Author has strong message about dating, sex

"May I Kiss You? A Candid Look at Dating, Communication, Respect, & Sexual Assault" is a terrific book by motivational speaker and author Michael J. Domitrz.

It's a book for teenagers through adults, for single men and women in the dating world to parents looking for advice to give their dating children.

Domitrz changed his views on dating in 1989 after getting a horrific phone call from his mother informing him that his sister had been raped. In the introduction of his book, he states: "Over the next two years, everything I believed about dating was challenged."

He asked several male friends about their dating habits, and he realized that "males were assuming what women wanted and then acting upon their own assumptions."

Out of these experiences, Domitrz researched sexual assault and created an interactive dating program to help reduce the occurrence of sexual assault. Out of this program, his latest book, "May I Kiss You?" was born.

What I love about this book is that Domitrz has a strong message and shares it with the world. The theme that comes out in this book is when you are dating someone, it's important to respect him or her and to ask before you do something physical.

You should never assume that certain body language or number of dates or any other signal gives you the right to do something to any other person. Domitrz preaches that before you kiss someone or touch a person, you should ask if you can. And if you feel silly talking about intimacy, then you probably aren't ready to be intimate.

The book is organized into chapters that begin talking about body language and self-esteem and then move on to dating. Finally, it ends with a few chapters about sexual assault. Each chapter is full of real-life examples that readers who are dating could find themselves in. There are questions to answer about yourself and a potential partner, and advice about what to do in each situation presented.

Finally the chapters end with bullet points that bring out the most important themes of the chapter and a bonus section. The bonus section is especially helpful because it divides readers into three groups: students, parents and teachers.

For each group, Domitrz lists an online resource for finding more information on the topic, specified for the age group and the needs of those readers. For example, in the chapter on being aware of what sexual assault is, the extra resources at the end of the chapter are: students — find out the No. 1 self-defense move; parents — create a safety space for children; and educators — get an activity to use with students.

Besides speaking across the country on the topic of dating and sexual assault, Domitrz runs a website called The Date Safe Project (http://www.datesafeproject.org). This site has more resources to use with young adults, a blog and educational products for sale.

He also offers a DVD and book combo titled, "Help! My Teen is Dating," which can be found at this site, http://www.HelpMyTeenisDating.com.

"May I Kiss You?" is a perfect book to use in a teen counseling group or church youth group. It could also be a great gift for someone you know who is single and dating — at any age.

Domitrz writes in the end of the book, "Violence, disrespect and pain do not belong on any date or in any relationship. Each person can help change the atmosphere toward sexual assault in our culture. With the knowledge and understanding you have, you can challenge the harmful thoughts of others."

"May I Kiss You?" is the first step in doing this.

Margo L. Dill is the author of "Finding My Place: One Girl's Strength at Vicksburg," a middle grade historical fiction novel. She often reviews books as a columnist for "WOW! Women On Writing" e-zine and her blog, "Margo Dill's Read These Books and Use Them" (http://margodill.com/blog/). She lives in St. Louis with her family.

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