Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you would know that Harry Styles released his music video for Watermelon Sugar this week. If you haven’t watched it, I highly recommend doing so. It’s quality viewing. Still not sold? It’s dedicated to touching. Look, I’ll even embed it here for you… now you have no excuses.
Anyway, now that we’re all on the same page, I’m sure you have a lot of thoughts on this masterpiece… but that isn’t why we’re here. In the hours following the release of the (frankly, very saucy) video for Watermelon Sugar; an Instagram live took place between two of the models, where they spoke about how big Harry Styles is on consent. The two discussed his thoughtfulness when it came to directives such as touching the hair of one of the models, Ephrata. You can read more about, and see a clip from the live, here on insider.com. This recollection of their time on set promptly swept the internet, with many people labelling him a consent king, this prompted some (minor) backlash.
Over the past 24 hours I’ve seen many a person across all forms of social media AND had the conversation in the real world (yes, I exist outside of the internet) where others feel that he shouldn’t be praised for this behaviour, because it should be the norm. Yes, I agree, it should be the norm but it isn’t and that’s why it’s so important to praise behaviour like this. To be clear, Harry Styles is not the one calling himself a consent king. He is not on Twitter/Instagram/Facebook saying “look at me I’m a nice guy, I ask for consent” or “not all men, because I ask for consent” or anything along those lines. Harry has solidified as an icon right across the heterosexual and queer communities. He has identified as a feminist for years, but really solidified his stance on that (as well as many others) in his Rolling Stone interview in 2019, stating: “I don’t want a lot of credit for being a feminist. It’s pretty simple. I think the ideals of feminism are pretty straightforward.”
His interview with Zane Lowe, also in 2019, was a very clear introduction to the Harry Styles that I became a stan for at the age of 22, a Harry Styles that stands for consent, love, equality and kindness. If he himself were bragging about his behaviour on set for Watermelon Sugar, yeah I’d probably be a bit sceptical and think it was a bit wanky. The key difference here is that it’s the women involved praising him, publicly, which very rarely happens. In a time where the me too movement has changed the way the world sees men in positions of power, it’s important to be able to celebrate when someone does something right. Harry Styles is the example that the current and future generation of men need to see being praised.
Until this becomes the norm, we need to celebrate this behaviour and recognise how valuable it is. It is important to treat people with kindness, respect and understanding. Unfortunately, this message is often over-shadowed by the not all men comments and the nice guy comments, as much as we need to continue to hold men who abuse their position of power we need to praise those who are doing the right thing. The only way we ever make this behaviour the norm is by positively reinforcing those who do it, by making an example of them.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to practice my audition to be a watermelon.
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