On Oct. 6th, Sex Signals a how that utilizes a combination of humorous and discussion-provoking skits to reveal the misconstrued stereotypes of each sex, and how wrong assumptions can lead to more than regrettable consequences., was shown on campus at St. Mary’s Hall.
Presented by actors Amber Kelly and George Zerante, ‘Sex Signals’ uses guided improvisation to demonstrate several encounters between a man and a woman, often involving a set of stereotypes regarding both sexes.
After an exchange of awkward “pick-up lines” between the characters, the first scene began with a conversation between a stereotypical man and woman, whose characteristics were defined by the audience.
“I liked how they would say one thing and mean another,” said Ariel Webster, who attended the performance. “It made me laugh.”
As the scene continued, the discomfort of Kelly’s character became apparent to the audience while Zerante’s character remained unaware of the situation, leading to an audience-interactive discussion of the stereotypes often assigned by men and women towards each other.
While the macho guy was overbearing and unrelenting, the girl was passive, quiet, and non-objecting, even when she felt uncomfortable, none of which are characteristics all men and women would use to describe each other.
“Women don’t want to be seen as a piece of meat,” said Zerante. “And men don’t want to be seen as animals…who eat meat.”
After another scene that attempted to avoid these stereotypes, Kelly proposed a new scene: the “Not My Fault Show,” which involved a skit between a talk show host and accused rapist David Parker, a college student who claimed that he was wrongfully accused of raping a girl (Amy) he visited one weekend.
Here, the performance took on a more serious tone, with the audience trying to determine what defines consensual sex and rape. As the scene unfolded, the audience learned that David did not gain verbal consent for sex from Amy before initiating it, and that after she asked him to stop, he did not, regarded by the audience as a whole as rape.
The scene, as the audience learned, was realistic, one that occurs more often than it is reported or taken seriously. “Most people think of a man in a ski mask in a dark alley,” said Kelly, “[which is] a sensationalized version of rape.”
Furthermore, women and even men often do not report potential cases of rape due to the skewed definition of the term and a desire, for the latter, to not seem weak. “Men don’t report getting raped because they don’t want to appear unmanly,” said Kelly.
“I really liked how they set everything up,” said Lauren Nelson, a sophomore member of the audience. “They used a transition from comedy to serious discussion to mirror a date rape situation, and how everything is fine and suddenly becomes serious.”
After a final discussion of the improvisation itself, Zerante and Kelly encouraged the audience to step into potential date rape situations, protecting not only the victim but also the potentially unknowing aggressor. Said Zerante, “start stepping into these situations and ask for consent.”
‘Sex Signals’ was sponsored by the SGA Programs Board, Orientation, and the First Responders Network, performed each year by actors from Catharsis Productions in Chicago, Illinois.