Comics and the language of consent
CW: discussion of rape, consent, consent violation, rape tropes, sexual assault.
#firerickremender is trending and it’s spurring me to write this piece about the dynamics of consent and the importance of writing clear, clean cut consent when it comes to sexual encounters in comics, instead of the blurred, grey area they currently use.
I am not a native English speaker and I apologize for any grammatical error you might find.
I’ve seen adults (or I assume they are from their discourse) talk about the racism and sexism in Remender’s writing but without addressing how one of the target demographics might be impacted by the content of those books.
That demographic is teenagers and tweens. I remember that I started reading comics when I was about 9 or 10 years old, and they shaped so much of my childhood. At that age, many of us are starting to question and discover our sexuality, our relationship to sex and consent, our identity, all that important stuff that will finally make us the adult that we are going to be. Puberty is about to come knocking, and our whole body and mind are shaping and adapting for it.
This is why it is important that comics, shows, cartoons, and all the medias targeting that demographic group keep to a clear guideline as to what consent is. Grey area only confuses the teens and enables predators to prey on them with more ease. It also validates those who will choose to prey on others in the future.
Perpetuating myths like that of the teenage temptress or that blackout drunk sex isn’t rape or traumatizing (spoiler alert, it is) are dangerous.
Writers need to learn and invest time into what consent is and how to promote safe, sane and consensual sex in comics.
And when it isn’t safe, sane and consensual? It needs to be called by its name: rape, sexual assault, coercion, and NOT sex. It needs to show consequences and to be addressed respectfully.
More writers and editors need to invest in the idea that consent is clear, continuous, informed, uncoerced and between people capable of consent.
More writers need to have their characters seek consent in all situations.
More writers need to spell it out when their characters violate consent.
A 10 years old child reading Captain America might now believe that getting your partner drunk is fine, or that teen girls lie about their age, or any of the other tropes and myths that the book perpetuates.
Those beliefs are dangerous and harmful. That kid might go on hurting others, or being hurt, because the book failed to address how wrong that whole situation was.
Art mirrors life, and life mirrors art. It’s a cycle.
Writers have the power to help shape the next generation’s idea of consent. Are you ready to shoulder that responsibility, Remender? You have the power, Marvel. Show us responsibility.