Rape Culture: Consent in Movies

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I have mentioned before how insidious the negative forces of society can be, and how something that seemed forever innocuous can actually be quite dangerous.

I realised today that there is something we as a society seem to accept wholly and fully that could just be a big part of the rape culture problem.

Picture a big, dramatic love scene between a romantic heroine and the man of the hour.  How does the first kiss usually go?  Most of the time, there is something “spontaneous” about the kiss; one of them, usually the guy, just goes for it, grabs the other, usually the girl, and plants a kiss on their startled mouth.

But guys…  He never asks her if she wants to be kissed.  He doesn’t ask because he assumes that, because she is looking at him a certain way and acting a certain way, she is asking for it.

Doesn’t that ring a large, loud, dangerous bell?

Thankfully the solution is simple.  All that needs to happen from now on is that the guy looks at the girl and asks her: “Can I kiss you?”  Then, after she has stated her consent, he can grab her almost as spontaneously as before and kiss her however way to Sunday.  And I also hope that regularly enough, the girl will say no, and the guy will step back, completely confused of course, but respectful of her wishes.

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12 thoughts on “Rape Culture: Consent in Movies

  1. I was thinking about consent today when I picked up my daughter from preschool. I brought flowers to her teachers, and as she gave some to one, the teacher kneeled down next to my daughter. “Can I give you a thank-you hug?” she asked.

    I was struck by the simple request and so admired that question. Children should have autonomy over their bodies, too, and asking consent—even for a friendly hug—is one way to teach them about the sanctity of their own bodies.

    1. Oh wow, your daughter is lucky to have such an amazing teacher! You are so right, that kind of interaction totally teaches children about the sanctity of their own bodies. Have you ever blogged about this? Feel free to share a link to your post here for others to discover!

  2. That’s interesting. I think as far as kissing- there is often a mutual interest shown that makes the action occur. I know when a guy wanted to kiss me (in my younger days), that I would far see it coming and could turn my head or step away to prevent it. I cannot say I was ever unpleasantly surprised by it. That said, I do see your point- as being a matter of respect. I’m interested you didn’t tie this into a discussion of the real rape movie of fifty shades. Though, I found your perspective very interesting and it leaves me thinking.

    1. You’re right Jamie, in that some movies do have enough of a mutual interest to assume consent, but in this day and age, I would prefer something more overt just to make it completely clear to sometimes very susceptible viewers… And I didn’t see Fifty Shades of Grey, so I didn’t feel like I could go in-depth about that topic here — but I would love to hear your opinion on it! From what I know, there is a complete lack of consent on many levels in that movie which makes it particularly disturbing to many. I have written some posts about it in the past, but again, because I haven’t seen the movie or read the books, my opinion is based on second-hand information only!

  3. I can honestly say I never thought about it before in the context of a kiss portrayed so romantically in a movie (obviously have found it disturbing in scenes where it is forced) . . . but this brings up an interesting point. It’s so simple to just ask permission! I’m always telling my kids to “use your words” instead of actions first, so people know why you want to grab a toy, etc. . . . . I guess it’s the same thing!

    1. You are so right, Karen — it is really simple to ask for permission. I didn’t even think about that! And yes, it is the same thing as you tell your children. As I wrote in my reply above to Jamie, I do feel that, in this and age, it is important to make 100% sure that there is consent!

  4. This is one topic that we have always been very open about in our home, with both our children. I have never forced my children to hug or show any type of affection if they didn’t want to. It’s their body and they have control over it.

    1. Those are the rules here, too! How did you deal with people who either got upset, angry, offended, or, worse, would force a hug/kiss on an unwilling child?

  5. it is a tricky one because the movies are so not how real life pans out. I do feel that mostly when I have kissed someone, we have both felt it and wanted it and that has been obvious. You do the whole which side do I go and it’s awkward but you both know you want to do it. But I do agree that movies have a lot to answer for and how it plays out is not how it is in real life and like you have addressed sometimes it isn’t what the other person wants.

    1. The relationship between movies and real life is a very interesting one, and something that, as a blogger and author, I often think about (what effect does my writing have on the people who read it?) I do think that someone mature and well-grounded will not watch a movie and think “this is what real life is”, but on the other hand, shouldn’t we be focused on protecting the weak members of our society who do believe that? I’m not sure, but it’s definitely a question well-worth thinking about imo! Thank you for visiting and commenting 🙂

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