Consent: Karofsky’s Kiss vs Blaine’s Gay Bar Grope

Anyone who looks at my blog will know that I’m a rabid multi-shipper, Blaine-lover, and a huge fan of Darren Criss. That doesn’t change the fact that I’m more than a little put out with the way fans (especially some die-hard Klainers) have been reacting to this scene. Many of the same people who called Dave Karofsky a rapist and all of his fans pro-rape for that kissing scene in the locker room are getting all googly-eyed and breathless over Blaine saying “I want you so bad” at the beginning of this scene. Yet shortly after this moment this scene starts devolving into a full-on date rape scenario which, as far as I can tell, only stopped because Kurt had a physical advantage over Blaine.

via Committing Sins In Our Heads.

Yeah, ok the posting of gifs of the car scene and people swoon over it has kind of been getting to me too. That scene is awful. I mean, it’s a great scene and does what it is supposed to do. But it’s awful, and it’s supposed to upset us.

It really upset me. I was glad that Kurt and Blaine were able to move beyond it, and I still don’t see it as the same as Karofsky targeting Kurt long-term and ultimately threatening to kill him, but it was bad nonetheless.

Comments? Feelings?

This is not a shipwar post. Comments are to be kept to topic or will be moderated. 

Advertisements

20 thoughts on “Consent: Karofsky’s Kiss vs Blaine’s Gay Bar Grope

  1. I want to talk about this so bad I’m now bringing my computer with me on my trip today JUST so I can! Be back later (if I have WiFi!).

  2. I don’t see it as the same at all. I certainly don’t think what Blaine did was okay, and I do believe that consent is important in a relationship, but the fact remains that they were in a relationship and Blaine at least had reason to think that Kurt might want that with him. Karofsky had just finished hearing Kurt say that he wasn’t attracted to him, and had a history of bullying him and being in an adversarial relationship with him. And Kurt’s reactions to the two were totally different — he clearly still seemed to feel safe with Blaine afterwards.

  3. For exactly the reasons Erin stated above, I think what Blaine did was worse.

    One of the things that has irked me over the past year about people’s reactions to the locker room kiss — aside from what I read as the offensively over-dramatic language like “lip-rape” or, frankly, any type of rape — and the subsequent hate against Kurtofsky shippers, are the comments that Kurtofsky romance would put “abusive relationships” in a positive light.

    But Karofsky and Kurt were not in a relationship — certainly not a romantic one. The nasty part of “abusive relationship” isn’t that someone is being an ass and a bully: the nasty part is that the person to whom you’ve given your trust has violated that trust. It’s why our collective response to child molestation is one of extreme horror: because kids must trust adults in order to survive, and the abuse is not only criminal in itself, it is horrific in the violation of that fundamental trust. Similarly, abuse in a relationship that is supposed to be built on love and mutual support triggers our same horror reflex, because of the violation of trust and our basic understanding of what it means to love someone.

    It would be a pretty tough sell for the anti-Kurtofsky people to suggest that Dave would bully or otherwise hurt Kurt at this point; I think part of what attracts Kurtofsky shippers is our deep love of and identification with Kurt — and the belief that now, because of the level of shame and remorse he feels, Dave is about the last person on earth who would ever hurt Kurt. Pirates see Dave as a protector, having turned his size from a weapon against Kurt to a big, powerful shield to defend him. We (I’ll include myself here for the sake of argument) don’t love that Dave hurt Kurt; we love that, having finally acknowledged who he is and felt shame over behaving so cruelly, part of his atonement is to respect and protect Kurt. The Dave and Kurt fantasy usually involves a contrite, hesitant (honestly, nearly reverent) Dave who must be coaxed into kisses and physicality by a Kurt who knows exactly what he wants.

    And yes, that is absolute fantasy; it is perhaps foolish or childish to see a Beauty and the Beast-type transformation in Dave, and in Dave/Kurt’s relationship, but it is not a fantasy about rape, or abuse, or violation of trust.

    Compared to Dave’s locker-room kiss (and we can get into the social history of “I don’t want you/Kiss me!” narratives elsewhere), Blaine actually had just as much, if not more, reason to believe that Kurt did NOT want his sexual advances outside of Scandals: not only from the physical and verbal cues Kurt was giving at the time, but from a six-month history in which it was expressly forbidden. But Blaine, suddenly overheated by alcohol and the knowledge that somebody (someone OTHER than Kurt) wanted him in that way, took it upon himself to change the rules in an abrupt and ugly manner; not only is he being physically aggressive, and ignoring Kurt’s rather frantic pleas for him to stop, he choses that moment to belittle Kurt, mocking Kurt’s romantic notion of “doing it in a field of lilacs with Sting playing.” You can read on Kurt’s face that this dismissal of his feelings and his romantic dreams hurts him just as much as Blaine’s aggressiveness. He had revealed his very dreams to Blaine and Blaine mocked them.

    Yes, Kurt feels safe with Blaine afterwards — I’m not sure why he should. Blaine’s actions were enough to scare Kurt, send him into a panic. What’s more, Blaine took information and physical privilege he only had because Kurt loves and trusts him, and broke that trust.

    To be honest, Kurt’s reaction to Blaine’s behavior is the first thing that has made me think perhaps he was more upset by Karofsky’s kiss than I’d thought: I’d always read Kurt’s reaction to Dave as shock, and a sort of crushing realization of what had motivated Dave’s homophobia, and I’m sure he wasn’t into the kiss, to be sure, but the kiss itself had always seemed secondary to what the kiss TOLD Kurt. I judged this based on the fact that Kurt apparently went to Blaine and discussed the Karofsky in terms of “the closeted kid who’s really confused and effed-up” rather than “this horrible, scary guy who lip-raped me” — because I don’t think the Wonder Twins would have been so cavalier about getting Dave alone in a stairwell if they perceived him as dangerous (at that point, we can talk about Dave’s subsequent terror campaign elsewhere as well). But if Kurt can just snap back from Blaine’s drunken bullshit and go to bed with him a day or two later, maybe Kurt really does have a problem with denial that I didn’t really understand in the Dave scenario.

  4. Oh, I don’t know here. And again, this is not about ships. But Karofsky carried out a lengthy campaign of assault against Kurt, culminating in threatening to kill him. That scene was terrifying.

    I think Blaine had reason to believe that Kurt was open to a change in the rules (in fact, he was, quite) because he’d brought it up in the bedroom and he’d made the comment about crossing off a bunch of firsts (at the Lima Bean). This wasn’t a reason to assault Kurt, but it was a reason that Blaine may have believed (certainly a drunk Blaine and we’ll talk about his issues later) that the rules were open to negotiation.

    The effect on Kurt is not comparable. Kurt in no way believes that Blaine might, at any time, attack him. He does not feel that Blaine is a monster, following him around, that no one else sees or acknowledges. He certainly believed this of Karofsky. He probably does not believe that now, but he’d probably steer clear in emotional situations.

    I’m certainly not against Kurt having a chat with Blaine the next time they’re headed somewhere with alcohol. Because I think a chat is needed.

    And ultimately, Kurt had his first time when he wanted it, instead of waiting for someone else to initiate (or yielding when they did). And if his hankies are to be believed, that was super important to him.

  5. But the death threat and everything beyond shoving (which was not limited to Kurt) didn’t happen until AFTER the kiss. We’re talking about consent issues and the kiss — I’ll grant you Karofsky became a scarier guy after Kurt and Blaine confronted him in the stairwell.

    You don’t think there was a moment in the car when Kurt was afraid? Because I think he was afraid. I think if Kurt hadn’t been on top of Blaine and able to wriggle free, he would have been in tears before Blaine was aware of Kurt’s distress.

    Dave kissed Kurt, and it was stupid; it wasn’t okay: but when Kurt pushed him away, Dave immediately stopped and ran (in spite of being the physically more powerful of the two).

    The moment Kurt told Blaine to stop, and Blaine did not stop, Blaine became scary. He’s not a rapist, he’s not an abuser, but he crossed the line, and it was scary. Should he be forgiven? I think so: but it would help if he apologized not so much for dancing with another boy or not wanting to wait for Kurt’s “right moment” but for being the drunk guy who wasn’t taking no for an answer.

    (I don’t bring up the shipping issue as shipping, per se; the word rape is just — for lack of a better term — a trigger for me, and the use of which I have found to be revolting in the Glee context. And if we’re talking about the eroticization of non-con or dub-con, I think it’s legit to compare what Kurtofsky shippers find hot (ie, not the kiss) vs. thinking the backseat is hot.)

    Overall nastiness of behavior goes to Dave, hands down. But just in terms of consent (kiss vs. grope), I can’t say the same.

    Do I think either of these events was a big effing deal in the scheme of life? Nope.

  6. Even with the death threat out of the picture, Kurt was traumatised enough by the bullying that he cried about it in front of a total stranger. I just can’t accept that what Blaine did was worse because we’ve not seen Kurt affected by it. And Kurt was so affected by being targeted by Karofsky.

    Still, I don’t think they’ll go drinking again without having a heart to heart.

  7. My understanding of social rules is that, had Blaine been a girl, and had Kurt said yes, Kurt would have been committing assault. It’s an added layer of complexity.

  8. I think alcohol/drugs and consent is always an interesting subject. Like personally, I take responsibility for things I do willingly while drunk/high, because I made the decision to get drunk/high. It doesn’t just happen. And it’s not something I do often or lightly (I have really good reasons for that).

    But when I’m the sober person with a drunk person, there are rules too. First, I bought into this experience as much as they did. If they’re being unreasonable, handsy, whatever because they’re drunk, and I — in any way — enabled this (by being the DD), I’m part of it too. There’s a line — obviously, because I hold them responsible for things they do while drunk, but it has to be actually a bad thing before I’d call it an issue.

    And I think the fact that Blaine wasn’t on top changes the dynamic of the scene. You can say “Well if Blaine was on top of Kurt, it would have been very scary.” And yeah, it probably would have been. But I don’t think it would have gone as far as it did, because Blaine would have felt like an aggressor which he didn’t want to be.

  9. The fact that this is an issue greatly frustrates me. It wasn’t a threatening situation. It was a misunderstanding; Blaine misread (through his alcohol fugue) the situation, and both parties felt hurt. But no one felt threatened. This was not a potential date rape situation and still would not have been had it been Finn and Rachel.

  10. I mostly agree. The scene was awful, but it wasn’t as bad as that. Still, it’s getting on my nerves all the swooning over Blaine saying “I want you so bad” as if that scenario is in any way romantic. Like, is that what young girls aspire to? Drunk boyfriends telling them they want sex in the car?

  11. I think there is something semi-aspirational about it. We have swung in a really weird direction with female sexuality. The culture that models female sexuality through Disney princesses and abstinence only education, is a culture that pretty much devalues female sexual agency. Fantasizing about scenarios where “things just happened” is a place where you can’t get slut shamed for desire.

    I watch Glee with a group of women who span about 10-15 years in age. And the older group speaks of a sexual past with a lot of latex and a lot of agency. The younger group doesn’t quite know what to make of it. Somewhere, there was a weird point were we did a cultural 90 degree with female sexuality (I don’t want to say 180, because the group as a whole is pretty queer and sex-positive. So outliers).

    On a different note, there is sometimes wide divide between the erotic imagination and what we would actually want in real life. I read some ships I really don’t approve of because they make my bits tingle. So, while I am curious about how we share fantasies culturally, I try to also recognize that just because someone’s clit is into something, doesn’t mean that the owner of said clit can’t contextualize it all and have a pretty functional and healthy romantic/sex life.

  12. This is going to end up one of those scenes (and isn’t Glee chock full of them?) where we very explicitly read ourselves into the situation.

    But it comes back to the issue of consent, doesn’t it? Can we contextualize consent? Is it fair for someone to say, “He/She was saying no, told me to stop, but I thought they were actually pretty into it. Just a misunderstanding!” I think that’s a very dangerous argument that we, as a culture, have spent a lot of time trying to put to rest over the past half-century or so.

    There would be no such thing as spousal rape if husbands/partners were able to use the fact that they had a fair expectation that their partners wanted to have sex with them (beyond a “what if” conversation, they’ve actually DONE it before!) to justify their deciding where, and when it was going to happen without the consent of their partner.

    No, it didn’t get to that point: no one raped anyone, and I don’t think Blaine would have forced himself on Kurt beyond those kisses and grabbing hands (but isn’t that enough?). If your sister/best friend/kid came to you and told you this had happened to them on a date, would you just blow it off as a misunderstanding?

    I look at Kurt’s face in that scene — and I’ve seen it about 20 times now! — and I do see someone who is scared, and I do think there are moments when he feels threatened. (I feel like his backing up and blaming everything on the fact that Blaine was dancing with Sebastian was just a part of his defense because he WAS feeling panicky and didn’t — like so many people — feel that JUST NOT WANTING TO wasn’t enough of an excuse.) And maybe that’s just the baggage I bring with me when I watch a scene like this.

  13. I know I’m coming into this discussion really late but… No, Blaine didn’t rape Kurt. But he did sexually assault him. It is generally understood these days that before attempting sexual contact with a person you need their enthusiastic consent. Blaine didn’t have it and he went ahead with the groping and kissing. This isn’t rape but it is sexual assault.

    Let me be super clear: I love Blaine. Really. He is my favourite character but it doesn’t change what happened. What I think is really important to remember about the larger context of the scene is how such a situation is created by rape culture. The fact that so many of us don’t see this as sexual assault is rape culture (I was resistant to it, at first, because I like Blaine so much). Rape culture makes us think that there can be a grey area when it comes to consent. But there isn’t one. I’m glad Kurt appears able to forgive Blaine and still trusts him. I sure wouldn’t be able to with any guy who did this to me.

    I don’t think that Blaine is a bad person for having done this (I think the writers of Glee should be ashamed of themselves for not being able to have even one gay character who isn’t predatory in some way). But it is rape culture that tells men that maybe they don’t need enthusiastic consent before every sexual activity. It is rape culture that tells people that being drunk is an excuse not to care about consent or excuses poor behaviour (this doesn’t work as a defense in the courts nor does it work ethically).

    Oh, and what Karofsky did was also sexual assault.

    Enthusiastic consent. Before *every* sexual activity.

  14. I sort of agree with Biyuti… I am surprised to read that what Blaine did was not considered by many as sexual assault.. Well to those people, just imagine the same scene, Blaine is drunk, but with a girl. Blaine ends up on top of her and the girl can not escape and pleads him to stop… Would you still interprete this as a “misunderstanding” or a “joke” in a romantic relationship ?

  15. I know this is really late. But I think people need to watch this scene again to get a better understanding of it. Blaine did not kiss or grope Kurt. He tried to kiss Kurt and stopped four seconds after Kurt said “no.” He touched Kurt’s arm, back, neck, and face. He did not try to force Kurt into anything and put up no resistance when Kurt wanted to get out of the car. It was by no means sexual assault or rape (or attempted).

    @ Lily…what if Blaine was the girl in the situation? He was under Kurt the entire time, proposing sex, but not forcing anything. That is not sexual assault or rape. I by no means consider what Blaine did as swoon worthy, but it was nowhere near assault, either. Go back and watch the scene carefully everyone.

  16. biytui – Blaine did not kiss Kurt or grope him though. He stopped trying to kiss Kurt four seconds after Kurt first said “no.” He touched him only on his arm, back, face, and neck. He didn’t try to assault him or succeed in assaulting him. We must be very clear as to what actually happened in the scene. Blaine did not try to assault Kurt.

  17. @Ashley… Forcing someone does not have to include power or violence… It is about mutual consent. Sorry but I don’t want to be touched on my arms, back, neck and face by someone who is drunk and has the intention to do some lovemaking…, even it if is my loving partner… and if this person continues to touch me with such intention, even if I said no… then it is assault.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s