#AskMe: Teens Get Educated About Courtesy

By Natija Cave’16

“I never really thought about asking people for a hug, I regularly just hug them. It was so awkward asking for one,” said Cindy Rullo ’16. Cindy joined by fourteen other actors and dancers, including myself attended a workshop on March 24, 2015 to prepare us for a music video for a song called, How I Like it, by Stephanie Johnstone and Jillian Buckley. The workshop was intended to be a rehearsal for music video on, but unlike any other rehearsals I’ve ever been to. The basis of the workshop was the issue of sexual harassment and different ways it can be transcended in our lives without even realizing it sometimes. We learned the power behind the words “yes” and “no”, and what those words really mean. Overall, I left with a completely different insight on the world we live in. Johnstone is a talented musician, composer, producer, and sexual educator. When it comes to major social issues, she uses music as a way to captivate people and get her message across. “From the time I was very little I sang all the time, in church, at home, riding in the car. Nowadays, I sing about lots of things, but I am most passionate about lifting my voice to amplify ideas about social justice,” says Johnstone. Also on the production team was production manager, Tegan Ritz McDuffie, choreographer, Nichi Douglas, producer, Jillian Buckley, and director, Rachel Chavkin. “It was really amazing to see how teenagers took such a serious topic like rape, and handled it so maturely,” said Chavkin. The workshop helped us understand the message of the song. We started off by introducing ourselves, by stating our name, where we were from, and our preferred pronoun. Next we moved onto a variety of exercises where we got to understand people’s limits.

“Despite how weird it must be asking for a hug or a handshake, ask if someone’s okay with it first. Simply, #Ask Me”

One of which consisted of two trials. On the first trial a person would stand across the room from a partner and walk towards them until they were face to face with them. On the second trial, when the person walked towards their partner, their partner would yell, “STOP!”, when they felt the person was at an appropriate speaking distance from them. In the second exercise, we had to go up to anyone in the room and ask for a hug. Sounds easy enough? Not quite. When asking for hug we had to be specific in the type of hug you were going to give and how long you were going to hug the person. All these exercises felt uncomfortable for us, but why should it feel weird to simply ask people what their boundaries are? In fact it should be natural. In the last exercise we spoke about what the term sexual harassment means to us, when is it appropriate to talk about the topic, and how as a society we can prevent it? One way was simply by stating one of two words “Yes” or “No”. One would think that those words are simple enough to understand, but the unfortunate reality is because of misinterpretation and lack of communication, a vast amount of rape crimes have occurred. “Always be clear about what you mean and be sure of yourself, don’t be afraid to offend anyone. It’s better to protect yourself,” said Rullo. “Make Sure you have consent for every act you take, even if it seems silly to ask it’s better to be safe than sorry,” said Nia Mclease ’16. This workshop made me realize how many important issues our society overlooks. These issues can cause people to mislead others, make inaccurate assumptions, and can lead to greater issues like rape and harassment. Moral of the story: don’t be ignorant to anyone’s feelings. Despite how weird it must be asking for a hug or a handshake, ask if someone’s okay with it first. Simply, #Ask Me.

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