We have so many conversations about what consent is, but just as important are conversations about what consent isn’t.
In this stream, Sex and relationship educator and the host of Sex Gets Real podcast Dawn Serra uses examples from popular cutture to show us what consent is not.
Serra points to romantic comedies in particular as having muddied our ideas about consent. These movies — which are almost always about cis-hetero couples — all too often portray a “hard-to-get” woman saying no to a man’s advances. Yet, we are supposed to applaud the man’s persistence and root for him to “pass her tests.”
Films that glorify these kinds of romances almost always center around “the guy's feelings and his beliefs about what's supposed to be happening. It's very rare that it's the other way around,” says Serra.
There are many examples of this: Say Anything, 50 Shades of Grey, You’ve Got Mail, to name a few. Characters, such as James Bond perpetuate “toxic masculinity” as he uses violence, and even assault, to prove his manhood and get the girl.
Films and TV would have us believe that being resistant to “romance” is simply being mysterious. But this is not consent. White cis-hetero men are often the ones creating these types of narratives, so it’s no surprise our perception of what consent means is skewed.
“When the people that [sic] have the most access and the most privilege [are] deciding [what] they are going to write [and] what we should see as romantic — which is [characters] having access to other people's bodies and experiences — then that becomes what we see as romantic,” says Serra. “And it becomes normal because we don't realize that there could be another way, which is why these conversations are so, so important.”