Program educates students on good, bad and ugly of sex, relationships

“Sex Signals” performers counseled students on “the good, bad and ugly” of dating and relationships, as students crowded the Mafrige Auditorium Wednesday night.

“Sex Signals,” the semi-improv program that addresses issues surrounding sex, dating and relationships, combined enlightening skits and audience interaction to convey important messages about gender differences and miscommunications that can occur between the sexes.

The performers, Ben Murrie and Courtney Abbott, put into perspective how students’ own perceptions and behaviors can lead to these miscommunications.

The two performers asked audience members what characteristics a typical girl and man should possess. Students laid out these stereotypes for the performers to enact. Students agreed that a lady is modest, doesn’t use obscene language and is never suppose to be drunk. They also agreed that a man is not suppose to cry, is athletic, aggressive and strives to be a gentleman. When the performers brought these two stereotypes to life, students could understand how these perceptions exist but may not necessarily be fair.

The performers acted out a scene in which a college-aged guy defends himself over an alleged date-rape to demonstrate how misconceptions and assumptions can sometimes lead to dangerous situations.

Some students said they found themselves surprised when the program shifted into a discussion of sexual assault. The performers incorporated humor to engage students in candid conversation about this issue, in order to promote its awareness and understanding among students.

“The way this program is different is that it attacks the issue from a different angle,” Abbott said. “The theory is, if you can get people to laugh, you can make them feel comfortable talking about things they might not normally feel comfortable talking about.”

Students reacted very positively toward the program.

“I like that it was very funny and informative,” junior Daniel Taylor said. “It wasn’t just all laughs. It had a good message.”

One student commented on the scope of the gender perceptions the actors portrayed.

“These stereotypes are very well-known,” junior Shelley Mahr said. “They’re not just things that only some people know. They’re very real.”

The performers also presented alarming statistics regarding sexual assault. Abbott said 84 percent of rape victims know their attacker. She also said 90 percent of the time a sexual assault occurs, both parties have been drinking.

The performers urged students who were affected by, or can relate to the characters portrayed in the date-rape scene to seek the help through the Counseling Center or through the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) by calling 1-800-656-HOPE or going online at

“Talking to someone is one of the best ways to deal with the issue,” Abbott said.

Students can make an appointment speak to a member of SHSU’s Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) through the Counseling Center. The response team provides confidential support services and information to victims to sexual assault. Students can make an appointment in person at the center or by calling (936) 294-1720; however, the counselors consult students in crisis situations on a walk-in basis. The Counseling Center is located in the North Annex of the Lee Drain Building, next to the Farrington Building.

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