'The Fosters' "The Longest Day" Tackled Brandon & Dani's Sexual Encounter And Rape's Double Standard
ABC Family might be airing the most important show on television. Last Monday's episode of The Fosters addressed Callie's rape at her former foster home and Lena's late-term abortion and this Monday, the drama series went there again. Season 2's seventh episode, "The Longest Day," finally addressed Brandon and Dani's sexual encounter and commented on a harsh truth about how we define rape when it comes to young men and older women. Stef, Lena, Mike, and Brandon all had to come to terms with what happened between Brandon and Dani and in the most organic way possible, The Fosters brought attention to a huge double standard.
When Brandon confessed to Lena that he'd had sex with his father's girlfriend, Dani, a few weeks ago, fans knew that it was only a matter of time before the other shoe would drop. Lena had to tell Stef and, of course, Stef would have to tell Mike. So, on Monday night, Lena called a family meeting where she made everyone agree to work together to figure out what to do with this information, before jumping to any conclusions. And then Brandon confessed to his biological father and mother.
Unfortunately, in a disappointing moment for me and everyone involved in this mini-intervention, Mike didn't believe it was possible. He jumped to all of the conclusions you'd expect: that Brandon never liked Dani, so he was lying to get rid of her (denial) and that Brandon knew exactly what he was doing and this was his fault (victim blaming). Mike also refused to believe that Brandon was a victim of statutory rape at first — heck, Brandon, feeling such immense guilt, didn't believe that he was a victim either — until Stef stepped in.
In an extremely important conversation, Stef told Mike that Brandon was refusing to press charges against Dani for what happened, to which he respond with, "charges for what?" And when she tried to explain that Brandon is a minor and this was technically statutory rape, Mike claimed that it wasn't and that Brandon knew exactly what he was getting into. To which Stef, smartly, responded with a hypothetical situation that exposed an unfortunate double standard in which society views rape: What if this were Callie or Mariana having sex with an older, male teacher? What would Mike do then?
Stef's questioning managed to wake up the part of Mike that was clouded by his hurt and disbelief, the police officer and father in him. So when he said that he'd throw that person in jail, she challenged him by asking what was so different about the situation with Brandon? Nothing, that's what. Dani was the adult and regardless of how Brandon ended up in this situation, she was the one with the power and control to do the right thing and she didn't. And Mike made things right, by making sure that Brandon knew that this wasn't his fault and by pressing charges against his now-former girlfriend.
While Mike's moment of weakness at the expense of his son's wellbeing was a disappointment, but it delivered an important message without being too preachy or melodramatic — that rape is rape, regardless of your gender. And for The Fosters, a series that reaches a predominately young adult audience, that's something ABC Family should be proud of.
Image: ABC Family