My favorite Teen Wolf actors are currently filming Season 4, and if rumors are to be believed, it’s less American Horror Story: Lycanthrope and back to normal ol’ campy-yet-awesome Teen Wolf. But here’s the thing: I’m not so sure that this season is going to be less traumatic now that Kate Argent is back.
Jeff Davis has said this will be a big season for Derek, and that he will be in trouble at the beginning of the season and the gang will have to rescue him. Big money is on Kate kidnapping Derek… again.
This does not sound like a light and fluffy season to me, but I’m really worried the writers will attempt to make it that way, and in the process royally screw up a really important issue.
Trigger warning for sexual assault below the cut.
It’s a pretty widely held belief among the fans that Kate Argent sexually assaulted a young Derek Hale while she was an adult. As Ace says in a previous article on sexual assault in Teen Wolf:
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.
Except now Teen Wolf might be faltering on this issue. While we have praised the show in the past for the way it dealt with rape culture, recently they haven’t been doing as well, and I have to wonder if the writers even meant to do as well in previous seasons as they did. In Season 3, Teen Wolf handles both mental disability and sexual assault pretty poorly. Almost every plotline Lydia has had since Season 2 is basically one big allegory for rape. And the writers seem to turn characters’ mental disorders on and off depending on if it will add more drama to the show. Really, the only thing that has saved Teen Wolf’s portrayal of mental disorders is the usually excellent acting.
So, considering how poorly the show has been doing, I am very nervous about the whole Kate and Derek situation being discussed more. For one, I keep hearing that Jeff Davis stated that Derek was not underage when Kate had sex with him, which doesn’t make what she did much better, but it makes Kate’s character make a lot less sense. Kate seems to be constantly coded as a sexual predator in Season 1, from her interactions with Derek, to her flirting with Scott (her niece’s boyfriend), to her comments about wanting to be Jackson’s substitute teacher and sleep with him. To try to claim that Kate is not a sexual predator now seems to be an attempt to—what? Soften her character? Which I guess would mean that her previous interactions—maybe not the ones with Derek, but with Scott and Jackson—are just meant to be… playful and not taken seriously? That’s fucked up.
Now to be fair, while fans have claimed Jeff Davis stated that Kate didn’t sexually assault Derek, I couldn’t find any source for these claims.That doesn’t mean that the writers won’t try to redeem Kate, which worries me. If they do attempt this, I hope they give her a much better redemption arc than they did Aidan, who did the classic “do one or two heroic things then ‘die a hero'” crap. Then of course we have Deucalion, who got his sight back and murdered Jennifer, which somehow redeemed him. So yes, I am extremely concerned that Kate’s past as a sexual predator will be either erased or that she’ll be suddenly just be a good guy because of reasons.
But the other, and probably the main, reason that I’m worried about Kate’s not actually being a sexual predator is that the show will then no longer have an example of a male character who has dealt with sexual assault. Now, I know that sounds weird. Other than Isaac, Derek is probably the character on whom the writers most tend to dump emotional problems. So wouldn’t it actually be nice for me, a fan, to find out one horrible thing I thought happened to Derek didn’t actually happen? Well, yeah, but that’s not what is important. Derek is a fictional character. I don’t want him to be sad, but if he is, the story doesn’t lose its cultural impact.
What is a real loss is when there is no representation of male characters who have been victims of sexual assault. Male sexual assault is a huge issue that no one really talks about. There are people who truly don’t believe that men can be raped or sexually assaulted by a woman. When male rape or sexual assault is portrayed in pop culture, it’s almost always men assaulting other men. This is obviously still important to discuss, but our society tends to think that men cannot be raped by women. People believe that men are somehow so desperate for sex that it’s impossible for women to rape them, or that if they are aroused during intercourse, it’s somehow not rape. When this arousal issue is applied to all rape victims, regardless of gender, rapists will purposefully pleasure their victims because they know this is how people think. Showing Derek as a victim of sexual assault and having Derek deal with that trauma and overcome it is an extremely important way to discuss female-on-male sexual assault. To get rid of that is a huge slap in the face.
While I don’t want Season 4 to be as depressing as Season 3B, I don’t want a lighter season to happen by way of making Kate less horrific than she is. There is a reason fans warn for Kate Argent in their fanfiction: it’s because she is a violent sexual predator and no matter how weird it may seem, it’s important that Teen Wolf continue to portray her character that way.