In the original classic Sleeping Beauty, the prince does not wake the sleeping girl up with a kiss. He comes upon her and, unable to resist her beauty, has sex with her, leaving her pregnant with twins. Yep, he rapes her in her sleep.
Of course, Disney recognizes this as a horrible narrative, so that doesn’t happen in their 1959 animation film Sleeping Beauty. In their adaptation, the prince kisses the sleeping princess instead.
The thing is, it is also not okay to kiss a sleeping stranger. It may be hard to see how awful it is in a fairytale, and unfortunately, it is also hard for some to see in real life, but it is wrong. It doesn’t matter if you’re a hot charming royal and you’re sure she won’t mind when she wakes up.
We cannot overemphasize to the children we are raising that is despicably wrong to engage in any remotely sexual activity with someone without their consent, especially when they are inebriated, asleep or otherwise unable to give consent or defend themselves!
While fairy tales may have romanticized it, it is not right for anyone, male or female, to do this.
It is also important to remember that prevention is better than cure. While we tackle the poorly raised adults among us, it is important to raise the next generation right. Even before primary school, children should be taught consent at their level. I recently realised even my four-year-old needs to understand that not every child wants a kiss on the cheek from a cute little boy. Respect for others’ bodies and personal space must be taught, and early.
As our children grow into teenagers, they must have the basics of consent deeply ingrained:
- It is not right to force sexual activity on someone because they visited you.
- It is not right to force sexual activity on someone because they lay with you in a bed.
- If they’re okay with making out but they don’t want intercourse, it is not right to force it. “No” and “Stop” at any point should be respected and this applies to men and
- It is not right to force sexual activity on someone because you’ve had consensual sex before. Every time you have sex, your partner should want it.
This article breaks down consent using a tea analogy that is totally brilliant (although there are many who insist on splitting hairs). Please read it.
Nollywood also has a role to play. For instance, marital rape is not a myth, and our screenwriters, directors, actors and producers have incredible power to subtly shape culture in that regard. “But you’re my wife” is no excuse to force sex on a woman who clearly does not want to have sex with you, and has said “no”.
The same goes for the music industry; we have the requisite talent and skill.
The bottom line is, we can all do better: everyone of us. Even if you don’t have a huge fan base, you have a voice that is uniquely yours. Start a conversation about consent today.