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Remember when it was too scandalous for married-on-TV-couple Rob and Laura Petrie to sleep in the same bed on The Dick Van Dyke Show? Yeah, TV shows and movies have come a long way since then. As a reflection of modern culture, it’s great to see reality on the big and little screens, and not just in reality shows. But sometimes entertainment takes things too far. Some series and films—many of which are aimed at teens—are unknowingly, or completely knowingly, reinforcing abusive stereotypes.
Whether it’s a drama’s use of rape for shock value, or a comedy reusing the persistent male character who won’t take ‘no’ for an answer, examples of rape culture, issues with consent and sensationalized abuse are out there.
Does this mean we have to stop watching TV and movies all together? Only you can decide what’s appropriate for you and your family. Websites like IMDB.com and Kids-in-Mind.com provide some details about potentially objectionable content if you’d rather avoid watching something that perpetuates these issues (although with issues like consent, you really have to read between the lines in their reviews). Another service, called Vid Angel, allows you to rent movies with violent and questionable content eliminated for a small fee.
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Most importantly, just being aware of rape culture in pop culture, and being willing to have frank conversations with those around you if they’re watching—is important.
10 TV, Video, and Movies that May Cross Your Line
Below, 10 examples of gender-based violence being perpetuated in popular movies, TV shows and music.
Parents: Need direction to help your teen—or yourself—navigate the nuances of consent? Resources like The Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds from Massachusetts General Hopsital and Planned Parenthood can help start the discussion. Talking about examples you’ve seen together in movies and TV shows can help make the conversation about real-life consent a bit easier. Some basics to bring up:
- “Yes” means yes, and “no” means no. And the yes must be freely given, not pressured or manipulated.
- The only way to get a clear yes or no is to ask—every time.
- If there’s any doubt, you don’t have consent.
- It’s OK to change your mind, and giving/getting consent once does not mean the answer won’t be different next time.
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