(An Analysis of Desire, Non-Verbal Consent)
I am a queer Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) survivor, I have watched this scene several times and analyzed the context, and I still don’t see a consent problem. Hear me out before you come at me.
—Edited by TheFNGee
Before proceeding with the analysis, a note to those who tell me that they dislike TharnType because it is not as good or as ‘realistic’ as the other BL shows: WOW!
Hating a show because it’s different from other shows! Now, where did I hear something similar to this? “You are not like X or Y; why can’t you be like that?” Ah yes. All my life!
Comparison, be gone. There is ample space in the wonderful world of BL for all kinds of plots and stories, including and especially controversial ones. Let’s not sweep problem tropes or trigger subjects under the carpet. Let’s drag them out in the light and confront them heads on – education is the solution, not blanket ban or mudslinging.
Secondly, I’m a CSA survivor who, to this minute, still has episodes of insecurity, outbursts, and trust issues plaguing all my relationships, not just romantic ones. In my experience, PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) has no ‘cure’; it can only be managed, and PTSD management is a lifelong practice, because regression is possible at any time if I am not careful. So, yes, I get it why Type and Tharn act immature or unhealthy, in spite of their current privilege as educated, even affluent adults. Believe me, after decades have passed since my childhood abuse, TharnType feels pretty realistic from where I am standing.
Like so many, I ‘discovered’ TharnType during the early days of the Pandemic lockdown. Since then, I continuously see comments from those who diss the entire show as toxic, anti-gay (?), or even porn (good god). Apart from one masturbation scene and one (tastefully shot) scene of a blow job, all bed scenes in the show are of two men kissing. In every scene in this show, all characters have their clothes on. How can it be porn, then? Have they changed the definition of porn recently?
I feel such knee-jerk responses are just that, initial, ‘safe,’ and are just laziness. Dissing a show (or anything, really) just because it offends you or challenges your existing sentiments is like Type throwing a toddler’s tantrum at the first person (Tharn) who dares to show him that not all gays are bad.
Now, this op-ed is not about bashing valid concerns. Sexual assault is a very real, very serious issue, and I intend no disrespect to assault survivors. I am merely expressing my thoughts and as CSA survivor who has had a long history of balancing desire and consent as an adult.
That’s why this show is so special to me. Because TharnType dares to speak about something that hardly anyone does. The topic of CSA is so uncomfortable, so taboo, and most people don’t even address it in polite society – even educated adults whose first duty is to prepare their kids to be vigilant about it don’t do it.
Early initiation to sex is a massive game-changer. As a CSA survivor, my whole idea of sex, consent, and romantic emotions was skewed when I entered adolescence. I was a MESS, especially as a teenager (Reminder: Most characters in TharnType are clueless teenagers). It took me many false steps and years of therapy to find some stability in myself and my adult relationships.
Selfishly speaking, I’m so happy that TharnType exists, as the first of its kind show that has some representation of minority people like me, that we can find a happy ending, that we deserve a happy ending. That’s why I wrote this piece. Because I have not seen much, if any, perspectives about this show from CSA survivors.
I feel it’s important we hear from those who have really been in Type’s shoes and can truly understand how his mind and body works. Child Sexual Abuse is not the same beast as adult abuse/domestic abuse. I say this with no disrespect to other abuse survivors – please do not twist my words.
However, I agree that Tharntype is not for everyone. It’s not for those who keep forgetting about Type’s background, i.e., that Type is the person who has spent ten years hating gays because his innocent and impressionable child mind had labeled all gays pedophiles and in the process, had also buried his true sexual identity under misplaced hatred.
It’s not for those who have set notions on the right way of reacting to certain situations and keep expecting Type to react to certain situations like how they think folks ‘normally’ should react. It’s also not for those who think they can speak for Type because they think sexual responses, cues, and boundaries of attraction are the same for everyone, and those who assume their narrative is the same as Type’s.
Tharntype is a masterclass in foreshadowing & layering. Every scene in every episode, every dialogue, and every emotion displayed in every character is meant to convey specific information. It’s vital to look at all the NC scenes in this show as not isolated events but as outcomes of in-depth character sketches.
A show with two abuse survivors as main leads cannot be watched casually or taken with cookie-cutter sentiments of existing awareness. (If you tell me Tharn was also not abused as a child, I’ll fight you – let’s not forget that Tharn was so traumatized by his first sexual experience at age 14 that he hasn’t ‘bottomed’ again in his life so far).
For those who insist that the infamous shower scene is non-consensual – come on! Seriously, it shocks me how anybody can miss the signs of desire Type shows in and before the shower scene. You cannot judge this scene, or any scene in any show, to be honest, based on what the character verbally says alone. In real life, MAYBE. In a TV show as complex as this, no.
Remember, Type is not a reliable narrator. He is an expert at doing things exactly opposite to what he really wants to do. He goes from,
I will never sleep with you,
to one time only,
to Saturdays are okay,
to sex buddies,
to casual lovers, and then finally
His declarations cannot be taken in black and white. That’s why it’s important to look at the shower scene contextually.
Here’s the recap of what unfolded just before the shower scene: Type openly drools at Tharn as the latter drinks water. For the first time, Type forgets his self-restraint and self-hatred and exposes his interest in Tharn.
No one can mistake that look of ‘thirst’ (in this modern-day context – sexual attraction), least of all Tharn, who is standing an inch away from Type. Viewers are clearly shown that Tharn notices the ‘thirsty’ look.
Tharn, with more experience than Type in matters of the heart and the body (not a compliment), immediately understands that glazed look in his roomie’s eyes. He decides to make a move.
Even before this, the foreshadowing is unmistakable. Remember the show’s opening scene in Episode 1? Type keeps mentioning the handsomeness of his roommate like he cannot stop talking about it. I mean, who does that? Bring in their ‘roomie’ into their self-intro?
Now to more obvious clues. Type thinks of Tharn even when he is jerking off in Episode 3 (and can’t finish it because he is too stressed about the visions).
He also stays silent, acting as if he’s asleep when Tharn kisses his head (same episode). This scene is paramount in defining to us who Type really is. If not, then why didn’t Type scream bloody murder?
Type is established from the first as a violent guy whose primary MO is to strike. He has no problem whacking Techno for the slightest insult. You telling me this homophobic hothead endures a man kissing his forehead in the night and decides to let it go?
In the novel, this goes on for a while because Type enjoys being nightmare-free. He could have stopped Tharn from touching him every night, but he doesn’t. These are all clues that set the stage for the shower scene.
Now I absolutely get why the shower scene could be triggering for some – I truly do. Pushing someone into the bathroom is NOT okay. Forcing yourself on someone is NOT okay. When you say NO, it means NO, always. I completely, completely, completely agree.
But this is a show called the TharnType story. Can we, at the very least, not judge it based on a single scene and cancel it before getting the full picture? Please?
The shower scene: You’re saying this is sexual assault. Did you even see what’s happening here? Here are two adults, one in the role of pursuer, one is pursued.
Type knows at this point that he is being pursued. Tharn has been pretty clear he wants Type (Episode 1, end scene: “Why am I so attracted to you, Type?”). After the water bottle scene in Episode 3, Tharn thought he had a chance (he was never one to waste time) and took a step forward.
We don’t judge people for deciding to express their interest in someone. We judge them if they do a terrible job of it. We judge them if they turn into a moron or a stalker, but we all have the freedom to pursue our crushes (yes, I am using Tharn’s word here).
So Tharn speeds up his motherfucking chase technique and takes the biggest, riskiest move of his life. He baits his roomie with his boxers and gets inside the shower room with him.
Yes, the situation in real life could have turned out really bad. REALLY bad. It was not proper of Tharn to barge into the shower room. That, I completely agree.
But as I said, I get precious little representation of my kind on popular media, so I am not going to judge a TV show right away just because it has grey shades. I want to know what’s going to happen next, which is….
Why are Tharn’s shoulders so hunched? Why does he look smaller than Type? We know both the leads playing the titular roles are at least 6 feet tall.
So, it immediately became apparent to me that Tharn wants to appear as unthreatening as possible. Because he knows something happened to Type in the past, but he doesn’t know the detail. He doesn’t want to spook the high-strung Type, so he does what he thinks can help – he makes himself smaller, slower, more submissive (if that makes sense).
Often, people with no idea about child sexual abuse be completely clueless to the point of looking or sounding callous. They can’t even believe something like that can happen. Their efforts at comforting survivors can be sweet but also very ignorant and triggering. (Yes, I imply that Tharn is an abuse survivor who doesn’t realize that he is one; since it was all normalized in his circle of existence, he became part of the problem. Here, I am furious at Thorn – if it was Thanya who was seduced at age 14 and so hurt that she lost consciousness and had to stay in bed all day, would he have stopped with a beating and remained friends with P’San?)
So yes, Tharn was a stupid oaf in the shower scene, aggressively showing his interest in Type. A pervy idiot, yes. A predatory criminal, no. He didn’t know what Type had gone through. He had a vague idea but no details.
Remember, Tharn himself was seduced (technically, raped) at 14. He did give consent to San, but he was underage, even by Thailand’s AoC at 15, so it is not valid. If you want to have more proof, just look at this shot – look at Tharn’s face here, at all the trauma in his eyes, around his mouth.
Statutory rape by way of seduction is, of course, abuse. Tharn is, most certainly, a CSA survivor who has learnt to become a bad actor from his past experience. He probably thought it was ‘okay’ to corner people in the shower and be all up in their space. Not good, I know, but that’s how life happens. You err, you learn, you do better next time.
But Tharn did have SOME awareness. He tried. Throughout this shower scene, he made no sudden movements. His actions are slow, gentle, giving Type plenty of time to shove him away, or hit him in the stomach, which Type does after the blow job (or he could have hit Tharn in the nuts like how he did in Episode 9 in the bar restroom). Type, you ain’t slick!
It always amuses me that, in many ‘woke’ (used as a byword for social awareness) narratives I read online, Type becomes this fragile, helpless victim in this scene. To me, Type is anything but fragile.
Think about it, about when he was 11, what his molester lured him with – a ball. By accepted norms of psychology, Type should have hated football (soccer). But no, he was strong and lucid enough not to let a bad incident destroy his love for the sport.
So we don’t have to overwork our brains, envisioning a horrible incident for Type in the shower scene, putting him into a ‘poor victim’ box.
But why did he then ask: “What are you doing? “What the hell are you doing?”
Type asks twice because he is double-checking. He just realizes that his roomie knows what Type himself has only recently acknowledged – that he is attracted to Tharn, despite hating gays – and that Tharn returns that attraction too, without Type having to make the first move.
It was a guilt-free opportunity to experiment. And Type takes it. And kisses Tharn. Three times.
Then, Type says, “Tharn, Let me go.” Why?
This moment is what angers some people the most. That Type said those words, which must mean that he does not want to be touched – right?
Well, I tend to see differently because, as a CSA survivor, I am a master expert too, just like Type, in twisting and misusing words to either convey or deflect what I truly mean. (Since most if not all CSA survivors were conditioned early to say yes when we meant to say no, and vice versa.)
Type doesn’t say, “Get lost, you asshole.” He doesn’t say, “Fuck this shit, I am leaving.” He doesn’t even use his patented fist-assault technique that he so freely uses on his loved ones (Techno will relate).
Still, Type says, let me go. Why? It’s not like Tharn has locked his arms or has him in a chokehold.
Remember the breakup scene, Episode 11? Type crying and saying, “Let me go, before I get in too deep and lose myself!” Now, look at the shower scene again.
Truth is, Type is and always has been free to leave the shower room at any point because the door is not locked. He is not being restrained. Tharn’s hands are on the wall even as he is kissing his neck. Yet, Type says, “Let me go.”
I think I get it… because it’s here, at this moment, where he never expected to be, this close to a man he has been thirsting over, and Type is powerless with desire.
Some of you may find that tough to believe, but there it is, the proof – the kisses. Check the scene (https://tv.line.me/embed/10461153); it cannot be clearer than this – Type kisses back every time.
I don’t want to tell of the abuse and hate messages I get when I defend Tharn on social media, but I will say this – All my homies pouncing on how Tharn forced Type in the shower never have an answer when I ask them about the kisses because all they can do is rabbit on about, “But Type said NO!”
Really? When? When did Type say NO?
I have seen the shower scene at least a hundred times by now, and at no point does Type say “no.”
Homies’ next argument – but Type’s face says no! …his body says no!
Again, let me repeat: TharnType is the story of two CSA survivors. Both Type and Tharn carry scars from their past. Just the size of the wound differs, but they are scarred, alright.
Type’s abusive past made him physically aggressive (and commit hate crimes against a minority). Tharn’s abusive past made him sexually aggressive (and disrespect consent boundaries). Both needed to be schooled. Both of them had to unlearn a lot of things, in the course of The TharnType Story.
Tharn learned about sex from being seduced / statuory-raped by a much-respected Senior and a friend of his brother. It is not unreasonable to arrive to a conclusion that early initiation to sex had Tharn learn all wrong lessons.
At 18, Tharn is a clueless teen in the show – plus the above handicap – so I often wonder how he can possibly be mature enough to understand non-verbal cues if Type does not verbally or physically show him that he MEANS what he SAYS.
This belief is not an apologist sentiment. This is just plain fact. Type could have made a mixtape with all his mixed signals; that’s how his responses are in this scene. But that’s because there is a war going inside him, Type vs. Type. His body wants to sample what Tharn is offering. But his mind doesn’t want to let go of the beliefs held dearly for the past ten years. That’s why his mouth says one thing, while his body – his lips, his hands – say something else.
Now, time for some controversial comparisons. This needs to be said, so I am just gonna say it. I feel justified talking on this issue because I share similarities with both Tharn’s and Type’s abusive pasts, so I am fairly confident that I am not appropriating in any way.
If someone I truly disliked or hated approached me like what happened in the shower room, I’d scream bloody murder and hit them with anything I can put my hands on, soap holder, mug, bucket, anything. I won’t just stand there, saying what are you doing, let me go, etc.
Let’s say I am too scared by the other person, and I am frozen in fear, which is why I cannot make an exit from the room. Well, I have been in situations where I have frozen in fear. This ain’t it because I’d not be gasping and enjoying the blow job!
Did you even see Type’s face in that scene? Boy is in heaven (and I approve).
Fight or freeze… These are two fairly typical responses from abuse survivors facing a bad situation. However, I can still not project these as universal reactions, and demand Type responds the same way. Because Type is not me, and I am not Type.
You must look at this as Type’s story, not your projection of what you think abuse survivors’ responses are or should be.
I get it, though. I know it is very, very hard not to put ourselves in the faces and lives we see on the screen. A big part of my therapy as an adult consisted of learning how not to project, and get triggered by what I see, hear, feel like part of routine life. So, I completely understand why some of the viewers hate some parts of TharnType.
But if we are going to get triggered by every piece of art and miss out on experiences that may actually broaden our horizons, it’s just an extra complication that we don’t really need.
Yes, Type was abused as a child, but this does not make him a weak victim who has no voice to defend himself. He is a strapping young man who also has a violent nature, going by how he treats his friends and faces conflicts.
The shower scene has a different dilemma; Type is already battling his attraction to Tharn and having an identity crisis rooted in homophobia. Given his aggressive nature, Type should have beaten Tharn black and blue for even getting into the shower room with him…. if not immediately, at least later. (Even if Type had ‘frozen’, you bet there would have been definite repurcussions for Tharn, later…. if Type really had felt assaulted by him and truly hated what happened in the shower room.)
Why didn’t he?
All Type does, after he gets what is probably quite a noteworthy orgasm (based on his post-BJ expression alone), is throw the dirty towel at Tharn with laundry instructions and then ran out to hide under his bed covers. Why didn’t Type do more?
That’s the question every critic conveniently avoids and instead focuses on bashing Tharn. This is where, sadly, everybody stops analysing this scene, because it interferes with their (well-intentioned, I am sure) agenda to turn this scene into a consent issue.
In most ‘outrage’ narratives I see, Type is always pigeon-holed into the victim box where the only emotion he is assigned to feel is ‘fear’ or ‘repulsion.’ Everyone is glad to ignore his agency as an adult interested in another adult sexually, and pare him down to a one-dimensional character that is only capable of hating sex and all sexual advances, just because he happens to be a CSA survivor. But that’s another post, so I will not go down that path. The point I want to make here is –
I judge shows based on the information given to me from the screen. I experience stories by listening to what they tell me, not what I think they should tell me. People keep missing crucial information given about Type here – check the shower scene again. Look at how his body and face behave in this scene.
Look at how flushed Type is. Look at how his fists slowly relax into palms, how his fingers caress Tharn’s shoulder and how he kisses Tharn back (eyes closed, lips tentatively puckering up).
So…. yes. Let’s never forget this… Type is nobody’s whipping boy. He is no damsel in distress. He knows what is going down here, literally. If he had given a strong cue that Tharn had to back off, period, Tharn would have done it right away. He did it in Episode 2, after all, when he kicked Tharn out of the bed (boba tea scene), and Tharn did leave him alone.
In this shower scene, Type’s body has given the consent, even though his mind had not, because it was busy hating gays. Tharn responded to that eventual relaxing of Type’s armor, because he was too clueless to understand that Type’s mind had not caught up. Seduced at 14, remember?
Implied consent is a valid form of consent, as per most laws in the world. Saying this is not giving a free pass to abusers who’d target innocent people. Saying this is to make it clear how unfair it is, to cancel the fact that Type stopped struggling because he decided to flip the bird at his old fears and give in his newfound desire (for men).
The body never lies – males cannot have an erection for sex they do not desire. (Editor’s note: I edited this line. It was from an article on sexual responses by Masters and Johnson, Human Sexual Response, circa early ’70s)
Type’s desire is something almost everyone discounts here, because a CSA survivor will always have war flashbacks when faced with a sudden sexual situation, right? I hate to tell you, no. My first sex experience as an adult did happen out of the blue and was extremely devoid of any such triggering drama. So… if you are stereotyping Type because you have a certain expectation of how CSA survivors would act in such situations, please… don’t.
Type stopped struggling because this young man, who had never known what foreplay is (Type in Episode 4: “Just go straight to it and finish it already, that’s how I do it with my lovers.”) has started enjoying what was happening.
It is not logical for any of us here in real life to shout, “No! That’s not how it goes! Tharn should have respected Type’s INITIAL panic!”
Umm, well. I don’t know what to say here, really. Here are two damaged teens, also abuse survivors, trying to learn about their body language and their attraction to each other. Unless one of them verbally sets the boundary, they will only listen to their body’s language. Sometimes that’s the only way left for some to learn stuff.
This belief is purely my perspective and in no way is this universal. Still, suppose you ask for my honest opinion. In that case, I am giving it to you as a person whose body was violated several times in childhood – if there is a rule that only verbal consent would be valid, then I’d have never been able to have sex in my adult life.
Because sometimes, CSA survivors cannot open their mouths and give verbal consent. This inability is due to complicated shit like shame and guilt and the ever-present memory of actually experiencing, allowing, and even surviving something they ought not to have done early in their lives.
So, sometimes they let their bodies speak and hope that’s enough. Not always, but sometimes. And looking at Type’s actions in context since Episode 1, I am inclined to believe that this could be applied to Type.
(I recall Episode 5 here, just after the bar scene. They are at the dorm when Type asks Tharn to sleep with him. Sulking Tharn pretends to misunderstand and just lies down with Type. At this point, Type is unable to articulate what he wants and just walks off in a huff.)
Back to the shower scene, after the blow job, after the release. From where I see, Type’s body is telling him the true state of affairs, and his abused child’s memory is actively rejecting it vocally:
“This is bad!”
“Hate him (Tharn!)”
“Be disgusted with him!”
It is now his journey is to accept what he really wants, instead of being in the old homophobic rut he has been stuck in for the past 10 years.
Do I think Tharn assaults Type in Episode 1 and Episode 2?
Am I angry at Tharn? Of course! I am angry at him for being impatient, greedy, disrespectful of boundaries, not knowing the healthy way of showing his attraction, and not giving Type enough time to come to him.
But then, Type is not an innocent lamb either. He commits hate crimes. He uses his fist against anything that may challenge his views. His internalized homophobia repeatedly landed him – and his friends – in trouble. He was his own worst enemy. He may have gone all this life this way, denying his true identity because he was too scared to face his past.
Something had to give. Somebody had to take the risk of belling the cat. Tharn did it in this shower scene because Type allowed him to do it.
Tharn didn’t force Type to have a blow job. Type allowed Tharn to give him a blow job. There is a world of difference between ‘forced’ and ‘allowed.’
What is most astonishing – to me, at least – is how people could miss the fact that the real power in this scene belonged to Type. Wondering how? Watch Episode 4, where Type reveals details about his past to Tharn, saying, “You made me cum, right? I did the same thing to a man when I was 11.” Basically, Type detailed out that he was forced to perform a BJ on his abductor.
Now watch the Episode 3 shower scene again. You will realize how radically game-changing this moment is in the trajectory of Type’s trauma and his sexual identity crisis.
Here, Type takes the first step towards reclaiming his identity – an identity buried under years of suffering, denial, and internalized homophobia. It is here that Type realizes he doesn’t have to be a victim to his past anymore, that he can enjoy sex – a blow job, to be precise, that is associated with a horrible time in his past – as an adult, despite the shame and guilt the same act is rendered in his memories.
I don’t have enough words to articulate what a massive relief that’d be, for a CSA survivor. Sufficient to say, I have been there and it’s one of the happiest moments of my life, to realise that my past doesn’t define, or defile, my present.
What happens in this Episode 3 shower scene sets the stage for the next step in Type’s “Hero’s journey” in the TharnType story, to reclaim his agency and power back from the monster who stole it from him when Type was a mere child – to boldly ask for sex from Tharn, even if he had to cloak it under an excuse of “not owing him.”
To me, the fact that Tharn (and Type – please, he was always gay or at least bi) are gay is only a very natural aspect of their sexual orientation. To me, it is their abusive pasts that shape their character, attitude, and worldviews, so forgive me for primarily seeing the show’s main leads as abused kids turned into toxic adults.
I write this long article because I identify equally with these two flawed heroes.
In romantic pursuals, sometimes I behaved like Type – violent, stubborn, giving up things even when I wanted them, self-destructive, driving even loved ones away because I was too scared or stupid. Sometimes I was so like Tharn – sexually aggressive, too clingy, refusing to take a “no” seriously, trying to seduce people in the hope of making them like me, love me, stay with me, and never leave me.
You might say that makes me an asshole. So be it. That’s reality; even a saint has one! Every single human being is flawed. None of us can escape making mistakes when we try to live our life. This fact is especially true for CSA survivors.
Childhood sex abuse is a serrated knife. CSA survivors live with it stuck inside us all the time because there is no way to erase memories (thank God for therapy… which not everyone can afford, sadly). Then there is the social stigma and the fear of being perceived as damaged or disgusting.
No wonder we come with so much baggage. No wonder Tharn and Type appear to be toxic. No wonder they have no clue how to approach each other in a healthy way, or even communicate coherently. No wonder the progress of their relationship – from conflict to sex to love – is so triggering. But that’s not a reason to cancel the show!
Did Tharn approach Type in the shower in the most politically correct way?
Does that make Type a victim of sexual assault?
Does having two damaged men as main leads and realistically telling their story, warts and all, mean TharnType is a bad show that should be canceled?
No, no, and no.
The bad news for casual viewers of TharnType is that this show is too complex for instant judgment (much like casual lovers, casual viewers cannot get the full depth of things if they refuse to be serious). That goes for almost everything in life.
It’s easy to cancel something in a second. It’s far tougher to take a balanced view because that calls for time, maturity, and respect.
I write this analysis after watching the show thrice, hundreds of YT clips viewings, and two months’ thoughts and discussions with moots (mutual followers) in TharnType fandom. So please don’t come at me after watching one scene and judging the show as toxic.
Hell, if you want to hate on something, by all means, do. We all have the freedom to like or hate. But DO NOT pretend to know what the show is talking about when you haven’t even seen it. Do not go around spewing hate and making comments online about how TharnType promotes rape culture. Don’t embarrass yourself by showing your ignorance this way, throwing dirt on a series that has two CSA survivors as its main leads – something no other tv show, in any country, has ever done in my memory.
Being offended is the easiest shit to do ever. It’s also very easy to sit in your room and diss other people’s hard work. I have to ask some people – okay, haters, with all due respect – to not be so easy.
If you still want to throw a hissy fit because TharnType doesn’t align with your idea of how a BL show must be, please feel free to watch Teletubbies!
Disclaimer: The author of this article is neither an expert on CSA nor a medical practitioner. The views expressed in this article are personal in nature and may not be substituted for professional advice. If you require more information on the topic of CSA, please refer to registered NGOs in your community, or browse reputed websites like https://www.rainn.org/articles/child-sexual-abuse.