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Learning to properly read “Sex Signals”

“Sex Signals”, an interactive program that explores the sometimes comical, always puzzling college dating scene, will kick off an academic year filled with events sponsored by Lehigh University’s Women’s Center.

The program, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 7 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 10 in Packard Auditorium.

Performing the program will be members of Catharsis Productions, a theatrical troupe that confronts controversial issues through humor, improvisation and dynamic theatrical media. The two-person show explores how mixed messages, gender role stereotypes, and unrealistic fantasies contribute to misunderstandings between the sexes, and ultimately, to date rape.

“It’s a program aimed at all students,” says Michelle Issadore, assistant director of the Women’s Center. “This is an issue that affects all our lives since we all interact with other human beings, and being able to understand these interactions and the signals we send out to others is a part of the educational process. It’s just as important for our male students as our female students.”

The ‘Sex Signals’ program was first presented at Lehigh two years ago, and it was “incredibly well-received,” Issadore says.

First produced as the critically-acclaimed "The Sensitive Swashbuckler & Other Dating Myths” at Chicago's respected Stage Left Theatre, the program debuted in May of 2000. Since then, the show has been performed over 1,000 times at more than 400 schools throughout the country, and has become one of the most popular programs on sexual assault awareness among college audiences and educators.

“We’re glad that we’re able to bring it back to Lehigh, with funding from the Office of Student Activities, to help raise awareness of this issue,” she adds. “Women need to understand that the vast majority of victims of this kind of assault experienced it at the hands of someone they knew, not some stranger jumping out the bushes wearing a ski mask. And men need to be taught that women need to say yes—it’s not just the absence of the word ‘no.’ Silence isn’t consent. A giggle is not consent. Passivity is not consent.”

Members of Lehigh’s “Break the Silence” sexual violence peer educator group will be at the talk to speak confidentially with students, and the group’s hotline will be fully staffed, during and after the talk, Issadore says.

Future Women’s Center programs include a panel discussion on a current Zoellner Arts Center multimedia installation of the work of Lehigh art professor Lucy Gans at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 11 and additional events to mark Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October.

On Oct. 10, Issadore will participate in a program titled “Sexual Violence in the LGBT Community” with graduate student Chris Diggs.” On Oct. 29, a program on bystander intervention titled “What if the Plane Blew Up?” will be also be presented.

For more information on all the events, go to the Women’s Center Web site.

--Linda Harbrecht

Posted on Friday, September 07, 2007

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