St Albans woman writes blog which inspires viral 'cup of tea' sexual consent video
PUBLISHED: 12:58 12 November 2015 | UPDATED: 15:49 12 November 2015
Blue Seat Studios/Emmeline May
A brew-haha over a serious message warning against sex without consent, using a cup of tea in a clever analogy, has 'humbled' its St Albans author.
An extract from the ‘clean’ and condensed version of Emmeline May’s famous ‘tea blog’ on consent:
“Just imagine instead of initiating sex, you’re making them a cup of tea.
You say: “Hey, would you like a cup of tea?” and they go, “OMG yes, I would LOVE a cup of tea!” Then you know they want a cup of tea.
If you say: “Hey, would you like a cup of tea?” and they um and ahh and say, “I’m not really sure...” then you can make them a cup of tea or not, but be aware that they might not drink it, and if they don’t drink it then - this is the important bit - don’t make them drink it.
You can’t blame them for you going to the effort of making the tea on the off-chance they wanted it; you just have to deal with them not drinking it.
Sometimes people change their mind in the time it takes to boil that kettle, brew the tea and add the milk. And it’s OK for people to change their mind ... even though you went to the trouble of making it.
If they are unconscious, don’t make them tea. Unconscious people don’t want tea and can’t answer the question “do you want tea” because they are unconscious.”
In preparation for Christmas season celebrations the Herts Police is launching a campaign to prevent rape, using an animation aimed at those struggling with what constitutes consent as its focal point.
The video cleverly explains this by asking people to imagine, instead of initiating sex, that you are making them a cup of tea.
It is based on a blog about consent, written by St Albans born Emmeline May, 37, which went viral.
The animation, already seen by millions of people, is at the heart of the local force’s anti-rape campaign, and was created when Blue Seat Studios - a company in the United States that makes educational cartoons - asked Emmeline if it could illustrate her blog.
Emmeline writes a personal blog using the pseudonym of Rockstar Dinosaur Pirate Princess – as when she was five years old, she wanted to be all of those things when she grew up.
The administrator, who is a former pupil of St Albans Girls’ School, wrote her now famous ‘tea blog’ at a time she was feeling stressed.
In an interview with the Herts Advertiser, she explained: “I was moving house for the fourth time in a year and wasn’t well and was very close to not writing at all.”
Feeling ‘guilty’ that she had not written a blog, she decided to sit down and write about a conversation she had had online with friends about a court case dealing with the alleged rape of one college student by another in what appeared to be an attempt to recreate a scene from Fifty Shades of Grey.
Emmeline said: “We were particularly shocked by some of the commentary around the case, with a lot of people saying that because the students were already in a sexual relationship, and because the woman had allegedly consented to rough sex previously, that it couldn’t be rape.
“I said: ‘I was at my friend Alice’s last week and she made me several cups of tea. That doesn’t mean she can come round to my house at midnight tonight and force tea on me shouting ‘You wanted tea last week!’
“I thought I would quickly knock off a blog about this, extending the metaphor a little.”
Although it was just a few hours of work, her blog quickly went viral.
Emmeline said: “I genuinely didn’t realise how what I had written would resonate with so many people.”
After the simple and gender-neutral animation was created, this also proved extremely popular.
Emmeline explained: “Blue Seat Studios and I have received amazing feedback from both the blog and the animation. There have been translations of it into other languages. It’s being used in inductions in universities all over the world and I believe in the armed forces of several different countries.
“It’s been used in campaigns by the Crown Prosecution Service as well as the Thames Valley Police.
“Blue Seat and I feel very strongly that it’s important to get the message out as widely as possible as people really seem to connect to the ‘tea and consent’ analogy, so we’ve copyrighted the blog and animation under creative commons licence, which means it can be used for education purposes free of charge, provided we’re credited.”
The blog and cartoon’s global impact has stunned its creators, with Emmeline saying, “I never thought more than a couple of hundred people would even read my blog, so to have been part of a major shift in how we talk and think about consent all over the world is incredible, and humbling.”
With Herts Police launching its anti-rape campaign shortly, Det Chief Insp Fiona Gaskell described the animation of Emmeline’s tea blog as “a simple message that is entertaining, but with a serious message.”