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‘Sex Signals’ encourages cultural shift

Sakinah Iman and Derante Parker, “Sex Signals” actors, perform a scenario March 26, 2014, on Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. The 90-minute show included discussion on varied topics such as dating, rape, consent, alcohol, and intervention. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Katrina M. Brisbin/Released)

Sakinah Iman and Derante Parker, “Sex Signals” actors, perform a scenario March 26, 2014, on Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. The 90-minute show included discussion on varied topics such as dating, rape, consent, alcohol, and intervention. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Katrina M. Brisbin/Released)

Members of Team Andersen hold up stop cards during a “Sex Signals” presentation March 26, 2014, on Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. Audience participation was encouraged to express their opinions about hypothetical social scenarios that the two actors performed on stage. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Katrina M. Brisbin/Released)

Members of Team Andersen hold up stop cards during a “Sex Signals” presentation March 26, 2014, on Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. Audience participation was encouraged to express their opinions about hypothetical social scenarios that the two actors performed on stage. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Katrina M. Brisbin/Released)

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- With Sexual Assault Awareness Month approaching, Team Andersen members gathered to attend a not-so-typical briefing at the Meehan Theater here March 26.

"Sex Signals" was a 90-minute, two-person improvisational show that included discussion on varied topics such as dating, rape, consent, alcohol and intervention.

Audience participation was encouraged during the presentation to express their opinions about typical social scenarios performed by the two actors on stage. "Sex Signals" presents these situations in a humorous manner, but despite the laughter, the underlying message was still clear: sexual assault is wrong.

The actors highlighted three main ideas during their visit. The first was to educate members on the common misconceptions of sexual assault and those who are affected. When Derante Parker, "Sex Signals" actor, started one skit with 'I didn't rape that girl,' the room grew quiet. The actors then went on to discuss a situation where a girl had been assaulted. Observers argued back and forth, discussing if the boy really had assaulted the girl or if the girl put herself in that situation.

"I get that you don't want to have this conversation but you have to," said Parker. "We present the situations the way we do to help create a cultural shift and an environment that makes it easier for victims to come forward and report."

Second, they encouraged all to ensure consent is given before engaging in sexual activity. In one of the hypothetical scenarios, both characters had been drinking. They used the result of this situation to explain the legal definition of consent and challenged everyone to communicate verbally so there would be no misconception.

"By asking the person you are intimate with before you take it to the next level, you are allowing space for a person to make a choice," said 1st Lt. Diana Wong, 36th Wing sexual assault response coordinator.

The third point stressed was being a good wingman, being aware of others and taking action if you suspect someone is in danger of being assaulted. Audience members laughed along as the two actors played out scenes where they stepped in to help someone. When it came to discussion time, some audience members admitted to not wanting to step in and help because of awkwardness, saying they felt it wasn't their business. This mindset goes hand-in-hand with this year's Sexual Assault Awareness Month theme of "Live Our Values: Step up to stop sexual assault."

"It takes courage to live your values, to step in when you see a situation escalating," Wong said. "It likewise takes courage for victims to make a report and to have trust that they will be taken care of throughout the process."

In the end, the actors encouraged audiences not to mislabel coercive behavior as seduction and to re-examine the cultural pressure that oftentimes holds victims of rape responsible for their own vulnerability. They also again stressed the importance of reporting any criminal acts.

The Andersen AFB sexual assault response coordinator and victim advocates are available 24/7 for support or reporting. To contact the SARC or for more information on the SAPR program, call 366-7272, or visit the SAPR house at 1564 Marianas Blvd on base.