The Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy has sparked much debate even among Christians about appropriate sexual behaviors and consent. One of these is the Tea/Consent metaphor in which the author likens consenting to what they refer to as ‘sexytimes’ to consenting to a cup of tea. The argument goes something like this. If you are offered tea and want it, the other person can give you tea. If you wanted tea yesterday, but no longer want it, they have to respect that you don’t want tea and not force you to drink it. She even jokingly explains that if you are unconscious, you cannot consent to drinking tea, so there is no consent; they cannot pour the tea down your throat.* Not so funny as the conversation is really about sexual behavior.
There are major flaws in the Tea/Consent argument. First of all, I want to be in a secure relationship where my husband know that I don’t even like tea. I’m a coffee drinker. He almost never needs to ask me when I want coffee, how I take my coffee or if I’m in the mood for coffee, because he knows me so well. He can tell by my unspoken response to him whether I need a double shot expresso or a latte. I won’t feel guilty about having the coffee, because it does not diminish my dignity in anyway and I know, in the morning, he will still be there with a steaming cup-a-joe waiting for me. He loves me enough to anticipate my coffee needs.
Secondly, what happens when someone is scalded with tea that they really didn’t consent to? “She wanted tea yesterday,” he will say. “She has books and movies about tea all over her social media. My friends and her friends heard us talking about all the different tea we were going to try and experience later.” Good luck with arguing that you changed your mind about the tea. It would be her word against his.
Lastly, sex is sacred. It is meant to show love and to bring forth life if the circumstances are right. It is not meant to hurt or diminish dignity of either partner in any way, and this kind of sex talk is definitely NOT my cup of tea! God bless.
*http://guff.com/glt-woman-explained-consent/20?ts_pid=2 (full article)
Note from the editor: If you are thinking about watching the movie, read this first.
Mary Lou Rosien BSW, MA is the RCIA Coordinator at St. Leo Church in Hilton, New York. She is the author of Managing Stress with the Help of Your Catholic Faith (OSV) and Catholic Family Boot Camp (Bezalel Books). Mary Lou is also a columnist with Catholicmom.com, and AmazingCatechists.com