Exploring Consent and Teenage Girlhood: A Poignant Film

A gripping coming-of-age film, ‘How to Have Sex’ delves into the complexities of consent and the realities of teenage girlhood, highlighting the importance of understanding and addressing these issues. The film authentically portrays the exuberance and joy of teenage girlhood, while also shedding light on the harsh truths and challenges they face. A thought-provoking exploration of consent and the transition into womanhood.

Exploring Consent and Teenage Girlhood: A Poignant Film

In the gripping coming-of-age film, How to Have Sex, director Molly Manning Walker delves into the complexities of consent and the harsh realities of teenage girlhood. Set against the backdrop of a sun-soaked Greek holiday, the film follows three 16-year-old girls – Tara, Em, and Skye – as they embark on a journey of self-discovery and sexual exploration.

Exploring Consent and Teenage Girlhood: A Poignant Film - 301452278

( Credit to: Smh )

Tara, the youngest and only virgin of the group, is eager to shed her innocence and join her friends in experiencing the debauchery that often accompanies such trips. As they befriend a group of boys, including the charismatic Badger and the aloof Paddy, the girls find themselves captivated by the possibilities that lie ahead – from drinking games to night swims.

However, beneath the carefree facade lies a sinister undercurrent. While Tara does lose her virginity, the encounter leaves her with deep psychological scars. Manning Walker skillfully explores the themes of consent and rape culture, drawing parallels to Catherine Hardwicke’s acclaimed film Thirteen.

Authentic Portrayal of Teenage Girlhood

The film authentically portrays the exuberance and joy of teenage girlhood, as the trio fuss over each other and navigate the highs and lows of their wild nights. Yet, it also highlights the girls’ lack of understanding about the nuances of sex, treating it as a mere item to be checked off a bucket list or a competition to be won. Tara’s profound sense of loneliness after her assault is palpable, as she grapples with the perpetrator’s familiar lines: “I can’t help it,” “Why are you so uptight?”, and “I thought you were the fun one.”

Through sweaty, jam-packed club scenes and desolate streets the morning after, the film effectively conveys Tara’s claustrophobia and isolation. Mia McKenna-Bruce delivers an exceptional performance, seamlessly transitioning from wide-eyed innocence to the bleary hours of partying, and finally to moments of confusion and trauma.

Friends’ Reactions and the Harsh Reality

Tara’s friends’ reactions and actions throughout the film reflect the varied experiences of teenage girls as they navigate their own journeys into womanhood, as well as the mistakes made in their young adulthood. Em’s concern for Tara’s whereabouts when she goes missing contrasts sharply with Skye’s preoccupation with her chances with the boys.

It is only towards the end of the film that Tara’s friends become aware of her ordeal, culminating in a harrowing scene between Tara and Em, masterfully depicted through a kaleidoscope of mirrors in an airport shopping center. The film’s open-ended conclusion reflects the often harsh reality that many survivors face, with no clear repercussions for the perpetrator and the burden of handling the trauma alone.

A Timely Exploration of Consent and Teenage Girlhood

How to Have Sex is a timely exploration of the pivotal moment when young girls transition into womanhood, shedding light on the harsh truths they encounter along the way. While the film delivers powerful and wrenching moments, some may find its depiction of violence gratuitous, and its message may feel all too familiar in today’s pop culture landscape. Manning Walker’s storytelling offers nothing particularly groundbreaking on the topic, but it serves as a necessary reminder of the prevalence of Tara’s story.

Ultimately, How to Have Sex is a poignant and thought-provoking film that admirably tackles the issues of consent and teenage girlhood. However, it is crucial to acknowledge that its impact may be limited, as those who most need to see it are unlikely to do so, while those already familiar with its message may find it redundant.

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