“We are Speak About It and we are passionate about sex!”
So began a night of discourse on sex, consent and healthy relationships hosted by the Bowdoin-based group Speak About It last Monday night. The group consisted of five students who sought to demonstrate to the audience the important role that consent plays in all relationships.
The performance took the audience on an emotional roller coaster as the Bowdoin students told stories of jarring and horrifying incidents of rape but also performed fun skits that illustrated that consent is fun and sexy. They began the performance by taking turns reading stories submitted by anonymous students showing that there is no template that exists for a healthy relationship. These stories could be upsetting at times but they also served to illustrate the diversity that characterizes student sexuality.
The second half of the performance was more of a series of skits that showed the audience how to deal with a variety of issues regarding sexual assault and consent. In one scenario, a male student spots a female student from his English class at a party and approaches her. They talk for a while and then leave the party to go behind a curtain (the curtain serving as her room) where the audience hears them acting out a consensual sexual experience. The cast explained that students often assume that consent makes sex seem more robotic and unnatural when, in fact, if it is done properly, it can actually make both parties feel sexy.
Speak About It left the audience knowing that anyone can be a survivor, anyone can be a perpetrator, and we can all play a part in prevention. Everyone is responsible for being an active bystander and intervening if one has even the slightest suspicion that something questionable is happening. The group then provided several examples of how to intervene if you think someone is unable to give consent. In one example, a couple is talking at a party and they decide to go home together. A friend sees what is happening and goes over to check on the girl. Once it becomes clear that she is very drunk, the friend grabs some other friends and casually interjects, “Let’s go to the Loft!” This personalized mention of our beloved Loft naturally earned surprised cheers from the audience. They then proceed to leave the party and everyone is happy. This was only one of the many scenarios that the group acted out but it certainly proved that the possibilities are endless when it comes to how you choose to intervene.
Rape is a very real problem on college campuses and it is important that students are aware of the resources available to them. At Wheaton, we have the Counseling Center, the Sexual Misconduct and Assault Resource Team (SMART), Public Safety as well as several hotlines that are open 24/7. Rape is never the survivor’s fault and Wheaton’s resources are here to help survivors of sexual assault.
Speak About It did an excellent job making difficult issues approachable to the audience; it was a performance that was not only entertaining but also extremely relevant in its content.