Mindy Project’s ‘I Slipped’ Trivializes Consent

by | October 8, 2014
filed under Pop Culture

mindy1Recap of “The Mindy Project” Season 3, Episode 4.

Trigger Warning for discussion of intimate partner violence and rape culture.

Consent is Hard to Mix with Comedy

You know when your boyfriend wants to do something sexual you don’t want to do, so he just forces it upon you but it’s all okay because guys just like to “try” things?

No? You say that’s not a thing? You say that’s sexual assault? Yes, because it bloody well is!

I hate to harp on how much less feminist-friendly The Mindy Project has become since Mindy has been with Danny, but today it hit a new low. Danny now commits sex crimes.

In the first few minutes of the show, Mindy goes where few sitcoms have gone before – intimate partner violence. Without Mindy’s consent or even issuing a warning, Danny decides to stop vaginal intercourse and penetrate Mindy anally. Mindy is horrified. She makes it clear she is not down for that particular activity. Danny then responds pathetically, “It slipped!”

Of course, Peter, whom I maintain is still Mindy’s one true love, tells it like it is. Upon hearing the “Danny slipped” story, Peter replies, “No man has ever slipped and not been lying.” Apparently, a penis is just as precious to its owner as a signed photo of Chris Jenner is to Mindy. You would know where that shit is at all times.

Emboldened, Mindy confronts Danny again, ready to let him have it. Danny again avoids responsibility, this time claiming he is having vision problems and that is why he couldn’t find the agreed-upon entry.

Because Mindy is a caring girlfriend, she makes Danny an emergency ophthalmologist’s appointment. Unfortunately for Danny, his sight turns out to be completely fine. At least now there is nowhere to hide and Danny must tell the truth;

Danny says he “assumed” she’d done it before because of her “long list of companions.”

Danny shifts the blame for forcing a sex act to which his girlfriend had not consented back onto Mindy with slut-shaming. Gross! Luckily, Mindy still has some feminist instincts. She proclaims, “I refuse to be slut-shamed at an ophthalmologist’s office,” then leaves.

The only problem is that Mindy doesn’t leave Danny for good when she walks out that door.

Instead, she not only stays with him, she begins to worry she’s too vanilla for Danny. Eager to please the man who assaulted her a few scenes before, she gets sex tips from Peter. Worrying those won’t satisfy, Mindy becomes even more desperate. She really doesn’t want to have anal sex with Danny, but she is convinced she has to keep her man.

Not wanting to be awake for it but “legally required” not to be asleep, she gets Morgan to write her a prescription for a sedative. This does not strike me as funny in the least. It just strikes me as impossibly sad that a woman who knows the rules of consent thinks pleasing her boyfriend is more important than protecting herself from a sex act with which she is so uncomfortable.

When Mindy takes the sedatives, they do not sit well. In the dark about Mindy having drugged herself, Danny rushes her to the hospital, where the doctor determines Danny must have roofied Mindy. Mindy responds, “No, I roofied myself!”

Realizing his girlfriend has been driven to dangerous and bizarre lengths to please him, Danny insists his stab at anal does not mean he’s dissatisfied with their sex life as it is. He says, “It didn’t mean anything. I just tried something.” Um, yeah, but you are not supposed to “try” sex to which your partner does not consent. Ever.

Apparently, however, Danny believes that these laws of consent do not exist in the U.S. “In America, you try things,” he declares.  I guess that’s why rape culture is so prominent in America right now?

Mindy does give Danny a brief lecture about sexual consent, but immediately after, when Mindy refuses to have sex in her hospital bed, he responds, “Asking sucks!”

I have an exceedingly dark sense of humour. I do think satire can teach us a lot, but this episode does not read like satire to me. It portrays issues of sexual consent between partners as trivial, as petty as an argument over whether to leave the toilet seat down.

Mindy is a gynecologist. As such, she must be intimately aware of the damage sexual violence can do and the politics of consent. Danny, who is also a professional gynecologist, should also know the rules of consent.

Perhaps, if this were a drama about people who should know better but still don’t care much about the rules, it could make a compelling argument about the insidious nature of rape culture.

Having said that, I just don’t feel comfortable with playing this storyline for light-hearted laughs on a sitcom. I especially do not feel comfortable with this when the point of the story seems to be that non-consensual sex (a.k.a. assault) just happens in relationships, and when it does, you just stick with them.

Now, please excuse me while I go vomit in my mouth.

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