Sexualized Saturdays: Teen Wolf and Consent

teenwolfTrigger Warning for rape, statutory, pedophilia, ephebophilia.

Last week, Lady Saika wrote a post about what was then an upcoming Teen Wolf episode that would feature a sex scene between Danny and Ethan. Despite all the cheesiness of Teen Wolf, it has been a rather progressive show, and establishing a homosexual relationship and also showing it on screen is a big step up in terms of queer representation.

However, in a fit of immaturity, some Stiles/Derek shippers decided to boycott the episode because Derek was also going to have a sexual scene with Jennifer Blake, a new character this season. Rumors of the boycott seem to have been greatly exaggerated, and they don’t seem to have hurt the episode’s views. However, I would like to talk about the variety of negative reactions some Sterek shippers had to this episode.

tumblr_mpq66cWtLM1rzn5uvo1_500Immediately, misogynistic insults began flooding the internet. Jennifer Blake must be taking advantage of Derek. She’s an evil witch. She’s the darach—which is possible, but it seems like some shippers may be jumping to conclusions, because she’s “taking advantage of him”. How can Derek, who has trust issues, come to trust someone unless he’s being manipulated? It’ll be so awesome when Derek discovers how evil she is. He should rip her uterus out and strangle her with it. Oh, and this isn’t actually misogyny, by the way. These Sterek shippers just don’t like poorly defined relationships (never mind that Derek and Stiles have barely shared any scenes together). But seriously, Jennifer Blake is an evil whore. She should die, and we should rejoice.

Oh, and apparently at some point during Derek’s and Jennifer’s completely consensual coupling, she raped him.

What’s sad is that these are all actual arguments Lady Geek Girl, Lady Saika, and I have found in the Dennifer and Sterek tags on Tumblr. I’m not going to delve into why these accusations against Jennifer are misogynistic. I hope that would be obvious. The rape one, though, bothers me quite a bit, especially because the people arguing it and simultaneously championing Sterek fail to realize how hypocritical they are being. At this point, they don’t want Sterek because of representation—the boycott proved that. However, the Sterek ship as a whole has never stuck well with me, and there’s one word that’s the cause of that: statutory.

For the most part, fans seem to be pretty decent about this. Many fanfics take place when Stiles is older, or if they don’t, they at least acknowledge that any kind of sexual relationship between Derek and Stiles is illegal. Additionally, Stiles’s father is a cop, and I do think that that helps create awareness to the issue at hand.

Unfortunately, I feel as though there are a select few people out there who don’t care that Stiles is a minor. He’s about seventeen, and Derek is well into his twenties. Their ages haven’t been explicitly confirmed yet, but Derek has to be older than twenty if you pay attention to the timeframes. Statutory rape laws vary between the states, but in California, the legal age of consent is eighteen. It won’t matter if Stiles is willing; the law will not recognize his ability to consent, and therefore, Derek will be a rapist.

Sterek1Sterek2The consent laws in California are so strict that minors cannot legally have sex with each other. Scott and Allison, for example, could actually get sent to a juvenile court if they engage in intercourse. Lydia and Jackson’s relationship is also completely illegal. However, unless deemed otherwise, those are still cases for juvenile courts. That would not be true of Derek and Stiles. If Sterek happens while Stiles is still a minor, it doesn’t matter how well set up the relationship is, or how believable it is, Derek will be a sex offender. This is not an opinion. This is the law. And we have statutory laws for a reason. Stiles cannot consent.

Since Stiles is a teenager, sexual attraction to him on an adult’s part—an adult like Derek—would be called ephebophilia, which is sexual attraction to teenagers, specifically between the ages of fifteen and nineteen. Pedophilia means sexual attraction to prepubescent children. However, it has been used in place of other philias regarding sexual attraction to minors since it’s a much more common word, so for the purposes of this article, I’m just going to say pedophilia.

Throughout history, non-heteronormative people have often been accused of pedophilia. Many people do not even understand the difference between pedophilia and homosexuality, and therefore, anyone who isn’t straight may find other people labeling them as child molesters based on nothing more than the fact that they’re not straight. Even anti-gay activists who do understand the difference between the two will often lump them together, because, as they say, if we allow gay marriage, it’s only a matter of time before we legalize pedophilia. They view it as a slippery slope. Allowing one makes way for the other. And to people who don’t understand the difference, hearing homosexuality and pedophilia mentioned together will only make those people form mental connections between non-heternormative people and pedophiles.

Probably furthering this misunderstanding is the fact that, like LGBTQ+ orientations, pedophilic attractions are not a choice, and thus many pedophiles use the excuse that it’s just who they are. It is, however, still harmful for the children involved, and it is not a sexuality. Sexualities determine what gender a person is attracted to. Philias are things people are attracted to. Not helping is the fact that many pedophiles go after children who are their own gender, despite not being homosexual themselves. Additionally, pedophilia is a mental disorder, whereas sexualities are not.

Unfortunately, this misunderstanding is widespread. There are people who think that the scandal involving Catholic priests molesting boys is caused by homosexuality.

When the Boy Scouts of America wanted to lift a ban on gay members, Right leaders immediately claimed that doing so would endanger children and lead to more abuse.

There are still people like Bryan Fischer who claim that allowing same-sex couples to adopt children is analogous to child abuse.

Despite evidence to the contrary, sites like Americans For Truth About Homosexuality are still trying to prove a connection between homosexuals and pedophiles, and in doing my research for this post, I actually found the term “homosexual pedophile”, which appears to be different than just “pedophile”.

This is a serious problem that people in the LGBTQ+ community have to face. A few years back in college, I came out to someone as being an asexual, and immediately, in a room filled with people, the person I came out to said very loudly, “Oh, so you’re a pedophile then!” Because I must be attracted to something, right?

This is why Sterek worries me, because too many people still associate non-heternormative people with pedophilia. I would love to have more representation in media for LGBTQ+ people, but I feel as though Sterek would be the wrong representation. It would do nothing to lessen this problem if Teen Wolf, a very popular and progressive show, normalized a relationship that would be ephebophilic.

If you don’t like Jennifer Blake, that’s fine. If you want Sterek to happen because you legitimately want more representation, that’s fine also. But I feel it would be best if the show waited at least one or two years.

Unfortunately, the show itself doesn’t seem to care that ephebophilia can be a problem. Derek’s character already likes to hang around with teenagers much more often than is considered normal for someone in his age group, and the scene where he turned Erica into a werewolf was creepy enough as it is. He later makes out with her and then implies that he’s planning on hooking her up with someone, regardless of her consent. From an outside perspective, even though he hasn’t engaged sexually with any of the other characters who are still in high school—except for Erica, which is inexcusable—he still comes across as a predator. If the show itself doesn’t seem to care about this, why should the fans be bothered to care either?

I understand the want for Sterek, but it would be unfortunate if Jeff Davis wrote it in now. Just because Derek had a fling with Jennifer doesn’t mean their relationship will work, and maybe a few years down the road, when Stiles is older, Sterek will happen. However, for the meantime, fans need to stop pressuring the writers to write a relationship that would legally be rape. It will do more harm than good for LGBTQ+ people.

4 thoughts on “Sexualized Saturdays: Teen Wolf and Consent

  1. While I do understand your concern about some people’s prejudices and sometimes confusing homosexuals and pedophiles (on purpose sometimes, just because they lump everything they don’t like together) I don’t see a problem with this show in regards to possible ephebophilia. Simply because the actors are almost all over the age of twenty even during the first season and that certainly shows on TV (you can’t actually see these people as 16 yo). They don’t physically look or generally act like teens in a way that could be titillating for those who like that kind of thing. No Lolitas to be seen.

    The only time I felt uncomfortable was when Derek offered Erica the bite (in the hospital!) and when she kissed him later (not he other way around, and Derek stopped that rather quickly). I’m not touching the whole Blake fanrage, though! And despite what the Sterek fans want, I don’t think they will go there, though I personally wouldn’t mind either way.

    About the illegality – amidst the murder, torture and various other illegal act seen on this show, (and currently living in an area where the age of consent is sixteen) I really hadn’t given it a thought. ‘Don’t try this at home’ is something that applies to most TV shows in this genre.

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