Mike Domitrz’s “Can I Kiss You?” Lecture
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Mike Domitrz, the founder of The Center for Respect (2003), spoke to Penn State students on Wednesday, Aug. 23 about the importance of consent, healthy relationships and how to positively impact others’ lives with his “Can I Kiss You?” lecture.
Domitrz was hosted by Penn State’s Gender Equity Center, which provides education and support for all students who have been affected by sexual or relationship violence.
Domitrz emphasized the value of consent and discredited the idea of relying on body language ‘to make a move,” he said, “Body language relies on assumption and arrogance.”
He admitted that asking for consent may feel awkward, but “being nervous means they actually care” and every person’s body should be respected.
The audience remained engaged throughout the hour-and-a-half lecture because of the interactive environment Domitrz created. He asked for volunteers to act out common situations for college students, answered questions and took opinions and ideas from audience members.
After speaking through recurrent situations college students experience, Domitrz highlighted how bystanders can make a momentous decision and prevent sexual assault. He stated simply, “You’re not blocking your friend from getting some, you’re blocking your friend from taking some.”
Although, especially in unhealthy relationships, “people, unfortunately, hear ‘no’ and take it as a challenge.” Domitrz is working towards breaking this common unhealthy intimacy and ego issue among people.
To further gain creditably with the crowd, Domitrz shared that 95% of people test perfectly when completing sexual assault/harassment modules. However, out of the same 100%, only 5% apply that respectful behavior in real life.
He believes that “people don’t change [their] behavior without a ‘why’.” Domitrz shared his personal ‘why’: when he was 19 years old he received a phone call that his older sister was raped, then at 21 years old he began speaking out against sexual assault and has been visiting middle schools, high schools, college universities and military organizations for the past 30 years to educate and train people on how to respect others’ bodies and boundaries.
He shared a short phrase to the crowd: “It’s who you are.” He gave students the confidence to stand up for themselves and others, because “it is who you are”.
Domitrz ended the lecture by asking audience members what phrase, from the lecture, they will use in their daily life.
In addition to being the founder of The Center of Respect, Domitrz is the author of two critically acclaimed books, designed his own tee-shirt line, has spoken on four continents along with over 40 TV/radio shows, including NBC’s Dateline, and in 2022 Domitrz was inducted into The National Speaker Association Hall of Fame.
Domitrz provided on and off-campus resources for Penn State students, which include The Gender Equity Center, Center Safe and The Center for Respect.
Natalie Simone is a second-year student majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Contributors
Natalie Simone is a first-year majoring in broadcast journalism. She is from Cohasset, Massachusetts where she graduated from Cohasset High School. Simone is a member of the news, arts and entertainment, and production departments of CommRadio. She is responsible for a weekly newscast, a weekly talk show, called The CommRadio Table, a weekly DJ set, along with news and arts articles.