Story and Photos by Lauren O’Brien
Mike Domitrz visited the Student Life Centre on September 20 to discuss consent and dating with St. Clair College students.
His presentation, sponsored by the college and the Student Representative College, was entitled “Can I Kiss You?”. It was an interactive speech during which students could participate in a respectful discussion about consent and relationships.
He ran students through multiple real-life scenarios, answered the audience members’ questions, and gave away some prizes.
Some topics Domitrz covered included what consent is (and isn’t), the impact of pornography on sexual relationships, respecting your partner, the bystander effect, and sexual assault.
Domitrz founded The DATE SAFE Project, Inc. in 2003. The organization is dedicated to battling the taboos surrounding sexual assault and healthy intimacy. The DATE SAFE Project also offers an online training program and an informational podcast for anyone who is interested.
Domitrz introduced his presentation by asking the audience how they know when someone wants to be kissed. There were a mixture of shouted responses, the majority commenting about waiting to receive “the look”: an expression your partner gives you that indicates he/she is interested and wants to be kissed. Domitrz continued to speak on body language and how unreliably it is perceived.
“Your ego interprets body language and will lie to you to make you feel good,” he observed.
Domitrz said the reason we never ask to kiss someone is because we haven’t been taught how to ask. Instead, we have been taught – through the media and our peers – to “make your move” until your partner stops you.
He continued to explain how simple asking for permission truly is. “You smile, look them in the eye, and say, ‘Can I kiss you?’ That’s it,” he said.
One of the scenarios Domitrz described involved Jordan and Erin, two strangers at a bar. He told the audience to imagine themselves as a bystander, watching as Jordan gave Erin alcohol to create intoxication. He explained that when you see someone possibly being taken advantage of in a bar or party setting, you don’t always call it sexual assault; it is often referred to as a “drunken hook-up”. During the conversation, the audience began to portray Erin as a female and Jordan as a male, though Domitrz hadn’t mentioned the characters’ genders. “We praise one gender – in this case men – for the exact thing we degrade the other,” said Domitrz. “Is that messed up?”
“I could hate Erin, but that doesn’t give me the right to not treat her like a human being,” he added.