I admit that it sometimes affects my enjoyment of light-hearted pleasurable things and can cause people to use their *confused face* on me when I tell them. It started a few years ago, but now I can’t switch it off. My thing is… I just can’t enjoy fantasies unless consent is very clearly dealt with.
Does that seem odd? I’m not entirely sure how it happened either, as I wasn’t always like this. It started a while ago with my own fantasies. I’d be imagining something hot happening with my latest crush, and then the logical side of my brain would step in and say, “but that would never happen.” Or we’d get dirty and then my brain couldn’t continue the fantasy until we’d showered.
It’s like my brain has no editing facility. If I can suspend my disbelief for television shows and movies, why can’t I do that for my own imagination?
The “problem” soon started to spread and, before long, I realized that it wasn’t just my fantasies that my brain was correcting. No, it couldn’t deal with other people’s either. Any piece of erotica – movie sex scene, filthy book, etc — was now being criticized by my subconscious to the point where I couldn’t enjoy it.
Yes, it can be a little annoying. I don’t want to have to read erotica that comes with a disclaimer, stating that the reader should assume the consent of all characters in the following stories. I can also watch a television show and believe that no animals were harmed in its making without having a disclaimer at the end. So why does the issue of consent in fantasy sex bother me so much?
Maybe it’s the same as watching porn where the performers aren’t using condoms? I know that a great many precautions are taken by these people to ensure that their sex remains safe, but I sometimes worry if everyone who watches it knows this. How many teenagers just don’t know about the regular STI testing of porn stars and so assume that you don’t need a condom for penetrative sex?
How many young men assume that it’s OK to go straight for anal because they’ve watched lots of porn with it and the women always seem to love it without being asked?
Exactly. Unrestrained fantasy without education and awareness, where people can do whatever they want to anyone they want (even underaged) with no oversight, must necessarily also lead to IRL consequences.
And, I know it’s bad to assume the worst of people, but the mere thought that someone could get the wrong idea from something where consent is not explicit seems to be bugging me more than I realized.
It means that the movie Secretary is now not quite so enjoyable. I realize that Maggie Gyllenhaal’s character Lee is on a path of discovery. We all find ourselves doing things at that sort of time in our lives that our older selves look back on and think, “I can’t believe I was cool with that.” I understand that E Edward Grey apologizes for taking rather than asking. I know how wonderful the ending is… but now I worry that some people will see that behavior as acceptable between strangers.
Should I worry about other people’s misinterpretation of a fantasy with implied consent? I just can’t seem to get it out of my head. I don’t want a world where all movies with sexual content come with a big Jackass-style disclaimer that reminds people to ask their partner before attempting to recreate anything they see; I don’t want to be reminded that some people are ignorant enough to need that. It should be assumed, automatic.
What we need, is better sex education. The sort that covers relationships too, telling kids and young adults how important respect, consent and honesty are — even in fantasies. There are always a few people who just won’t get it, but some are just following the wrong example and need to be put right. Build a world where consent is sexy.