How Boys become Sexual Predators
“Boys learn at a young age, from pop culture, their elders, and their peers, that it’s normal to have to convince a woman to have sex, and that repeated small violations of her boundaries are an acceptable way to do so—perhaps even the only way.” – Anna North in Vox about the Aziz Ansari story
Let’s see what we can learn about how a boy should treat a girl from the Netflix mega-hit, Stranger Things.
In the first episode, we find out that Nancy has had more than one romantic encounter with Steve, though they have no exclusive relationship established. That’s what she told her best friend Barb anyway.
Within minutes of learning this news, we get to join the two of them in the Hawkins High School bathroom (not Nancy and Barb, but Nancy and Steve) while they make out in between Steve’s attempts to get Nancy to commit to meeting him privately later that evening. Presumably for more making out. (Or Netflix and chill. Or whatever the kids are calling it these days.)
Despite her gratefulness for Steve’s interest in her, she declines because she has to study.
Undaunted, Steve shows up outside her 2nd story bedroom window that same night with a highly sophisticated plan to enable the two of them to accomplish both of their objectives for the evening.
Nancy’s Objective: study for a test
Steve’s Objective: study Nancy’s body
Highly Sophisticated Plan: strip flash cards
You got to hand it to the guy, he’s creative.
Of course they wind up making out in her bed (shocker), but she stops him at unbuttoning her top. (Good girl! Play hard to get!)
So episode 1 recap: Steve and Nancy go from making out in a public restroom to making out in a private bedroom in the span of about 12 hours. By the second episode of Stranger Things, Steve has convinced Nancy to come over to his place for the evening, while his parents are away. And so after swimming in the pool in their clothes they’re making out in the bedroom and this time he didn’t have any trouble whatsoever getting her shirt off. (I guess he only needed to get it wet first.)
Now for two quick observations. First, the obvious: Steve is the envy of almost every middle and high school boy in America, who would love the chance to try out that strip flash card trick. If only they had the stealthy ninja skills to get up on the roof outside some pretty girl’s second story window.
Secondly, I’m going to state what I fear is not so obvious, but should be: Steve is also a sexual predator. At this stage in their “relationship” he’s made no commitments to Nancy. He’s merely made moves on her. He’s shown no admiration of who she is as a person, but only admiration of who she is as a body. And in exploiting it.
Sure, Nancy was complicit. Sure, she enjoyed Steve’s attention. Sure, she even seemed flattered by his interest in her body.
So then, with this logic, would it be Nancy’s fault if Steve managed to pressure her to go further? Because…
Almost all sexual predators blame their victims.
Indeed, that’s just what Steve does of his past conquests, while trying to seduce Nancy in her 2nd story bedroom:
Nancy: Was this your plan all along? To get in my room and then – get another notch on your belt. (Yes, Nancy, it clearly was. That is precisely how sexual predators work.)
Steve: No. Nancy, no!
Nancy: I’m not Laurie, or Amy, or Becky. (No, Nancy, you aren’t victim number one, two or three. You’re fourth. At best. It took Steve a while to get around to you, but lucky you! It’s your turn!)
Steve: You mean, you’re not a slut.
Nancy: That’s not what I’m saying. (But, dear Nancy, please pay attention to what Steve is saying! Girls who allow him to “get another notch on his belt,” are sluts. They wanted what he gave them. In fact, he might have been the one seduced by their slutty ways. Who can blame him?)
Steve: You know, you’re so cute when you lie. (Who’s the one lying? And changing the subject? And manipulating?)
Sure, Steve never threatened or coerced Nancy, exactly. Sure, he did eventually take “no” for an answer. Until his next attempt.
So then, with this logic, is Steve just a normal boy with raging hormones who can’t be faulted for following his passions? These are important questions to answer!
At what stage should a young man learn that women – yes, even attractive women – aren’t sexual playthings for men to seduce?
- After graduating from high school?
- After graduating from college?
- After gaining employment with a company big enough to have a sexual harassment policy?
- After gaining a position of power where it would be easier (and more egregious) to seduce women?
For this post I want to end with this last thought: what are we learning about appropriate sexual behavior from the media to which we expose ourselves? Are we learning to love, honor, and serve them, or lust after and seduce them?
DNA: It’s What’s For Dating
It’s NOT for couples, but for any wise individual who thinks they might want to get married sometime before they die. And would like to learn how to better build healthy relationships in the meantime.
Check out all three study guides in our store. You can walk through them on your own, but it’s more fun with friends (that and it kinda makes sense to grow in relational success in actual relationships with others), so consider putting together an FMU LoveEd small group study.
Even better? And ask a rock star married couple you respect to lead it!