Photo via FCK YES/YouTube (CC-BY)
In the weeks following the early release of Brock Turner, the Stanford rapist who sexually assaulted an unconscious woman behind a dumpster, social media has been in an uproar. Now, more than ever, women are speaking out against rape culture, both online and on college campuses. Mandatory minimum sentences for rapists are being pushed through state assemblies, and allies have even protested outside his home. But that doesn't mean we have a unanimous understanding of what consent is, or even that it's necessary.
However, the webseries F*ck Yes that hopes to change all that—while daring to show that consent can actually be sexy.
Emily Best told the Daily Dot that she had the idea for F*ck Yes, now crowdfunding for its second season, after a male friend expressed the very popular opinion that frank discussions of consent can kill the mood.
“I told him, ‘Are you telling me if you’re out to drinks and an attractive woman leans in and she tells you everything she wants you to do to her, that’s not sexier?’" Best said. "And he was like, ‘Oh ,yeah, that’s way sexier.’”
Best realized her conversation was a snapshot of a much larger picture. The dialogue around consent in our culture is lacking, and whatever message we are given about consent is often translated to "buzzkill." “The concept of consent is weirdly antithetical to everything else we’re taught about sex,” said Best. “And that’s reinforced in movies.”
When Best shared her thoughts with series co-creator Erica Anderson (the two also co-founded crowdfunding platform Seed and Spark together), the pair wondered how they might make traditionally awkward moments into something sexier. So they opened the conversation to their creative circle of friends, including Elisabeth Aultman, co-founder Rapejoke.com, writing and producing partners Julie Keck and Jessica King, and Lauren Schacher, a filmmaker whose feature film Bang Bang Girls deals with slut-shaming and sex education for teen girls. Together, they came up with a list of ideas for the first season of the series. The resulting episodes feel intensely honest and intimate, but never heavy or dark.
In the first episode, for example, a conversation about condoms is briefly awkward without killing the mood. In fact, once the couple gets past the initial unease, the discussion becomes an opportunity for partners to express mutual excitement and desire.
“It’s OK for it to be funny and silly and awkward. And when it’s awkward, even if you mess up, it’s fine. Everybody’s going to be fine,” said Best.
Each episode includes a moment of uncomfortableness, but it’s one that everyone survives. And, perhaps most importantly, the couples arrive at a place where consent is clear and affirmative.
When a long-term couple negotiates morning sex, for example, one partner laughs and expresses embarrassment. But she recovers, and the resulting interaction shows two people who are deeply connected and eager to share a pleasurable experience.
As Anderson sees it, consent doesn’t have to be heavy-handed. It can instead be an ongoing dialogue between two people who want to play and explore. “Consent is just a conversation so you can have more sex, more often, that’s better," she said. "I think if we can imagine this world where it’s about exploring and about playing, then you’ll probably get to kinkier sex by actually having those conversations. You can say, ‘No, anal isn’t on the table for tonight, but I’m not ruling it out forever.’”
The series feels far more intimate and revealing than most things sex-related on the internet. While there are feminist filmmakers working to create ethical, female-friendly porn, Anderson says that most mainstream porn fails to expand our understanding of what pleasurable sex between two consenting adults looks like.
“I think the problem with mainstream porn is that it’s just one sliver of options that can happen in a sexual experience," she said. "I think it’s super narrow and really harmful for men because they’re only given a few options of what sex looks like and what they’re supposed to be turned on by.”
Mainstream media, in general, often lacks real portrayals of what women need and desire sexually. "We don’t really talk to girls or women about what they want or what their options are," Anderson said. "We’re missing out on this whole other side of pleasure.”
In the interest of continuing to offer diverse portraits of sex and consent, Best and Anderson are making half the episodes in season 2 based on viewer-submitted stories.
“I’m really thankful that people are coming forward and talking about sexual violence and abuse, and also that people are being able to say, ‘Good sex is not that. It’s this. I have a great sex life and here’s what it looks like.’ That, to me, is so cool.”
Anderson and Best also hope to partner with colleges in sharing F*ck Yes. The crowdfunding campaign for season 2 kicked off this Monday and hopes to raise $15,000 by Oct. 12. As of the writing of this article, the project has already raised $6,000 with 118 backers.