Teen Wolf and Feminism Part 3: Rape Culture and the Female Gaze

MadameAce: If there was one thing to praise Teen Wolf for, it would be its treatment of rape culture, and this can be shown through the actions of Matt, Kate, and Peter. The show doesn’t condone their actions, though it doesn’t try to draw a large amount of attention to them either. Teen Wolf doesn’t do those annoying specials that other shows do, where they present a serious topic and devote the entire episode to giving a lecture on it. Teen Wolf instead presents rape culture as something that not only exists but often happens that people have to deal with.

Warning: Discussion of Rape and Sexual Assault Below!!!

Warning: Discussion of Rape and Sexual Assault Below!!!

Though Kate’s interactions with Derek in the first season didn’t escape my notice, what 
first really grabbed my attention were the scenes in the second season between Matt and Allison. Matt is a fellow high school student and he likes to take pictures of things that catch his interest. He first notices Allison while working as a reporter at Kate’s funeral and begins taking lots of pictures of her. He keeps taking pictures of her without permission through most of the episodes he’s in. Allison eventually discovers this when he leaves his camera in her car. She is very upset; some of these pictures she doesn’t even know how he managed to take and she naturally views it as an invasion. When Matt comes back to the car for his camera, she won’t unlock the door for him, instead rolling down her window to give it back and is very uncomfortable with the whole situation.


Later on, while the two are at Lydia’s birthday party together, they go to an upstairs bedroom to discuss the issue. When Matt tells her it’s nothing because he just thinks she should be the subject of a photograph because she’s pretty, she tells him that “police officers call it stalking.” Matt proceeds to mock her for this and tells her to get over herself, because there are other pretty girls. When Allison tries to leave the room, he grabs her arm, and so she fights back and slams him to the floor. Matt proceeds to ask what’s the matter with her, as if what’s happening is her fault. What I like here is that the scene shows how both stalking and victim blaming should not be glorified. Matt’s not the victim. He grabbed her first, and before that, he made her feel threatened. He also doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with his actions, in both grabbing her and taking the pictures, and blames her for being beautiful. Matt’s actions throughout the season are thankfully shown as creepy and wrong.

Lady Geek Girl: Not only are Matt’s actions show as creepy and wrong but the show puts a lot of emphasis on telling men and women to trust their instincts when it comes to these types of predators. If you feel uncomfortable with someone, you shouldn’t have to talk to them. Melissa McCall seems creeped out by Matt when he is taking pictures at the lacrosse game and Stiles often says how he doesn’t like Matt and how there is something about him that bothers him. Even Allison feels uncomfortable and often pressured by him but isn’t sure why.

Peter, whether young or old is still creepy.

Peter, whether young or old is still creepy.

The same thing happens with Lydia and young Peter. Peter Hale continues to haunt Lydia’s subconscious and begins appearing to her as a younger version of himself. Lydia doesn’t like him and finds him creepy and stalkerish by hiding outside her house or prying into her personal life. He does grow on Lydia though, and she does kiss him before she realizes who he is, but even in this, Teen Wolf never shows Lydia as being at fault. Rather, she feels so isolated and cut off from her friends she begins to grow attached to Peter even though she’s uncomfortable with him.

Not only does Teen Wolf show how rape culture affects women in a real way, but it also address this same issue with men being assaulted by women, which is rarity.

MadameAce: Derek is actually a sexual assault victim thanks to Kate. When he was a teenager—and while she was an adult—she seduced and manipulated him. Then, when she got close enough, she burned down his family. In the first season, she doesn’t stop harassing him sexually. In a confrontation at the remains of his house, she says that she doesn’t know whether or not to kill him or lick him. The whole time, Derek, who can hardly move due to being electrocuted, is trying to crawl away from her in terror. He cannot fight back against her because of how broken she made him. Knowing their history puts that scene into a whole new creepy light. Yet it doesn’t stop there.

Later in the season, she has him chained up so the hunters can torture him for information. The way she talks to him is still very sexual, and she actually does lick his stomach. Because Kate is seen as the accumulation of all things evil, Teen Wolf never falters in showing how wrong this is.

Lady Geek Girl: Teen Wolf is also an interesting show because it actually caters to the female gaze, in that it is often the men who are mostly naked rather than the women. The women are rarely sexualized while the men often are. Now this isn’t always a good thing. That being said, the men are never shown to be just objects of desire the way women are when the male gaze is often employed in other shows. However, I still get uncomfortable over certain things. I find it sad that Tyler Hoechlin doesn’t like to wear pants before he does a scene, because the pants he has to wear to play Derek are so tight and uncomfortable. I also tend to get annoyed that Dylan O’Brien, who plays Stiles, is under constant pressure from fans to do a shirtless scene when he has said he’s uncomfortable doing it. It doesn’t matter if he has been shirtless in a movie he did before; if he’s uncomfortable doing it now, he shouldn’t have to. There is nothing wrong with sex, sexuality, or showing some skin, but I think it’s important that we treat the male actors the same way that we would want the female ones to be treated.

Of course Derek is angry all the time. He doesn't have pants that fit and he never gets to wear a shirt.

Of course Derek is angry all the time. He doesn’t have pants that fit and he never gets to wear a shirt.

Well, that’s it for our Teen Wolf and feminism posts. Overall, I think Teen Wolf is an excellent show and yes, I would say it’s a feminist show. It’s not perfect, but it tries and succeeds most of the time.

Next Friday we will be discussing Teen Wolf and race issues, so be sure to stop by then and don’t forget to let us know what you think in the comments.

Looking for more posts on Teen Wolf and feminism? Check these out:

Teen Wolf and Feminist Subtext and MOAR Feminist Subtext in Teen Wolf. I also like this reply to these posts.

Why Teen Wolf is the Most Feminist Show on Television

You Ever Notice How There Aren’t Any Girl Werewolves and Checking in on Teen Wolf (Almost Feminist, But Not Quite)

2 thoughts on “Teen Wolf and Feminism Part 3: Rape Culture and the Female Gaze

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