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Moments Where Pop Culture Actually Got Consent Right

Here are the best examples of what consent really looks like, from moments where pop culture actually got consent right.

By Patricia SarkarPublished 7 years ago 8 min read
Top Story - August 2017

Pop culture has long since been known to cause a lot of misconceptions about dating, consent, and all other social constructs. Pop culture birthed terrible ideas like "the Friendzone," and the plot that the guy always gets the girl.

If you were to look at 50 Shades of Grey as a model, chances are rather high that you might end up getting charged with rape, torture, and illegal imprisonment.

As bad as most of pop culture has been when it has come to portraying healthy dating measures, there have been a couple of moments where pop culture actually got consent right. These moments are perfect for people who need a better model on how to get consent from a partner.

Here are some of the best moments where pop culture actually got consent right - and what people could learn from these characters.

Venture Brothers, though quirky and retro, is actually pretty awesome when it comes to showing feminist points in its plots.

One of the best examples I've ever seen of consent in any Adult Swim show happens to be with the many run-ins Brock Samson has with Russian mercenary Molotov Coqtiz.

In this clip, Brock and Molotov are starting to get hot and heavy. They're making out, she's into it, he tries to have sex with her and she tells him no. He's clearly upset, but he lays off of her and excuses himself to "take care" of his needs without much protest.

He doesn't beg. He doesn't get persistent. He didn't try to negotiate it. He understood no means no, and that means that he immediately removed his hands from her.

Violence between the two aside, it's clear that they have a thing for each other. That being said, there's way more violence in this clip than a typical couple would have - and slamming a knife into a mattress isn't really acceptable unless you're both assassins.

Even so, he understood consent, and that's means that this is one of those moments where pop culture actually got consent right...even if it involved a lot of crazy assassin mayhem, too.

Steven and Connie from Steven Universe are one of many super cute, super feminist couples in the series. These two, however, make one of the best examples of what consent looks like - especially since Steven and Connie are each other's firsts.

Steven Universe, as fans know, isn't totally human. He's a Crystal Gem who is part alien. Among gems, the closest to sex they get is fusion, which makes two gems turn into one larger, more powerful gem.

When the two accidentally fuse together, they're surprised since humans aren't supposed to be able to fuse. The two regularly check in with each other throughout the episode to make sure they're okay.

This is one of those rare moments where pop culture actually got consent right throughout the entire episode - including when the two of them decided they were done with fusing and parted in the middle of a rave.

Austin Powers And Vanessa Kensington

Austin Powers, with all it's campy sex jokes and moments where the International Man of Mystery tries to charm his way into the heart of Vanessa Kensington, isn't really a feminist story. But, it does have one moment that really does strike us as amazing in terms of equal rights: the drunk scene with Vanessa Kensington.

Austin Powers had a thing for Vanessa, big time. At one point in the movie, Vanessa Kensington shows up drunk. She then throws herself at him and asks him to kiss her. He then refuses, because he knew that she was not in the right state of mind.

The very man who was known for bedding tons of women still realized it was wrong for him to have sex with Vanessa while she was drunk! Real consent also takes drinking into account, and as such, this movie houses one of the few moments where pop culture actually got consent right - even if it "makes up for it" with a bunch of terrible love tropes.

Thelma And JD

Thelma and Louise definitely gets props for showing realistic, honest consent in a movie. Titular character Thelma is getting it on with JD. JD is kissing on her, she's into it, and then his kisses slowly lower down to her stomach - and then she tells him, "Wait, wait."

He immediately stops, backs away, and says nothing until she encourages him to get back to what he's doing. This moment actually has been acclaimed by others as "one of the hottest moments in pop culture sex" because that tension builds up.

This is one of those moments where pop culture actually got consent right - and also made it super steamy. The bottom line is that consent can be sexy, and the fling between Thelma and JD proves it.

Frozen was a groundbreaker movie in a number of ways. It had strong female characters. It had awesome music. It also was a record-breaking hit on a global level. Best of all? It was one of the best pop culture examples of consent in its year!

When Kristoff falls for Anna, he doesn't do the standard "hero" move that would be just grabbing her and kissing her. Rather, he asks (pretty adorably) if he could kiss her. When he asks, he's asking her for her consent.

She gives it to him by engaging him in a kiss - and the two later end up marrying. This goes to show that sometimes, pop culture consent messages can be positive and rewarding in a number of awesome ways.


The much-forgotten movie, Hitch, starred Will Smith as a relationship advisor to the seemingly hopeless Albert. During his advice, Albert asked about kissing.

Hitch explained, "See, this is what most guys do. They rush in to take the kiss. But you’re not most guys. See, the secret to a kiss is to go 90 percent of the way, and then hold.”

Albert asked, "For how long?"

Hitch replied, "For however long it takes for her to do the other 10 percent."

In other words, Hitch says that Albert needs to give women a chance to let themselves refuse to kiss them. Just "going for it" isn't cool, and it also is off putting. (We're going to be a bit generous here and just say that he's softening the blow of how creepy it can be when guys just rush in for a kiss.)

That being said, many critics might say that Hitch still wasn't really pushing a solid kind of consent culture - but even so, that's better than most people would do. Moreover, it's realistic and honest enough that this makes our list of moments where pop culture actually got consent right.

Oz And Willow

This cute couple in Buffy the Vampire Slayer was always interesting to watch, primarily of the dynamics between the two. Willow, who is the lustier of the two, asked Oz flat-out if he wanted to make out with her earlier on in the series.

Oz, wanting to take things slow, told her he's interested in making out with her - just not yet. The two end up having a pretty in-depth discussion about their interests, what they want to do, and how they should go about things.

Consent was discussed, Willow waited, the two ended up being a pretty strong couple. Simply put, moments where pop culture actually got consent right - no matter how you look at it.

Tracy And Mike

This 40s-era couple from Philadelphia Story nails the consent issue pretty realistically. Tracy, nervous about her impending marriage to her fiance George, gets drunk with Mike.

She begins to flirt with Mike, who ends up taking her swimming, then puts her to bed. They didn't have sex, even though they could have easily done so.

She later asked why Mike didn't take advantage of her flirtation. Mike replied that it wasn't because she was unattractive or "forbidding," but because she was drunk.

Though this is more of a historical pop culture consent moment in movies, it still ranks among the moments where pop culture actually got consent right.

One of the moments where pop culture actually got consent right that many people overlook is when Scott and Ramona almost get it on. The "Bed Scene" as it's called, has the two of them canoodling and things are looking like they're headed to sex...

But then Ramona started to pick up that Scott was uncomfortable and stifled in the way that he was kissing her. So, she called the fling off - and the two of them end up just cuddling one another for a hot minute.

She also told him that she might change her mind later about sex, ensuring that he knows she's interested but wants to give him time. This gave Scott time to breathe it out, and also made sure that Ramona didn't manipulate him into sex.

You see, when people are clearly uncomfortable but not saying no, it's still a no. Pushing obvious boundaries is akin to rape - even if they don't say no. Ramona knew this.

As a result, this movie moment may be awkward, but it's really realistic in terms of showing real consent rather than "movie/pop culture consent" that just has people "going for it" regardless of the other partner's feelings.

pop culture

About the Creator

Patricia Sarkar

Raised on a steady diet of makeup and games. Eager to share my experiences with the world and make a difference, article by article! :)

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  • WOAabout a year ago

    Wow! I found this article amazing and on topic even five years later. I feel like sticking to just the newest things in social media can cause us to miss out on a lot so I've been perusing through older pieces while I get my footing here, and I really wasn't disappointed at all with this piece. I shared this with others too. I can't believe this doesn't have any insights or comments. I might write one on some particular pop-culture aspect, you're seriously inspired me. One of the things you did a little bit that I thought was important was acknowledge some iffiness in the same material. (Austen Powers, Hitch, though scott pilgrim is so heavily problematic in so many ways). I don't know if you are still active (I'm going to check in a minute to subscribe) or will see this comment, but I really enjoyed this article.

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