Utah is rated No. 1 in the nation for sexual assault.
"Out of all violent crimes, only rape happens at a higher rate in Utah than the national average," said Jenny Johnson, Utah Department of Health Violence and Injury Prevention Program Media Coordinator, in a press release. The press release also said that one in three adult females in Utah will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime.
With those statistics in mind, hundreds of Airmen gathered in the Base Theater on April 8 for three showings of "Sex Signals," an improv presentation hosted by the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator that reflected on the meaning of sex in society, society's gender roles and, most importantly, the wrong way to talk about and approach sex.
Newcomers weren't quite sure what to expect at first, but once actors Chris Beier and Annie Rix took to the stage and began their skit, the whole theater erupted into laughter.
Aside from providing great insight and tips on dating, Beier and Rix also charged fearlessly into discussing the negative aspect of sex and dating with the audience.
Beier and Rix began by acting out a skit using gender standards provided by the audience. "Let's see what happens when the lady and the guy you just described meet," Rix said.
As Beier's beer chugging, ESPN-watching, aggressive male character attempted to woo Rix's classy, virginal, passive female character, the audience was told to hold up a "Stop" card whenever they felt the situation had gone too far in either direction.
Afterward, the actors asked the audience what was happening in the skit when they held up their "Stop" cards. Some held up their cards when Beier's character handed Rix a beer, others waited until Beier's character began to get a little too touchy-feely.
"How many of you have seen something like this happen before?" Beier asked the audience in reference to the skit that was just acted out. Almost all of the audience raised their hands, but when Beier asked his next question, "How many of you have stepped in and stopped it?"
"This kind of stuff does happen all the time and rarely does anybody actually do anything about it," Beier continued, stressing his point that bystanders need to get more involved and step in when they see things getting out of hand.
"You've got to see everyone as a human being and an individual that somebody knows and somebody cares about," he added.
After discussing the stresses of dating, Beier and Rix moved on to a more sensitive topic: how to define rape and survivors of rape.
Beier and Rix acted out another scene where Beier's character, David, was accused of raping a fictional female member of his squadron, Amy. As his character described the made-up scenario, it became quite evident that the situation had been confusing.
In the made-up scenario, both characters had been drinking. The military code is that no one who has been drinking is able to give consent, and you cannot get consent from someone who is or has been drinking.
The discussion also touched on how society reacts toward survivors of rape. The vast majority of rapes go unreported not only because of negative attention, but also because of the stereotype that victims engage in risky behavior and willingly place themselves in vulnerable positions.
"The things (Amy) was doing were risky, but they were only risky because David was there to take advantage of her," Beier explained. "And we cannot blame Amy for putting herself in a vulnerable position because the penalty for putting yourself in a vulnerable position should never be rape, it should never be anything."
"It's really important if somebody comes to you as a survivor that you support them and believe them," Rix added.
Whether a sexual encounter is confusing or not, the actors stated that the bottom line is, "You want the person you're having sex with to want to have sex with you back."
They also stressed the importance of giving and receiving verbal consent before having sex, even if you think it might throw you off your game.
"If you can't approach the person in a sexual encounter and start talking about sex before you start having sex with that person, then you probably shouldn't have sex with that person," Beier said.