There always been something innately sexual about possession in the Supernatural universe, I think. In Born Under a Bad Sign (2.14), after they've exorcised Meg from Sam's body, Dean points out, "Dude, you like full on had a girl up inside of you for like a week. That's pretty naughty."

Even Jimmy's language to Castiel in The Rapture (4.20) is, in my opinion, closer to that of a lover than anything, especially when he cries to him, "I gave you everything you asked me to give, I gave you more!" Jimmy's joy when he first encounters Castiel, before he is possessed, is very much an infatuation, one that is lost after Castiel is torn from him.

Even the language of possession in the show is sexual - the angel or demon in question "takes" the person. They've used both the term of wearing people and riding people, the latter also having distinct sexual connotations. Beyond Meg-Sam's actions toward Jo in Born Under a Bad Sign, which are overtly sexual (Sam, get off me! Sam, get off me! ), the language used after the exorcism is sexual as well, the language of being inside another person, of taking another person.

Sympathy For the Devil (5.01) only made this utterly transparent. Zachariah, Dean, and Lucifer don't mince words. They know what they're talking about and if the audience wasn't aware that Michael and Lucifer were noncorporeal beings seeking bodies, it would be easy to assume that they were looking for sex - and Michael and his buddies seem to have no qualms about using force.

It makes my insides unhappy to think that we've only seen one possession with enthusiastic consent, if, indeed, possession is relatable to sexual intercourse. Jimmy was willing and even happy the first time he welcome Castiel into his body. (And isn't that sexual language right there as well?) However, Castiel also takes Jimmy's daughter, Claire, and then only goes back inside Jimmy when Jimmy begs him, not wanting this for his daughter. And now - well, presumably, Jimmy is dead, killed by Castiel's comrades-in-arms. And now Castiel (his lover? his rapist? the man who was inside his daughter?) wears his face as he walks the earth. I wonder how Jimmy would feel about that.

Dean's fight with Zachariah, where he keeps telling him that no, he won't let Michael take him is both heart breaking and terrifying. It is one thing to think of a demon - Meg or Lucifer or Azazel - taking someone against their will, but the brutality of the angels is beyond cruel.

Zachariah says to Dean, "You're Michael's weapon or, rather, his receptacle... Michael's vessel. You're chosen. It's a great honor... I am completely and utterly through screwing around.... Now, Michael is going to take his vessel... You understand me?"

I think part of the terror is how easily Zachariah dehumanizes Dean. Dean isn't a person. His consent doesn't really matter (or, in Zachariah's words, the angels' god-given need for consent is "unfortunate"). Dean is an object - he is a receptacle and a vessel. Dean is empty until Michael fills him and uses him. Dean is nothing; he is empty until Michael rides him.

I really don't blame Dean for saying no to that.

Then Zachariah takes it a step further. He broke Sam's legs because Dean was mouthing off at him, but when Dean actually dares to say no - dares to assert himself as a person - Zachariah is visibly furious. He offers to heal Bobby, if Dean will say yes, but says that if Dean says no again, Bobby will never be able to walk. After Dean says no again, Zachariah gives Dean stage four stomach cancer, saying he will heal him if he allows Michael to take him. (Stage IV gastric cancers are usually metastasized tumors that have spread to other parts of the body - probably Dean's only hope of recovery is a miracle.) At another no, Zachariah removes Sam's lungs.

Unsurprisingly, Dean begs for death at this point. Zachariah has, after all, pretty much run out of people to hurt and Dean is in visible agony from his gastric cancer, while Sam struggles behind him. Zachariah, however, tells him, "Are we having fun, yes? ... Kill you? Oh no, I'm just getting started." Zachariah is ready to torture Dean into allowing Michael to ride him.

Lucifer is a little more friendly with Nick, even if he does take the form of Nick's murdered wife. He, of all the angels, is up front with Nick, saying, "To be honest, it'll probably be unpleasant for you." (Even Jimmy talks about how painful it is to be taken by angel. Just think about that statement and its implications.) Lucifer, I suppose, by fannish standards, is closer to dub-con than to Zachariah, Castiel, and Meg's total non-con.

He whispers sweet words to Nick through the lips of his dead wife. He says, "This is your choice. You need to invite me in.... What I need is you. Nick, I need you to say yes."

How many times have those last two sentences been written in romance novels? Slash? Really bad porn? Is there another time, in our society, that person would say, "You need my consent.... The answer's no," except in a sexual one? As writers, how many times have we written about a character taking another, riding another, being inside another? As people, how many times have we talked about that, meaning sex?

I think it's deliberate that these situations are happening exclusively to men, that Anna was born as she is. Even Meg Masters, who comes to Dean in Are You There God? (4.02) and calls him a monster for not seeing that she was alive, doesn't use the sexual language of being ridden, of being taken, of being empty until a demon used her.

It makes us think. For Dean, it's male-on-male violence. A male holds him down, tries to torture him into allowing another male to take him. (Whether or not angels are gendered and how is brought into question by Castiel and Lucifer, but Zachariah holds a male body and Michael is a masculine name.) For Nick, in his dream, he is being taken by his late wife. It's creepy and vaguely reminisce of necrophilia and I do think it's part of why he agrees - it's harder to imagine his beloved as Satan than a stranger. But if it is violence - and I'm not sure in his case that it is as much as it is highly morally questionable - it is, to the eyes of the viewer, female-on-male. Going back to season two, we generally view Meg as female, though, again, we don't know how/if demons are gendered, so we tend to view Sam's possession as female-on-male violence.

However, Castiel is an exception. We became accustomed to viewing the entity as male - he, after all, takes a male body when we see him most of the time. Yet, he takes a little girl, the daughter of the man he has been inside all season. He's a bit of a BAMF when he's inside Claire and there's the issue of Sam's addiction, so I didn't really think about it, but it's disturbing and creepy.

I don't know what to make of it. The angels don't appear to take consent any more seriously than the demons do. If they have to torture a person into saying yes, into begging for death before being taken, then that's fine. That's... bothersome. It throws into relief the idea that humans are the only good guys - they're the only ones who seem to know what "No" and "Stop" mean.

The writers know they are writing for a primarily female audience, I think. And, especially as a woman who has been violated in this way myself, what they're saying is obvious: If you didn't get the message before, YOU CAN'T TRUST ANYONE.

I really don't know, though, how I feel about the writer's using this as their parallel. It's sickening and it's obvious and it screams the message in huge, neon letters. However, I don't know if I want to say that it highlights that men can be victims of this kind of violence as well - especially as Sam has been possessed and Dean is reduced to a receptacle to be filled and even Bobby and John, our male fighting heroes, are possessed. I've seen it written all over livejournal that this episode took them by surprise, that surely Bobby would know how to protect himself from being taken like that. And isn't that a message? But does it diminish real sexual violence in the real world? I just don't know.

ETA: Since this post seems to be causing a great deal of confusion among commenters, I would like to redirect readers to this.
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