Should “Promising Young Woman” Be Required Viewing for College Students?

Students can access a free virtual screening of the movie this Thursday

promising young woman
Carey Mulligan in "Promising Young Woman"
Focus Features

Promising Young Woman could potentially have a big night at the Oscars — where it’s up for five awards, including Best Picture — on April 25, but before then it’ll be the centerpiece of a much less glamorous yet far more important event. On Thursday, Focus Features will partner with Campus Circle and the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) to host free virtual screenings of the film for college students.

The screenings will also be followed by a discussion with stars Carey Mulligan and Laverne Cox as well as director Emerald Fennell. College students can RSVP for the free screenings here.

 “Sexual violence can affect not only the survivor but the people and communities around them,” Campus Circle publisher Joy Calisoff said in a statement. “Promising Young Woman has sparked important conversations about the cultural response to sexual assault, healing, justice, and bystander accountability. We thank Focus Features for making Promising Young Woman available to college students, who are at increased risk of sexual violence, to continue this critical dialogue.”

It makes sense that organizations like RAINN and Campus Circle would go out of their way to make sure college kids see Promising Young Woman. Its story is centered around the fallout from an on-campus sexual assault, and it examines the ways in which those all-too-frequent instances (according to RAINN, 13 percent of all college students experience rape or sexual assault while they’re at school) are often swept under the rug.

The film also does an excellent job at asking young men — particularly those who self-identify as “nice guys” — to re-examine their actions and behaviors toward women. Was that girl you hooked up with at Homecoming really sober enough to consent? When your buddy was getting handsy with someone at the bar, did you laugh it off or tell him to cut that shit out?

These are important lessons for anyone, but they’re especially important for men who perhaps haven’t been taught the nuances of consent yet, and now find themselves living on their own — free of their parents’ rules and suddenly thrust into a drinking culture that can impair decision-making — for the first time. There’s something to be said about that education coming in the form of an easy-to-digest movie rather than simply being beat them over the head with it in a Sex Ed class from a young age (which, to be clear, is also important but perhaps less likely to draw their attention).

We’re all for more people checking out Promising Young Woman, and if you happen to be a college student, you can check it out for free this Thursday here.

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