Voices Against Violence hosts workshop on the importance of sexual consent

Taylor Hampton

A program aimed at combatting sexual violence taught students Thursday that getting consent is sexy.

Voices Against Violence Theatre for Dialogue acted out real-life scenarios that demonstrated the difficulty of interpreting consent in sexual situations and examined how consent is negotiated. Consent was defined as getting permission with a verbal confirmation of what each sexual partner is comfortable with and protection they plan to use.

“We can misinterpret consent. It’s something we should be cautious of,” Plan II freshman Jackson Haenchen said.

The program uses peer educators to create awareness about relationship violence, stalking and sexual violence. One scene the troupe performed showed a couple kissing, then a partner pulling away after more contact was initiated. Haenchen said this scene was a good example of the need to consent.

“When someone revokes consent, it’s tempting to get frustrated, but because of mutual respect you have to respect their prerogative,” Haechen said.

Haenchen attended the event because his fraternity encouraged it, and he said he learned the importance of verbal consent.

Lynn Hoare, Theatre for Dialogue specialist with Voices Against Violence, said statistics for sexual assault crimes are hard to gather, because many victims do not come forward. She said national surveys indicate one in five women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime and 92 percent will know their assaulter. Hoare said alcohol is a factor in 70 percent of assaults.

“We have had disclosure in evaluation sheets that people realize they were sexually assaulted,” Hoare said.

The evaluation questionnaire passed around after the program asked the audience to rate the usefulness of the program. Hoare said the majority of the responses rated it as “useful” or “extremely useful.”

Sidney Williams, troupe member and theatre and dance graduate student, said the program creates a space for consent dialogue to be discussed.

“What if you don’t consent, male or female: how does that impact your college experience or future relationships?” Williams said.

He said talking about consent can be awkward but thinks people benefit from hearing different perspectives and ideas about consent and leave with more awareness.

“That’s the best way to have sex,” Williams said. “Enthusiastically, with clear consent.”

Printed on Friday, November 9, 2012 as: Workshop clarifies consent