TW: Discussions of sex, consent and sexual assault

Today we’re talking about the BAFTA nominated How to Have Sex, (Certificate 15) written and directed by Molly Manning Walker. Based on some of Molly’s own lived experiences, How to Have Sex cleverly intertwines the themes of coming of age, consent, peer pressure and nostalgia. 

The story follows three British teenage girls, on the ‘best holiday ever!’ in the party strip of Malia, Crete. They’re celebrating the end of their GCSEs and their new-found freedom. They’re on a mission: to party non-stop and also, fingers crossed, ‘get laid’.

And so it begins. Neon outfits. Lots of alcohol. Sambuca shots. Fish bowls. Laughter. Dancing. Vomiting in the toilets. Drunken chats about their upcoming A-levels. Cheesy chips at the end of the night. Waking up the next day, bruised and hungover, and doing it all over again.  

The holiday continues and so does the partying. It’s day two in Malia and the girls meet a slightly older group of holiday goers in the apartment across from them. It’s here the film really starts to explore consent. Tara, the main protagonist, is ‘still a virgin’, as her friend Skye keeps pointing out. Tara feels under immense pressure to lose her virginity, and in Malia, sex is everywhere she looks. How could she not do it here, now?

How to Have Sex, Mubi

Through the lens of relatable conversations, characters and situations, the film explores boundaries, and how to define consent when it comes to sex. Does ‘yes’ always mean ‘yes’? What if you feel you can’t say ‘no’? What if you change your mind? 

This brings us back to the FRIES model of consent, meaning that consent should be:

 

Whatever the situation, you deserve to have fun and feel safe at all times. Feeling pressured or expected to do things you don’t want to is never ok, and consent should always be an ongoing part of intimacy. The FRIES model can be an effective way to remind yourself of that.

Healthy and unhealthy relationships

As well as its exploration of consent, the film highlights some of the signs of ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’ relationships, in friendships and in sexual relationships, considering how toxic friendships, peer pressure and the expectations of others can impact an individual and sometimes lead to devastating consequences.

We won’t give the whole story away, just in case you watch. And if you’d like to see a powerful, intimate film that informs, challenges and keeps you hooked from start to finish, we recommend that you do!

Sign up to our workshops

We are committed to helping young people spot and stop unhealthy relationship behaviours, with friends, sexual partners and family members. Our 10 signs workshops provide you with the tools and confidence needed to speak out, seek help and keep you and your friends safe! 

Support

If you are, or have been, in a situation where someone does not respect your boundaries or has acted non consensually, please know this is not your fault. We urge you to seek support – see some helpful resources below. 

Childline: https://www.childline.org.uk/get-support/

 Victim Support: https://www.victimsupport.org.uk/

Rape Crisis: https://rapecrisis.org.uk/get-help/

Brook: https://www.brook.org.uk/your-life/sex-and-consent/

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Image: How to Have Sex, Mubi