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A Question of Consent
December21st
december21st
This is something that's been bothering me for a while now about a couple TV shows that I watch. One is Lost Girl, the other is The Almighty Johnsons. These shows are both bubblegum shows that are entertaining but not what you'd call intellectually stimulating, and both focus just as much on the sex lives of their characters as they do on the plot of the week. They also both have protagonists that are serial date rapists.


Here's a brief primer for those not familiar with the shows in question. Note that I haven't seen the final seasons of either series.

Lost Girl is a Canadian series currently airing its fifth and final season in Canada (although the fifth season has yet to air in the US.) The main character is Bo, a woman who discovers that she is actually a fae, a race of magical people that live in secret among regular people in the real world (similar to how the magical people live amongst the muggles in Harry Potter.) Specifically, she is a succubus, a type of fae that lives by feeding off the sexual energy of others.

The Almighty Johnsons is a New Zeland series that has been cancelled after three seasons in New Zealand (although the third season has yet to air in the US.) The main characters are the four Johnson brothers, who are the physical incarnations of assorted Norse gods, who live in modern-day New Zealand. These gods have watered-down versions of their original powers.

On Lost Girl, as a succubus, Bo has the ability (at her touch) to make a person warm and tingly and pliable and smitten with her. On The Almighty Johnsons, as the incarnation of Bragi (god of poetry), Anders has the ability (at the sound of his voice) to make a person comply with his suggestions. Both of these powers are activated at will - they're not active all the time.

So Bo and Anders both have supernatural powers that lower their targets' inhibitions and make them compliant. Sounds like a date rape drug to me.

And they use these powers to facilitate having sex with mortals, people that don't know that they have these powers. Sounds like date rape to me.

(Bo sometimes has sex with other fae that know she's a succubus. But she sleeps with humans too, and they have no idea.)

And they do this often. Sounds like a serial rapist to me.

Now, these characters aren't portrayed as rapists. They're both good looking single adults in their thirties, and it's entirely possible that most of their victims would have had sex with them even without being drugged. There's no way to know. Because their victims were not given that choice.

There was an episode of Lost Girl where Bo's power didn't work on a security guard she was trying to distract because he was gay. That implies that her victims have to be at least nominally attracted to her. But there's a difference between finding someone attractive and consenting to have sex with them.

There was an episode of The Almighty Johnsons where three of Anders' victims hunted him down and [Spoiler (click to open)]were going to castrate him because of what he'd done - one had been saving herself for marriage, another missed her wedding day. His family's way of punishing him for multiple date rapes? His brother shakes his finger at him and says "don't do that again." This episode was particularly noteworthy because it pointed out that Anders used his powers to lure these women into bed with him who definitely would not have slept with him otherwise.

It seems important to note that the actors that play Bo and Anders are both over thirty, and it has never been even slightly implied that the characters have used their powers to facilitate having sex with a minor.

These are both shows where most of the characters, not just Bo and Anders, have a lot of sex, and they have a lot of sex with a lot of different partners. In fact, one of the things that I respect about Lost Girl is that Bo is bisexual, so she sleeps with both men and women. (Anders, on the other hand, is straight.) So the problem may be more with the tone of the shows: the sex in these shows is so casual, with most of the characters being serial monogamists at best, and Bo and Anders are both so pretty, that it's inconceivable that someone wouldn't want to have sex with them. So that makes everything okay. (It's not okay.) And because their powers are a natural ability, rather than slipping their victims a roofie, that, too, somehow makes everything okay. (It's not okay.) They're not depicted as doing anything wrong.

In these shows, there are no consequences to sex. Bo doesn't worry about her contraception failing, Anders doesn't worry about catching a STD. (At least, not on screen.) If there were, I'm sure it would be played for laughs. But there are no consequences to date rape either. And I'm not laughing.

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I love Lost Girl (Haven't seen the other) but this has always bothered me, too

Good to know I'm not alone.

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