Can I kiss you? That was the question posed by Mike Domitrz at Federation Hall Oct. 6.</p>
The presentation aimed to educate students about the how-tos of consensual sexual interactions in a way that was relatable and practical in order to create an open and supportive community.
Domitrz is the author of two books: May I Kiss You? and Voices of Courage: Inspiration from Survivors of Sexual Assault, the latter of which is the only place his sister Cheri, a victim of rape, has spoken out.
Domitrz had the audience connect, laugh, and share in an intimate conversation through humour, but also conveyed serious information, including the four steps to stop a predator: identify sexual assault or rape; picture the victim as a loved one; team up and check in; and stay calm and focused.
Other topics he covered ranged from victim blaming to how to handle a rejection, as well as his own experience asking for a kiss.
The Q-and-A session included questions such as, “is hosting a lecture on sex really the role of the university?” and “how do you stop or slow down once consent has already been granted?”
When asked what the University of Waterloo was doing to shift the view on sexual assault, associate professor Rashmee Singh, who studies violence against women, said, “We’re currently engaging in the process where we’re trying to have communications like this to educate the community about consent and sexual assault… and developing policies, and asking the campus community for input on our policies.”
UW director of equity Mahejabeen Ebrahim added, “This is a community responsibility — it’s our community and we’re all responsible. We’re looking at various ways that we can engage our community to feel supported to do this, so your feedback is always welcome.”
Other details she mentioned included the emergency calls used to contact campus police, and workings towards a safety app.
When asked about how cultural barriers affect consent, Domitrz used an example where he identified as a female and asked his mother whether she thought we should live in a culture where women should get the same voice as a male does.
“Usually mom will say ‘[yes], I wish you did have that.’ Well, I’m trying to create that culture. Can you help support it, so you’re able to say, ‘Hey you know how difficult this is, I’m trying to live in a culture where I don’t have to be treated that way, can you support me?’ ”
Domitrz concluded by saying, “If you want more resources we have a lot on the website, go to datesafeproject.org. We have lots of resources there and [the concept] is really basic: ask and respect the answer.”