For truth, justice and safe sex!
Your friendly neighbourhood ‘Responsibella’ is fighting STIs and unhealthy student behaviours
Is it a bird? A plane? No, it’s a new campaign advocating safe sex!
Although advocating for safe sex may seem like nothing new, some Mount Royal students are suiting up and using a course called Science of Persuasion as their secret weapon against students’ apathy and discomfort around the issues of their sexual behaviours.
Mild-mannered Ariane Izzotti is a marketing major by day, but a super-heroine by night: Responsibella. Izzotti and her team of George Ayee, Dan Grosse and Tal Bains, in partnership with MRU Wellness Services, are relentlessly fighting their arch-nemesis Chlamydia Man.
Take a look at what our heroine had to say about their efforts to shed some light on the issue.
The Reflector: Tell us what the project is exactly.
Ariane Izzotti: Basically we started this off in a marketing class. We were asked by the Wellness Centre to come up with a way to get people to change their sexual behaviours. That’s really where the project started. We wanted to start addressing the rates of STIs amongst students and unsafe sex becoming more common practice.
TR: Where did the idea come from?
AI: [Laughs] We were all brainstorming. This is going to be kind of graphic. We were talking about getting cum on your face and you don’t want that to happen – it’s called getting ‘spider-manned’. You don’t want to get ‘spider-manned’. So we were playing around with how super-heroes were popular in the media and we thought this would be perfect “don’t get ‘spider-manned’”. But then we thought, how are we going to tie it in with our target audience being females? So eventually this whole idea of having a female superhero fighting STIs came about and we all really liked it. The class thought it was cute and funny. Then we could play with it a lot.
TR: Why is this so important? What are the values in getting this campaign out there?
AI: It just teaches people to be responsible for their bodies. To make sure that they are being respectful to their partners. Getting tested and knowing if they are clean. Making sure that there are preventative measures. So that’s just important: it sends a good message. You don’t want to be running around spreading diseases. I don’t think people treat it as a severe problem, but they should. There are lots of things that just can’t be cured and that can affect you for the rest of your life. Contracting herpes is an example of something that affects you for the rest of your life. It’s not like gonorrhea where you can just take a pill and it will go away.
TR: So you mentioned that women are your target audience. Why?
AI: Because most of the time it’s the men who carry condoms, so if you start fooling around with somebody and the guy doesn’t have a condom, it’s like “what do we do now?” So we are trying to get women carrying condoms. It’s your body and you should be protecting it thinking about what is going into it and that sort of thing. Being more proactive. They are the gatekeepers.
TR: What have been the challenges, if there have been any challenges?
AI: Mostly, man power. It’s pretty challenging with such a small group and we don’t have as much time or people as we would like to put into the project. As well as power to get around the school. But especially with MRU Confessions being so huge it’s hard going against such a huge forum that labels the school something, while we are trying to label it as something else.
TR: What are your future plans with the project?
AI: Mostly we want to tackle some more topics. Consent has been a huge issue with everything that has happened this year. Oral sex. Alcohol. Common situations that arise and can put people in danger if they are not being safe. We find it’s really versatile and that we can go a lot of places with the characters that we have, we can add more and expand the story in different directions. We are going to address a wide variety of topics and we are going to continue to do this for the next couple of years.