Glee: Baby Got Back. And then got Raped.

Glee: Baby Got Back. And then got Raped.

Last night, a bunch of never before seen extras on Fox’s show Glee performed an unaccredited cover of Jonathan Coulton’s cover of Sir Mix A Lot’s Baby Got Back. When confronted with the outrage of a million angry geeks on Twitter, Glee was all “yeah, but it’s a cover of a cover. BFD. Besides, EXPOSURE AND SHIT, YO. Coulton should be THANKING us.”  And JoCo was all “Fuck you. It’s not exposure if you don’t put my fucking name on it, crotch fuckers.” And Glee was all “*blink blink* It’s not like it’s illegal. *shrug*.” And everyone kept raging and then Peter Sagal started tweeting and more rage ensued:

 

I hereby take back and regret all the nice things I said about @gleeonfox last week. They are slime molds in suits. jonathancoulton.com/2013/01/18/bab…

— Peter Sagal (@petersagal) January 25, 2013

 

 

And everyone is really angry. Because Glee covered a cover of a song and no one got credit and that’s stealing and that’s wrong and that’s bullshit. And despite the fact that it’s legal, JoCo is supposedly looking into a way to sue them… as he should.

But let’s fast forward a few minutes after the otherwise unremarkable ironic hipster show choir moment. Because something else happened in this episode that is also pretty awful and deserves just as much, if not more, rage. Last night’s episode also contained explicit, admitted, unapologetic, statutory rape.

Around 24 minutes into the episode, one of the high school characters, Kitty, asks the graduated-from-high-school Puckerman to go to Sadie Hawkins dance and the script pretends to be coy and subtle about the fact that this is not a dance-date but a fuck-me-in-ways-porn-hasn’t-filmed-yet-of date. Seriously.

But Puckerman isn’t about to get himself into trouble. He isn’t going to jail for sticking his junk inside this little Lolita… even if it is to protect his brother from going to the big dance with said Lolita. (No. For real. This is actually the story. He’s being seduced by his brother’s hook-up interest to protect his brother from hooking up with Kitty because Kitty wants to hook up with the brother and even though bro wants to hook up with Kitty as well, he wants to have fun at the dance and he can only do that with a different girl… which makes the whole why-we-have-to-steal-music thing make sense. Because they can’t even find good writers for the non-music.)

Now, Glee takes a whole lot of liberties with reality. It’s one of the things that made the show charming in the first place. So I’d be willing to call this a non-rape date if this exchange hadn’t happened:

 

Kitty: You wanna keep me away from your brother? Give me a big old yarn ball of muscles to distract me.

Puckerman: Aren’t you underage?

Kitty: I have a fake ID.

Puckerman: Good enough for me. It’s Sadie Hawkins soooo I assume that means you’re paying for everything. If you wanna get all up in this, I expect to be fed.

Ew.

Anyway… here we have an obvious and explicit understanding that Kitty is not old enough to consent to sex, but her fake ID says she can, and Puckerman is cool with plausible deniability… for his brother. Puckerman is willing to rape his brother’s boner’s interest to protect him from his own boner. It’s what brothers do. For family honor… I guess. I don’t have a brother, so I’m stuck assuming things based on the script.

child-sex-abuse-awareness-you-need-help-original-34779Later in the show. (Because for some reason I’m still watching.) Puckerman and Kitty are at the Sadie Hawkins dance. As it turns out, they are hitting it off. She makes a bunch of anti-Semitic jokes, laughing as she says she can’t date Jewish guys because they killed her Jesus buuuuut she did read his screen play and thinks he has talent and can make it as a screenwriter in Hollywood (in which this entire episode comes into focus as a very real fantasy of everyone working on this show.) Because the best judge of what it takes to make it as a professional writer in Hollywood is a racist high school sophomore from rural Ohio. But Puckerman is shocked and flattered that this very (un)worldly and very (un)knowledgeable (very) young lady would be impressed with his screenplay that he wrote while living and running his own business in LA.

This could be true love. Puckerman has a chance to talk to Kitty and tell her that she doesn’t have to do the weird stuff, and that he’s really enjoying her company and he’d like to take her out for sodas and shit. Instead…

Kitty: If you’re done dancing like you lost your leg in a motorcycle accident, why don’t we head back to my car and have at each other in the back seat?

Puckerman: Right on. But I have to warn you, I’m pretty hungry after sex so we should make it quick because Sonic Burger closes in an hour.

Kitty grabs his arm and they run out, Puckerman’s brother sees their sexit (that’s my new word for when you’re running out to the door to do sex) and looks a little sad… and that’s the last we see of them for the rest of the episode. Because they’re presumably fucking. And this is prime time. And she’s not old enough to be filmed fucking. Because she’s not old enough to have sex.

So we got rape and cheeseburgers. Now that’s good TV.

I’m a little shocked and upset that the reaction from the world was “OMG! THAT’S MY NERD MUSIC!” But there was no “WHAT THE FUCK, FOX? THAT’S RAPE AND YOU EVEN WROTE DIALOGUE INTO THE SCRIPT THAT ADMITS THAT IT’S RAPE AND YOU RAN WITH IT ANYWAY!”

This is fucked up, geeks. Puckerman ASKS if sex with her is going to be rape. She says yes, but that her fakey says it’s cool. Then he runs out to the car to show her his disgusting yarn-ball man muscles and make her buy him a #3 combo meal with a large fry… because rape makes him hungry… and he has less than an hour to rape her.

Maybe before everyone is done flipping furniture over the legal use of an arrangement of a song, we could maybe flip a step stool or a candle stick for the way they make it cool to fuck kids if you’re doing it for your brother and the kid is sexy and asking for it.

Avatar of Elyse
Elyse MoFo Anders is the bad ass behind forming the Women Thinking, inc and the superhero who launched the Hug Me! I'm Vaccinated campaign as well as podcaster emeritus, writer, slacktivist extraordinaire, cancer survivor and sometimes runs marathons for charity. You probably think she's awesome so you follow her on twitter.

133 Comments

  1. Avatar of Masala Skeptic

    I think the problem is that the Coulton story hit long before the episode aired. And a large number of the people up in arms about this don’t watch Glee regularly. In fact, I think some people avoided watching it just in case the whole thing was a big publicity stunt. Or, they’re like me and watch it after it airs, on demand or Hulu or whatever. But the Coulton issue was clear and easy to validate after the fact and has made a big splash because people have been talking about it long before the episode aired. In order to get up in arms over the rape scene, they’d have had to see the episode… so I don’t think it’s fair to say that the people up in arms about Coulton are ignoring the rape issue.
    I haven’t seen the episode and probably won’t – this thing has basically turned me off the show (which was going downhill this season anyway). But I guess it’s *possible* that they’re trying to work in the issue of underage sex into the storyline and may come clean about it… They do have a tendency to talk about some serious issues. I have my doubts but it’s possible…

    Anywho, I don’t plan on watching it anymore. I’m too busy with the Mindy Project anyway :)

  2. Avatar of muddgirl

    Yeah, to be fair to nerddom, I first heard about the Coulton cover when the track was released on Youtube last Friday. I don’t watch Glee, and I definitely wouldn’t have watched this particular episode. Information wants to be free, but information wants to be attributed, yo.

  3. Avatar of Elyse

    It’s not really about knowing before… we know now because people saw the episode. I’m not upset that geeks are angry about the song theft, but I am angry that it didn’t turn into ‘THEFT AND RAPE WHAT THE FUCKING HELL?”

    Because that shouldn’t have gone ignored for an entire day.

  4. Avatar of kittynh

    This makes me glad my daughters are all grown up and not teenagers into the show. I know it’s really popular with the Middle Schoolers where I work. I’ve never seen the show, really never want to now, but I’m going to ask the Middle School teachers (there are 3 of them, it’s a small school) if they want to address this with the students. WTF are the writers thinking? This show appeals to young teens. “It’s OK with a fake ID!” , wow.

  5. Avatar of vexorian

    To be fair, I was angry at the Coulton thing just because of what I read and didn’t actually watch the episode or Glee at all. So I needed this blog to find out about the far more awful thing.

    Later in the show. (Because for some reason I’m still watching.)

    Iron Stomach.

  6. Avatar of Sixthlight

    I think a lot of the lack of outrage may also be because, well, consensual sex between two teenagers, one of whom happens to be underage, (being portrayed by *a 27-year-old and a 30-year-old*, moreover) is not in my mental basket for “rape”, on the grounds of “being consensual”. It also wouldn’t *be* statutory rape in a lot of places where the age of consent is lower than 18 or has provisions for people who are close in age. People aren’t mad about the RAPEY RAPEY RAPE because judging by your description *there wasn’t any*, except on a purely legal basis – no imbalance of power seems to have been involved, and the point at which teenagers become too young to consent to sex *with their peers* is not precisely a settled one in Western culture.

    • Avatar of Elyse

      Not two teenagers. One teenager. One man who moved to LA, opened his own business, and moved back to Ohio and has the wherewithal to ask if she is “of age” and after hearing “no” proceeds to fuck her in the back seat of her car.

      Also, on Glee they don’t go from high school to 18. They are actually full-on adults now. Able to buy alcohol and teach high school and shit. Like I said, Glee doesn’t exist within the confines of reality, but the parameters for this were specifically and explicitly laid out that she was NOT old enough to have sex with him legally.

      • Avatar of Sixthlight

        “the parameters for this were specifically and explicitly laid out that she was NOT old enough to have sex with him legally.”

        Not legal /=/ nonconsensual. You wondered why the internet wasn’t angry. I’m saying, *that’s probably why*. Of all the shit Glee pulls – and I stopped watching a couple of seasons ago because of said shit – this is really not very high on the rage-meter.

        • Avatar of Infophile

          The reason this is typically illegal is because our society has judged that free consent is not possible when someone is too young (or is in another power dynamic with the sex partner, eg. legal guardian/child). So yes, by the standards of our society, it was nonconsensual, because she couldn’t freely consent to sex – the power dynamic is too large for any consent to considered “free.”

          As a parallel, imagine if a man finds blackmail material on a certain woman, and tells her that if she doesn’t have sex with him, he’ll make it public. If she agrees to have sex with him, it’s rape, because her consent wasn’t made freely. (If you still don’t buy that, one could take it to extremes – “Have sex with me or I’ll kill you.”)

          Now, if you want to argue about what the specific age of consent can be, fine. That’s a legitimate grey area, and many societies have settled on different ages. In fact, the need for a fake ID doesn’t even preclude being over the age of consent – in most US states, the age of consent is 16 (notable exceptions being California and New York, where a disproportionate number of TV shows are based), and in all states, the drinking age is 21. That’s a 5-year gap where a fake ID would be needed for beer, but not for sex. However, given the context of the discussion in this particular case, I’m inclined to believe that the girl in question was in fact under the age of consent, so it’s a moot point.

          • Avatar of Sixthlight

            The age of consent is *not a magic line*, on one side of which one is capable of consent and the other one is not – legally, yes, but no more than there’s a magic line at which one becomes capable of handling alcohol in an adult fashion. Satutory rape laws exist, basically, to help prosecute cases of duvious consent when a) the age of one partner *unambiguously* makes them incapable of consent or, b), it was non-consensual but that isn’t provable per se. The sex presumably had, as summarised, is neither of those things.

            I understand perfectly well that rape is not always carried out by physical force, and nonconsensual sex, i.e. rape, happens through blackmail or other pressure. But those things *were not happening here* – except the pressure/implicit blackmail of the older person by the younger one, in order for the younger one to obtain sex.

        • Avatar of Elyse

          Not able to consent = nonconsensual

          • Avatar of marilove

            I seriously can’t believe you had to say that, wow.

          • Avatar of Shane Simmons

            Not able to consent because she’s had the right to consent taken away from her, because girls don’t know any better.

          • Avatar of marilove

            What the hell are you talking about, Shane? Can you point where it was at all implied that “girls don’t know any better”?

            Because this entire scenario would be the same if the sexes were switched. YOU are the one that is quite obsessed with gender. It is irrelevant. If Kitty was Puck’s age, and Puck Kitty’s age, everything stated here would still apply.

          • Avatar of Barry Hamilton

            You keep saying “nonconsensual” or “not able to consent” but you’re conflating it with “not able to consent BY LAW”. All joking aside do you really believe Kitty’s character is incapable of consenting to sex for any other reason than the law in Fake Ohio? If so then I could understand your point a little better whether I agree with your reasoning or not because as most of us know the law is not always the final word on morality.

      • Avatar of sayke

        No, they do go from high school to 18. Puck is canon 18-19, and the suspension of disbelief is in the fact that an 18 year old would be able to do all that Puck did without any kind of explanation or consequence. Finn doesn’t teach high school, he volunteer runs an extra-curricular that he was pretty much leading the year before. Kitty is canon 15-16, and considering that it’s now the second half of the school year for them, more likely the latter. Ohio age of consent for sex with someone 18 years or older is 16 (13 if the partner is under 18), so there’s plausible deniability that this wasn’t statutory rape. At least that’s what they’ll say if confronted about this.

        That said, this wouldn’t be the first time that Glee has inserted something that specifically uses dubious consent or non-consent as an off-hand joke. Brittany losing her virginity to an “alien abduction” at cheer-leading camp is a good example. Ryan Murphy in general has a bad habit of believing that the now and then overhanded PSA episode will excuse all the weekly gross comments that he slips into his shows’ dialogue.

      • Avatar of adya monroe

        Two teenagers. Puck’d be 19 at this point, I believe.

        I agree with both sides: my concern about this is less about it being “rapey” and more about it glorifying teen sex, which is a related but not identical issue.

    • Avatar of marilove

      It would be one thing if this was a romance story about someone who is 17 and someone who is 18, but this isn’t how it was. He SPECIFICALLY ASKED if she was underage and she said “no” — that whole creepy aspect is important. You’re supposed to know that she’s underage, and she’s not, and that it’s “naughty” — why do you suppose that is?

      • Avatar of marilove

        Er, he specifically asked if she was “of age”, not underage.

      • Avatar of Sixthlight

        “He SPECIFICALLY ASKED if she was underage and she said “no” — that whole creepy aspect is important.”

        Well, yeah, he asked because if she’s underage (which is, note, a question) then it’s illegal and breaking laws is at minimum something you want to know if you’re doing ahead of time. That doesn’t make it non-consensual. Or rape. Creepy? Maybe. A bad idea? Definitely. Weird and transactional and probably not romantic in the slightest? Sure. But is there any evidence in this summary that it’s non-consensual or any power/pressure is being brought to bear on the underage person? Nope. Hence, lack of outrage. If people got outraged every time high school characters on Glee had bad-idea sex they’d barely have time to be outraged at its actual flaws (e.g. characters, writing, treatment of minorities, etc.)

        • Avatar of donboc

          Given what Lee Crocker says below, it sounds like it wasn’t even illegal in Illinois. It also sounds like the characters and the writers were unaware that the sex would actually be legal.

          But there’s a difference between illegal and rape, and there’s a difference between statutory rape and rape, even though the former has the word “rape” in it. Smoking pot is illegal, but it’s not rape and, in my view, it’s not evil. This sex (a) wouldn’t actually be statutory rape, and (b) even if it would be statutory rape it simply does not strike most people as rape if the characters are in their mid-to-late teens and the sex is consensual. Hence the lack of outrage.

          Frankly, I think that sex between teenagers is pathologized way too often. I’m glad that the show didn’t portray sex between teenagers as being awful.

          • Avatar of Sixthlight

            The show’s set in Ohio, but the age of consent is 16 across the board there, so the question really becomes “did the writers bother to look up Ohio’s age of consent?”, which seems unlikely, especially since most people in America seem to assume the age of consent is always 18, even in states where it isn’t.

            “Frankly, I think that sex between teenagers is pathologized way too often. I’m glad that the show didn’t portray sex between teenagers as being awful.”

            Yeah, My home country’s age-of-consent is 16, and I find the way American culture often fetishises the difference between “legal” and “underage” really creepy. The point is not that there’s a magic age that makes all sex OK. The point is to try and balance consent and maturity.

          • Avatar of Elyse

            This isn’t about teens having sex. This is about someone specifically asking “Are you able t consent?” Her saying “no” then going along with a sexual storyline assuming consent. They WROTE INTO THE STORY that she cannot consent. They explicitly stated she cannot consent. They can’t then be like “but it’s consensual.” Because you’ve laid it out already that it’s not.

          • Avatar of donboc

            That’s not true. They didn’t write that she cannot consent. They wrote (incorrectly) that she was of an age that the law decides means she cannot consent. As a person of age 35, I am of an age that the law decides means I cannot (legally) smoke marijuana. That doesn’t mean that it’s morally wrong for me to smoke marijuana. And in my view it’s not morally wrong for a 16 year-old who wants to have sex with a 19 year-old to do so, no matter what the law (or the writers’ version of the law) says about the matter.

          • Avatar of marilove

            And why, exactly, do you think it was oh so important that they at least very strongly imply that she’s not “of age”?

      • Avatar of marilove

        These points are not invalid, but the point I was trying to bring home was that they were clearly, to me anyway, making a point to bring home that she is UNDERAGE, which is “sexy” and “naughty”.

        It’s creepy how much emphasis they put on the fact that she is underage.

        • Avatar of Sixthlight

          “It’s creepy how much emphasis they put on the fact that she is underage.”

          I entirely agree – I find American culture fetishizes the age of consent to a deeply squicky degree (and this is related to rape culture, no question.) But that wasn’t the original point being made.

          • Avatar of marilove

            AND, they did make a point to mention that she couldn’t legally consent. That was the whole point. The whole thing is creepy.

          • Avatar of donboc

            But why get creeped out about the fact that she cannot legally consent? We cannot legally smoke marijuana, but do we find it creepy that people smoke marijuana in some TV shows? My morality doesn’t 100% overlap with the law’s idea of what’s allowed. I suspect yours doesn’t either.

          • Avatar of marilove

            Because marijuana smoking marijuana is analogous to sex and humans … how?

            TV shows don’t exist in a vacuum, and with the CONTEXT of the show’s subject matter, and the CONTEXT of the scene, and the CONTEXT of past episodes related to these characters — yeah. It’s fucking creepy. There is a *reason* why they found it necessary to point out that the girl was not of age. Because it’s taboo and hot and sexy when a girl is a young virgin. This is like, porn 101.

          • Avatar of donboc

            My point is that you’re talking about what she could legally do as though that were morally important at all. I I think it was important because in the context of the show the characters were willing to risk breaking the law. But it was NOT morally important.

            But my real point is that simply being illegal is not sufficient grounds to make something morally creepy, which I’m pretty sure you agree with (this is what motivated the marijuana example).

            So if what happened was creepy at all, it wasn’t because of the law.

            I think that sex with a non-consenting partner is incredibly creepy (to say the least)! It’s more than creepy; it’s awful and disgusting and nearly the worst thing that a person can do.

            But I don’t think that a 19 year-old having sex with a 16 year-old is creepy, even if (in imaginary Ohio) it’s illegal.

          • Avatar of Pseudonym

            marliove:

            TV shows don’t exist in a vacuum, and with the CONTEXT of the show’s subject matter, and the CONTEXT of the scene, and the CONTEXT of past episodes related to these characters — yeah. It’s fucking creepy.

            That makes a bit more sense. This is the first time in the thread (I’ve read the whole thing) that the context of the show as a whole has been mentioned explicitly as a factor. That’s a rather important detail for people (e.g. typical Jonathan Coulton fans) who don’t normally watch the show.

            If it’s creepy in context, then you may not find it as creepy if you lack that context. My my counting, that’s the fourth plausible reason why the nerdisphere didn’t get upset about it.

        • Avatar of marilove

          I’m with will, donboc: If you don’t think the writers MADE A POINT to mention that she was *not* “of age” because the whole “fucking a jailbait virgin is hawt!” — then you’re fucking delusional. The writers wrote it this way for A REASON.

          You know, I am really getting fucking tired of (mostly men) totally ignoring blatant sexism or blatant whatever.

          Case in point: “He called feminine women who wear makeup repellent bimbos but he was TOTALLY jsut talking about himself! He wasn’t being sexist at all!” TWO (men) people defended that crap.

          And now this.

          This shit is getting MOTHERFUCKING OLD.

        • Avatar of Shane Simmons

          Haven’t watched the show in ages, and back then it was largely because my music teacher wife tried to keep up with what her students were watching (a long winded way of saying “I didn’t pay much attention”), but it was pretty clear to me that Puckerman was a moronic creep.

    • Avatar of Lee Crocker

      FYI, in the state of Illinois where the series is set, sex between a 16 year old girl and 18 or 19 year old man is completely legal. 5 year age difference required for statutory rape. In California, less than a 3-year age difference is a misdemeanor.

      • Avatar of spurge

        The show is set in Ohio.

        • Avatar of Elyse

          It doesn’t matter where the show happens to be set in. This is not REAL LIFE Ohio where the REAL LIFE laws exist in actual jurisdictions. This is fictional Ohio. And in this version of Ohio, we know that Kitty is not old enough to consent.

          • Avatar of Sixthlight

            “And in this version of Ohio, we know that Kitty is not old enough to consent.”

            No. We don’t. We know that in that jurisdiction she is below the legal age of consent. The law does not make sex acts right or wrong per se. You’re assuming that the show is sending the message that she can’t consent, which it would only be if it was generally accepted that the age of consent involved a Magic Consent-Allowing Line. And it’s not generally accepted that this is the case, so that’s not the message that’s coming across.

          • Avatar of Will

            Elyse said: “Kitty is not old enough to consent.”
            Sixthlight replied: “Nuh uh! She is below the age of consent.”
            Not seeing a difference there……
            No one is talking about magic consent lines or whatever the fuck you’re going on about. According to the law, if someone is under a particular age, they are legally unable to consent. The writers made it clear that IN THE GLEE UNIVERSE Kitty is below the age of consent, meaning that someone who has sex with her who is of the legal adult age is committing statutory rape. This would likely be a non-issue if IN THE GLEE UNIVERSE they had not made a point of noting that she is under the age of consent. Why even write that in there? Why not just have them hook up or whatever? If you think that the intention behind that wasn’t the whole “jailbait” turn-on bullshit, you’re delusional.

          • Avatar of moonglaive

            @Sixthlight, Will

            The issue here is not whether the real world law exists that protects people on either side of that age of consent. If the writers had added into the narrative that laws do exist to deal with situations such as this, we’d be having a different conversation: whether or not Kitty was able to give consent at her age, yadda yadda yadda. But that’s not what happened; the narrative used “Kitty says she’s not of age/Puck acknowledges that he cannot have consensual sex with her but does so anyway” — the narrative is set up for that whole interaction to be *rape* and then glosses over it like it’s no big deal, as though it’s normal and even okay for this to occur.

  7. Avatar of Lisa M

    Yeah i mean… I don’t watch the show and didn’t know about this. You’re right, it’s worth being enraged over, and more so than JoCo’s song getting stolen. But i don’t think that the majority of people you’re seeing on twitter who are made about Glee stealing JoCo’s song don’t care about rape, they just don’t watch the show and don’t know.

  8. Avatar of Kaylia_Marie

    I wish that underage sex was called underage sex and not rape. Was it statutory rape? Yes. Is this the first time that statutory rape has happened on this show? No…. and usually it has negative consequences of teen age pregnancy, loss of self esteem, loneliness, breaking up, etc. I get that we need laws to protect people from being taken advantage of, but consensual underage sex shouldn’t -in my humble opinion- be labeled the same as non consensual sexual assault. IE: I wish there was a different term.

    Right, she’s underage… which gets the “ew” vote from me… but considering all the other underage stuff on the show, I didn’t find this particular technical-rape to be that shocking or disturbing.

    … to me calling what happened on the show “rape” without the “statutory” in front of it somewhat diminishes the other kind of rape… you know the kind where you are penetrated against your will.

    • Avatar of thekingofhell

      I cannot agree with Kaylia_Marie more. If underage sex is handled in a consensual manner and there is no coercion or assault then it shouldn’t be punushed. Making it evil is the problem, by seeing it in its proper dimension then we can speak about safe sex, regardless.

      • Avatar of marilove

        The thing is, the show’s writers wrote in rape to tantalize and titillate. Seriously. It’s really not the ages that are important; it’s the way the story was written: to include a rapey story line because it’s taboo and therefore “sexy”.

        • Avatar of moonglaive

          I used to watch Glee, the first season and part of the second, until I realized that Fox was, surprise, surprise, being Faux and using false inclusivity in order to be all “edgy” and boost their ratings.

    • Avatar of Elyse

      The question was asked if she could even consent. The answer was no. So she could not. Then they had sex. That is not consensual. Why lay it out in the script that she can’t if she can?

      • Avatar of marilove

        And that’s the point, isn’t it? The reason they wrote it that way is because we’re supposed to find it SEXY that she’s 1)underage and 2)technically can’t consent. It’s taboo and therefore “good” tv.

      • Avatar of Lee Crocker

        One obvious reason to script it that way is to make fun of the law. If the the law in that state criminalizes (FYI: 19/16 in Ohio is $1000 fine, no jail time) what is clearly private behavior between two individuals quite willing and able to consent by any rational meaning of the word, the fact that it happens to be illegal is political commentary. Admittedly, they probably didn’t think of it that way, and are just doing it for titillation, the same way they might depict the kids drinking or smoking pot. I can see the argument that the show might be thereby glamorizing illegal behavior, but I don’t really have much problem with that unless the behavior is also wrong by some standard other than mere law.

    • Avatar of Will

      Uh, it’s not “underage sex” when one of the people is overage. This kind of negates your whole point.

      Underage sex is when two or more people who are under the age of consent engage in sexual activity. When one of those people involved is over the age of consent, it is no longer underage sex but *statutory rape*.

  9. Avatar of muddgirl

    When I was 15-16 a lot of my friends were in similar-age-disparity relationships (with 18-19 year olds) and as far as I could see it wasn’t coercive or abusive and my friends seemed perfectly able, in an ethical sense, of giving consent. Sometimes in an attempt to legitimately stigmatize pedophelia and rape, we inadvertently stigmatize the (relatively harmless) sexual lives and sexual desires of teens.

    • Avatar of Elyse

      This isn’t about kids having sex. This is about having sex with someone you know can’t consent, and having determined without question that they cannot. She told him she can’t.

  10. Avatar of gazetteer

    Elyse, I have to say that I am severely disappointed in the lack of research that went into this article. As has been pointed out multiple times by now, the age of consent in the jurisdiction in which this completely consensual fictional sex took place is 16. Kitty is 16. Your whole argument is based on an incorrect assumption you failed to check.

    In fact, the age of consent is 16 in 30 US States. And 17 in another 9. This whole “under age = below 18″ obsession that Americans seem to have is pretty much just rooted in the fact that the age of consent in California is 18 and Hollywood writers cannot be fucking bothered to look up details like that before making them a plotpoint, and everyone else just assumes what they see on TV is correct.

    I can’t entirely blame you for not knowing what the age of consent for most of your country is. Popular culture has perpetuated the inaccurate-in-most-of-the-continent age for so many years, that it is very easy to assume that 18 is indeed the age of consent throughout your entire country. Hell — here in Canada, this sort of thing is handled federally and our age of consent is 16 nationwide, and people STILL assume that it’s 18 because that’s what American television likes to parrot. However, the moment you sat down and wrote an article for a SCEPTICAL WEBSITE in which the whole crux of your argument rests on an unchecked assumption, you lose that excuse as both a writer and a sceptic.

    I am very certain that the writers of glee didn’t know this either, but I think we’ve established that they are not exactly the pick of the crop at what they’re paid to do.

    • Avatar of Elyse

      You mean because the IRL laws in Ohio exist one way, they have to exist in every fictional version of Ohio? Like one where someone spins around in a hallway and everyone is suddenly in blue dresses and singing in perfect harmony, dancing together in unison? This is not REAL Ohio where ACTUAL Ohio laws exist. This is Glee’s Ohio where they went out of their way to specifically ask if a character is able to consent, explicitly state that she cannot, then have her consent to something she’s admitted to not being able to consent to.

      They laid out, as part of the story, that she is not, in fact able to consent. In THIS VERSION of Ohio, not real life Ohio, she cannot. She knows she cannot. Puckerman knows she cannot. That makes it rape.

    • Avatar of Jack99

      Gazeteer, how do you know Kitty is 16?
      I have been waiting to add up the (speculative) fictional facts with the real life facts before saying anything!
      Going on what Sayke says, Kitty is 15-16 but the fact that she implies she is underage means she is supposed to be 15, surely?
      Note, she never answered the question directly so we don’t really “know” anything.

    • Avatar of victoriadashtwenty

      In the real world, this is happening in California. In the real world, both of these people are not only of age but not even having sex with each other. Perhaps Elyse meant to refer to the fictional events that occurred in the show.

      Either Ohio’s age of consent on Glee is 18 or the young gentleman is merely mistaken about the age of consent. The questionable nature of the character’s decision is the same either way. For right now, though, we can safely assume the age of consent is 18, because it is until the show tells us otherwise.

  11. Avatar of Kaylia_Marie

    Ok… she was underage (because the show went out of its way to tell us that) so technically she can’t give consent. So yes, YES, it was Statutory Rape. Not Rape. But *Statutory* Rape. Which is illegal.

    Now… why did no one seem to care? Because no one cares. Because people don’t agree about the ins and outs of statutory rape, becasue the show did’t treat Kitty like a victim -even if she technically was one- because other people in the show have had underage not-int-the-technical-sense-consensual sex, because our views of teens having sex are varied and unless you are a parent who presses charges most Statutory Rape cases are ignored because most people don’t see them as “real” crimes.

    My only beef with this post is the removal of the word “statutory” making the title and the whole thing more Trigger-Button-Sensationalist by just saying Rape Rape Rape.

    • Avatar of Elyse

      They went out of their way to determine that she CANNOT CONSENT. Then *immediately* had her setting up a date to have freaky sex. Cannot consent=rape. Rape=rape.

      IRL, I have no problem with teens getting freaky. But in every world, I have problems with specifically determining and stating someone’s inability to consent, then pretending that doesn’t matter. If you’re going to make a point that she can’t consent, that means something. You wrote that in. That’s part of the story now. Any sex after an explicit “I don’t have the ability to give you consent” is rape.

  12. Avatar of jalyth

    In maybe the 4th episode of the first season, Puck gets what’s-her-name pregnant after feeding her wine coolers — sounds like date rape to me. That one disturbed me, this one, eh. I get that they wrote is as illegal, but since I don’t think it should be, exactly, I don’t care. Glee has had worse things. Nobody I’ve mentioned it to (maybe not the aware crowd, to be fair) ever noticed the date rape scenario that I clearly saw.

    • Avatar of marilove

      I think it’s less the specific details that are creepy, and the reasons for them that are creepy. They wrote that script the way they did for a reason: To titillate.

      • Avatar of Ann Do

        Marilove – Fair. Yes. They could have avoided all this if they didn’t have that fake id conversation.

        • Avatar of Elyse

          If you take out the “are you old enough?” “no” conversation, the whole thing is just a creepy story about a dude fucking the chick his brother wants to fuck to stop his brother from making the mistake of fucking that chick. Stupid and creepy but not rape.

        • Avatar of marilove

          But then it wouldn’t be taboo and therefore it wouldn’t be “good” tv. They were using this rapey story line ON PURPOSE. It’s manipulative and gross!

    • Avatar of Elyse

      Same guy, raping a new president of the virgin club.

      Remember that Quinn then spent the rest of her time on the show apologizing and coming to terms with what she did wrong and the mistakes she made. Makes this Quinn II so much more disturbing.

      • Avatar of jalyth

        I’d like to pretend I quit watching for ALL THESE REASONS. I may have just got bored. :(

  13. Avatar of Kaylia_Marie

    Let’s not forget that Puck was sleeping with a whole slew of moms in the first season when he would have been probably underage as well…. Now THAT should have bothered more people but because it was a dude getting some hot cougar action we were supposed to just give him a high five and move on. Blech!

    • Avatar of Elyse

      Also a teacher.

      • Avatar of Kaylia_Marie

        Exactly! The way the deal with gender on this show is appalling… THAT’S what pisses me off… even this whole Sadie Hawkins dance as a way to empower women? WTH? Like we have to wait for society to tell us it is ok to do something before we can even consider doing it? And wth happened to that big girl who used to be such a ball breaker? And Rachel? Asserting herself by being a brat? I HATE the way this show depicts women! … /end rant

        • Avatar of Elyse

          Don’t forget baby-crazy controlling stomp-on-your-dreams high-school-sweetheart wife with a fake career in retail!

        • Avatar of marilove

          What is most appalling is that they are “supposed” to be all progressive and shit. Yuck.

          • Avatar of Grand Lunar

            I suppose their definition of “progressive” is different from the rest of the human race.

            Maybe they actually refer to Progressive Insurance?

          • Avatar of jalyth

            According to who? Honestly, the only people I know who watch it do so for the camp (anecdotal obvy).

          • Avatar of marilove

            The media. Which I know is bullshit, but it’s influential.

          • Avatar of marilove

            And I mean progressive in a narrow sense — it has a lot of gay characters and story lines, etc. So in that way only. Their representation of genders is even worse in that context. If that makes sense. :)

    • Avatar of Ann Do

      Well, again though, if he was driving around (presumably legally) to his pool cleaning job, then he was at/above the Ohio age of consent.

      I’m pretty sure I’m done watching/supporting Glee. *sigh*

  14. Avatar of fenrirthewolf

    In the U.K. the age of consent is 16 so if they had been in the U.K. this would be fine, my point is just because its a law dose not mean its logical or justified. And on a personal note my parents where 16 and 20 when they started dating, I am 26 and they are still together. I am probly going to get yelled at but I have no idea who Jonathan Coulton is.

    • Avatar of Kaylia_Marie

      I didn’t know until I read this post… I wasn’t aware of the controversy at all! Oh well :P

    • Avatar of Grand Lunar

      I never heard of him either, so you are in good company here.

  15. Avatar of Elyse

    Can we all just agree that anyone who uses “yarn ball” as a sexy term for anything is pathologically incapable of consenting to anything sexual, making this very obviously rape… also she’s not capable of consenting to any kind of knitting?

    • Avatar of fenrirthewolf

      I don’t know, I mean if thats all we are going on a lot of adults could not consent to sex. I saw a show once where a guy (sadly this was real) put a fucking puppet on his junk and got woman to ask it questions and named it Henry so…..yeah.

    • Avatar of Kaylia_Marie

      Yes. I’m with you. I’m taking crochet off the table too. Because I’m just that cruel.

  16. Avatar of fenrirthewolf

    Truth is a lot of TV today is pure shit, I mean fucking Honey Boo Boo. Well at least we have Breaking Bad.

  17. Avatar of Jessica McKelvin

    I think it’s fair to make the assumption that this girl is 15, provided they actually looked up the actual Ohio state law. I was 15 in 10th grade, she never said she was 16, and the whole fake ID situation we can assume she’s either under the age of consent for actual Ohio state law or at least Glee universe Ohio law. The whole “hey I’m actually underage” and his “fake ID! let’s go” is really messed up. Why did that need to be written in? The only way I can see that being a positive is if they try to turn it into some sort of lesson, with having charges pressed against him. He seems to be the golden bad boy though, with doing older women, a teacher, and knocking up the cheerleader with little to no consequence. Why would they start now? Of course they may use this opportunity to turn this new girl into a “slut” or something, or she’ll find some sort of consequence for the time spent in the backseat.

    • Avatar of Ann Do

      Jessica – I’m assuming she’s 16 because she invites Puck to the backseat of *her* car. *shrug*

      • Avatar of Jessica McKelvin

        Fair enough. I still stand by the whole conversation being messed up. If you cut out the underage/fake ID part of the conversation you could just look it as two people doing it in the back of a car. Then it’s no big deal really.

  18. Avatar of Grand Lunar

    Makes me glad I’ve never seen an episode of this show. I don’t even think I’ve heard of it until now.

    And it’s a poor first impression. Definately time to get angry.

    • Avatar of fenrirthewolf

      I do not mean to be a dick but is it wrong that I do not give a shit about Glee or what happens on it, I mean look at all the vile shit on TV now days. That Dance Mom bull shit where that cow abuses those little girls and makes them feel like worthless shit, I think that show is child abuse personally.

      • Avatar of Elyse

        Are we each only allotted one show to get ragey over? Because if so, I might rethink Glee… but only because I want to be absolutely sure. Right now I’m only like 95% sure Glee is The One.

  19. Avatar of Adam M.

    Elyse, the thing you keep repeating — that they “specifically asked” if she was able to consent — isn’t true. As you quoted, she was asked if she was underage. You’re right that real-world laws of Ohio are irrelevant, since they amply established that she was underage. But that’s a legal question, and as other posters have pointed out, the age of consent is a device to simplify judicial rulings and does not determine whether or not somebody is actually able to consent.

    And if statutory rape is all about consent and the age of consent actually /does/ determines whether somebody can consent, as you seem to be saying, then it seems like it leads to an inconsistent position. Kitty wants to have sex. What would your advice to her be? “Don’t have sex with somebody who can consent (i.e. the 18 year-old), because that would involve rape. Instead, have sex with somebody who can’t consent (e.g. a 16 year-old).”? Given that she’s determined to have sex, how is it better for her to have sex with somebody who can’t consent rather than somebody who can? Or, is it your position that people must remain celibate until the age of consent? If not, how can a 16 year-old have sex without rape being involved? Either she has to have sex with somebody below the age line (i.e. have sex with somebody who can’t consent, which is the definition of rape), or have sex with somebody not below the age line (i.e. have sex with somebody who can consent, but that would be statutory rape). It wouldn’t make sense to say that a 16 year-old is mature enough to consent when asked by another 16 year-old but not when asked by an 18 year-old…

    • Avatar of Karen Poole

      Adam M–that’s not how statutory rape laws work. In some states (including Ohio), you must be at least 18 to be prosecuted for statutory rape (in some states, that age is even higher). So if two 15 year olds or a 15 year old and a 17 year old have sex, that’s not considered a crime. It’s only when someone 18 or older has sex with someone under 16 that it’s considered rape. (In other states, it’s not a set minimum age for prosecution–statutory rape is determined based on the age difference.) In short, horny teenagers can have sex without commiting rape, as long as they do it with people close to themselves in age. (Reference: http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/08/sr/statelaws/summary.shtml)

      • Avatar of Adam M.

        I’m aware that it’s legal for two teenagers under the age of consent to have sex. My point is that it’s inconsistent to simultaneously say that “people under the age of consent are incapable of consenting to have sex and therefore to have sex with them is rape” and “if you’re a teenager, it’s okay to have sex with someone under the age of consent (despite them being unable to consent)”. If it’s okay for a 16 year-old to have sex with another 16 year-old, then either 1) sixteen year-olds can consent, 2) it’s okay to have sex with somebody who can’t consent in some cases, or 3) statutory rape isn’t about consent. Is there another option? I just don’t see the principle that would allow you to say that a 16 year-old choosing to sleep with an 18 year-old means she was raped while a 16 year-old choosing to sleep with another 16 year-old doesn’t.

        • Avatar of Jack99

          Adam M , when you put it that way, I would like to know what Elyse thinks too,
          This is the law in my state
          SA

          Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 (Section 49)

          The age of consent for sexual interactions is 17 years.

          If a person is charged with engaging in sexual activities with a person under the legal age, a legal defence is outlined in section 49(4). It states that:

          It shall be a defence to a charge under subsection (3) to prove that -

          (a) the person with whom the accused is alleged to have had sexual intercourse was, on the date on which the offence is alleged to have been committed, of or above the age of sixteen years; and

          (b) the accused -

          (i) was, on the date on which the offence is alleged to have been committed, under the age of seventeen years; or

          (ii) believed on reasonable grounds that the person with whom he is alleged to have had sexual intercourse was of or above the age of seventeen years.

          Can anybody else tell what it all means cos none of us boys and girls ever managed to figure it out either back then or now 40 years later..
          TL;DR Its the argument of the beard, where do you draw the line – but make no mistake there is a line and if you cross it you may as well be dead cos your life and the life of your partner is over.

          • Avatar of Elyse

            I get that consent laws are tricky and weird and often don’t make much sense. But in this specific case, we have a scene set in such a way that it is determined this sex cannot be consensual and is wrong… I guess to make the sex hotter? So once you have a situation where you’ve determined the other person’s inability to consent, and you go ahead and have sex anyway, that’s rape.

          • Avatar of donboc

            I still don’t understand why you keep saying that the sex cannot be consensual.

            The sex cannot be consensual in the eyes of the law. But is the law always right?

            The law does not determine morality, as anyone who has smoked marijuana (and not considered it to be morally wrong to do so) must agree. I completely agree that a person who’s blacked-out drunk cannot consent (regardless of what the law says) at any age. But I think that plenty of sober 16 yearolds are mature enough to give consent (regardless of what the law, or the show’s version of the law, says). And I think that the show did not portray this as non-consensual sex.

        • Avatar of Will

          Yes, there is another option. The principle is the idea that adults (considered over the age of consent) are in positions of more authority and power than children/adolescents (under the age of consent). The thing that makes consent problematic is that the law assumes a power differential based on age. Thus, a child is unable to freely consent to have sex with an adult according to the law. The law does not assume that such a power differential exists between underage people (though there may be laws about 13-year-olds sexually abusing 4-year-olds), and it assumes that power differential based on age disappears upon adulthood.

          This is much more blurry when we’re dealing with 16- and 18-year-olds than it is when we’re dealing with 12- year olds and 25-year-olds.

          But again, that’s not the point here. The point is that in the episode, Puck made a point to ask Kitty if she was underage, and her response was “I have a fake ID” and he said “good enough for me.” He was asking if she was legally of age to consent to having sex with someone over the age of consent, and she said no. That makes it statutory rape. And it was written into the show to play into the whole “jailbait is sexy” thing. If you haven’t seen Glee, you probably wouldn’t get that, and if you have seen Glee, I don’t see how you could miss it. The show plays on the whole teenage sexiness theme on a constant basis and crosses age-of-consent lines and puts teenagers in questionable situations all the time.

          • Avatar of Adam M.

            I agree about the power differential in general, but I couldn’t see where that came into play in the description of the show. If anything, Kitty was the one pushing for sex, so if it’s about a power differential, I don’t think she was raped in this case. You’re right that the law assumes she was, so I could understand legal outrage, but I don’t see where the moral outrage is coming from. :-) (As an aside, I think there are plenty of status/power differences between teenagers, but of course it’s very difficult to craft a good law as a practical matter.) On the other hand, if young people are simply not mature enough to understand and consent to sex, then there’s no way for them to avoid rape except by remaining celibate. Since nobody here believes 16 year-olds should remain celibate, that implies people think they actually can consent well enough in most cases, so again I don’t see where the moral outrage is coming from. I don’t doubt your description of the creators’ intentions though, and I agree that it’s problematic (but not outrageous) that they legitimize statutory rape, since it might lead some people to have sex that is actually harmful.

  20. Avatar of m5unit

    Glee definitely stole that arrangement of a tune and should have credited him, but lets not forget how wack as fuck and vaguely racist white hipster covers of rap songs are.

    • Avatar of delphi_ote

      I disagree that these covers are racist.. Ben Folds cover of Ke$ha is hilarious in exactly the same way. Or Weird Al’s polka versions of Nine Inch Nails. Nobody is laughing at these covers because of the racial stereotypes. .They’re laughing because of the juxtaposition of disparate genres.

  21. Avatar of delphi_ote

    1) A real person with talent was exploited by lazy writers. He was directly harmed.

    2) A fictional character was exploited by lazy writers. Impressionable viewers may have been indirectly harmed.

    I think it’s reasonable for people to be more upset about the first point. Jonathan isn’t an abstraction. Some of us have been watching him work hard for the better part of a decade. The simple act of crediting him would’ve made a huge difference in his life.

    I agree we can and should be mad about both things, but we have to be careful about getting so wrapped up in our own causes that we seem to forget about real people.

  22. Avatar of Jack99

    @Elyse Jan 26th 9:26am Thanks for that reply. Maybe one day we could discuss what age of consent legislation should be in an ideal world, taking into account the needs of men, women, and the queer community, including teenagers. Perhaps that time is not yet. But this was a good start.

    • Avatar of Jack99

      Also, I should know better than to say this, but there is an alternative dramatic interpretation.
      Kitty is in fact over the age of consent, but avoids the question in order to pretend otherwise, in order to make the sex hotter..
      Still creepy, but not rape. This interpretation in fact fits well with the same trope in many American movies.
      In Grease, remember the line “Maraschino, as in cherry”? Same thing. Equally icky and yes, contributes to rape culture.

      • Avatar of Elyse

        Even if it does turn out that Kitty is lying and is actually 18.. or 21 or whatever and still a sophomore in high school, the fact remains that Puck believed she was underage and was perfectly willing to go ahead fully believing and understanding that what he was doing was committing rape.

        • Avatar of Jack99

          Indeed equally reprehensible and agreed we end up in more or less the same place . I would argue though that this trope is common in movies albeit less explicit and equally reprehensible. Did all those marines who wrote to Marty in Grease have a platonic relationship with her?

        • Avatar of Jack99

          Also, where did you get 21 from? If Kitty is 21, I find it hard to summon up outrage. It’s not rape, whatever Puck may believe. Puck may even know she’s lying, in that scenario.
          But more importantly, this whole discussion is about a work of fiction and only has value insofaras it reflects the real world.
          The further it goes from the real world, the harder it is to suspend disbelief. Suspension is hard enough anyway with a crap show like this.
          For that reason, I prefer to stick with the Kitty 15-16 and 16 age of consent crowd.
          That way I can support you wholeheartedly.
          T

          • Avatar of Jack99

            Random T brought to you by textbox font flyspeck nano 0.

  23. Avatar of Nicole

    I found this blog through a search for Jonathan Coulton info and yes, like many JoCo supporters had not watched the show previously, did not watch the actual episode beyond the Baby Got Back scene, and probably wouldn’t have put together that Kitty was underage and Puckerman was an adult even if I had watched it (because lack of context).
    So yes. Legally rape, morally questionable. No arguments there from me.

  24. Avatar of rsmathers8

    So, why is it an issue that the character Puck made a bad or wrong choice? I mean, to take another example, if Puck had gotten drunk, and wrecked a car they were both riding in, resulting in her death or serious injury, that would also be a very poor choice and a criminal action, but I can’t begin to count how many times I’ve seen that scenario in a TV show or movie. I’m not sure I’m clear on why the characters doing something illegal or wrong in this way is worse or more controversial than if they did anything else illegal or wrong.

    In a nutshell, is your objection that they portrayed statutory rape on TV? Or that they portrayed her as being a willing and eager “Lolita” instead of being reluctant, confused, or pressured (which one would assume is a more typical scenario)? Or that there were no negative consequences for either character?

    Now, setting the show aside, let me ask how you feel about statutory rape in a hypothetical “real situation”:

    A 22 year old and a 17 year old have mutually willing sex in a state where the age of consent is 16. Is this something you would take issue with? Why or why not?

    A 22 year old and a 17 year old have mutually willing sex in a state where the age of consent is 18. Is your answer different that above because the age of consent is different?

    My understanding is that “Age of Consent” laws are intended to prevent a minor from being pushed or intimidated into sexual intercourse by an adult which they may see as an authority figure or who may deceive them into a false understanding of the situation (“Of course I will love you and marry you later my sweet flower, etc.” Based on your description, the show made it clear that while she was under age, she was also a willing and eager participant who was not in any way deceived about the nature of the relationship. Does the fact that she couldn’t legally give consent matter in the face of clear evidence that she did not need the protection that age of consent laws were intended for matter?

    In my opinion, rape is a terrible crime because of the emotional trauma and violation of trust and personal boundaries that accompanies it. It seems that the emotional scars are often much worse and long lasting than any physical damage. In a real life scenario, you wouldn’t have the option of watching the people interact, so you would have to make certain assumptions about the situation. In a fictional situation where it is made clear that there is no violation of trust, no emotional scarring, no pushing or forcing of any kind, is it really rape even if it meets the legal definition?

    Is your core objection that the show portrayed statutory rape in a “victimless crime” scenario that might be used as justification or cause confusion in a real life situation?

    • Avatar of Adam M.

      I would disagree that depicting one illegal activity is as bad as depicting some other illegal activity since some crimes are worse than others, but I think you’re exactly right that the morality of the act is not affected by whatever the age of consent happens to be, all else being equal. Laws attempt to give rules that approximate moral behavior, but they don’t /define/ moral behavior. The only problem I saw with the episode is what you mentioned, that legitimizing the act could potentially lead a different person in a different situation to do something that’s actually harmful, but that’s a hypothetical and not worthy of such outrage. After all, films are full of people profiting from much worse crimes, but we reject the argument that, for instance, violence in films or video games should be banned because it might influence somebody to be violent.

  25. Avatar of rsmathers8

    Adam, there is even a hypothesis that some types of violence in media provides a safe outlet for emotions and tendencies that aren’t socially acceptable.

    I wouldn’t say the evidence is conclusive one way or the other, but it is an interesting idea that is worth further study.

  26. Avatar of Shane Simmons

    1.) in this story, the girl consented. 2.) the character is apparently 16. 3.) apparently Glee takes place in OH, where the age of consent is 16, and is 13 if both partners are under the age of 18.

    • Avatar of Elyse

      In this story, they establish that regardless of IRL Ohio laws, she is not old enough to consent. So she didn’t consent. Because she can’t. Because they established that.

      • Avatar of Jack99

        Elyse, with respect, they did not establish that absolutely. She dodged the question. We fill in the answer ourselves.Everything after that is speculation.
        “George, did you chop down that tree?” “i have a fake ID card”
        “Does my backside look big in this?” “I have a fake ID card”
        “Are you now, or have you ever been, a Member of the Communist Party?” “I have a fake ID card”
        None of these works, it is equivocation, just like the witches in MacBeth. But this is a shitty TV play, not Shakespeare.
        It could mean anything, or nothing.
        But I go along with your interpretation on the basis of Kitty 15-16 with a 16AOC

        • Avatar of Will

          I just don’t see how you can interpret it that way. He asked her “are you underage?” and she said “I have a fake ID.” This is not a dodge, it is her saying “yes, but here’s some plausible deniability.” Your questions make no sense because people would not answer those questions in that way (except perhaps the communist party question), while her answer here makes it clear that she’s underage. Why the hell else would she have a fake ID?? You don’t need one if you’re not under age.

          • Avatar of Elyse

            Also… sophomore in high school.

          • Avatar of Jack99

            Will, the fake ID is for alcohol and only proves Kitty is under 20. The plausible deniability is all I am arguing. Your analysis is probably correct, but that equivocation just screams to me “plot twist coming up.” Alternatively, perhaps it is there as plausible deniability for the writers, if dtkgreg is correct.
            Perhaps I cannot believe that Kitty is underage., because her sexually confident behaviour is out of whack. Perhaps I want to rationalise a scenario where Kitty is not raped, because rape is horrible. At the same time I want to see Puck get his comeuppance, because he is a douche.
            Actually, no, please don’t make me watch any more of this! Elyse, Will, I would hate us to falll out over a shitty work of fiiction. Would you prefer me to drop this?

          • Avatar of Will

            Why would we have a falling out over a disagreement about Glee? =P

            I think Elyse’s main point is that that these are appeals to “jailbait” (and the flippant dismissal of statutory rape by the writers) are creepy. And I think we agree on that, no? The rest is just details that are rather irrelevant to that point.

  27. Avatar of Adela Doiron

    For minute with the first set of lines I was thinking the dialog was about drinking since most references to being underage and fake id use in American teen stories are about alcohol which is often a higher age boundary than sex. That common cliche might be enough of a filter for others in the audience to not notice or clue in that booze is not what they are talking about.
    Aside: I often find it baffling that one can be old enough for sex, driving and military conscription but not old enough for buying beer and voting in many places.

  28. Avatar of Melanie Ann

    From the description given, the show portrayed Kitty as physically and mentally capable of consenting. It also made it clear that she was legally unable to consent. So, at the same time, she is both able and unable to consent. Most viewers will look at this contradiction and decide that the fact that she is apparently able to consent is more important than the fact that the law says that she cannot. That she tells Puckerman what the law says, does not erase the many times that she made it clear that she WAS consenting. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t problems with the show wanting to wave the idea of having sex with underage teenagers around, though, so maybe someone can write an article about that next.

  29. Avatar of dtkgreg

    For once I know the answer and nobody else does.
    The reason that no one is freaking out over the statutory rape in the pretend-universe Ohio is that this is exactly how our society likes to think of statutory rape.
    It’s not some old person with a huge power imbalance manipulating some younger, naive person. It’s not a coach or a teacher misusing his or her authority. It’s not an abused child that the rapist knows will keep quiet.
    No. It’s a plotting, manipulative vixen using her feminine wiles and she was totally asking for it. Amirite, dudebros? So now we can all calm down and basically ignore any rape that has the word “statutory” in front of it and – let’s face it – we’d all just like to ignore the whole rape thing anyway. I mean, that shit is complicated, y’know?
    What we should be freaking out over is not just the bit where it doesn’t fucking matter what Kitty said, it’s the part where this whole portrayal of how statutory rape happens is mostly bullshit.

    • Avatar of Jack99

      dtkgreg, Kitty’s sexually confident behavior is more typical of a woman in her twenties IMO. I find that almost impossible to square that with her being underage. The suspension of disbelief strains to breaking point. Your explanation makes sense.

    • Avatar of Will

      Yeah, this makes a lot of sense. I think you’re on to something.

    • Avatar of Otoki

      Agreed.

  30. Avatar of secondhandmoon

    I really think it’s bullshit to say that because the law does not accept a teenager’s consent as valid, therefore she is incapable of consent. “She can’t consent” is different from “She can’t legally consent.” Frankly, I think it’s robbing her of her agency to say that she was raped and “could not consent” when she was very clearly, directly, audibly consenting – to the point of initiating the encounter. To me, that is not rape, no matter what the law says about her age. Fuck the condescending, patriarchal, sexuality-policing law.

    • Avatar of Otoki

      OK then. What if she was 13 and he was 19? I mentored a girl whose first sexual experience was “initiated enthusiastically” by her, after her mom encouraged her. Context? Dude was her mom’s drug dealer, and by her fucking the dude 6 years older than her her mom got a discount on weed. But hey, she initiated the sex, and she was enthusiastically consenting because she wanted to be grown up and cool, so clearly there was nothing morally problematic with that sexual scenario.

      Statutory rape laws can be ridiculous sometimes, I agree. But they exist BECAUSE there are so many ephebophiles who groom their victims until the younger person “initiates” the sexual encounter. There are so many people who in their younger days thought they were in a loving, supportive relationship with a misunderstood older person, only to figure out a decade later that they’d just been groomed by a pedo/ephebophile.

      I think any sort of black and white take on this is problematic. I agree that acting like teens can’t consent morally just because they can’t consent legally is not necessarily true. I also agree that it’s gross to make statutory rape seem like something that isn’t a big deal because the younger person consented.

      So, what if she was 14, and he was 28? What about the teacher who fucked her 13 year old student? Where we draw the line both morally and legally has to do with context, and I agree that contextually I don’t think this is rape, but I also think it was established as illegal, and because it is in a show aimed at a younger audience (among others) it’s pretty fucked up to send a message that statutory rape isn’t a big deal at all because LOLS.

  31. Avatar of Jim Wile

    Hmm – You have definitely poked an anthill here. I recommend waiting to see if this is taken up in the next show. I haven’t watched this season, (My wife watches the Mindy Project and I sleep….) but they often leave something like this hanging just to lead into something for the next show. I hope so…. The underage question is obviously a volatile one for many. My personal two cents is that most under 18 aren’t capable of making a reasonable decision about anything involving hormones. Those that are capable can still wait…… }B*) Mean old man!

  32. Avatar of Rebecca H

    Thanks for writing this. While hate!watching the episode (I can’t quit Glee, and I don’t know why), I kept thinking “that’s problematic”. I’m surprised the content of the episode (song stealing aside) hasn’t gotten more criticism.

  33. Avatar of ragdish

    I like others waste my time watching this show hoping the kids will devote an episode to Pink Floyd. Only after reading this post did I realize my oversight of the Pucker-Kittygate. Holy shite!! What is at play is not only the issue of age of consent but also the power distinctions. Noah is in a position of power over Kitty. Imagine if instead of Noah, it was student now teacher Finn (same age as Noah) who was with Kitty. I know it’s “just a TV show” but it is a show viewed by scores of teens whose prefrontal cortices have yet to mature.

    I think age of consent barely scratches the surface on this issue. Imagine a scenario in which a Dean is sleeping with a first year medical student who is above the age of consent. Or a president and a White House intern. The issue of consent is problematic in environments wherein there are power hierarchies. I think the Glee episode crossed the line in their fantasy universe.

  34. Avatar of elfinn

    Coming into the conversation late, and I think that a lot of what Marilove said above is probably correct – that the underage aspect of the scene was played up in order to titillate – and that dtkgreg had a great point that this plays into the image of statutory rape that as a culture we would /like/ to believe rather than what it actually looks like.

    But as I am a Polyanna, I can’t help but offer: maybe they wrote it this way to be intentionally squicky? As in, Puck is a creep. He always has been, and especially as regards sex. And Kitty is creepy as well; lies, manipulates, and generally games the system in every way she can. So having two creepy characters share a completely and totally creeptastic scene seems, if anything, in character. I didn’t get the sense of “Puck is being honorable and saving his brother from DOOM” from the scene. I got a creeped-out vibe. “Good enough for me” is not a line that EVER inspires confidence (side note: especially with respect to sex). But I guess I just assumed that was what the writers were going for: the cringe of “Seriously, Puck? Have you learned NOTHING?”

Add Comment Register



Leave a Reply