Consent Video Contest Works Towards a New Norm
By Kaitlin Abrams and Christine Fei
When the story of Donald Trump’s sexual assault comments broke national news earlier this week, many were shocked and outraged. By claiming that his celebrity status gave him the permission to kiss and grab women as he pleased, Trump glorified sexual assault. Yet, not only did he say these things, but he also denied the severity of his statements, dismissing the comments as mere “locker room talk.”
When a presidential candidate asserts that talking about sexual assault is normal and acceptable, something is seriously wrong. However, this is not just another Trump issue; these issues go beyond the individual. His statements do not exist alone; they are a product of the rape culture we all occupy and learn from. The metaphorical “locker room” is a space where aggression and violence is normalized, becoming an unquestioned aspect of our culture. Part of this normalization process occurs when this language or visuals are seen on TV, popular music, or spoken by presidential candidates. And, as Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau, wife of the Canadian Prime Minister, remarked, “The toughest thing to change in a society is what is normal.”
How do we change such a toxic norm? As Gregoire-Trudeau notes, media is a huge influence on how we view sex and pleasure. Sex scenes on TV, in movies, and in pornographic films often jump cut from partners interacting to becoming intimate without any of the conversations that happen in real life. You may recognize this in the popular book series and movie 50 Shades of Grey which fails to show the consent process vital to BDSM sex.
To present an alternative culture, FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture created our #NegotiatingSex in 30 Seconds or Less video contest to infiltrate mainstream media with videos of enthusiastic consent to replace the often confusing and inaccurate norm. . Contestants were asked to create videos portraying affirmative consent on YouTube and increase the visibility of consent by sharing their submissions widely. We wanted to see the ways in which people ask for consent, while keeping sexiness and excitement alive.
Our vision is a culture of consent: one in which all people can simultaneously ask for what they want, and ensure that their partner is feeling comfortable. A culture of consent prioritizes pleasure and desire and connection, encouraging people ask partners about their turn ons, and share their own. And most importantly, a culture of consent comes with the understanding that all of these conversations are absolutely necessary to consensual sex.
We received powerful submissions from around the country, acting out consensual scenarios, speaking their truth in powerful poetry, and displaying the sexy, fun nature of asking for consent. Though there were winners, all videos worked towards the goal of creating a culture of consent. Our channel is now one of the spaces working towards a media culture where clear, enthusiastic consent is the norm, not the exception.
As of 9am on October 3rd we named two winners. The video with the most votes at this time was a film by Kerrigan Natera and Madelyn Baturra. Their video showed a cute interaction between two people after a blind date. They display the usual first date awkwardness, yet still consider the importance of asking each other for consent. They are excited about their first sexual experience and want each other to be comfortable. While one character feels awkward by a condom dropping on the floor, his date reassures him that there is nothing to be embarrassed of; asking for consent is necessary. By getting the the question out in the open, the characters are relieved and the excitement and sexiness still remains.
Amber Amour, also known as Amber the Activist and founder of Creating Consent Culture, received the Judges Choice award for her video entitled 10 Sexy Ways to Ask for Consent. Her video contained a series of questions that may be used to gauge someone’s comfort and desires during sex. Amber asked questions such as “Can we use a condom?” and “Can I put it in my mouth?” to display that consent is not only about discussing your own comforts and desires, but making sure your partner is into how you pleasure them.
This contest is a part of our Force’s larger goal of upsetting rape culture. We are envisioning a world with new norms. Norms that put pleasure and comfort above the domination and abuse of bodies. We envision a world where sex is empowering and pleasurable rather than coercive and violent. We need your help to spread this more honest conversation in your community.
To learn more about consent and how you can be involved in Force’s upcoming projects, visit our website at upsettingrapeculture.com. All submissions to the #NegotiatingSex in 30 Seconds or Less video contest can be viewed on our Youtube channel.