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Sex Signals, Catharsis Productions, Chicago, IL

Contact Name: Catharsis Productions
Phone Number: (312) 243-0022
E-mail: [email protected]
Key Words: (1) Mixed gender; (2) high school and college age; (3) racially diverse; (4) university setting; (5) presentation
Population served
Sex Signals has become one of the most popular sexual assault prevention programs on college campuses through its non-traditional, yet research- supported approach that utilizes humor and active audience engagement to examine culture, sex, and bystander intervention. The program is suitable for university students, college faculty and staff, Greek organizations, professional offices, advocacy organizations and the military. Presentations are delivered to mixed-gender groups. The attending audience’s diversity usually depends on the group’s size, which ranges from 50 to 300 people. Most participants are recruited through an orientation program, self-referral, or a lecture series. Sex Signals is also key component of the U.S. Army’s I.A.M. Strong Sexual Assault Prevention Campaign and the Secretary of the Army’s effort to eradicate sexual assault. It has been a part of basic training since 2011. Sex Signals has been presented over 3,500 times at colleges and universities of all sizes and has been seen by over 1 million students worldwide. Over 80% of institutions surveyed stated they would definitely have the program return. Sex Signals was awarded “Speaker of the Year” from Campus Activities Magazine in 2015.
Medium used to convey message
A two-person team of highly-trained educators takes the audience on a live 60-90 minute interactive, relevant, and often-hilarious exploration of beliefs, behaviors, and gender-identity-related stereotypes related to social culture and sexual interaction. The program utilizes interactive discussion with the audience; audience participation in several semi-improvisational scenes; and, enables the audience to “interview” an accused rapist during a pivotal scene. The program enables audiences to better identify the tactics used by perpetrators, and to “practice” their intervention skills by engaging in a final, semi-improvised scene.
Goals, objectives, and desired outcomes
The program is designed to:
1) Engage audiences in a focused discussion on social pressures, gender stereotypes, unrealistic sexual expectations, and the role of alcohol surrounding hooking up and intimate relationships
2) Establish how beliefs, attitudes and behaviors can lead to sexual violence
3) Delineate the difference between seduction and coercion; define the nature of sexual violence
4) Empower the audience to identify predatory behavior in others and intervene to support vulnerable members in their communities
Theoretical/ scientific basis for the approach
Sex Signals is supported by research across multiple academic domains. A condensed list of research includes scholarship on serial perpetration (Lisak, 2002; McWhorter, 2009); schema theory related to sexual scripts (Littleton, 2006, 2009); rape prevention education (Lonsway, 1996; Lonsway, Gidycz, Banyard, and Berkowitz, et. al, 2009; Schewe, 2002) humor as educational strategy (Nussbaum, 1992; O’Quin and Aaronoff, 1981, Meyer, 2000) and, moral domain theory (Nucci, 1987, 2001; Turiel, 1984, 2008).
Level of evaluation
Catharsis Productions utilizes Dr. Paul Schewe of the University of Illinois at Chicago as an external evaluator; currently, the program is studied as part of a tri-partite programmatic intervention initiative with Naval Training Station Great Lakes, which receives three Catharsis Productions programs as part of its sexual assault prevention and response efforts. In addition, Georgia Southern University is completing the data analysis from Sex Signals presentations delivered in the Fall of 2014, analyzing its effects on attitudinal shifts and intentions to intervene as a bystander.
Staff capacity
Each presentation of Sex Signals is lead by two members of Catharsis Productions’ 20+ person team of highly-trained educators. The fully staffed Catharsis Productions office in Chicago is available for assistance in social media marketing and promotion of the presentations.