Speaker emphasizes importance of consent in ‘Can I Kiss You?’ presentation

Emily DeShazer | Collegian Mike Domitrz talks to the audience about why it is important to ask before you do, and understanding “no” means no with Charly Daovannary, senior in finance, and Kayal Green, freshman in secondary education sitting on stage tuesday night in the K-State Student Ballroom.

Speaker and activist Mike Domitrz emphasized respecting others’ boundaries and brought attention to the issue of rape through the use of comedy and personal accounts on Tuesday in the Grand Ballroom of the K-State Student Union. The presentation was hosted by Wildcats Against Rape and the K-State Women’s Center.

“When I was in college, my sister was assaulted, and a year later I heard a speaker and that made me realize that I could use my voice to speak out,” Domitrz said. ”That’s how ‘Can I Kiss You?’ began.”

Domitrz has presented “Can I Kiss You?” to thousands of listeners and students over the course of two decades. The presentation centers on Domitrz’s message to ask before acting. 

“I’ve been doing programs in school, and that’s how it grew,” Domitrz said. “It was not always ‘Can I Kiss You?’ but for the last decade it has been ‘Can I Kiss You?'”

The presentation revolved around three main points. Domitrz stressed the importance of a gender-neutral presentation because he said that the situations depicted during the program could happen to either gender.

Domitrz pointed out to the audience that asking someone, “Can I kiss you?” saves time and makes the event of the kiss more exciting. 

If the person being asked responds, “No,” Domitrz said that it is important to respect that answer and not ask questions like, “Why not?”

“I think it is a lot less awkward to ask someone if you can kiss them than one would think,” said Courtney Schmitz, senior in family studies. “I think it would be a lot less awkward than just going for the kiss.”

Domitrz pointed out that, at parties, there always seems to be a “creeper” looking for a hook-up. He described a hypothetical scenario between two people at a party named Jordan and Erin. If Jordan was visibly trying to make a move on Erin, who was under the influence of alcohol, Domitrz asked the audience whether they would intervene, knowing that Erin was not safe.

The audience responsed unanimously, saying they would intervene.

Domitrz explained how important it is to protect those who could be in the Jordan/Erin scenario by detailing the way in which his sister was a survivor of sexual assault. Schmitz said Domitrz’s message about the label of “victim” strongly affected her.

“The most powerful part that gave me the chills was when he talked about how survivors of sexual assault are strong and powerful people, when a lot of times they are thought of just as victims — when it is really the opposite,” Schmitz said. “They are strong. They survive, and can live extremely successful lives, and I think he really proved that point without making people feel uncomfortable.”  

Domitrz’s final point advised the audience on how to present a strong front for loved ones who are survivors of assault. While presenting the Jordan/Erin scenario, Domitrz asked the audience to think of someone they love and simultaneously think about Erin’s situation. 

Noelle Remy, 
senior in criminology, said it is important that people let their friends and family know that they have their support in cases of sexual assault.

“I thought that it was extremely amazing that he encouraged people to open the door for others, and that it should be discussed and it should be a conversation between friends and family,” Remy said. “Knowing that you have the support system is extremely important.”

Domitrz asked the audience to call the loved ones they had thought of and two others after the presentation to let them know that they have support.

“I think one thing I would love to see the most is people intervening and stopping the Jordan scenario, because I could see a lot people not get involved,” Remy said. “I think that it’s great not just to ask but to also have the confidence to say, ‘No.'”  

Domitrz emphasized that his sister’s courage and strength helped him speak out about sexual assault.

“We are very close, and I am very blessed,” Domitrz said.