Sexuality and Repression: A Tumblr Conversation
A Tumblr conversation regarding Sam and Dean’s sexuality and relationships, and I thought I would share it with whoever might be interested. This began as a response to a gif set of Sam, Dean, Castiel and Bobby entitled Team “Daddy Doesn’t Love Me.”
I WOULD LIKE TO THANK THE FATHERS WHO MADE THIS SHOW POSSIBLE.
I STILL WONDER WHY THEY ARE NOT PROSTITUTES.
Well, there are some theories as to how Dean earned money when he was a teenager, none of them pleasant, but all of them fitting in nicely with his self-esteem issues.
I wish I could find the link, but Jensen in an old interview made reference to the things Dean might do to get money. Not in the past tense sense either. I doubt he was going as far as fans might, but taking a few bucks from a hot older woman? It isn’t something he’s mentioned again probably because of the speculation about Dean’s sexuality and shipping issues. Just speculating, but yeah. Fans spend a lot of time talking about Dean’s sexuality and issues, but little in regard to Sam. I find that subject ripe for analysis actually.
I agree with you on that, people tend to see Sam as the goody two shoes who stayed with part-time jobs to get by but if I remember well, in the scene where Sam gives the Amulet to Dean, he more or less admits he stole the money for it. That, and we’ve also seen (in Scarecrow, I think) that he has no problem with stealing a car if the situation requires it.
I think even if Sam tried to stay as legal as he could, he grew hungry as much as Dean did and there were instances when he did shady things to get by (not to mention that if he knew about Dean accepting money in return for sexual favor, he may have wanted to spare his brother that, which made the need for money more pressing)
Honestly, if Sam was the uncaring or upitty boy/man some people make him sound like, he’d have had a thousand reasons to call social services on John, but he never did, because that would have meant risking separation from Dean. Plus, John may have been a terrible father, he was still his dad, and that plays a role, too.
Instead, I think he just did his best to balance things out between legally and illegally obtained money… until, of course, he went to Stanford, but even then there’s a possibility he got involved in not-too-clear stuff if he needed the money (though of course, since we’re unclear on what his financial situation was, it’s harder to determine)
Yeah, I agree. I think that Sam has an impulse to be on the straight an narrow because he sees it as how normal people live, however untrue that may be, but the fact is that just as lying is second nature to him, so I think would stealing or other criminal pursuits. Sam has always seemed to me to be more pragmatic than Dean. Dean may be a criminal, but he has certain principles which he won’t go against, Sam less so. Ruby is a perfect example of that. Sam is much more a means justify the ends kind of person.
The issue of Sam’s sexuality is interesting too. Generally speaking, Sam doesn’t get into sexual liaisons unless he romantically/emotionally involved with the woman. The only time we see him not be I think is with the medical examiner or when he was soulless, which I guess we view as Sam’s id. So certainly Sam has a strong sex drive, which he represses for whatever reason. Again, that’s ripe for analysis. Is it his attempt to not go down the path Dean did or something more? We can only conclude that Sam spends a lot of time with his right hand.
[This section deleted per the request of the blogger.]
That’s an interesting possibility [that Dean was sexually abused by a teacher] that I hadn’t considered. Every guy I know (I’m not talking 20-somethings, but men in their 40s and 50s) scoff at the idea of a teen guy/adult woman i.e. teacher scenario being abusive because they say it is every teen guy’s ultimate fantasy. I won’t call bullshit on their perspective since I think that teenage sexuality is a complicated issue and adults often deny teens sexual agency which can be damaging in itself. I know of at least one situation where a boy was victimized more by the adults insisting he was a victim than he was by the experience itself. None the less, I can see how a vulnerable kid like Dean could be taken advantage of.
I think we need to be careful though to perhaps not lay the blame on any one thing. We need to take a look too at the role model John presented to Dean. We know that Dean idolized his father to the point of listening to his music, wearing his jacket, and driving his car. It doesn’t take a stretch of imagination to think that Dean would also emulate his father’s behavior with women. We know that John drank heavily and on at least one occasion fathered a son outside a committed relationship. It’s doubtful that Kate Milligan was the only woman John had a casual sexual relationship with.
So, I think that Sam’s repressed sexuality may have as much to do with not wanting to be like his father as it does with anything. Sam rejected being like John in most things, so that makes sense. Again, I find Sam’s relationship with women fascinating. We have to accept I think that Sam had a loving, relatively positive relationship with Jess. At least that’s how Kripke presented it, and I think we have to accept that; although I find it surprising. Dean had a four years with a loving maternal figure, and of course, losing her left deep scars. Sam on the other hand, never had a woman in his life. As far as we know, until he met Amy as a teen, there was never a woman or girl who showed him any affection or interest other than perhaps the myriad teachers in the many schools he passed through. We just don’t have that information. And yet, we are led to believe that somehow Sam is able to form solid, healthy relationships with women. I wonder where that ability comes from when he has pretty much no experience with women at all.
(Just gonna butt into this convo, sorry…)
I think, when talking about Sam and Jess, it’s worth noting that they were only together for 18 months. That’s hardly enough time to get out of the honeymoon phase! Additionally, I’ve always felt that, just like Dean said of John and Mary’s relationship “It was only perfect after she died.” I’m sure it wasn’t all ideal. There must have been some issues or arguments between them, even though we’ll never get to learn what they were.
There’s also the fact that, while he doesn’t have a lot of experience with women, Sam is notoriously empathetic. Women aren’t that different from men. It’s not hard for someone as emotionally perceptive as Sam to anticipate what is expected of him, figure out what to say and do in unfamiliar situations, etc. (I can’t help thinking, though, how exhausting that probably was for him. I think in S1 he says something to the effect that, even at Stanford, he was always conscious of the fact that he wasn’t like everyone else, that he didn’t fit in, wasn’t normal.) It’s not a healthy basis for a relationship, and as much as I love Sam/Jess, I have to wonder if it could have ever lasted long term.
On the subject of Sam and sex, the thing that I always come back to is, to me, it seems that, where Dean is all about seeking physical intimacy, Sam seeks emotional intimacy instead – something he never got as a child (even though Dean obviously loves him, they are not an emotionally demonstrative family – far from it). Again, talking about Jess: They’re very young, still in school, they’ve been together less than two years, but not only are they living together, Sam’s already shopping for rings. Sure, some people fall in love and get married that quickly, but given that Sam is usually touted as the rational one, this seems significant to me.
He also talks about having a lot of difficulty forming relationships with other children his age because he can’t ever be open with them or maintain long term relationships (this seems like it would apply to dating, as well). He’s with Amelia only a few months, and they’re already getting a house together.
Given all this, I think Sam’s dislike of no-strings sex may be more about the fact that, for him, there’s no real pleasure in it without the emotional intimacy. It’s the same reason Soulless!Sam had tons of casual sex; he didn’t need to feel that connection. And regular, soul-having Sam? He’s all about wanting to feel those connections, to feel like he belongs, to be accepted. Loved. But the way he bases his relationships around those feelings and ties up his self worth into them isn’t really any healthier than Dean’s method of dealing with his own issues, IMO.
“It’s not hard for someone as emotionally perceptive as Sam to anticipate what is expected of him, figure out what to say and do in unfamiliar situations, etc”
This is such a good point because it’s exactly what Sam has done in all of his outside relationships. It’s what he did all the way through elementary and high school into college, so why should a relationship with a woman be any different. Yes, he did tell Dean in S1 that he felt like an outsider at Stanford. I’ve always wondered too if Sam and Jess could have made it long-term.
Your entire comment here is very perceptive. Sam does jump into relationships very quickly. Look how he dove in with Madison over the course of just a couple of days. Maybe that’s why Dean quit encouraging Sam with girls after that; he saw how quickly and completely Sam devoted himself to a relationship and knew how emotionally dangerous that was in their life.
The other thing that strikes me with Jess and Amelia is that Sam didn’t tell either of them about who and what he really is. Dean asked him in the pilot if Jess knew about who he was and the things he’d done. Sam said, no, and she never would. Dean said, Well, that’s healthy. I have a feeling that in Sam’s desire for love and affection and acceptance, he’s willing to hide not just the literal truth of who he is, but aspects of his character and personality. He would be willing to try to be whatever the other person needed or wanted. That is not a good basis for a relationship and couldn’t be maintained long-term. Over the course of time, how satisfying would a relationship be if he knew that the other person didn’t know the real him? You’re right, it would be exhausting to constantly anticipate another person’s desires and ultimately unfullfilling on an emotional level.
Thanks for butting in.