Unsure about Consent? Here’s a Hollywood 101
Here’s the thing: consent is non-negotiable. But that’s not to say it can’t be sexy. In the context of a relationship or hookup, explicitly describing desires, what you’d really, really like to do with them and have them do to you is nothing if not hot.
Checking they enthusiastically consent doesn’t ‘ruin the mood’ and definitely doesn’t make you a killjoy. It’s a declaration of respect for you, and for them. This all-important question just one way of ensuring your both on the same page―but if you’re looking for ideas that don’t feel awkward, here are five examples from the silver screen of what consent looks like. Watch and learn, people.
“I could kiss you. I could. I mean, I’d like to. May I, we me, I mean, may we…?”
We’re kind of ambivalent when it comes to wanting to build a snowman. But having a hunky woodsman ask if he can kiss us? Swoon! And since you ask, YES! While a movie aimed primarily at kids might seem an odd choice for an adult discussion of consent, just hear us out here. Compare Kristoff’s adorable “May we…” to Snow White and Sleeping Beauty’s beaus just swooping right in there for a kiss when our heroines are UNCONSCIOUS….and yeah, Frozen’s pretty sexy.
Takeaway: Never assume. Asking permission before locking lips might not always win their heart, but it will win respect.
2. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
Vanessa: “Kiss me, darling!”
Austin: “I can’t darling, you’re drunk, it’s not right”
Alcohol plays havoc on our inhibitions and ability to communicate clearly. Basically, if you’re hooking up with someone and are aware that they’ve had many-a-few too many―or have even an inkling of a doubt, just don’t. After all, if it’s their heart you’re after, supporting them through tomorrow’s hangover says a lot more about your intention. Plus, the pain-killing properties of an orgasm will make any morning sex you may have all the better!
Takeaway: Taking advantage of someone whose judgement you know to be impaired is rape. Unsure? It’s better to ruin someone’s night by not sleeping with them, than it is their entire life.
3. Thelma and Louise
JD: “I may be an outlaw darling, but you’re the one stealing my heart…”
There’s so much to love about Thelma and Louise―and consent-wise, also lots to hate. But let’s take a moment to appreciate Brad Pitts’ JD and Gina Davis as Thelma. She’s allowed him in to her motel room out of the pouring rain, they crack open the mini-bar, and before you know it, he’s jumping on the bed! He’s goofing around with the hairdryer! Fun! But then there’s a moment: he pulls her onto her back, things are getting steamy, then “Wait, wait…” And that’s exactly what he does. He stops kissing her, he sits back, and he waits until she touches his chest. It’s a simple gesture that says YES in all kinds of beautiful ways.
Takeaway: Defiantly squashing the whole ‘consent is a buzzkill’ myth, establishing safety and trust can pave the way for some crazy hot sex.
Hitch: “See, this is what most guys do. They rush in to take the kiss. But you’re not most guys. See, the secret to a kiss is to go 90 percent of the way, and then hold.”
Albert: “For how long?”
Hitch: ”As long as it takes for her to come the other 10.”
Will Smith’s Hitch shares some solid doorstep wisdom with Albert (Kevin James) in this 2005 rom-com. Too often, the genre forgets that it’s not just sex that requires enthusiastic consent, but everything else on the spectrum of intimacy, too―hugging, touching, and kissing.
Framing unsolicited lusty lunges as ‘romantic’ is problematic. Cue Hitch’s ‘go ninety’ rule. Of course, in practice, we’d like that 90/10 ratio closed up a little―a lot―but the point is this: like so many things in life, a spine-tingling, breathtaking kiss takes two.
Takeaway: Asking them to get closer and go further can be pretty enticing. Them accepting your invitation to intimacy? Sizzling.
5. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World
Ramona: “I changed my mind.”
Scott Pilgrim: “Changed it to what, from what?”
Ramona: “I don’t want to have sex with you, Pilgrim. not right now.”
Scott Pilgrim: “Okay…”
Ramona: “I reserve my right to change my mind about the sex thing later.”
Scott Pilgrim: “Well this is nice. Just this.”
Sex with someone new can be a frenzied, full-throttle affair. It can also be halting and shy. There’s no right or wrong; both feel fantastic. But regardless of what you’re feeling―wild abandon or self-conscious―you have to check in with the other person. If their body language is screaming “I’M SO NERVOUS RIGHT NOW,” make like Ramona and stop. Withdrawing consent isn’t teasing, it’s a fundamental right. Respect it. Besides, not having sex with someone can still be a pretty intoxicating experience.
Takeaway: When it comes to sex, not only are there a lot of (metaphorical) moving parts, but things change. Gauging how each other are feeling, how comfortable you both are, is one of the most intimate things two people can do together.
Donna is a Volonté contributor and freelancer who lives in San Francisco with her understanding husband and not-so-understanding teenage sons. Her work has been published in The Journal of Sexology and she is currently writing a book on love languages.