Kunsan airmen attend stage play addressing sexual assault issues
Stars and Stripes March 14, 2008
KUNSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — Two airmen from the same squadron meet. They begin to train together, to text one another, and one night, the woman invites the man to her dorm room to play video games.
He brings beer and pizza, and when she leans in to wipe some tomato sauce off his face, they kiss.
One thing leads to another, and they end up having sex, although the guy says she seems hesitant. At one point, she whispers “stop,” but they finish, and he falls asleep in her bed.
To his surprise, she doesn’t return his texts during the next week. She asks to be moved to a different squadron, and he learns that she has accused him of rape.
Was it rape?
Yes, according to most in the audience at Kunsan Air Base watching “Sex Signals,” a play about sexual assault that finished its tour of three Pacific air bases here Wednesday.
But when some hesitated, the two actors pointed out that most rapes happen between people who know each other, not between strangers in a dark alley.
“We have a hard time viewing this as rape when we’re all indoctrinated with the same picture of what rape looks like,” said Christian Murphy, half of the play’s cast. “Sex Signals” tours colleges and military installations, using comedy, skits and improvisation to address the topic of rape.
Capt. Micaela Sanchez, Kunsan’s sexual assault response coordinator, said the show targeted airmen 26 years old and younger at Kunsan because they’re most likely to commit or be victims of a sexual assault, she said.
“They came and asked what kind of issues we were facing here, where airmen were hanging out,” she said. “They tried to tailor their program here to relate a little better to our lives here at Kunsan.”
During the 75-minute play, the two actors talked about dating, drinking, consensual sex and myths about rape. They asked the audience to participate by giving them pick-up lines that they could use in skits, to shout out explanations for their characters’ behavior, and to hold up pink “STOP” cards during a skit of a drunken man hitting on a woman at a bar.
They also discussed gender stereotypes — that men are viewed as beer-drinking conquerors, and women are supposed to be both sexually pure and sexually aggressive.
“We don’t know if you want the girl next door, or the girl gone wild,” said performer Gail Stern.
About 100 airmen attended the second of three performances at Kunsan on Wednesday, including 8th Fighter Wing commander Col. CQ Brown. Sanchez said more people attended than she expected.
“It surprised me how similar the responses were. You had a lot of the same responses from all three shows, so there were pretty prevalent attitudes,” she said.
Stars and Stripes was not allowed to interview Kunsan airmen about the show because base leadership wanted to hear their responses to the program first, according to Kunsan spokeswoman Capt. Tiffany Payette.
Base officials had offered to let a Stripes reporter interview three preselected airmen after the show, but Stripes declined.
Sanchez said the sexual assault response coordinator at Yokota Air Base in Japan suggested bringing the show to the Pacific, and it cost about $5,000 to bring the show to Kunsan. It was at Yokota last week and at Osan Air Base on Monday.