Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sex Signals-The Army CAN train without powerpoint!

Anyone who's known me a long time has probably heard me complain about the Army's method of preventing sexual harassment and especially sexual assault. Usually, it's some dusty old powerpoint slides that points out for the ten thousandth time that assault is illegal and against Army Values. And everyone nods and smiles and then gets out of there and bitches for a solid half hour that it was a waste of an hour of their lives, and that they would never assault anyone, blah blah blah blah.

And every year, more and more assaults keep happening.

Some people feel I'm pretty hard on the Army-that I only point out the negatives these days, and not the positives. Sadly, that's because there aren't too many positives to report anymore. Like the joke that was presented goes, "How is the Army like a condom? They both give you a false sense of security while you're getting fucked."

But yesterday, the Army surprised me. I attended the new training "Sex Signals" with some other soldiers from my unit, and was absolutely blown away. Someone, somewhere, in the Army, gets it. These trainings have been ordered for all over. And not only are they not powerpoint, not only is it funny and awesome and so entertaining I didn't even realize it had taken two hours until I got out and looked at the clock, but it was actually useful.

Because they're starting to take on the hard questions, like, what assault really is, and what it really looks like in the Army? And that it's not just about whether the woman fought back or not, it's whether she actually consented to the sex. They made a brilliant point that I've been arguing for a while: if the culture is contributing to the problem, we need to change the culture.

It doesn't matter if someone says stop quietly or loudly or if they're laughing while they say it. It doesn't matter if they started things and then changed their mind, or they were naked. What matters is whether or not they said yes.

And let me put it out there from the woman's perspective: yes, it is incredibly, incredibly sexy if the guy you're having sex with for the first time checks to make sure that is where you want to be going. Checks to make sure that you are wanting what they're doing. I've been asked that a couple times, and each time, the guy involved has gotten about ten thousand awesome points.

So again. I give kudos to the Army for getting this training out there. I'm sure it's expensive. It has got to be expensive to have live training by actual actors as opposed to powerpoint slides that can be shown by anyone. But I think this training actually got people thinking, and may have actually made a difference. I know that if it's kept up for a while, it definitely will. And that makes me pretty damn happy.


Marc said...

I wrote this a few weeks ago, although it appears the Army has gotten better.

Sex Signals is one of the better things the Army is actually doing, although I've got to say, the majority of the prevention program within the Army still puts the onus of responsibility on the potential victims, rather than the potential rapist.

We're currently, in the "Year of the NCO," or as I call it "the Year of the NCO Taking More Orders," supposed to get on board with the sexual prevention program. Next year is when Sex Signal goes full force, and starts talking about changing a culture. Check out

Oh, and I am sorry I totally misspelled your name in an e-mail I'd sent earlier, in calling you "Cooper" rather than the correct spelling of your last name. Brains stop working here in the desert sometimes.

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