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I know we’ve been talking about the modern fairly tale, Stranger Things, but I have a question about a far older story.

Q: What was up with Little Red Riding Hood’s granny? I mean seriously, was her aging face truly so hideous (and more to the point: hairy) it was indistinguishable from that of a canine predator? Yikes!

Then again, the wolf was in a nightgown.

I guess a wolf is simply harder to spot when it’s wearing grandma’s clothing. Or sheep’s clothing, as the saying goes.

But how easy is it to spot a wolf in teenage clothing?

Apparently not very easy for our hypersexualize media, which seems incapable of differentiating a sexual predator from a perfectly normal, hormone-charged teenager.

Fortunately, in our #MeToo world today, we are beginning to recognize the difference between a sexual predator and a perfectly normal sexually-experienced adult. But…

What if an adult wolf, is nothing more than a grownup teen wolf?

If that were so, we’d first want to figure out how a teenager turns into a sexual predator. (We talked about that last week.) Then we’d need to learn to recognize a sexual predator when we see one, regardless of age or what they may be wearing. To that end, here are two core characteristics of a wolf.

Hungry like the Wolf

For starters a sexual predator is primarily interested in one thing when it comes to their “love interest” (ie victim): physical engagement.

That’s what you see with Steve Harrington.

I get it. Kids make out, but in every interaction it’s Steve pushing the boundaries.

I know, this all looks perfectly normal in our current culture, but normal or not, it’s also selfish, because…

Sexual intimacy is a gift meant to be freely shared between two people. Not a gift to be taken from someone. Not even with their consent.

And when I call sexual intimacy a gift, I don’t mean like a toy you want to play with. I wouldn’t even compare it to a pet or a car, which demand a significant level of maturity and responsibility to care for it. I mean sex is a gift as precious as a baby. Of course, sexual intercourse can result in the arrival of a baby, but whether it does or not, sex should be honored for what it is: an awesome privilege. Not a source of cheap thrills for some hungry wolf.

So, if you find yourself on a date with someone who clearly is pushing to get physical, do what any prey would do and run. Flee temptation! And do not give them another chance to prey on you. Even if you kind of liked it. (Yes, it’s common for people to enjoy being pursued sexually, even if they don’t exactly want it.)

Who has the Power?

Secondly, sexual predators use a power position.

Steve has one. It’s not the same sort of power position held by a Hollywood producer like Harvey Weinstein, television actor like Aziz Ansari , renowned doctor like Larry Nassar, or a Baptist pastor like Andy Savage, but Steve’s got the power.

He’s the cool guy at school. We know this, because just look at him. His whole aura reads “I’m in a band.” Indeed, his feathered mullet deserves to be memorialized in bronze in the High School Hall of Hella Good Hair!

In contrast, Nancy’s down in the nerd department. We know this, because even though she doesn’t look like her nerdy friend, Barb, she clearly has a real affinity for studying. She’s got it so bad, in fact, that she’ll turn down the offer to meet Mr. Cool after hours.

Of course, Steve knows all of this and takes advantage of his social status to get what he wants. Just like Weinstien, Ansari, Nassar and Savage are accused of doing. However…

Though power politics may work in government and big business, a healthy dating relationship should be one between equals.

So if you discover you’re in a relationship where your partner is trying to exert power over you, back away slowly. They might use physical force, emotional war games or social status. Whatever their predatory tactic, none of those things should be used to manipulate you into making decisions that violate your conscience.

Am I wrong?

Then again, what do I know? Maybe this is simply the way guy-girl relationships work in high school these days. Maybe there’s nothing wrong with it.

  • Boys have hormones. (And so do girls, incidentally.)
  • Wolves have appetites.
  • And girls (and boys), like Little Red Riding Hood, simply need to keep their wits about them.

However, if there isn’t anything wrong with Steve Harrington’s behavior, then we need to stop overreacting when the accusations of sexual harassment come from Hollywood, Washington or the church down the street.

They are merely engaging in the same sexual predatory activities that millions watched and even enjoyed Steve display in the first three episodes of Season 1 of Stranger Things.

Sure all the men mentioned above have been accused of going much further than Steve did on screen with Nancy Wheeler, but then again, we only saw a brief portion of Steve and Nancy’s time together. The rest of what happened between them (in her bedroom and then his) is left to our imagination. Plausible deniability.

Sure adults ought to be held to greater accountability than teenagers. Then again, I can’t help but wonder if Harvey, Aziz, Larry and Andy were already teen wolves when they were younger. And then that makes me wonder what those young men might have been watching back when they were in high school.

Was their sexual predatory behavior inspired by someone like Steve Harrington?

Is yours?

Date Night Advice (DNA) series: Sexual Things
Episode 3: How to Spot a Wolf
Click here for the next post in the series.

DNA: It’s What’s For Dating

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