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Consent Culture and Teen Films: Adolescent Sexuality in US Movies

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Teen films of the 1980s were notorious for treating consent as irrelevant, with scenes of boys spying in girls' locker rooms and tricking girls into sex. While contemporary movies now routinely prioritize consent, ensure date rape is no longer a joke, and celebrate girls' desires, sexual consent remains a problematic and often elusive ideal in teen films.

In Consent Culture and Teen Films, Michele Meek traces the history of adolescent sexuality in US cinema and examines how several films from the 2000s, including Blockers, To All the Boys I've Loved Before, The Kissing Booth, and Alex Strangelove, take consent into account. Yet, at the same time, Meek reveals that teen films expose how affirmative consent ("yes means yes") fails to protect youth from unwanted and unpleasant sexual encounters. By highlighting ambiguous sexual interactions in teen films? such as girls' failure to obtain consent from boys, queer teens subjected to conversion therapy camps, and youth manipulated into sexual relationships with adults? Meek unravels some of consent's intricacies rather than relying on oversimplification. 

By exposing affirmative consent in teen films as gendered, heteronormative, and cis-centered, Consent Culture and Teen Films suggests we must continue building a more inclusive consent framework that normalizes youth sexual desire and agency with all its complexities and ambivalences.

Michele Meek, Ph.D. is an author, TEDx speaker, filmmaker, professor, and entrepreneur.

She presented the TEDx talk “Why we’re confused about consent—rewriting our stories of seduction” and has written numerous articles for outlets including Ms. Magazine,, Entrepreneur, and Script Magazine. She has been interviewed by and featured on National Public Radio, BBC, The Boston Globe, and Inc. Magazine.

Her books include "Consent Culture and Teen Films: Adolescent Sexuality in US Movies" (2023, Indiana University Press); "Independent Female Filmmakers—A Chronicle Through Interviews, Profiles and Manifestos" (2019, Routledge); and "The Mastermind Failure Club: A Self-Empowerment Guide for Artists, Filmmakers, Writers and Other Creative Entrepreneurs" (2020).

Michele is also an award-winning film director and writer whose work has screened at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, the Anthology Film Archives in New York, as well as at numerous festivals, events, and schools across the world. Her film "Imagine Kolle 37" (2017) explores childhood, risk, and play in a Berlin adventure playground, and her forthcoming film "Bay Creek Tennis Camp" is a timely and refreshing take on the cross-generation disconnect around youth, gender inclusivity, and sports.

Title: Consent Culture and Teen Films: Adolescent Sexuality in US Movies

Format: Paperback

Product dimensions: 244 pages, 9" H x 6" W

Shipping dimensions: 244 pages, 9" H x 6" W

Published: April 4, 2023

Publisher: Indiana University Press

Language: English

ISBN: 9780253065742

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Consent Culture and Teen Films: Adolescent Sexuality in US Movies


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