***Trigger warnings: sexual abuse, rape – also spoilers for Bridgerton***

It seems like every five minutes that Netflix is coming out with a new series that gets everyone talking. A few weeks ago it was Emily in Paris, and right now – it’s Bridgerton. That’s right, the period TV series is the hottest thing to talk about across social media right now. People are LOVING the outfits, the characters, the diversity and of course the story and many have binged the entire series in less than a day.

The show is based on the popular “Bridgerton” book series, written by Julia Quinn, that revolves around two families during “the season,” an annual period where elite families would host formal events to introduce their children to society and find them a suitable marriage. Among the exciting dialogue and incredible clothes, there was one scene in particular that made viewers voice concerns. That is, a select few viewers. It appears that for most, this scene was ignored!

 

Double Standards of Sexual Abuse

In Bridgerton, the characters Daphne and the Duke, Simon, spend time having sex frequently. Each time, the Duke pulls out so as not to impregnate her. Daphne realises she doesn’t know anything about how babies are conceived, and asks a maid to explain it to her.

The rape scene comes at the end Bridgerton episode six. Daphne and Simon are having sex, and she manoeuvres their bodies so that she is on top of him. While on top, the Duke looks increasingly worried, shaking his head and saying “wait”, but she carries on until he finishes. The show moves on quite quickly after that, and it’s not something that is seemingly a ‘big deal’. However, if it had been Daphne underneath the Duke, then we’d be looking at much more outrage.

Regardless of gender, that scene depicted a rape. Furthermore, if someone is pushing on with a sexual act when one of the parties is unhappy or saying ‘no’, that again is rape. One more point: even if you’re in a long-term relationship and you have sex regularly, you can STILL face sexual abuse and rape. Being in a relationship with someone or being married to them does not give them the right to do anything they want to you – or you to them. It’s no different to sex with anyone else – you must both consent, each time and to each type of activity.

You ALWAYS have the option to say no and if someone goes against that when you say no, do you know what that is? You guessed it, rape.

 

What Is Consent?

Easily defined, consent is when someone agrees by choice to vaginal, anal or oral penetration and has the freedom and capacity to make that choice. Consent to sexual activity may be given to one sort of sexual activity but not another, e.g.to vaginal but not anal sex or penetration with conditions, such as wearing a condom.

Generally, consent is agreed verbally and should be freely communicated. According to RAINN: “Consent cannot be given by people who are underage, intoxicated, or asleep or unconscious. If someone agrees to an activity under pressure of intimidation or threat, that isn’t considered consent because it was not given freely.”

 

Gaining consent can look like this:

  • Asking permission with phrases like “Is this OK?”
  • Letting your partner know that you can stop at any time
  • Periodically checking in with your partner, such as asking “Is this still okay?”
  • Providing positive feedback when you’re comfortable with an activity

 

Remember, most importantly, consent can be withdrawn at ANY time during sexual activity and each time activity occurs.

 

How Else You Can Say ‘No’

We know that saying know can be difficult or awkward. Here are some different ways to say it (and they all MEAN no, so if someone goes against these words, it’s abuse).

 

  • Not now
  • Slow down
  • I’m not comfortable
  • I’m not in the mood
  • I’m not ready

 

If you have been affected by this article, Bridgerton or anything else related to sexual abuse, please contact this helpline for support.

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