What ‘The Phantom of The Opera’ can teach us about consent

Like many others, “The Phantom of The Opera” is one of my favorite movies and has been since I was in third grade. The costumes, sets and singing are all so beautiful, and what is not to love about Christine’s relationships with Raoul and The Phantom? Well, a lot actually. I recently watched the movie, and it was then then that I realized how confused I was about this “romance.” In fact, there was one major flaw in the plot that kept reoccurring, and I wish I would have recognized sooner: there is a major lack of consent in this classic.

Don’t believe me?

Let me show you:

1. Raoul insists Christine go to dinner with him even after she repeatedly says “no.”

2. Christine takes The Phantom’s mask off without his permission.

3. The Phantom demands that Christine sing for him. While Christine does comply, my issue arises in the way he asks.

4. Joseph Boughé grabbing the ballerina and teasing her even though she tries to get away from.

5. The masquerade scene where The Phantom confronts Christine and asserts she belongs to him does not relate to consent, but it does perpetuate this idea thatwomen are men’s property.

6. Raoul making Christine perform in “Don Juan Triumphant” even though she is scared that The Phantom will show up and kidnap her.

7. Christine, yet again, taking The Phantom’s mask.

8. The Phantom dragging Christine through the catacombs as the opera house falls into chaos.

9. The Phantom forcing Christine to decide between Raoul and him, while Raoul’s life hangs in the balance, thus inhibiting her decision to choose.

So now that we’ve identified these problems within “The Phantom of The Opera”, what do we do? Do we shun the film, book and stage show? Do we turn a blind eye to the lack of consent and continue enjoying the story? Or do we use it as a tool to educate ourselves and others?

Consent does not just relate to sex. As we can learn from the movie, consent relates to free will, touching and the removal of clothing. Consent is not the absence of a “no” but a presence of a “yes.” While there are instances that we do see characters say “no,” it is also good to note that “no” is not respected. Simply put, that is what consent is, respect and when an individual is not giving consent, we need to respect them and their wishes.

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