Sexual awareness out loud at DePaul

Lines dropped like “Your virginity is something you give, not something to be taken,” poured out of poets, both men and women last Thursday at Browstone’s Annex.

As part of DePaul’s own contribution to its National Sexual Assault Awareness Month campaign spearheaded by the Office of Health Promotion and Wellness, Brownstone’s Annex was transformed into an ornate lounge complete with a makeshift bar slinging “mocktails,” for the event: “Let’s Talk About Sex: Sexual Health Trivia” and a performance by P.O.E.T.S.

None of the drinks contained alcohol, which is why they were dubbed “mocktails.”

Bryan Roush, 28, and Rachel Aho, 27, both university residency directors for DePaul, said they hoped to present the topic of sexual assault in a comprehensive new light.

“Mocktails represent the necessary preventative awareness of stopping and asking ‘where is this drink coming from and is it safe?'” Roush said. “The nightclub atmosphere parallels a partylike atmosphere where many sexual assault situations occur. So we wanted to blend fun with the super-serious undertones-that’s where the (sexual awareness) education comes in.”

There was a tip jar on top of the bar and Aho said all the tips go to Rape Victim Advocates of Chicago, which helps victims of sexual assault.

From the stage, a poet explained the definition of abortion in rape culture: “You didn’t have to choose when no choice you were given.”

The crowd erupted with doublefinger snaps throughout the night in lieu of applause, hammering poetic lines to spur the poet while still allowing them to continue.

Jaclyn Shea, a resident advisor in Sanctuary, bartended and said students definitely are undereducated when it comes to sexual awareness.

“I have a close relationship with people who live in Sanctuary,” Shea said as she mixed a fruity drink with an orange slice placed on the rim. “On college campuses, women start relying on relationships to get through the pressure of college, and they’re often expected to go on birth control.”

One of the many facts displayed on a projection screen during the trivia part of the night said only 18 percent of DePaul men reported using condoms.

Shea said women are taught by society to obey “gender rules” and assume a submissive role in relationships with men and that transfers into all their affairs.

“It’s like we (women) are taught to wait to be asked out, we can’t take the initiative,” Shea said. “That kind of submissiveness is mirrored in the workplace when women don’t express themselves enough.”

Poet Lucia Botello dropped a line from the microphone: “I’m told I should be flattered-that men gawking over my figure when I walk down the hallway or across the street is a blessing-But I don’t want that – corporate says I should love that, but I don’t.”

Another fact from the projection screen: 50 percent of people have gotten a sexually transmitted disease before age 25.

Jackie Heidegger, a senior and resident advisor at DePaul was behind the initiative to bring in P.O.E.T.S. or Presenters Of Enlightenment Through Spoken-word.

“Our idea for the event was to bring awareness of what sexual assault actually is and how to take steps to prevent it,” Heidegger said. “Sexual assault is more prevalent that people think, especially on college campuses.”

Heidegger said the most confusing aspect is “What is consent?”

“Students don’t understand that consent must be a clear, sober ‘Yes,'” Heidegger said. “People think sexual assault is the ‘stranger in the alley’ but it’s not. In fact, often times is someone you know and like and it goes too far.”

Heidegger said a sober yes means that the woman has had absolutely no drinks in her system, no matter what her age.

A female poet threw another verbal punch, “If you tease a man then you’re asking for it.”

“Education through interactive events like this, in the end, is what keeps the students safe and informed,” Heidegger said. “Rape Culture is systemic. It’s in songs like “Blurred Lines,” and we are taught to blame the survivor rather than the perpetrator.”

Heidegger said Rape Culture is primarily based on shifting blame from the perpetrator to the victim, which is wrong on all counts.

“It’s blaming a woman for how she dresses and acts like she’s responsible for her fate,” Heidegger said. “Women should be able to wear and act however they want, when is sexual assault ever permissible?”

Heidegger said it’s the way we’re socialized to let external stimuli trigger sexual instincts.

Another female poet asked, “Rape Culture, why does this exist?”

A question that elicited pervasive snaps and then was followed by a solemnity.

Rachel Aho said the poets were profound.

“I think spoken word is such a good way to carry a message,” Aho said. “(The poets) really exposed the grave subject of rape culture.”

Shea took intermittent breaks from bartending and said that, at times, their words left her wordless.

“The poetry just spoke of how tragic and how big of an impact sexual assault can have,” Shea said. “It was probably really healing and powerful for every in the audience, I mean judging by the silence.”

One female poet hung a question to contemplate, to summarize sexual assault: “Why was God a criminal in disguise?”

Sophomore Matt Barbuscio, who attended the event for Radio DePaul, said the event surpassed his expectations of being able to blend enjoyable socialization with the grave topic of sexual assault.

“It was enjoying and depressing at the same time,” Barbuscio said. “But one thing is for sure; there was certainly a lot of talent in one room tonight.”

Roush said Sexual Assault Awareness Night is a promising event to hold every year and it attracts a lot of students, which proliferates education about sexual assault.

“Last year we had a sexual assault survivor come and speak,” he said. “It’s always a good reminder of how quickly a situation can change from good to bad.”

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