‘Sex Signals’ combined humor and solemnity to enforce ‘yes means yes’

As part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Oakland University Student Congress put on a program entitled “Sex Signals” to teach students about safe and consensual sex.

The program was included as part of the Greek Week events and filled Dodge Hall 201. Attendees were given water bottles and packages containing mints and a condom.

The program was hosted by nationally touring actors and educators Jordan Puryear and Durante Parker.

Their performance combined both humorous and serious tones to get across the message that only yes means yes.

Throughout the performance, attendees were prompted to hold up signs that said “STOP,” telling the performers when their actions went too far.

The program started with more light-hearted banter between the two performers, and the audience told the two how to interact with each other.

Then they asked the audience some of the stereotypes of typical masculinity and femininity. Some examples of those included women being quiet and soft-spoken and men being rougher.

But when put on stage to represent these stereotypes, students held up their “STOP” signs almost instantly, noticing red flag signals of assault.

“In a relationship with women, are we supposed to be passive or aggressive?” Parker asked. Almost unanimously, students in the crowd said, “Aggressive.”

When the “STOP” cards went up, Parker asked the audience what could have been done differently.

 “Just because something happens all the time doesn’t mean it’s no big deal,” Puryear said. “When it happens out in public, people don’t always like to call it out. Do we need an invitation that says we are invited to stop things from happening?”

The duo acted out another improv scene where Parker was playing a man who said, “I didn’t rape that girl,” and Puryear was playing a talk show host. In this skit, Parker tried defending what he did to a drunk girl by saying she wanted it, and it wasn’t rape.

This prompted further discussion in the crowd, along with some male students saying that he was in the right, and what he did was justified.

However, Puryear and Parker said that blaming the victim was never the solution, and though she could have taken different actions to keep herself safe, the rape was the fault of the rapist alone.

 “I’m 22. I’ve learned about this stuff before. But, I found the way they presented the information was interesting,” Kayley Meckstroth, one of the student attendees, said.

Pamphlets are currently located outside of the Oakland University Student Congress office to aid students in reporting sexual assault and rape, and further information can also be found in the Gender and Sexuality Center of the OC.