VOLUME 13, Part 2:
THINK ABOUT THE CHILDREN
In part one of Volume 13, we introduced the short film “Rehearsal,” which demonstrates how an adult’s body autonomy can be violated in small but damaging ways.
One of the things we know for sure: To build a true culture of consent, we need to be better about teaching children about boundaries and bodily autonomy.
Every human being, no matter their age, has the right to authority over their own body. But even the most well-intentioned among us can erode a child’s sense of agency in small but harmful ways.
In Part Two of February’s rePROFilm Periodical, we explore ways to advance the conversation around consent — with the next generation and beyond. We’re curious: In learning and talking about this issue, what has worked for you? Send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The rePROFilm Team
In a borrowed studio apartment, four filmmakers go over an upcoming sex scene for an unnamed film. Ana, who plays one of the protagonists, grows more and more uncomfortable with each passing minute — yet she says nothing.
To put “Rehearsal” in context, we spoke with a couple of experts. For the rePROFilm Podcast, Asha Dahya chatted with director Courtney Hope Thérond about how her own on-set experience inspired the film. And don’t miss the Instagram Live conversation between Alex Sgambati and certified intimacy coordinator nisha ahuja (“Never Have I Ever,” “Mayans”).
“Rehearsal” deftly articulates an experience common to women and others who live in marginalized bodies, an everyday irritation we barely notice. Watching it, I felt both seen and deeply uncomfortable — enough to hit the pause button a few times. But since I finished, I can’t stop thinking about it. —Emily Christensen
Talk Amongst Yourselves
“Rehearsal” Discussion Questions from Dr. Julia
As you watch the film, pay attention to how Ana is directed to behave and how she responds. How could this scene have been handled differently? Read Julia Arnold VanRooyen’s take on “Rehearsal” and consent in this month’s column.
Consent must be:
Freely given: it can’t be issued when asleep, under the influence of alcohol or drugs or under coercion
Reversible: either party can change their mind, at any time and for any reason; it doesn’t matter if you’ve done it before
Informed: it can only happen if you have the full story
Enthusiastic: no one should be pressured into doing something they don’t want to do. Consent is best expressed verbally and positively: a definite yes, instead of the absence of a no
Specific: saying yes to one type of sexual activity (like kissing) isn’t saying yes to other types of sexual activity (like having sex)
The “Rehearsal” writer/director talks to Asha Dahya on the Periodical Podcast about how her own on-set experiences inspired her short film. Maybe if she could demonstrate how intimacy scenes can go awry, she thought, others might understand how problems can arise even between people who trust, care for, and respect each other. Tune in to find out how audiences reacted.
To pair with “Rehearsal,” we made a mixtape about boundaries and consent.
What’s your favorite tune that embodies the spirit of “back off and respect my bodily autonomy?”
Although let’s face it:
How can you beat a line like, “Try to control me, boy you get dismissed?”
Watch this mom talk to her toddler about consent
The concept of teaching a small child about body autonomy might feel overwhelming, so we found an excellent example.
In this video, Tara Cochran demonstrates how she talks with two-year-old Evy about how to say no to hugs and kisses.
Consent is a vital element of sex education, but it’s only the beginning
“When pressed to think about (consent), it makes us think more about what we can’t do, rather than what we can,” writes Sophia Smith Galer.
“I should have been taught less about saying no, and more about how to know what I want, ask for it, and be prepared to make new choices if I was denied it.”
Watch this mom talk to her toddler about consent
The concept of teaching a small child about body autonomy might feel overwhelming, so we found an excellent example. In this video, Tara Cochran demonstrates how she talks with two-year-old Evy about how to say no to hugs and kisses.
Talking About Consent with Dr. Julia
Our resident medical expert Julia Arnold VanRooyen weighs in.
Our best hope for preventing the kind of scenario depicted in “Rehearsal” is by discussing these issues openly. And it’s critical that we begin in the earliest years of schooling with simple, age-appropriate discussions about no one has the right to touch you if you don’t want to be touched.
What consent looks like
Let’s start with the basics: What does consent mean exactly? It’s “an ongoing process of discussing boundaries and what you’re comfortable with, according to the largest anti-sexual-violence org in the U.S. Learn what consent looks like through this brief, readable summary.
Seven ways to practice consent outside the bedroom
We usually attach the concept of consent to sex, but it has a much broader application. “We should never assume anyone is okay with anything, whether that’s a sexual act, a group activity, a topic of conversation, or a financial decision that affects them,” writes Suzannah Weiss. From asking permission to take a photo to splitting the check, learn how to practice consent in your everyday life.
rePRO Instagram Live: Nisha Ahuja
Learn more about how Hollywood negotiates tricky scenes from certified intimacy coordinator Nisha Ahuja (“Never Have I Ever,” “Mayans”). Nisha (she/they) will join Alex Sgambati for a rePROFilm Instagram Live #AskAnExpert conversation at 11 a.m. PT/2 p.m. ET Feb. 7. In the meantime, learn more about Nisha on her website Full Spectrum Intimacy Coordinator.
Culture of Respect builds the capacity of educational institutions to end sexual violence through ongoing, expansive organizational change.
Culture of Respect was founded in 2013 by parents of college-aged students who were alarmed by the high rate of sexual assault on campuses and the lack of comprehensive resources for survivors, students, administrators, and parents.
The organization has grown to work with more than 125 institutions of higher learning as part of NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.
In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda is a national-state partnership focused on lifting up the voices of Black women leaders at the national and regional levels in the fight to secure reproductive justice for all women, femmes, and girls. One of their core issues is comprehensive sex education, which teaches students from kindergarten on about consent and bodily autonomy.
Through film and conversation, rePRO advocates for reproductive health, justice, and bodily autonomy. We lift intersectional issues, using the power of storytelling as a catalyst for knowledge, intention, and action.