Let me tell you something about power imbalances
Since the Otayuri-discourse is getting really annoying, I would like to tell you something. Power imbalances can have an effect on every relationship. Romantic as well as platonic. A power imbalance can turn into an unhealthy relationship of any kind. But there is one thing, that everyone seems to ignore: A power imbalance itself does not cause abusive behavior. On its own its neither good nor bad. Its the way it is used, that makes the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationship.
A power imbalance is like a “tool”. It can be used by an abuser to take advantage of its victim. The abusers keep themselves on the higher level to maintain the imbalance. This can lead to physical and emotional abuse. The abuser can easily pressure the victim into doing things that they aren’t comfortable with. For example: Older friends pressuring the younger one into drinking alcohol/older lover pressuring younger to have sex despite them not being ready for it. And this is obviously a horrible thing.
But a power imbalance can also have a positive effect. In a healthy relationship the more powerful part tries to minimize the imbalance. They don’t see the other on as lower. They want to be on an equal level. The imbalance can be used to help the younger one grow, while also making sure that they are safe don’t go over their limits. It can be reassuring to have someone more experienced that can help you in life and share their experiences. One great example for a healthy relationship with a power imbalance in the beginning is a ship you all love: Victuuri!
At the start of the show Yuuri is a loner. He doesnt have many friends and the only thing he really cares for is skating (and Victor of course). He has huge anxiety and really lacks in confidence. He idolizes Victor and therefore sees him as above him. Also, Yuuris love life before Victor is pretty much non existent and he just becomes a blushing mess at the mere mention of eros. On the other hand we have Victor “Sexiest-Man-Alive” Nikiforov. He is way more experienced and confident than Yuuri and has had a few relationships in the past. All this puts a huge imbalance on Victors side. We see this in the beginning, when Victor was really pushy, thinking Yuuri was still as confident and flirty as he was at the banquet, making Yuuri feel visibly uncomfortable. When Victor sees this, he tones down the flirting to keep it at a pace that Yuuri can comfortably move along with. We see Victor helping Yuuri becoming more confident in his abilities and more comfortable with his sexuality. Victor used the power imbalance to turn the idol-fan-relationship into a loving relationship between two equals.
This concludes, that a power imbalance itself does not automatically make a relationship bad. Its the mindset of the more powerful person, that determines if this imbalance can be healthy or not.
Now lets talk about Otayuri!
First of all, Yuri is not the pure, innocent, little child, that needs to be sheltered from everything, that you all seem to think he is. We are talking about the “kid” who wanted to skate to eros, because he thought it would fit him better. The kid who watched Yuuri and Chris pole dancing and kept tons of photos of it. The kid who told Mila to stop acting horny after breaking up with her boyfriend. Most 15/16 years old boys are not innocent angels… Also, Yuri is actually quite mature for his age. Yuri moved away from his home to St. Petersburg when he was around 10 years old. He is the main provider for his family since his junior debut. Growing up away from home, with this high responsibilities makes you mature faster. He committed his life to figure skating. He had the determination and disciplin to win GPF gold on his senior debut. This level of dedication, endless training, without complaining, to work towards a goal, is a sign of maturity. Sure, sometimes he acts childish and on impulse, but so does Victor, the guy who pauses his career for a year, travels to Japan and suddenly shows up naked at a hot spring, because of his crush on a drunk Yuuri.
We have seen Otabek and Yuri both supporting and admiring each other. We see Otabek helping Yuri to grow. Yuri doesnt act like an angry brat with him. He is much calmer and happier around him. Kubo even said that Otabek sees them as equals. There is only a small power imbalance between them. Its even smaller than between Victor and Yuuri. And since their relationship is based on mutual respect and support, and Otabek wants them to be equal, there is not even the slightest hint, why this relationship would be abusive in any way. To me this looks like the perfect base for a healthy relationship. So what makes you think that Otabek would be a predator? What makes you think he would take advantage of him? Why would he harm Yuri? This is what bothers me the most about this discourse. By saying this ship would be unhealthy , disgusting and bad, you are accusing Otabek of being an abusive asshole. And this magnificent, loving character does not deserve this hate.
This post is obviously not meant to say that all relationships with age differences are totally ok. This is meant to explain, that it is not always automatically bad. There are many unhealthy relationships where both people are the same age or where the abuser is the younger one. Age alone is not what makes a relationship healthy or unhealthy. The mindset of the individual person is!