TW: Molestation and Glee
Last night Glee did an episode where one of boys revealed he was molested when he was 11 by his 17 yr old, female babysitter. He told his trusted glee club mates and in return the older boys (seniors getting ready to graduate and go to college or the workforce) mocked him. They said he should have been glad to get the attention, that any boy would have been and something is wrong with him. They listed 80s movies where this was the goal. They were completely insensitive to his victimization and patriarchal in their socialization of this kid. It was disgusting, but not unrealistic since we know that’s how men are socialized to respond to the idea of unwanted sexual attention from a “hot” girl to a male in a patriarchal society such as ours… they are taught to think they should always want it and to respond favorably or something is wrong with them.
What was horrifying was the total lack of correction. There was no real admonition of their behavior. There was no resolution involving the young men who mocked him. There was no clear “these young men are wrong for saying these things and need to change their ways of thinking because sexual abuse is real regardless of gender and no, boys, you are not expected to like when someone touches you inappropriately or without your permission. Men can be victims of sexual abuse and often are. Your feelings are valid. Your victimhood is real. It doesn’t make you weak. It’s not funny. And if you’re struggling with dealing with it, there are resources”. (In fact, immediately after the rebuff from his friends and older models of maleness, the character was compelled to retract any acknowledged feelings of victimhood or displeasure with being molested by a young woman and pretend like he was just being ridiculous. They actually made him high five the seniors and say “I was lucky”.)
Instead, we were treated with another student (female) telling him in private that she too was molested, then subsequently bullied into silence. Then they all sang together. All of them. Including the young men who mocked him. That was it. They never apologized. They never realized their egregious error and dearth of compassion and/or tact. They just moved on and led some fun songs and we’ll never hear about it again… and we’ve just further normalized their reaction. We haven’t shown why it was wrong. We haven’t taken a stand against it.
And you’re telling me nobody in control over at Glee had the sense to say “this is wrong; we can’t send this message out to kids”?
Even in the little “if you’re being molested, you’re not alone. call this hotline” PSA at the end, the only two people involved were the two who played the molested characters. They didn’t even take that opportunity to bring in the two guys who played the laughing/mocking/dehumanizing older friends to say “this is not a laughing matter. this isn’t a joke. young boys are sexually abused at the rate of ____. It is very real and no you are not expected to like it. you are not wrong for feeling icky about it”. They never acknowledged that it was wrong to respond the way these young men did. They never allowed young men who had not been victimized to empathize with and support boys who had.
I would like to say I’m shocked at Glee, but I’m not…unfortunately. Glee has had about as much finesse as an SVU writer “not” writing about Chris Brown when it comes to social matters. They’re horrid and that’s nothing new. But I am shocked at the media’s reluctance or complete unwillingness to discuss the level of irresponsibility and general lack of foresight over there.