50 Ways to Consent
A Valentine’s Day PSA By Jae Gibbs.
Let me get one thing straight: I am not the Fun Police. I am not here to shame or judge anyone for enjoying the things they like. I am not trying to ban any type of books, movies or artistic expression, or tell people what they should or should not spend their money on. I’m just trying to be a good person, a good friend and a good feminist in a crazy, often scary world. I’m trying to be the change I wish to see, with my words, the articles I post, and most of all with my original writing.
When I was a teenager in a small town, I read Ms. Rice’s Erotic Sleeping Beauty books, some of them out loud at the public library in the children’s section (there were no children present at the time, it was making fun of the idea of a Fairy Tale for adults, and of the awful purple prose and Ikea nature of the sex in those books). And I think “50 Shades” is just more of the same bodice-ripper, Harlequin, free on the internet kind of immature “romance” fiction. There’s nothing new under the sun and no stories left untold.
I take issue with female protagonists written by female authors using tropes that de-power and rob agency (especially sexual agency) from supposed “strong female characters (TM)”. I take issue with abuse being mislabeled as romance or sexy. I take issue with bad writing and most of all, with authors not bothering to do any research on a subject as touchy as “alternative lifestyles” and presenting their fantasies as accurate portrayals of said lifestyles. But more than any of those combined, I take issue with censorship. We have the right to like what we like, frivolity, flaws and all.
I ask only that people think about what they are consuming, and maybe ask themselves why they enjoy something that’s controversial or a “guilty pleasure”. And please, don’t try it at home unless you do the research that the author failed to do. (Stephon from SNL “Spicy!” from our funny t shirt collection. Let’s not take ourselves too seriously.)
Know yourself, and know the difference between love and being taken advantage of. Have a safe and happy Valentine’s Day.