Nonviolent sexuality talk impresses participants

By John Armstrong – jarmstr1@unca.edu – Staff Writer | Sept. 3, 2014 |

Sex is powerful highlighted the main point emphasized by Bob Hall, the founder of Learning to Live with Conflict Inc., during his talk Nonviolent Sexuality: Making Peace with Passion.

“We are perceiving, processing and responding to conflict in a way that is quite literally eating us alive, and until our perception of conflict changes, that will continue to be the case,” Hall said.

Highly attended by students, the event turned into a success.

“I wasn’t sure what to expect from the talk before I came in, but I felt it was important that I go, and encourage my brothers to go too.” said Sam Groesbeck, a member of Alpha Sigma Phi.

Hall said his introduction to dealing with conflict arose from the pursuit of his own career path along with using the skills he utilizes as a self-defense educator and a business student.

“When I learned that sexual assault and violence involved people who knew each other and not strangers, I began to see there are other dynamics at work here that I need to focus on and began to look at sexuality and conflict,” Hall said.

Hall travels around campuses giving his talk, the need becoming more constant due to the reauthorized Violence Against Women Act, which includes the campus SaVE Act; an act requiring campuses to report more crimes of sexual assault.

“In a lot of college students, sexuality is an area of conflict that everyone is grappling with,” Hall said.

Rather than listing off statistics about sexual violence, Hall addressed the conflict and offered strategies on how to deal with it.

“Instead of teaching them about world policies and nonviolence themes, why don’t we talk about what’s happening on your couch Friday night and how you want to handle the conflict you’re dealing with,” Hall said.

Hall stressed just how underestimated sex is and how it has become a major issue in our society.

“The idea is that this is such a powerful part of life that we need to figure out a way to deal with it,” Hall said.

During the talk, Hall asked for volunteers to demonstrate a point he was talking about.

Anja Mayr, a sophomore member of Gamma Phi Beta, thought the event would be exactly the opposite from what ended up happening. Rather than listing off statistics, Hall held the attention of the audience through less traditional means.

“Once he started to really interact with the audience, I think it made it much more real and people were actually paying attention versus just sitting there,” Mayr said.

Hall also mentioned many speakers in the past were aggressive in their approach in speaking about sexual assault.

“If you attack the people you want to change, they’re going to spend all their energy and time defending your attack than listening to what you have to say,” Hall said.

Hall said when people talk about sex in the wrong ways it does not accomplish anything. In terms of health and wellness, Hall said everybody thinks about sex and everyone experiences conflict and referred to them as energies and how they can be harnessed.

“We can learn and grow, rather than making it a battle of who’s right and who’s wrong,” Hall said.

Hall used specific types of language to ensure no on felt excluded if they chose not to identify as a specific gender or sexuality.

“It was a humorous approach to a serious topic, which was refreshing. Too frequently people get so serious leading people to zone out. I would definitely recommend people going to one of his talks,” Groesbeck said.

Hall said violence silences voices and when sex is not openly talked about, it leads to violence. He said breaking that silence is what makes nonviolent sexuality.

“I really liked how he encouraged to be open about sex and how we shouldn’t be afraid to talk about it because that’s where we get into trouble,” Groesbeck said.

Hall also stressed the consideration of others before yourself and one of the most difficult things in life is to be an individual.

“To care for things as if they are people is an illusion. To care for people as if they were things is violence. To care for people as if they were people – it’s justice. To care for people as if they were you – that’s love,” Hall said.

Hall said to understand what consensual sex means and when the silence takes over, that is when the violence occurs.

“I took away how awkward we can all be and we really need to work on just saying things instead of not talking about it, which makes it so much worse,” Mayr said.

He concluded with the message of the individual is the one who makes the campus safe.

“Hopefully it helps them think about sex in a way that is first of all healthy and not perceptive, but also realistic.” Hall said.

 

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