Alumna performs one-woman show, discusses consent

As a part of Gender Awareness Week, students, along with faculty and community members, gathered in the Kassab Recital Hall to watch “To Feel Together: A One Woman Show on Consent” on March 23.

Rebecca Whitten, a 2015 FMU graduate, said she thought creating a one-person play based on consent could potentially be too topical, but realized the conversation was too relatable not to have.

“I’m one of the most indecisive people ever, but I decided that this is something I wanted to do,” Whitten said. “I was apprehensive at first because the Stanford swimmer thing had just happened when I started thinking about the idea of the show. I didn’t really want to talk about it, but it was relevant to so many people’s stories.”

The play consisted of four different stories. The first story was Whitten’s personal account of an incident involving consent, and three different characters told the stories after. Each person’s stories were real life encounters, which focused on a different facet of consent.

The first story discussed what happens when boundaries and expectations are not addressed beforehand. The second was from the perspective of a character named Lorenzo who talked about an experience where he felt he pushed a female too far without meaning to. Lorenzo addressed the aftermath of how he felt when he realized what he had done. The third story was from the viewpoint of Eric, a character that lost his virginity as a 13-year-old to an older girl. Eric was naïve and pressured into this sexual experience by friends.

The final story introduced a girl named Annie who was photographed nude by a friend while she was asleep. Annie pressed charges and faced a difficult court case following the event. During Annie’s story, she pointed out she did not consent to making the decision to press charges.

Whitten interviewed each of these people while writing the play, and according to Whitten, they all had something unique and relevant to add to the conversation about consent.

Whitten asked the audience if they believe consent issues are due to lack of communication.

After the one-woman show ended, audience members were encouraged to join a discussion with the panel. The panel consisted of the chair of the Title IX Council at FMU Rebecca Flannagan, Director of Counseling and Testing Rebecca Lawson and Rape Reduction Coordinator at Pee Dee Coalition against Domestic and Sexual Assault Tracy Williams.

The panel focused on how to talk to young adults about consent, what consent actually looks like and why miscommunications about consent can sometimes occur.

Pamela Rooks, coordinator of the gender studies program at FMU, said consent is a topic that is discussed in many of her gender studies classes.

According to Rooks, Whitten’s show seemed a wonderful fit for Gender Awareness Week.

“The conversation about consent has changed,” Rooks said. “Without getting too deep into political waters, the current situation has raised awareness. There is something around 900 women interested in running for office to 26,000. In a kind of weird way, I think the misogyny in this administration has created awareness.”

According to Rooks, students marching about gun violence is also an example of people becoming less complacent. Rooks also said people are realizing they have to take a stand, and, often times, that deals with consent.