OUAT Debate Topic - Captain Swan vs. Rape Culture
Argument, by drnucleus, against the idea that Captain Swan is rape culture.
If you decide to engage in and challenge this argument, please make sure you do so in a constructive, non-aggressive manner. Let’s all be civil, shall we? No-name calling, no attacking the shippers themselves. This is strictly about rape culture as it pertains to Captain Swan.
Warning: this may contain some OUAT spoilers, so if you haven’t seen up to the most recent episode, and you don’t want to be spoiled, turn back now.
Rape culture as it was defined by my WST 313 professor at Arizona State University a woman who earned her PhD in women’s studies. is a culture in which sexual violence and rape are common. This is pernicious in nature by the attitudes, norms, practices, and media condone, normalize, excuse or encourage sexual violence. It includes:
- Dehumanization of femininity – calling people “sissy”, “pussy”, “not a real man”, etc.
- Disrespectful of diverse gender roles
- Commodification of persons as solely a sexual object
- Humor that normalizes, trivializes or tolerates rape or sexual violence
- This includes rape jokes, pedophilia jokes, etc
- This does not include generalized sexual humor such as…
- That’s what she/he said jokes
- Sexual innuendo about a consensual sexual situation between two potential partners
- Sexual humor that makes you uncomfortable.
I underlined and bolded two common complaints used in the argument against Captain Swan in the rape culture argument. Note how the two that are underlined fall within the “does not include”. This means that sexual innuendo between consensual potential partners and generalized sexual humor that makes you uncomfortable do NOT fall under the guise of rape culture.
Furthermore Everyday Feminism – an online feminist magazine discusses examples at length.
1. A university in Canada that allows the following student orientation chant: “Y is for your sister. O is for oh-so-tight. U is for underage. N is for no consent. G is for grab that ass.”
2. Pop music that tells women “you know you want it” because of these “blurred lines” (of consent).
3. A judge who sentenced only 30 days in jail to a 50-year-old man who raped a 14-year-old girl (who later committed suicide), and defended that the girl was “older than her chronological age.”
4. Mothers who blame girls for posting sexy selfies and leading their sons into sin, instead of talking with their sons about their responsibility for their own sexual expression.
5. Photo memes like this:
Yes someone actually doctored this girl’s account of her rape.
6. Supporting athletes who are charged with rape and calling their victims career-destroyers.
7. Companies that create decals of a woman bound and gagged in order to “promote their business.”
8. People who believe that girls “allow themselves to be raped.”
9. Journalists who substitute the word “sex” for “rape” – as if they’re the same thing.
10. Politicians distinguishing “legitimate rape” and stating that rape is “something that God intended to happen,” among other horrendous claims.
11. Calling college students who have the courage to report their rapes liars.
12. The ubiquity of street harassment – and how victims are told that they’re “overreacting” when they call it out.
13. Victims not being taken seriously when they report rapes to their university campuses.
14. Rape jokes – and people who defend them.
15. Sexual assault prevention education programs that focus on women being told to take measures to prevent rape instead of men being told not to rape.
16. The victimization of hospital patients, especially people with mental health issues and the elderly, by the very people who are there to protect them.
17. Reddit threads with titles like “You just have to make sure she’s dead” when linking to the story of a 13-year-old girl in Pakistan being raped and buried alive.
18. Reddit threads dedicated to men causing women pain during sex (I’m not going to give the thread credence by linking to it).
19. Twitter hashtags that support accused rapists and blame victims.
20. Publicly defending celebrities accused of rape just because they’re celebrities and ignoring or denouncing what the victim has to say.
21. Assuming that false reporting for sexual assault cases are the norm, when in reality, they’re only 2-8%, which is on par with grand theft auto.
22. Only 3% of rapists ever serving a day in jail.
23. Women feeling less safe walking the streets at night than men do.
24. 1-in-5 women and 1-in-71 men having reported experiencing rape.
25. The fact that we have to condition ourselves not to use violent language in our everyday conversations
From this article here:http://everydayfeminism.com/2014/03/examples-of-rape-culture/
The list can go on, there are some more examples, but they fall generally under the one of those headings for the most part. I did not cite Geek Feminism wikia due to the inherent factual errors within Wikis in general. This is due to the ability for people to edit posts without administrative approval or actual due diligence fact checking.
It does not say that drinking between two people negates consent. Beer goggles does make it harder to make an informed decision – however many people make decisions when drunk – often ones like one night stands that are entirely consensual, or driving while illegal the person was still able to make the conscious decision to drive. Rape and sexual violence involves the negation of one party’s decision. If a person is conscious at any time they can consent and conversely revoke consent. The issue with drinking is when people get drunk to the point of unconsciousness and the other person does not seek consent of their sexual actions. If a woman or man says no, and their partner persists in this moment to the point of forcing a sexual act that is sexual violence. This does not mean, that the other party may not seek sexual contact at a later time if the man or woman is consenting.
CS is usually taken out of context and used to meet the ends of the arguer’s means. Meaning the arguer has a biased agenda for their ship and against Hook as a hater. I actually had one reblog a post trying to provoke a fight by using the argument to “troll me”. I love all the characters on OUAT. I don’t really have a favorite but if I had to choose it’d be Emma. I like Hook as a character, but I like Rumple, Regina, Zelena, Pan, Charming, Snow, Ruby, Whale, etc, all just the same. I am able to set aside the fact that I support CS to analyze this argument within the context of the show. I also set aside my support of all canon romantic pairings too. I support the canon of the show, however, in this analysis I have put that aside and sat down to write this tonight in an objective and clear manner. If anyone disagrees, that’s your opinion and well opinions are like assholes – everyone has them and no one really wants to see them either.
As a degree, carrying Journalist and a scientist this is my objective non-biased in context analysis and it’s already quite lengthy.
Now CS is often regarded by a particular subset of shippers as promoting rape culture. This is simply untrue. With a character like Emma, body language is a large tell of her inner mental state since she’s not one to over-share her emotions.
In Tallahassee, when Emma grabs Hook to protect him from the trip wire, he makes the statement “It’s about bloody time,” laughingly and wraps his arms around her. Emma responds as shoves him off and sets him back on track to the mission at hand. She doesn’t take more than a step back to separate them. When he fixes her jacket she regards him with uncertainty in her facial features. She doesn’t trust him. That’s what we’re supposed to get from that interaction. When she orders him to go first he takes her lead. He also doesn’t make anymore innuendo about them for the rest of the episode. Thus Killian has taken her shove as a rejection but he senses, and rightly so, the attraction between them.
Eddy Kitsis has even been quoted as saying – in the Frozen Over special that Emma was attracted to Hook from the moment they met, but that frightened her because that meant she might want to let someone in. With Emma, loving someone means opening up yourself to be hurt emotionally by that person. It happened with Neal, Walsh and countless other men we’ve only had allusions to.
Back to the episode…Hook does challenge Emma to trust him with “Try something new, darling, it’s called trust”. He also states, that she’s “Brilliant, Amazing” because she alone, was successful in getting the compass while he was trapped under the rocks. This does not disrespect diverse gender roles it celebrates the crushing of the gender binary within gender roles of television partnerships past. In fact Killian often follows Emma’s lead in various situations offering advice and support if she seems to be at a point where she needs it. Emma responds later with shackling him to the post, she’s not ready to trust him, but her statement is entirely telling.
“I can’t take the chance I’m wrong about you,” she stated. This means at objective face value that she wanted to trust him, to take this man she just met at his word that he would swear fealty to them if they got him to Storybrooke first. It frightened her that she wanted to trust someone so quickly as evidenced by the stone cold fear in her eyes.
When we see them together next it is Emma’s comeuppance for abandoning him on the beanstalk. He realigned with Cora, taking Aurora’s heart in the process (so not going to cheer for him for that move, it was a dick move period). He tells her that he wouldn’t have done as she did to him had she not previously left him in a precarious situation with a giant who hated humans (he didn’t know about the deal she made with Anton), unarmed and physically restrained. His “dead, useless. Much like you,” statement is a jab at her coldly abandoning him when he’d given her in his mind no reason to distrust him since he confessed about the compass and his identity. Have you ever said something hurtful to someone when you feel betrayed? Does this mean you are committing a rape culture crime? No it isn’t because a comment like that meant to be hurtful to one person does not dehumanize it is meant for humiliation. There have been arguments that it falls under the “pussy” or “sissy” dehumanization of femininity but not once does Hook call Emma’s femininity into question. He speaks to her as an a person not a “she”. His statement to her “You would have done the same,” was “Actually, no.”
He then speaks in anger and says he is done with her, he is hurtful and angry with his wording. This does not demean or dehumanize a gender on the whole. This is meant to show his anger at her and his hurt for her distrust. He feels emotionally wronged by her and Killian is all about an eye for an eye so he doles out verbal vitriol and leaves her locked in Rumple’s cell in Snow/Charming’s castle.
The very next scene between them is the one often most cited as the “rape culture epicenter of CS”. This is because of a sword fight and a spoken sexual innuendo.
Killian, with Emma knocked down on her back, holding her sword up to defend herself, he states, “Normally I prefer to do more enjoyable activities with a woman on her back. With my life on the line, you’ve left me no choice. A bit of advice? When I jab you with my sword you’ll feel it.”
Let’s dissect this short monologue.
“Normally I prefer to do more enjoyable activities with a woman on her back.” By itself it’s stating that he prefers having sex to violence. He’s stating that he dislikes violence. I don’t know about you but I prefer sex to violence too. I’d rather be in a consensual sexual situation than fisticuffs any day. So how is that rape culture? How is that normalizing, trivializing sexualized violence? It’s simple to answer these questions – It’s not. He’s stating that he would rather bed a woman than fight her pure and simple. This is not a nonconsensual act. This is not him saying I prefer rape to violence because that doesn’t work. Replacing the term rape for sex as many in that subset of shippers do (which the interchanging of rape and sex is epitomizing rape culture, way to go BAs your argument makes you the bad guy here), makes the sentence nonsensical because rape is violence. That’s literally saying I prefer violence to violence. It makes the statement nonsense.
“With my life on the line, you’ve left me no choice,” he’s stating that she’s fighting him, physically and that he doesn’t want to. He feels like his life is on the line. He doesn’t know she isn’t well trained in swordfight. He doesn’t know her much from what perceptions he got of her on the Beanstalk. He is saying with the last two statements combined – I’d much rather we acted on this weird sexual tension we have going on than beat the crap out of each other. He is saying he doesn’t want to fight her but he has to because if he turns now, Cora will kill him. His life is on the line literally. Emma could get a good swing in and she does with her fist later, but she has a deadly weapon she’s wielding. He is also fearful of Cora. That was established earlier with “You lot are far safer company” when speaking about why he’d turn on Cora.
“A bit of advice? When I jab you with my sword you’ll feel it,” this is often the most hotly contested part of the line. When he says this he’s making both a sword and phallus reference. Merriam Webster defines jab as “to push something sharp or hard or suddenly into or toward someone or something”. This can be a poke to the arm. This could be the physical act of sexual penetration. This could be done quickly or suddenly. Consensual sex can be quick or sudden. The physical act of penetration is a jab at it’s most ineloquent of definitions. This is Hook saying, again he’d much rather bed Emma than fight her, but that she’s left him no choice but to have to fight her. Thus if given the choice of options sex or swordfight with Emma on the opposite side, he’d choose sex. This means Emma would have to give him that option, she would be volunteering consent. This is taking his words at face value and how you can use synonyms to reword it to mean the same thing. He’s not sexualizing violence. He’s showing a clear distinction in his opinion between the two that sex in its enjoyable forms is far preferable to that of violence.
If you again replace “jab” with rape the sentences no longer make sense. “You’ve left me no choice….When I rape you with my sword you’ll feel it”. The act of sex removes one party’s choice not both. If you choose to see Hook as the aggressor in this situation how could this be a rape reference when Emma and Cora have removed Killian’s choice in the matter. He wishes not to fight Emma, but must on pain of death from Cora, or accidental impalement from Emma’s sword. Emma’s forced to fight him because of Cora. She has to fight him to get the compass because Cora is watching. If she wasn’t there, based on his previous actions, Killian would have made a deal with Emma and Snow instead of fighting and left Cora in the EF.
Thus you can now see this line at face value is not meant to be triggering. It’s trash talk during a fight. It’s a yo-mama so fat kind of childish diatribe. It does not promote, trivialize, normalize or tolerate a nonconsensual violent sexual act.
For his bravado that statement, though laced with sexual innuendo, does not engender the definition of rape culture. Just because you personally find his comment to be uncouth and immoral does not make it rape culture. Because you are uncomfortable does not make it rape culture.
Hook is a villain in S2. He does villainous things. Belle entered his ship of her own free will armed. Killian confronted her and got into her personal space to make her uncomfortable, to see what kind of person she is. Was she brave? Or was she, like her boyfriend, a coward. He calls her out on the half truths Rumple told her. Yes Milah left him and became Killian’s lover. But Rumple leaves out crucial details such as why Milah left. She couldn’t take the public ridicule of being the wife of a military deserter. In the United States if you go AWOL as a member of the armed forces, you’re court marshalled and jailed not to mention the intense public scrutiny you and everyone you know will have to carry with them. The fact that Rumple was able to be free even though he deserted is a rather large show of mercy from that kingdom. Milah bore the brunt of the public scrutiny and she wasn’t even the one who had deserted. Rumple’s profession is in the home as a spinner a solitary profession where he didn’t have to witness the depth of his cowardess the way Milah did. Milah worked in a tavern and was subject to constant ridicule as the wife of the town coward. Her job – inherently social – meant she had to deal with people like that on the daily with a smile even though she’d like to punch them in the face. This went on for years as he deserted when Bae was born and Milah left him when Bae was about 5-10years old. Rumple also left out the part where he took and crushed the heart of his ex wife merely because she stated she never loved him. He didn’t take her heart out of some noble attempt to right her wrong for abandoning Baelfire. He let her live after her statement of regret. But it was only after she stated she never loved him that he took her heart and crushed it to punish her for not loving him. Belle proved herself to be brave, not backing down and disarming and getting away from him in a matter of moments. Belle takes Rumple’s side in the argument because she loves him and sees the best in him, and disregards the dark. This is one of Belle’s more naïve moments that when presented with an atrocity she disregards it for what she sees within under the layers of darkness.
When Hook begs Rumple for death, he says its so he can finally be with Milah after centuries of being apart. Rumple further punishes him by following Belle’s wishes to not kill him though he much greatly desires to. Then to hurt him for keeping him away from Milah again, he decides to remove Belle from him, but not by forcing her to leave. He does so by using physics. He shoots her in the shoulder. S3 taught us Killian’s a crack shot. Meaning he’s got the same amount of skill as a trained officer of the navy would. He shot her in the shoulder. Your heart is just beneath your sternum anatomically speaking. He shot her near her clavicle (collar bone). If he really wanted to kill her there are much bigger arteries and vessels in the medial part of her back, especially in the medial thoracic region called the mediastinum including the heart, major vessels and the lungs. He shot her in the shoulder and she fell across the town line removing her memories. He wanted to be cruel to Rumple by having his true love physically present but not remember him. This action is villainous and violent. It is not sexual and therefore cannot be construed as rape culture.
The next major interaction we see between Emma and Hook is in the hospital when he’s just waking up from being hit by a car. He asks Emma if “There is another appendage she’d prefer,”. Again he’s making sexual innuendo but he doesn’t do it with a disregard to Emma’s choice. He says blatantly “if you wish it, climb on, I don’t care if I have cracked ribs and am on massive pain killers, you’re pretty and if you’re willing then yes please sign me up.” He’s blatantly asking for Emma’s choice even in his jest. She shoots him down by redirecting him to the task at hand – Cora’s location. She’s disappointed in him and he stops the innuendo with her push back.
Also Hook interacts with Regina telling her he’s been tied up in bed (handcuffed by Emma), “and not in a good way”. Good, consensual sex can involve things like bondage, handcuffs and the like. Don’t think so? Ask the BDSM community how huge consent is in a playroom scene. And don’t you dare try to throw Fifty Shades of Grey at me because that is a piss poor example of the beauty in BDSM relationships and epitomizes the negative stereotypes of the lifestyle. As a person who has a really good friend who’s a Domme I take offense if anyone tries to pull that one on me. So this statement again, at face value is not sexualizing violence. It is sexualizing handcuffs, which have been proven through the BDSM community to be sexual tools as well as lawful restraints.
Hook’s interaction with Archie where he tries to “torture” and I use that term loosely, Archie into talking and giving information on Regina and the town to Cora and himself. We see in a later episode when Belle rescues him as being without much of a scratch. Killian threatened to cause him real physical harm, yet none came to him.
In S3 I’m only going to comment on the two arcs on the whole. This thing is getting to be huge already. Throughout S3 Killian makes it abundantly clear that he is interested in Emma. He tells her in lots of round a bout ways to flirt and gauge her reactions. This is how a 300 year old pirate would court someone. In society – in actual human face-to-face potential romantic interaction, a man or woman will flirt with modern versions sayings like “I quite fancy you from time to time when you’re not yelling at me,” a modern version of this would be like “You’re cute when you’re angry”.
In Neal’s cave, he tries the sincere route. The commiseration of shared experiences way to get to know her. Yes he’s romantically intrigued by her, but he genuinely likes her on a personable level too and wants to know her. People who dehumanize femininity, make rape jokes, commodify a gender as a sexual object, and are disrespectful of nontraditional gender roles do not genuinely seek to know a person they wish to view as a sexual object, dehumanize, or disrespect their gender role. Killian wishes to know her behind that wall of hers. If he saw her solely as a sexual object as the true definition of rape culture would state that he does, why would he care to know her? Why would he open up himself about knowing what its like to lose hope if he didn’t care about her experiences too? The answer is—-he wouldn’t.
Emma, in true Emma fashion throws up her wall and says “save it I’m not in the mood” and walks away. To which he promptly drops the subject and moves on.
When he asks “Just who are you, Swan?” he is expressing genuine interest in her as a person. He doesn’t say “what” he says “who”. He recognizes her as a person that he feels is worth knowing.
Emma challenges back with a flirtatious “Wouldn’t you like to know,”
He responds with, “Perhaps I would”. He’s telling her that yes he’d very much like to know who she is as a person. She intrigues him on a deeper level. He knows she’s smart, strategic, capable and level headed in a rough situation. He’s seen that in their experiences. He wants to know the Emma she keeps hidden away. He sees her through that wall and wants to extend a hand and say “hey it’s okay, I’ve been there too”.
After saving David’s life, Killian ASKS for a kiss. He asks for it. He doesn’t demand it. He asks for it and even challenges her with “is that all your father’s life is worth to you” and “perhaps you’re the one who couldn’t handle it”. He waits for Emma to make the decision to kiss him. If he were a rapist and truly embodying rape culture he would have forced himself on her in this moment. They’re alone, in a jungle. Everyone is out of earshot. He could have tried if he was indeed a rapist. Yet he didn’t. He laid out what he wanted as a reward for a good deed like a kid after getting straight A’s and let her decide if she wanted to give it to him. How is that epitomizing sexual violence if he lets the other party consent and make the first move? Answer – it’s not.
The echo cave was Killian’s confession to save his old friend – Emma’s first big love who broke her heart. He was doing the honorable thing. Admitting his deepest secret because he never wanted or thought he could move on from loving and losing Milah. Yet meeting Emma changed that for him. He doesn’t say, now you have to be with me because I professed my love for you. No, he gives her space and lets her do her thing as she needs.
The next time they speak about his intentions towards her is after Dark Hollow. He tells her that he will win her heart without tricks, games or lies. He blatantly says win. As in he has to be awarded her love that he has to earn it from her. That is not someone who thinks he just deserves her love. He says he will win it because he’s confident. He knows there’s attraction between them. She chose to kiss him. If she didn’t find him attractive, or want to kiss him you better believe sister-friend would not have kissed him. She even told MM that she wanted to, that she was feeling good and it had been awhile since she’d kissed someone. That does not say she didn’t want him. That does not say she feels uncomfortable around him or 100% rejects him.
Adam and Eddy both said that Emma feels something for Hook, but something is always in the way, a big bad, Neal, getting out of Neverland, a new curse, a kiss curse, etc.
The BAs of the ship in question and Hook haters in general seem to epitomize rape culture themselves. For they are disregarding Emma’s consent in all of this. Emma has yes pushed Killian away emotionally because of canonically established fear of being hurt by those she cares for. By disregarding Emma’s choice to kiss Hook, in both Good Form, Kansas, There’s No Place Like Home, and A Tale of Two Sisters they are saying Emma’s choice doesn’t matter. That the fact that she is a consenting adult and has initiated all of their kisses, save but one means nothing because they erroneously think Hook embodies rape culture. He doesn’t those shippers and haters do because of their choice to disregard Emma’s choice in the situation.
The one kiss that is considered rape culture by these so-called fans of OUAT, is one Killian thought would be a TLK. Rumple was going try it with Belle when she lost her memories. Charming tried it with Snow when she lost hers. Yet I often don’t hear those two parallels mentioned when the haters/BA shippers make their argument. Rape culture is about normalizing and accepting rape, by saying it’s tolerable, and no consequences should come of it through actions on a show. Yet when Killian attempted TLK on Emma who did not know him at that moment, nor want to kiss him, she reacted by kneeing him in the groin. This scene cannot contribute to rape culture because it shows a clear and decisive consequence to something that was nonconsensual. Rape culture again, I will reiterate, is about showing that rape is acceptable, normal, and without consequence. This scene shows a direct consequence to Killian’s attempted TLK – he got kicked to the groin and then subsequently arrested later in the same episode.
In the forest, he tells her that its okay to get your heart broken because that means its still capable of love. He’s lifting her up and giving her hope that she can love again after being hurt by Walsh. He’s supporting her emotionally. If anything that’s humanizing and quite powerful. He did not say that he’s glad she got her heart broken because she didn’t love him. No. Just stop that argument now. You can’t take his statement and take out the most crucial part of his explanation. Emma almost went there with her interpretation too and he was quick to correct her that he meant that he was glad because having a broken heart means you still maintain your capacity to love. That humanizes femininity and openly says hey having emotions is okay which is the exact opposite of the first bullet point under rape culture at the top of the article.
When he flirts at the docks about wanting to get close to him and using Henry as a ruse to do so, he’s deflecting after a difficult conversation with Smee. He sees an opportunity and takes the chance to flirt with Emma. Emma again redirects him to the conversation at hand and he drops the subject, not pressing any further.
The fact that when Killian does something Emma doesn’t like or doesn’t want and she tells him so through words and actions, his response is that he backs off and changes course immediately, which shows that he cannot and will not – be inconsiderate her choice in all things in their relationship. That does not fall in line with the true definition of rape culture as outlined at the beginning of this article.
One last scene that’s become hotly debated is the tavern scene in the 2hr S3 finale. Killian says “you’re trying to get me drunk, which is usually my tactic”. Did he say it was just when he was going to bed someone? No. He said it open ended. It could be interpreted many other ways. At face value however, it is talking about how he seeks companionship. Many barmaids would certainly line up without any need for alcohol because he is sexually attractive and charming. However, Killian doesn’t see himself this way. He sees himself as vile, a villain who doesn’t deserve love or anything good because of what he’s become especially at that point in the timeline. He seeks his two vices, rum and women to drown his pain. The women at his table when Emma walks up are rather happy to be there. In fact the brunette stares at Emma with a blank almost disdainful expression because Emma is horning in on her territory. Killian drinks as much if not more than his female companions due prior to their consensual romps.
How do I know it’s consensual… take a look at what Killian says, “I do hope you’re not having second thoughts”. He says hope. He doesn’t want her to reconsider having a tryst with him but at the same time knows that it is her choice to say yes or not. At face value he’s giving her an out. He doesn’t say it with a shred of ominousness to his tone or foreboding. He says it softly almost like a whisper to a lover, because to him at that point she was a potential lover. His tone also helps discern his meaning. If he said it with a sneer or malicious edge to it then that would be a signal to run. But he doesn’t. He says it softly to where I almost had to strain and turn up the volume to hear the line correctly!
If she said “you know this isn’t the best idea” he might have tried to use gentle persuasion or charm to get her to say why but in the end he would have let her go. And if he tried to force himself on her, which he did not, he would have passed out in a few minutes anyways because boy drank that entire bottle of rum almost completely on his own. I don’t know about you, I am 28 and a seasoned bar hopper from my early twenties and can hold my own with drinking games and the like – Killian was about 45 seconds to 2 minutes from passing out dead drunk. There is no way he would have the physical wear-with-all to be able to force a tipsy/slightly drunk Emma into submission even if he had wanted to which he clearly stated he did not with a simple “I hope you’re not having second thoughts.” It means again he’s taking her choice, her consent into consideration, which is the opposite of rape culture.
Then at the end of the finale, Emma chose to kiss the daylights out of him because she was genuinely touched that he thought so much of her that he would sacrifice his home, to see her again, to bring her to her family and save her from not existing because of Zelena’s plan. He didn’t know about Zelena’s plan but he knew her family and she was in trouble thanks to Neal’s message. He knew he had to get to her because he knew how devastated she would be if her family were harmed. He went to her, and tried to bring her back to her family only asking for a thank you in return in the forest that day. He never asked for anything more. He didn’t want to tell her how he got to her. That he gave up the one thing he prized most – his ship – just to see her face again. The fact that he hid the truth about his ship from her is extremely telling from a writers view point. He’s pursuing her romantically throughout S3 – minus the short standing back to let Neal try to repair things so Emma could make a fully informed choice between the two. He openly bragged about saving her from marrying a flying monkey, yet he hid how he did it. He’s not ashamed of it, hell he’s rather proud of what he did but at the same time he knows what it means if he tells her. If he tells her he gave up his ship for her it’s as good as saying I love you and that scares him. Additionally he doesn’t want his sacrifice to make her feel beholden to him for it. He doesn’t want her love out of obligation. He doesn’t go “look at all I’ve done for you, you give me what I want”. That would be rape culture. The fact he hid it and let her ask the question before answering her honestly without request of reward shows me that he wants Emma yes, but he will wait for her to get there on her own terms and not his. That is the exact opposite of rape culture. Rape culture would dictate that he demands sexual reward for his deeds. Even when he asked for a kiss in Good Form he never demanded it or anything else. He asked, and then let her make the decision. Again exact opposite of rape culture outlined above.
Lastly, in the S4 premier when calls Emma out on avoiding him, at first she’s reticent and reluctant to admit it. She doesn’t know how to juggle emotions and being the savior. He reminds her just as Charming did that she has to find the moments to enjoy herself and her life or she may miss out on it entirely. It’s the same argument Charming made in S3. But somehow it’s rape culture when Hook says it. He’s not saying she must pay attention to him. He’s telling her that she doesn’t have to be the savior 24/7 that he’s willing to bear the brunt of responsibility with her at her side, as an equal to which he backs up with action by running headlong into the fray with her. He leaves the decision up to her. Again it’s the complete opposite of rape culture.
She delays the issue again, sidetracking it by saying she needs to do something and he says okay, go do it but please don’t lie to me about not avoiding me. He confronts her behavior and her earlier lie. He pulls the truth from her in pieces that yes she’s avoiding him. He perceives then it’s not just Regina. He knows she’s been hurt in the past. He’s putting the pieces together that she’s scared of getting hurt again. When he perceives correctly that there’s something deeper, he gets kissed. She doesn’t run away or say “I’m not in the mood”. She chooses to kiss him and he doesn’t even kiss her back until her lips touch his. He stands rock still until he’s sure that she’s not reconsidering and then throws himself into it and backs away when he realizes she’s pulling back.
She tells him with the kiss that she wants this, whatever it is between them. She tells him with words that she needs time. “Be patient” is not a rejection, it’s a request. It’s saying “You’re right it is something else, but I need time to come to terms with what that something is and you need to sit tight til I do.”
Again he’s letting her lead this relationship. He’s following her consent. He’s laid his cards out on the table and is letting her play hers close to the chest. He does tell her that while he will be patient and wait for her, that he hopes it’s not forever. His snark about “if a monster doesn’t kill me first” is a quip about the freaky world they live in. Monsters and magic are a daily occurrence for them and he is basically saying yes I’ll be patient, but please don’t string me along, if you want this then work with me, if you don’t, then tell me so I can move on. He’s trying to establish open, equal and honest communication with her. How is that dehumanizing her femininity, or commodifying her solely as a sexual object, or disrespecting her gender role or disregarding her consent in all of this. Answer – it’s not. Just by looking at his actions in context and at face value he’s letting her lead the progression of their relationship. He’s letting her define the labels and roles they play. That my friend is the opposite of rape culture.
So in my long winded argument I hope I’ve illustrated that the rape culture argument is tired, inherently fallacious and promotes the people who argue for it as proponents themselves of rape culture without even realizing it. So it’s time to stop.
WST 313 Women and Sexuality course at Arizona State University scholarly article readings and lecture PowerPoints
Merriam Webster Dictionary
I hope this answers your question in an in-context media analysis.