With speakers blasting Jason Derulo's hit, "Talk Dirty," "Dirty Talk," written and directed by Shaheen Vaaz and performed by World Kin Ensemble, began in a college party atmosphere of colored lights and blaring bass. The play's celebratory energy dramatically dimmed, however, when all six actors on stage began catcalling to the audience such demeaning phrases as, "Bitch look at me when I talk to you!" Then the music cut out completely, supplanted by shouted statistics, among which was the estimate that "one in four" college women will be sexually assaulted.
After a short pause, Kesha's party song, "Take It Off," filled the room and commanded the audience's attention, juxtaposing the unfortunate reality of college frat parties with the harmless entertainment they appear to provide. Coincidentally – or not – Kesha recently accused Dr. Luke, producer of that very song, of raping her.
Throughout the evening, music continued to provide a subtext, from Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines," to Justin Bieber's "What Do You Mean?" and Katy Perry's "Part of Me." One of the most memorable juxtapositions came when a frat member named Tom described rape as "a bad hook up," directly before a music respite. While composed principally of verbatim interviews with real-life survivors of sexual assault, professors, advocates and activists were also heard from.
The play as a whole clearly and pointedly dealt with the common practice of "victim blaming," in which women are blamed for being raped – whether for showing too much skin, drinking, or even for going to a bar at all, as evidenced by the account of Melissa from Barnard College. Melissa was followed by a man on her way home from a bar where he, too, had been a customer. Once home, the man broke through her apartment window in an attempt to rape her. He was unsuccessful, because a police officer had arrived. When the officer spoke to Melissa to collect information, he almost seemed to admonish her, warning her never return to that particular bar because of "a stack" of filed sexual assaults occurring there – as if she should have known.
In a separate account that took place at USC, a woman was drugged at party, and her friend, noticing, called an ambulance. In the ambulance, the paramedics told the allegedly drugged student that she was "faking it" and "need[ed] to wake up." Countless similar accounts were delivered in "Dirty Talk," with lines ranging from "you shouldn't have walked home alone" to "nobody will hear you."
But the most pitiful and shocking examples of misogyny presented in "Dirty Talk" were displayed in the presentation of an email, purportedly sent by a member of USC's Kappa Sigma fraternity in 2011, and that can be found in full on Jezebel. The following is an excerpt of the email spoken verbatim by the "Dirty Talk" actors:
To the Distinguished Gentlemen of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity:
Note: I will refer to females as "targets". They aren't actual people like us men. Consequently, giving them a certain name or distinction is pointless.
Pie: A target's vagina…
Gullet: Usually refers to a target's mouth and throat. Most often pertains to a target's throat capacity and it's ability to gobble cock. If a target is known to have a good gullet, it can deep-throat dick extremely well. My advice is to seek out this target early in the night. Good Gullet Girls (GGG) are always scooped up well before last call.
R.D.A (Raw Dog Assassin): A man that refuses to wear condoms because no feeling on earth can compare to a warm piece of pie coming in contact with your cock. Let's be honest, if it isn't raw it isn't real. Drawbacks of this philosophy are that you may have to visit the clinic more often than not, but a quick penicillin shot really isn't that bad (trust me).
Loop n' Doop: A target that is very easy to take down. All she takes is a good amount of liquor (loop) and she will be good to go for you to fuck her (doop). Be careful with loop n' doops, because too much loop and they will get sick and be useless entities.
Guap n' Drop: A target that is extremely difficult to take down. She probably doesn't drink very much and she probably has a high socioeconomic status… It will take a good amount of effort and time to crack these. You are going to have to open up the wallet (guap) and spend (drop) a good amount on her to finally get to the pie. Better hope it has great grip for all your diligent work…
Additional Rules for a Cocksman
1.) Non-consent and rape are two different things. There is a fine line, so make sure not to cross it.
2.) A target should maintain the hair around her pie. It's a matter of respect…
3.) Do your research and find out what is a loop n' doop target and what is a guap n' drop target. Keep yourself busy by fucking loop n' doops while working on a guap n' drop on the side. It only makes perfect sense.
4.) When utilizing the loop power of 4 Lokos, be careful. A target on one 4 Loko is putting the odds in your favor of getting some pie. A target on two 4 Lokos is going to get sick and pass out. A target on three 4 Lokos leads to instances of litigation and lawsuits. Terms like "sexual assault" seem to be used in this case…
Blackberry: A black target
Blueberry Pie: half-black/half-white
Pumpkin Pie: A latin/mexican target
Pecan Pie: half-white/half-latin
Strawberry Pie: white target
Cherry pie: A young white target
Lemon Meringue: Asian target
Do not recreate this email. This is for Kappa Sigmas. I will track you down and take your soul if you transmit this email to anyone outside our brotherhood.
"Dirty Talk" redacted some of the even more offensive rhetoric – like the warning, "Don't fuck middle-eastern targets. Exhibit some patriotism and have some pride. You want your cock smelling like falafel? Filth." Now, while one person's email does not, by any means, represent the opinions of the entire fraternity, it is telling of the pervasive underlying mindset of sexual assault perpetrators.
Indeed, the evidence presented in "Dirty Talk" was overwhelming and, after hearing the presentation in its entirety, it was hard to argue that sexual assault isn't an ongoing issue. Sexual common sense is simply still gravely absent in some men, 6 percent of whom will commit sexual assault at some point during college.
When the play ended and the actors and producers began fielding questions from the audience, a man alarmingly asked: "How do you know if a girl really wants it? My dad once told me that the only difference between rape and ecstasy is a little salesmanship." A woman in the back of the audience promptly shouted, "Fuck you," shutting down his question. She then proceeded to explain how she was drugged with Rohypnol and raped, and found his question personally offensive.
In 1992, steps to improve safety on college campuses in the US were taken in the form of The Jeanne Clery Act. The act forced all colleges and universities that receive federal funding to publicly disclose all crimes occurring on their campuses, including rape. Additionally, it granted rape victims certain rights, including support in pursuing a case through law enforcement, changing living or working assignments as necessary, and the opportunity to present themselves in disciplinary proceedings.
Interviewed after "Dirty Talk," one of the play's creators, Alexa Schwartz, USC Class of 2014, said, "I hope this play sparks a conversation and helps demystify how the genders perceive each other – to change how men and women approach this sexual space." Actor Tess Niedermeyer, graduate of NYU, added that she wants "people to be aware that sexual assaults are happening on campus, and that as an onlooker it is your responsibility to help!"
If the aim of the play was to capitalize on what has already been shown to work – increasing accountability and educating about consent, tearing down the "blurred lines" that still exist on college campuses – then "Dirty Talk" hit its target.
Interestingly, whether by correlation or causation, rape rates have been on the decline recently, dropping almost 40 percent from 1992 to 2014. How can you help to continue this trend? Here is an article that explains how simple it is to contribute in ending rape culture.
"Dirty Talk," presented by USC Visions & Voices on March 5th at Tommy's Place in Ronald Tutor Campus Center, was written and directed by Shaheen Vaaz. The complete list of actors and cast can be found here.
Contact Staff Reporter David Garry here.