to forgive certain people for their actions. As with each skit, crowd participation was encouraged, and discussions often ran longer than the skits themselves.
The training moved from using alcohol as a tool in sexual assault to how the Military's reporting process worked. They covered how reporting differs from Restricted, which is meant to keep the details personal and private, to Unrestricted, which leads into an investigation and formal charges against an offender.
After the show, Lesser and Sanders said that the Yongsan crowd was one of the most receptive audiences they've worked with.
"People are very willing to talk and give their opinions," Lesser said concerning the crowd. "Sometimes we agree, sometimes we disagree, but people are wanting to have that conversation."
"Yongsan has been the most, when we get to the discussion part of the training, interactive discussion," Sanders added. "So much so that all of our shows have run long, and we've had to end it. We usually have an actual ending, just some quick scenes, but we've had to drop that and say 'Sorry, guys, we're out of time!'".