Love, dating and sex can be confusing matters. There are so many mixed signals, double standards and grey areas.
Actors Annie Rix and Chris Beier of Chicago-based Catharsis Productions presented their funny yet serious show called “Sex Signals” last Wednesday to try and touch on this subject. They kept the audience going with humor and discussion on how to approach sex and prevent rape.
“The words we use to describe sex are awful,” said Rix. “This subject may be a bit uncomfortable to some, but it is so necessary.”
Rix and Beier took suggestions from the audience on what stereotypes follow men and women in society. The audience offered suggestions like how men are supposed to be more aggressive and strong. They need to be experienced with sex, they love things like beer, football and steak and they never cry under any circumstance.
Then they took suggestions on stereotypes about women. The audience came up with submissive, girly, modest and polite. Girls aren’t supposed to be experienced with sex. In fact, they are supposed to be virgins. Rix pointed out that there is a double standard regarding women and sex. A woman needs to be “a lady on the streets, but a freak in the sheets.”
Under every seat in the auditorium there was a sheet of paper that had the word “stop” on it in big black letters. Rix and Beier explained that they were going to do a skit playing out all of the stereotypes that the audience came up with. Whenever the audience felt like Rix and Beier needed to stop the skit because it was uncomfortable, the audience needed to hold up the stop cards.
The two played out a typical scene at a bar where the guy was hitting on the girl. The character Beier played acted very disrespectfully from the start and the stop cards were flying up fast. Yet the two didn’t stop the scene even though most of the stop cards were up and the audience resorted to yelling out the word stop.
Rix and Beier stopped eventually and switched gears to a whole new scene. They were going to act out a scene where a rapist went on a TV show appropriately named “Not Your Fault.” But, the rapist wasn’t your stereotypical trench coat wearing rapist.
He was a normal guy named David who was accused of raping a girl named Amy. He was your average college student, had great friends and his whole life ahead of him. One thing was different though – he didn’t think he had raped the girl.
David was explaining his side of the story to the TV show host played by Rix. The scene started with Amy and David meeting at a party. Later in the week, Amy invited David to study in her dorm room. David thought this was a call to have sex. He took some beer and pizza. After they had a few beers, they started to fool around. Amy kissed David first and David made a move to take things further, but Amy told him to stop. David gave her an ultimatum by saying he was going to leave if she wanted him to stop, but Amy didn’t want him to leave. She just didn’t want to have sex.
She kissed him again and he made a move again. She said stop, but he didn’t listen this time. He started to have sex with her and she went quiet after that and didn’t struggle. She gave up.
The game show host got David to admit that he didn’t get a definite yes from Amy. It was clearly rape, but David didn’t want to call it that. Rix and Beier stopped the scene and had a discussion with the audience about what was wrong about David and Amy. The audience got into a heated discussion. Many believed that Amy could have done better to make her intentions clear while others put all the blame on David.
Rix and Beier related the issue to the stop cards that the audience was told to use earlier on. They said that they simply didn’t respect the audience’s stop. This was what was wrong with rapists like David. They don’t respect a “stop,” but that doesn’t mean the stop is any less valid. If people like David aren’t punished accordingly, they will keep disrespecting women.
Rix and Beier stressed that it is absolutely crucial that people get help when they are in these situations so that people like David don’t get away with rape. We can victim blame all we want, but that won’t fix the actions of rapists. Society needs to stop trying to fix the victim and try to fix the rapist.
“The vast majority of people don’t do this, but the minority does it often because people don’t call them out on it. We don’t have a victim-supportive environment,” said Beier. “If we set a new norm, campuses like EMU will be a safer place.”
Rix and Beier ended the intriguing performance with the truth behind rape. Most rape cases, about 2 out of 3, are committed by a person the victim knows. Interventions need to happen more because it will show others that it’s not OK to do this kind of thing. Questions people ask shouldn’t be “Did she say stop?,” but more along the lines of “Did she say yes?”
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