Consentin’ Television

By Andrea Broekemeier

I recently started watching the show Supernatural, after being told time and time again that it’s a good show especially for a nerd like me. It’s a sci-fi show about two brothers traveling the United States hunting ghosts, demons, and other scary beasts while throwing in a few laughs just for kicks. It’s basically The X-Files but fewer aliens and more undead. I know, how was I not watching this show sooner? Anyways, there was an episode from the second season that really captured my attention, but not in the way they usually do. The main characters, Sam and Dean, meet a man named Andy who can influence people. Andy can tell people to do something and they’ll do it, often without realizing they’re being manipulated. At the end of the episode Sam and Dean have an argument about whether or not Andy is a good person. Dean argues that he’s just a bum who uses his powers to get what he needs, while Sam argues that because he killed someone (albeit in self-defense) it shows that he’s capable of murder and is headed toward the dark side. Neither mentions the scene from when they first found Andy. In this scene he is leaving a woman’s apartment as she waves out the window at him and he uses his powers to snag a coffee from a passerby on the street.

We’re led to assume, knowing the gist of what his powers are at this point, that he used his ability to manipulate this woman into sleeping with him. A woman who is attractive and way out of the league of a guy who walks around in his pajamas all day (at least as far as conventional rules about dating go). I found myself wondering why this was not brought up when the brothers are discussing Andy’s morality. He has the ability to get people to do things they would normally never do, including things as extreme as murder and suicide. He has an incredible amount of power that isn’t addressed to the extent it could have been.

Andy may seem like a nice guy, but that doesn’t mean he’s not capable of doing bad things, especially when thinking about consensual sex in today’s world. For a long time rape was not a word applied to a situation when a man assaulted his wife. When a girl goes out in a “slutty” outfit (whatever that means) she is described as “wanting it.” When a woman stays with an abusive partner, that must mean it’s not really that bad. From the outside it might seem like things are okay, especially when the one being used is smiling and waving out the window.

This episode shows one of the poor ways in which sexual assaults are handled by the media; they aren’t discussed in any meaningful way. Most of us are familiar with stories about victims who have been encouraged not to come forward by friends, family, or police. Movies, like Horrible Bosses, show that when a man is being harassed by a woman, it’s a funny thing to behold, not a serious issue worthy of intellectual discussion. And the myth that, in the case of this episode, if it’s not violent, it’s not rape.

“The myth that, if it’s not violent, it’s not rape!” Tweet this Quote

The lack of discussion in the episode encourages the idea that these things are non-issues, that there’s nothing to consider. However, I can’t help but wonder about them when these issues play out on TV. What happened to that unnamed woman whom Andy left? Did she find a way to rationalize the assault away? Was she troubled by it? Would she tell anyone, and would they even believe her? It isn’t explicitly stated if Andy used his powers to sleep with the unnamed woman; it could have been legitimately consensual, assuming they even had sex. But the idea that he could have done it isn’t even brought up. They don’t say what happened, so we’re left to our imaginations to interpret this scene in whatever way we see fit.

Andrea is a 23 year old student at St. Cloud State who loves to learn and try new things.  She likes Sci-fi (way too much), and is proud to be a book nerd. 

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