Consent = Key

A short impression of our first feminist film screening from the participant’s point of view, organised by action group Gender & Sexuality

Last Sunday the 12th of February I attended the first feminist film screening initiated by Doetank PEER in collaboration with The Feminist Club and ACU. The title of the film was announced on the night itself, Gerontophilia. The word ‘gerontophilia’ means the sexual preference for the elderly. The film tells the story of a young man, Lake, who begins exploring his attraction to elderly men while working in a nursing home.

 

“Old men and gin bruise so easily”
Melvin Peabody, Gerontophilia

 

One of the first scenes that confirms Lake’s interest, is the moment he washes Mr. Peabody for the first time. Everyone around me started to giggle and whisper nervously. At this moment I was surprised that this action caused such reactions, as I was caught by the fact that I too thought it was quite an uncomfortable picture. This confirmed the taboo that lingers around this less conventional form of love. Later on we got more used to Lake’s interest in Melvin (Mr. Peabody) and started to accept it.

 

QUOTE: It was weird that this seemingly feminist film, breaking the taboo on ageism,

has so many consentless [dissent] acts without clearly condemning this….

 

After a short break we returned to the venue to discuss the film we had just watched. Questions arose. What if the genders were differently proportioned? What if the relationship of a younger woman with an older man was shown, what would this have evoked, since it seems to be more normalised in our society.

The discussion led us to other, less obvious subjects. Not the age difference or even the fact that it was a homosexual relationship made people feel uncomfortable, but the lack of consent and the inequality and power difference of the relationship were thought to be problematic. Since Lake was a nurse and Melvin a patient, the power is unequally divided. The problem was the lack of consent in some of the scenes. This inequality in power made the elderly patient inferior to the boy.

 

LESSON: the lack of consent proved to be problematic,

the age difference or the sexual orientation of a relationship didn’t.

 

The lack of consent is a general problem in society. The solution lies in making people aware of the importance of mutual consent and the misuse of power in a relationship. Power relationships like student-teacher, employer-employee or – as is the case in Gerontophilia – caregiver-patient relations should never be non-consensually sexual. Consent is key.

 

Written by Sofie, guest blogger and one of the participants of this evening

Inspired by and interested in the action group Gender & Sexuality? Also want to write about activist events, help organizing film screenings or contribute in any other way? E-mail us at gender-seksualiteit@doetankpeer.nl

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