Say it with me now everybody! “Yes means yes! No means no! Affirmative consent is sexy!”
Is everyone clear? Yes? No? Really? Because I’m confused as hell. Especially after watching the most recent Pitch Perfect 2 Trailer.
I saved you some time and skipped to the end. As a college student myself, I was psyched out of my mind for the sassy and hilarious ladies of Pitch Perfect to head off to school. No moms! No dads! No rules! College! And of course, everyone’s waiting to see what comes of the hilarious sexual tension between Bumper and Fat Amy. This is a comedy. So when Bumper asked Fat Amy for “sex later” we all knew we were in for a laugh…but what was that? A No with a wink? A 100% No, with another wink? Clearly, Fat Amy missed our little chant at the beginning of this post.
By now, we’ve all heard how important it is for No to really mean No. Every woman I know has been in a situation where, yes its been fun chatting/drinking/making out with you but, no. I really don’t want any more than that right now. And every woman I know has then tried to be coerced into something more, because that’s how it works in the movies right? The woman turns to leave but gets pulled back and swept up in a dramatic kiss and suddenly clothes are on the floor and everyone is happy. You know you want it (hey hey hey). The problem is, a whole lot of girls don’t want it. And a whole lot of rapes happen on college campuses.
Bumper’s apparent confusion in this scene reminds me a lot of this article I read in The Atlantic earlier this year on why a college student abandoned California’s Affirmative Consent Law. Check it out —-> http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/10/why-a-college-student-abandoned-affirmative-consent/381650/
California’s mandate that waiting for a “No” when going to the next level sexually is not enough, but a “Yes,” (not a shrug or a pause) must be stated beforehand has brought a good deal of controversy. What the young man is trying to say in his open letter denouncing the effectiveness of affirmative consent is that “Yes means Yes” is not so simple on college campuses where “playing hard to get” and adding confusion is part of “the game” where girls sometimes want much more than they let on.
The problem here, and the problem that the Anonymous California student and Bumper have run into is (feminist goddesses please dont smite me yet), some partners do want it. They really do. Some partners actually mean Yes when they say No. And this is creating some very, very dangerous social norms.
Some women really do have the idea that their partner should assume they really want more than they’re letting on. This type of behavior, and the assumption that it is normal, is putting the person asking for consent in a pretty tight spot. Do I assume shes lying and give her what she wants, or believe she doesn’t want it and risk missing out on some fun? Are the women perpetrating this confusion, in my opinion, really, really stupid? Yes. To them, “art of convincing” and pushing the limits is romantic. And romantic it may indeed be until the person they are with has the absolute worst intentions in mind.
Not saying that Bumper is a great guy, but he is asking for consent. Bravo. Straight up. Do you want to have sex later. And Fat Amy responds with a whole garble of confusion that we really don’t need right now. For rape culture on campuses to change, it is absolutely necessary for people to be honest about what they want and are comfortable with. Confusion leaves too much room for disaster.
The final scene from the Pitch Perfect II trailer just sounded WAY too much like Rush Limbaugh’s “No means yes if you know how to spot it.” Bumper sure doesn’t know how to spot it here, and I’m not sure I do either. Lets cut the crap Fat Amy. A No doesn’t mean yes if she winks. A No STILL doesn’t mean yes if she winks when you ask her again. And if that means Fat Amy and Bumper don’t get what they want at the end of the night- so be it. She needs to work on her communication skills. As for Bumper, in the words of Amanda Taub, “what you lose in nights of passion, you make up for in nights of not being a rapist.” If there’s any confusion, keep the pants on.
Honestly, I’m really hoping that something will happen in Pitch Perfect 2 to redeem this scene, because lord knows “When I’m Gone” is still stuck in my head. But until then, can we please stop romanticizing and joking about the one-in-a-hundred times when a No has really meant Yes? It’s creating a culture where destructive mind games are the norm, and that’s not only acca-awkward, it’s dangerous.