The Pentagon has forked out nearly $700,000 for training sessions by an organization that teaches soldiers when it’s fitting to kiss a woman.
The recent "Can I Kiss You?" workshop occurred last week at the Army's Joint Base Langley-Eustis near Newport News, Va. It was aimed at teaching soldiers “skills to build respectful relationships and tools to apply effective communication with partners.”
"We want to make soldiers feel more comfortable with starting a conversation about relationships and intimacy," Quenita Samuel, 93rd Signal Brigade SHARP victim advocate, said. "I think they will be more receptive in a more engaging and interactive environment as opposed to a policy-driven lecture."
"We want to make soldiers feel more comfortable with starting a conversation about relationships and intimacy."
Leading the event was Mike Domitrz, founder of the Date Safe Project, an organization that advocates for clearer understanding of consent, according to a Department of Defense news release.
Domitrz's one-man show used “humor and personal anecdotes to create an open dialogue about respect, consent and sexual assault prevention.”
He started his effort in 1990, one year after his sister was raped, according to his website.
The thrust of the training in Virginia was to tell the troops that they must always ask a woman before a kiss at the end of a date, without any exceptions, the Washington Free Beacon reported.
The Date Safe Project has been the go-to organization for such training, receiving multiple contracts from the Pentagon over the years, including nearly $100,000 in 2016 for training focused on alcohol education.
Taxpayers have footed the bill for nearly $700,000 in training sessions Domitrz's organization has provided since 2009, according to the Free Beacon.
The department said the annual training has been traditionally delivered through lectures and projected slides, though Samuel said she wanted to break tradition for a more engaging conversation with soldiers.
The training was part of April’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month program that drew attention to sexual assault and harassment in the military.