Snow White doesn’t exist – but conversations about consent should

1 month ago 10

Once upon a time there was a tale about consent that rattled a lot of people online.

If you haven’t heard about the ‘Snow White kiss’ story that has whipped people into a frenzy this week, let me catch you up to speed.

Two female journalists from the San Francisco Chronicle wrote a review of the newly refurbished Snow White ride at Disneyland. It was an altogether positive evaluation of the updated attraction – originally built in 1955 – save for three paragraphs at the end that viewed the ride, not through the rose-tinted lens of the fifties, but with 20/21 vision.

The finale of the ride is a tableau of Prince Charming giving the sleeping princess a kiss on the lips. Journalists Tremaine and Dowd were lightly critical of the inclusion of the scene, due to the absence of consent between a conscious man and an unconscious woman. 

They quite rightly noted that ‘consent in early Disney movies is a major issue’ and questioned why Disney imagineers would ‘choose to add a scene with such old-fashioned ideas of what a man is allowed to do to a woman’.

They didn’t want to burn the ride down. They didn’t even want to change it. They were just a bit puzzled as to why this moment was included, considering the connotations.

The women even praised the final scene as being ‘beautifully executed – as long as you’re watching it as a fairy tale, not a life lesson’.

Yet the story still managed to get under the skin of many. 

People said the article was proof that the ‘world’s gone mad’. Others doled out insults, undermining the intelligence of the journalists. Words like ‘woke’ and ‘too sensitive’ were thrown about liberally. 

But I don’t understand this extreme response. 

The only thing to fear about woke culture is the group who vehemently oppose it

It was simply a balanced review that took the opportunity to query the representation of consent, while rationally separating fantasy from reality.

Considering the specific context of the kiss, with its magic potions and spells, and ideas of ‘true love’, it isn’t the clearest example of non-consensual sexual contact, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be used as an opportunity for discussion. 

The fact that so many adults have polarising views on one kiss that happened decades ago between two cartoon characters suggests that not everyone defines consent in the same way. All the more reason to talk about it.

Whether you identify as woke, anti-woke or neither, surely we can all agree on the fact that children should know that it’s not OK for strangers to kiss them and that a sleeping person might not want to be kissed.

Is Prince Charming’s kiss the most pressing issue in the fight against non-consensual sexual touching? Of course not. But that doesn’t make it irrelevant.

While the kiss itself might not be the ‘microcosm of date rape culture’ that the reviewers are accused of making it, the response to their critique certainly is.

Two women, who have articulately expressed concern over the issue of consent, are publicly ridiculed, mocked, face accusations of lunacy, and are discredited (predominately by men) who tell them their opinion on a feminist issue is invalid.

Many were quick to deny the existence of the consent issue raised by Tremaine and Dowd, and Prince Charming and Disney fans alike were turned into victims of ‘woke culture’ with unsubstantiated claims that Charming had been ‘cancelled’.

I don’t care about the message of the cartoon. I don’t care about the message of the ride. I care about the message we should be sending to people of all ages and all genders, that you should be able to speak about consent without facing ridicule or abuse.

Don’t be fooled by those who take a brief paragraph from one theme park review, spin it into one of the biggest stories in a news cycle and try to delegitimise a very real, extremely important social issue.

The only thing to fear about woke culture is the group who vehemently oppose it. 

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