Manipulation and Coercion on Below Deck: Down Under

In this Pop Culture Pillow Talk, we do a beat-by-beat examination of the recent Below Deck: Down Under episodes that depicted unwanted sexual contact between cast members. We look at the tactics used to manipulate and coerce a vulnerable person, and how that leaves the victim feeling ashamed and at fault. We also look at the actions of bystanders – both good and bad.

We’re talking about Below Deck: Down Under – season 2, episodes 6 and 7 (at the time of release, it is available for streaming on Bravo, Peacock, NBC, SyFy and more.)

Good Girls Talk About Sex
Good Girls Talk About Sex
Manipulation and Coercion on Below Deck: Down Under
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In this episode we talk about

  • Manipulation and coercion
  • Editing in reality television
  • Appropriate consent
  • Appropriate consent is not possible when you are drunk
  • Giving in to pressure because it’s easier than continuing to resist
  • Gender dynamics
  • Bodily autonomy
  • The responsibility of bystanders when a vulnerable person is in danger
  • Victim blaming
  • Leadership on respect and boundaries
  • Why “I’m mad because I would kill someone who treated my sister that way…” is an problematic way of framing the issue

Full episode text

[MUSIC]

 

LEAH: Welcome to Good Girls Talk About Sex. I am sex and intimacy coach, Leah Carey. And this is a place to share conversations with all sorts of women about their experience of sexuality. These are unfiltered conversations between adult women talking about sex. If anything about the previous sentence offends you, turn back now! And if you’re looking for a trigger warning, you’re not going to get it from me. I believe that you are stronger than the trauma you have experienced. I have faith in your ability to deal with things that upset you. Sound good? Let’s start the show!

 

[MUSIC]

 

LEAH: Hey, friends. I’m really excited to be back with another pop culture breakdown. As I mentioned in the last episode, today we’re going to be looking at Below Deck Down Under, which is a show created by Bravo that’s streaming on Peacock and a few other services. We’re going to be looking at the recent episodes, season 2, episode 6, All wrong and season 2, episode 7, The Turnover Day.

 

If you want to watch those episodes before listening and haven’t done that yet, then please go do that. Come back when you’re ready. Otherwise, if you’ve already watched the episodes or if you don’t really care to watch the episodes, but just want to follow along for the commentary, then let’s dive in.

 

It’s not a show that I have followed. I know very little about it except what I’ve read in the aftermath of the last couple of weeks. It follows the crew of a “super yacht” serving the clientele during a charter. The crew on these episodes include a male captain, a female chef, and then three deckhands who are, by the way, all male, and three stewards who are the people who clean the cabins and serve the food and make the beds who are, by the way, all female.

 

I don’t know if this is the way that it is generally on these shows or in the real world of chartering yachts, but this is a very gendered split of responsibilities on this boat. The relevant portion of this story really begins near the end of episode 6, All Wrong, and then continues throughout episode 7, Turnover Day. So, it’s like one long extended episode that I’m going to talk about all as one.

 

And in this, there are two major storylines that happen. And there is some crossover between them, but I’m going to try and do my best to handle them individually, the actions of Luke and then the actions of Laura. And then, at the end, I’ll talk about how those two storylines cross over. And in order for this to not go for two or three hours, I’m not addressing everything that happened. I am going to pull out what I think are the most important moments to look at closely and then probably going to skip over some things that if you’ve watched, you might think are important. And I totally agree with you. I just want to keep this a reasonable length.

 

So, keep in mind that reality television is heavily edited. There is undoubtedly important information we’re not seeing. Also, people can be made to look like they’ve said something that either they didn’t say or that is taken completely out of context because it ratchets up the drama in that moment. So, what we actually see on the screen in a finished episode is one version of a story, but it’s definitely not the whole story.

 

Again, I want to be super clear. I’m not saying that to diminish how wrong Luke’s actions were. Under any circumstances, they were wrong. You cannot assume sexual consent with someone who is drunk and especially someone who’s passed out. Okay. Enough preamble. Let’s get into the show.

 

[MUSIC]

 

LEAH: The relevant portion of the episode begins with the crew finishing one charter. And now, they’re all getting ready to go out on the town and blow off some steam on their 24 hours off.

 

BELOW DECK AUDIO:

 

Oh, woo. Woo. Wow. Let’s go. It’s totally correct. Yeah.

 

LEAH: While they’re at the restaurant, one of the other deckhands is flirting with Margot. And we hear her say.

 

BELOW DECK AUDIO:

 

DECKHAND: Should we go look at the water?

 

MARGOT: I’m really drunk. I’m sorry.

 

DECKHAND: In scuba diving, this is okay [makes “okay” hand signal].

 

MARGOT: Even that is making me nauseous, so just give me a moment.

 

LEAH: Now, what’s important to know here is that Luke, the person who’s about to become the perpetrator in this story, is sitting on the other side of Margot. She’s not saying that she’s drunk to him, but it is very obvious that he knows that Margot is drunk. Now, Luke is also totally sauced. And we see him up and dancing around and taking his clothes off, which his castmates comment on.

 

BELOW DECK AUDIO:

 

CASTMATE: Why has he got his shirt off?

 

CASTMATE: I have no idea.

 

LUKE: No. It’s all my junk. Oh, damn. Wow.

 

LEAH: They get into the vans on their way back to the boat. And everybody’s talking about getting in the hot tub and what’s going to happen next in the evening. We see Margot has gotten into the way back seat of this passenger van with Luke. She is basically passed out with her head in his lap. So, once again, Luke very clearly knows. I don’t care how drunk he is. He very clearly knows that Margot is even more drunk than he is. The other people in the van, including the chief steward or chief stew, as they call her, notice that Margot is super out of it. And the chief stew says:

 

BELOW DECK AUDIO:

 

CHIEF STEW: We should be putting her to bed.

 

LEAH: “We should be putting her to bed.” And here is where the first really big red flag goes up because Luke leans over into Margot’s ear and says.

 

BELOW DECK AUDIO:

 

LUKE: Should I put you to bed?

 

MARGOT: [MUMBLES]

 

LEAH: “Do you want me to put you to bed?” And I don’t know if you could exactly hear it, but Margot makes some noise, which is translated in the subtitles as “mm-hmm,” but I don’t think it’s actually nearly that clear. It’s more just like a grunt of “Something’s happening, and I am pretending that I know what’s going on.”

 

So, let’s pause here for just a moment and look more deeply at what has just happened because Luke has just deployed an extremely manipulative and coercive tactic. He may or may not even consciously realize that that’s what he’s doing. My guess is he thinks of himself as a really good guy, but he deploys this tactic so effortlessly, even when he is practically falling down drunk, that my guess is this is part of his standard repertoire. This is not something that he’s just thought up in the moment and is trying to see if it works. And we’re going to see it a couple other times through the evening.

 

Luke knows that if the Chief Stew puts her to bed, he has lost any access to her that could be legitimized. So, he leans over and says, “Do you want me to put you to bed?” And she gives this grunt. So, he has just created the illusion of consent. He’s asked, “Do you want me to do this?” She has mumbled, grunted, whatever.

 

So, now, if you were to do that, he’s off the hook. Never mind that a drunk person cannot give consent. A person who’s practically passed out probably doesn’t even know what the conversation is that she’s having and that the request for consent that he made is so vague that it’s meaningless. This is a manipulative move because it sets up the illusion that anything that comes next has somehow been agreed to by all parties. Thankfully, the chief stew is really tuned into what’s going on here and sticks to her guns.

 

BELOW DECK AUDIO:

 

CHIEF STEW: I’m going to watch her until she goes to bed. I just want to check on her a bit.

 

LEAH: Meanwhile, Luke and Margot are still in the back seat of the van. She has woken up enough to get out of the van under her own steam. And he’s still trying to create this situation where he can do what he wants to do.

 

BELOW DECK AUDIO:

 

LUKE: You want to come cuddle with me?

 

MARGOT: No. Let’s go.

 

LEAH: But the chief stew knows better. She grabs Margot by the hand and leads her directly to the crew quarters and stands with her as Margot gets ready for bed. And she can very clearly identify the issue.

 

BELOW DECK AUDIO:

 

CHIEF STEW: I don’t want any drunkenness to be taken advantage of.

 

MARGOT: Okay.

 

CHIEF STEW: So, I’d just like to see you get into bed safely. I just saw the way that Luke was looking at you. And I’m feeling very protective.

 

MARGOT: I’m glad that you’re here. I don’t want to go in the jacuzzi. I want to go to bed. All I want is water and bed. No Luke.

 

LEAH: The chief stew gives her a kiss on the forehead and leaves the cabin, closes the door with the assumption that Margot has gone to bed. She’s not going to be out cavorting. So, she’s presumably safe. But then, the power on the boat goes out, which not only plunges the whole boat into darkness, except, I think, for some emergency lights, but alarms start blaring.

 

And this causes some chaos on the boat as people run around trying to find the source of the outage, which gives Luke the opportunity to sneak into Margot’s cabin while no one is watching. And he does this with a towel wrapped around his waist, which in the confusion begins to fall off. And we see that he’s naked under the towel. And at some point, he balls it up and just holds it in front of his genitals. So, he is clearly not really that concerned about the fact that he is naked in public space.

 

Now, I’m going to have some things to say about the production crew and the producers in a few minutes. But I want to give them props for the fact that they left a camera and operator and maybe a producer. It’s a little hard to tell in the crew quarters. Even while all of this chaos was going on, they had a camera that caught Luke going into Margot’s room. Everything would have probably ended very differently if the production team hadn’t been right there to see what was happening.

 

And now, we get to the main event of the episode, which is that we see Luke crawl up into Margot’s bed, naked, and cuddle himself around her.  And the producers start trying to get him to come out.

 

BELOW DECK AUDIO:

 

PRODUCER: Luke, you can’t do this. Luke, Luke. Hey. Hey. Hey, buddy. Hey.

 

LUKE: Thank you very much.

 

PRODUCER: We need you to stop.

 

LUKE: Thank you very much.

 

LEAH: So, this may be a little bit hard to understand. What has happened is that the producers or the camera operators, whoever it might be, have actually been yelling into the room, “Luke, Luke, you can’t do this.” And then, one of the production team actually goes into the cabin, which is tiny. But there’s enough room for him to go into the cabin and stand beside the bunk and Margot’s on the top bunk, which is at nose level, because on boats, everything is really short.

 

So, he’s standing at the bed and shaking Luke trying to get him to get up. He is patting him on the back. He’s trying lots of different things to get him to get up. And Luke is drunkenly saying, “Thank you very much. Thank you very much.” And here’s the next instance of this incredibly coercive manipulative tactic that he uses.

 

BELOW DECK AUDIO:

 

PRODUCER: Luke, I got to get you out of here because she wants to go to bed.

 

LUKE: Are you okay?

 

MARGOT: Yeah.

 

LUKE: Are you okay?

 

MARGOT: Yes, it’s sleepy time.

 

LUKE: Are you okay? Are you a 10 out of 10 or a 9 out of 10? Hey.

 

MARGOT: 10 out of 10.

 

LEAH: The producer says, “Margot wants to go to bed.” And Luke leans over. And, again, this is really muffled. So, you may not have been able to understand it. Luke leans over Margot and says, “Margot, are you okay?” She responds, “Yeah, it’s sleepy time.” That’s not the answer that Luke wants. Luke wants an answer that’s going to, again, legitimize his presence in her room. And so, he goes the next step to say, “Are you a 10 out of 10 or a 9 out of 10?”

 

Now, there are a couple things going on here. The first is that he has given her a choice between two things that suggest that she’s excellent. So, either she’s a 10 out of 10 and everything is perfect, or she’s a 9 out of 10 and it’s not quite perfect, but it’s still pretty damn good.

 

When you give people a choice, this is like a car salesman manipulation tactic. When you give people a choice between two things, it very subtly removes all of the other choices from the table. So, she now has a choice between really good and perfect. She replies in a tone of voice that is clearly, “Get out of my face, I just wanna go to sleep.” She says, “I’m a 10 out of 10.”

 

This is a very common thing that happens with women who are experiencing harassment. You say whatever it is the other person wants to hear, so they will fucking leave you alone. And so, this is what she’s done. She said, “I’m a 10 out of 10. Basically, leave me the fuck alone.” Luke has gotten the answer that he needs to once again legitimize his presence in her room.

 

Now, we’ll see this is all about to turn against Luke. But in terms of coercive manipulative tactics, had the camera crew not been there, he has just set up a situation where he can claim that he’s gotten consent that everything was fine. She was fine. Never mind that she was drunk out of her mind. He is taking all of these little manipulative steps to get to the outcome that he wants, which presumably is sex with Margot.

 

Now, I imagine there are going to be some dudes. And please forgive me, but it’s almost always dudes who are going to say, “What’s the big deal? He was just laying next to her. Nothing happened. He wasn’t even there for that long. Nothing happened.”

 

Here’s what happened. He was naked. He had been pushing her boundaries all night. And he climbed into her bed naked. That is assault because he has invaded her space in a really intimate way in a way that can and does create a trauma aftereffect for her. Okay.

 

So, here’s where I am going to ream the production crew because what they did is so, so not okay.

 

BELOW DECK AUDIO:

 

PRODUCER: Luke.

 

LUKE: Ugh, man.

 

LEAH: This sound is of the producer making one last attempt to rouse Luke and then walking out of the cabin. As far as I’m concerned, this is fucking inexcusable. There is a young woman who everyone in this space acknowledges is in danger. There is an assault going on that could eventually turn into a sexual assault or rape. And when the production person can’t get Luke out of bed by shaking him and slapping his back, the production member walks out of the room. There is not a single person who can act as her safety inside that room with her. There is a door that can be closed.

 

And quite predictably, Luke gets up and slams the door. Thankfully, he’s too drunk and maybe not thinking clearly enough to put a chair under the doorknob, but there is now a closed door between the production crew and the person that they’re supposed to be protecting. The production crew opens the door. And Luke slams it again. The producer tries to open the door once more. And Luke is now holding it closed. So, the producer can only get it open a couple of inches, which first of all, is not enough to even get eyes on Margot to make sure she’s okay, but it’s not enough to get into the room. So, they are allowing a perpetrator to be on the other side of a closed door with a vulnerable woman. Again, as far as I’m concerned, this is absolutely inexcusable.

 

BELOW DECK AUDIO:

 

PRODUCER: Stop. We can’t.  We can’t, bro.

 

LUKE: [expletive]

 

PRODUCER: We can’t do that. We can’t do it. We can’t do that. She’s sitting there. She’s sitting there.

 

LUKE: Frostbite. [expletive].

 

LEAH: And that’s the sound of them finally pulling Luke out of Margot’s cabin and him turning around and swearing at them and slamming the door to his own cabin. A little while later, the chief stew comes up to check on Margot and tells Margot what has just happened.

 

BELOW DECK AUDIO:

 

CHIEF STEW: Luke came in and he was naked.

 

MARGOT: Oh my god. Ew. He was naked?

 

CHIEF STEW: Did you see him naked?

 

MARGOT: No. I was asleep. I did not invite that at all.

 

LEAH: If you couldn’t understand that well, the chief stew says, “He came in. He was naked.” Margot says, “Ew. He was naked?” And the chief stew says, “Did you consent to that?” And Margot says, “No. I was asleep. I did not invite that.”

 

BELOW DECK AUDIO:

 

CHIEF STEW: We don’t actually know what would have happened. But being in her bed naked and she’s got no idea, it actually makes my skin crawl. You don’t have the right to put someone unconscious into that position.

 

LEAH: The next morning, we see Margot talking with her roommate, Laura, who’s going to be part of the next chapter of this story. And Laura says something that clearly foreshadows how bad shit is about to get.

 

BELOW DECK AUDIO:

 

MARGOT: Because Luke got into my bed and naked and it was weird.

 

LAURA: Was his dick standing?

 

MARGOT: I don’t remember.

 

LEAH: Margot says, “He was naked.” And Laura says, “Was his dick standing?” You can imagine that being the question that someone who is trying to let a man off the hook for assault would ask. “He crawled into my bed. I felt so violated.” “Did he have a hard-on? Don’t worry. If he wasn’t hard, he couldn’t rape you.” As if that is the only thing that qualifies as being really traumatic. And then, we have a series of conversations where Margot expresses how shamed and stupid she feels for having gotten that drunk.

 

BELOW DECK AUDIO:

 

MARGOT: It doesn’t feel really grossed at all. I feel so stupid. I was probably being too flirty. I feel disappointed in myself, embarrassed, sad.

 

LEAH: I want to give the chef props for this brilliant encapsulation of the situation.

 

BELOW DECK AUDIO:

 

MARGOT: I get that. I was so drunk. And it’s like –

 

CHEF: Women should be able to be black out drunk if they want to. We should be able to stand in a room naked and not have anyone do anything to us. You are allowed to be drunk.

 

LEAH: You are allowed to be drunk. And we should be able to be drunk without anything happening to us. It seems so obvious. And yet, it is such a point of contention. So many women are victim-blamed for being assaulted because they were drunk. If you hadn’t wanted to be assaulted, then you shouldn’t have gotten so drunk.

 

Here’s the corollary that I think of every time this comes up. When a man gets drunk, is he supposed to worry about someone who’s five inches taller and 50 pounds heavier pulling down his pants and sticking their thumb up his ass? Because that is essentially the same thing. Men do not have this stigma that if they get drunk, then they should expect to be assaulted. Why in the world does that exist for women?

 

The captain comes in, sends him to a hotel. And then, the next morning, Luke is fired. He comes to get his stuff and he leaves. And we don’t see him again. So, that is the close of the first piece of this story.

 

And I want to say that production did some things right. They actually intervened, which is something that production on reality TV shows very rarely does, even when people are in active, emotional, or mental danger. The fact that this was physical, sexual danger, I’m sure, has something to do with why they intervened, but let’s not be naive here. Production not only won’t intervene when someone is in mental or emotional danger, they will often actively stir the pot.

 

And for a great example of that, look back to Love is Blind, season 2 with Nick and Danielle. Danielle is having some serious mental health issues. And we now know because both Danielle and Nick have spoken publicly that she was in a mental health crisis. And instead of doing anything to help, production did things to ratchet up the tension for her, to make things harder and more upsetting for her.

 

The fact that they stepped in is a big deal. It also leads me to wonder, how often have they not stepped in? How often have they not had a camera there, so they didn’t actually know it was happening? How often have things happened where they didn’t step in? Now, they happen to have gotten a lot of press over this. And a lot of that press is actually pretty complimentary of the producers for stepping in the way they did, but I can’t help but wonder when production is plying the crew with alcohol in the way that former cast members have said that they do, this is not the first time this has happened. It’s just not. How many things have happened before when they didn’t step in?

 

[MUSIC]

 

LEAH: Do you struggle with how your body looks during sex? You’re not alone. Growing up as little girls, most of us learned that our worth was entirely tied to how we look. We saw TV shows and movies and fashion magazines that showed a very narrow range of bodies. And we were told that those were the perfect desirable bodies. The message, if you don’t look like that, you’re not worthy of love.

 

But here’s the not so secret secret. They’re lying. There are people who want to love you in the body you’re in today. I promise. They want to see your body. They want to touch your body. They want to worship your body. I promise. But even if a person is already touching you, if you don’t believe you’re worthy of their time, attention, affection, you’ll never let yourself relax enough to enjoy it.

 

And you deserve to relax. You deserve to let yourself be seen and touched and worshiped. You deserve to experience pleasure without thinking about how much your arms jiggle. You deserve to have sex in any position you want, not just the one where you think you look the thinnest. Would you tell your daughter or sister or best friend that they don’t deserve love because they don’t look like Kim Kardashian? Of course not.

 

So, let’s do something to help you stop saying that to yourself. I want you to have a deeply fulfilling, intimate life. And I would be honored to be your coach on the journey to get there. I’m queer, kinky, and non-monogamy friendly. And I would love to talk with you.

 

So, for more information and to schedule your free discovery call, visit www.leahcarey.com/coaching. That’s www.leahcarey.com/coaching for your free discovery call. That link is in the episode description on the app you’re listening on now. Back to the show.

 

[MUSIC]

 

LEAH: So, now, let’s move on to the second piece of this story. This is featuring Laura and Adam. Laura is one of the stewards. Adam is one of the deck hands. And in a changeabout, the female, Laura is the harasser, and Adam, the male is being harassed. And to start this story, we’re going to go all the way back to the beginning of the evening when they’re at the restaurant. And the chef has taken Adam outside to have a chat.

 

BELOW DECK AUDIO:

 

CHEF: So, how do you feel about Laura being all over you?

 

ADAM: She’s got to chill out a little bit.

 

CHEF: So you’re not into it?

 

ADAM: No.

 

CHEF: I feel like you need to just tell her properly tonight then, because otherwise, you’re just leading her on.

 

ADAM: I have. Obviously, that doesn’t work.

 

CHEF: Then just say, “I see you as a friend and I can’t get past that.”

 

ADAM: I said that.

 

CHEF: Really?

 

ADAM: Yeah.

 

LEAH: Now, I don’t love the implication that if she doesn’t pick up on him saying, “I’m not interested in you,” that he’s leading her on. But beyond the inelegant phrasing, we can see that there are people who are aware that Laura is being inappropriate.

 

When Adam goes back inside the restaurant, he’s sitting next to Laura and she is continuing to push his boundaries. She is saying really boundary busting things. And she’s putting her hands all over him, leaning up against him, all sorts of things that would make somebody really uncomfortable. I’m going to play this next bit of audio for you, but it is pretty muffled. So, then, I will explain what’s going on.

 

BELOW DECK AUDIO:

 

ADAM: Wow, you really don’t want to just be friends, man?

 

LAURA: I want someone to be my friend, and then the rest comes naturally.

 

LEAH: Laura has draped herself over Adam. And he says, “Wow. You really don’t want to just be friends, then? She says, “I want someone to be my friend, and then the rest comes naturally.”

 

BELOW DECK AUDIO:

 

ADAM: What if it never turns into that? And it just stays as friends?.

 

LAURA: You don’t want to ever do that with me? Never?

 

LEAH: He replies, “What if it never turns into that and we just stay as friends?” Laura, “You don’t want to ever do that with me?“ Here, Adam shakes his head no, but he has a big smile on his face that could be interpreted as a flirtatious smile. Now, that is not a criticism. But I do want to mark it because we’re going to come back to it later.

 

BELOW DECK AUDIO:

 

LAURA: Why?

 

ADAM: Because it complicates everything. I’d just rather stay friends with everybody.

 

LEAH: Laura says, “Never?” He continues to shake his head with a smile. She says, “Why?” And he explains, “We work together. It’s complicated. I’d rather just stay friends.”

 

BELOW DECK AUDIO:

 

LAURA: What’s wrong with me?

 

ADAM: Nothing’s wrong with you.

 

LAURA: Then what’s wrong with you?

 

ADAM: Be a friend, man. Why can’t you just be my friend?

 

LEAH: And here, Laura is escalating, “What’s wrong with me?” she says, which is super manipulative, trying to get the object of your affection to comfort you. He says, “Nothing’s wrong with you.” And she turns it around on him, “Then what’s wrong with you?” And here, she lays herself against him again. And he shrugs away and says, “Be a friend, man.” And this is the first time that we start to hear him get a little bit irritated. And then, we get a direct to camera interview, something that’s called an in-the-moment or ITM interview.

 

BELOW DECK AUDIO:

 

ADAM: Oh, my fucking god, bro. Here I am trying to let Laura down easy, but she’s just a habitual line step up. She’s going to keep pushing that line. And I don’t know what else to do.

 

LEAH: The next part is impossible to hear because they’re in a hot tub. So, I’m just going to talk you through what happens. A bunch of people are in the hot tub, including Adam. Laura walks up in a cutoff shirt and shorts and says, “I don’t even have a bikini on.” She gets in the hot tub and lays back against Adam. She does something that we can’t see. And based on his response, I’m guessing that maybe she grabbed his balls under the water or something. Because he says, “Who do you think you’re touching like that?” Now, he’s still got this playful, tone of voice going on. Laura says, “I want to be here.” And Adam says, “No.” The answer is no. He’s finally being firm. And then we get this ITM interview with the chef.

 

BELOW DECK AUDIO:

 

CHEF: She’s just not getting the hint. Honey, get some dignity.

 

LEAH: Again, if the genders were reversed, we would not say this. We would not tell a man to get some dignity when going after a woman who’s not interested. We would tell him to get the fuck off her. This is such an interesting case because the genders are reversed. And so, we get to see these behaviors in a way that is often completely excused.

 

Now, still in the hot tub, Adam says, “You’re getting a no, homie.” And Laura says, ‘We’re not sexual, right? Just friends.” And Adam groans, “Oh, god.” I think Adam senses that she’s trying to act as if she’s on his level right before she’s about to escalate again. She climbs onto him and says, “It’s now time for a massage, then.”

 

Now, Adam’s a little more annoyed, but he’s still smiling. And he says, “Oh, come on.” And Laura says, “Not sexual. I promise you.” At this point, he says, “Okay.” And he goes with her down to the crew quarters.

 

Can you imagine what we would do to a woman who did this, who said “no” again and again and again to a man who was harassing her, and then finally said, “Okay, yes”? We would absolutely vilify her for being gullible. And we would say that she actually wanted it.

 

When in truth, what has happened is he’s given in because he’s tired of fighting. And this happens to women all the time. You can hear it in so many of the interview episodes on this podcast, women talking about the times when they just got so tired of fighting that they gave in because it was easier than continuing to resist. And it was way easier than the potential violent outcome if they had turned them down hard.

 

My sense is that Adam was hoping that somehow between going from the hot tub to his quarters, she would get distracted or he’d be able to lose her or something. Because when she lets herself into his room, he seems a little bit surprised. They have this back and forth about whether the door is going to stay open.

 

BELOW DECK AUDIO:

 

ADAM: You’re not sleeping in here, though.

 

LAURA: I’m not.

 

ADAM: The door’s staying open.

 

LAURA: I’m going to close the door.

 

ADAM: No.

 

LEAH: During this, Laura is pulling out a container of lotion. Adam climbs up onto the top bunk and says, “I’m going to kick your ass out.” And she starts whining

 

BELOW DECK AUDIO:

 

LAURA: Oh, no. You are up. It’s so hard.

 

ADAM: You know what? You’re right. Actually, maybe this was a bad idea.

 

LEAH: He’s on the top bunk and that makes it so hard to give him a massage. And he says, “You know what? You’re actually right. This is a bad idea.” He lays face down and turns his head away from her. Laura wants him in bed, but she wants to join him and is trying to get his attention. And when he doesn’t give it to her, she squirts some lotion on his back and then climbs onto the top bunk and straddles his ass to start rubbing his back. This is when production intervenes with Laura and tells her that she has to come down.

 

BELOW DECK AUDIO:

 

LAURA: It’s so hard.

 

CAMERA OPERATOR:  Laura, I got the message from the producers telling you to come down.

 

LAURA: Okay. Incoming.

 

PRODUCER: Hi, friends. This is Lynn. You have to step down, and you need to get to your own cabin.

 

LAURA: Okay. I’m coming. Yep.

 

PRODUCER: Right now.

 

ADAM: Good night.

 

LAURA: Good night.

 

PRODUCER: Laura, right now.

 

LAURA: I’m coming. I’m coming.

 

LEAH: Now, Laura says, “Okay, I’m coming,” but she keeps rubbing his back and she doesn’t appear to be moving. And the producer says, “This is when you have to step down and go to your own cabin.” Her words are saying she’s going to come down, but her actions are slithering her body across Adam’s.

 

And at this point, Adam, for the first time in a minute, speaks saying, “Good night,” to Laura. Laura responds, “Good night.” And then leans over to the other side to give him a kiss on the other side. She is clearly still trying to engage with him. At this point, the producer says, “Right now,” and Laura finally leaves.

 

The next morning when the captain calls a staff meeting to tell the crew that he has let Luke go, Laura is laying on Adam. They’re on these small sofas. And she’s got her body laid across. He pushes her off. He’s smiling again, trying to keep things civil. She’s laughing. And he does the giggle.

 

BELOW DECK AUDIO:

 

ADAM: Walk for me.

 

LEAH: I don’t know that last time I heard a man do the giggle, but everybody who grew up as a little girl knows what I mean when I say the giggle. The giggle is the most ingratiating way to try to get out of a situation, to let somebody think that you are appreciating their humor, while also getting yourself the fuck out of the room.

 

We don’t hear men do the giggle that often. It may be because there’s not as much fear about a woman being physically violent if you turn her down. For women, doing the giggle is often a self-preservation technique. In this case, Adam is doing the giggle as more of a social saving-face technique so that he doesn’t have to cause drama among the crew.

 

BELOW DECK AUDIO:

 

CHIEF STEW: I’ve noticed Laura has been pretty intense with you.

 

ADAM: Yeah.

 

CHIEF STEW: And I just wanted to make sure that you’re feeling okay.

 

ADAM: I think she thinks I’m playing around.

 

CHIEF STEW: Yeah. I think —

 

ADAM: I’m being nice about it.

 

CHIEF STEW: Yeah.

 

ADAM: I don’t want to get anybody in trouble or anything like that.

 

CHIEF STEW: No.

 

ADAM: But maybe I got to be more serious.

 

CHIEF STEW: Yeah. I saw her and I was like, I’ve got your back.

 

[MUSIC]

 

LEAH: I get so many messages from listeners saying, “Thank you for the show. I’ve listened to the whole back catalog. And it’s helped me completely transform my sex life.” Are you one of those people? If so, I’d love to have your support. So, I can keep growing this show and bringing a new vision of sexuality to the world.

 

If you haven’t done it yet, please take a moment to rate and review this podcast. I know the podcast industry does not make reviewing a show easy. So, go to www.ratethispodcast.com/goodgirls. And it should lead you through the process of posting a review.

 

And if you have the financial resources to support the sex positive work I do, I’d be so grateful for your support at Patreon. Donating the equivalent of a fancy cup of coffee each month might not make a big difference to you, but it makes a huge difference to me. There’s no contract or obligation, you can cancel at any time. And I donate 10% of all proceeds to ARC Southeast, an organization that supports women in the southeast United States to access reproductive services that are now either illegal or heavily legislated. It’s easy to become a patron at www.patreon.com/goodgirlstalkaboutsex.

 

I appreciate every one of you. Whether you’re a client, a contributor, a social media follower, or a silent listener. I trust you to know what’s right for you. Thank you for being here. Now, let’s get back to the show.

 

[MUSIC]

 

LEAH: I want to pay particular attention to what the captain says to his crew when he lets them know that he’s fired Luke. There are some key phrases in here.

 

BELOW DECK AUDIO:

 

CAPTAIN: Hey, guys. Boundaries, right? It’s very simple. Don’t cross them. Male or female.

 

LEAH: Okay. Cool. You talked to your crew about boundaries, but what the fuck does that mean? “Boundaries. It’s very simple. Don’t cross them.” It is not fucking that simple because you have not identified what boundaries are. Sure. A closed door is a boundary, but what does that mean?

 

I think what he’s trying to say is, if something’s going to happen between you and another person, both of you need to consent, but that is not at all what he said. What he said was incredibly vague. Now, I also need to give some grace for the fact that this is heavily edited and he might have said much more, but this is what we have. And this is not sufficient.

 

Telling people, “You have to respect boundaries,” is not the same as talking about what your expectations are of what respect means and what the boundaries mean. If you’re going to call yourself a leader who’s going to have some stance on boundaries and respect, you better get a whole hell of a lot clearer about what that means because your crew or your employees or your team, they can’t know what you don’t tell them. You might imply what you think the lesson is they’re supposed to learn. But if you don’t tell them specifically, you cannot assume that they understand. I also want to take a moment to talk about what one of the other crew members says in an ITM. This is one of the deckhands. And here’s what he says.

 

BELOW DECK AUDIO:

 

DECKHAND: Holy shit. This is insane. I have a little sister. I would kill somebody if she was in that situation.

 

LEAH: To me, this is so offensive. Are we, as women, supposed to believe that men respect us only if they have a sister or a mother who they love and respect and would be upset if someone hurt them? No. We should be able to assume that people are going to respect us because we are fucking humans, not because we are somehow related to them. This is such a cliche.

 

And I understand that people growing up as little boys are done a huge disservice when it comes to learning empathy and learning how to relate with others. We actually tell them that if they learn how to do that, that makes them weak or makes them “pussies.” So, this is a culture problem. This is not an individual man problem. But I got to tell you when I hear an individual man say this, it raises all of my hackles. I am a person. And I deserve respect regardless of whether you have a sister or not.

 

[MUSIC]

 

LEAH: Okay. So, we have now covered the two main incidents that happened on that night. And I told you that I would talk a bit about where those two storylines intersect. Laura, the female perpetrator, becomes agitated about the fact that Luke has been let go. She whines about how sad she is that he’s gone. And most specifically, she says this to Margo, the woman who Luke assaulted the night before.

 

BELOW DECK AUDIO:

 

LAURA: I think he just meant it as a joke. He’s a funny guy. I don’t think he meant anything bad. He wouldn’t rape you or anything. He’s a sexual person. I’m a sexual person. You’re a sexual person. I’m joking. That thing was probably like, “Haha, we’re all drunk.”

 

MARGOT: I am so sad.

 

LAURA: What?

 

MARGOT: I can’t believe Luke is gone.

 

LAURA: You’re sad. I’m not. 

 

MARGOT: I should have just kept him happy.

 

LAURA: And if he comes naked in my cabin, I’ll be like, “Hello. Yes.”

 

MARGOT: Yeah. You would have loved it.

 

LAURA: But it’s his fault. He rejected me.

 

MARGOT: If he wouldn’t have done that, I would still live with him. And I said, I will make him regret it. And that came true.

 

LEAH: So, all in all, Laura is demonstrating some extremely poor judgment around Margot and talking about what happened the previous night. She doesn’t see anything wrong with what happened and if there was something wrong.

 

BELOW DECK AUDIO:

 

LAURA: Captain Jason should have given him a chance to have a chat, give a warning, something. But to fire, it’s not fair. It’s not deserved. And I don’t agree with it.

 

LEAH: Laura, I think, is butthurt that she didn’t get any sex the night before. And she thinks that if Luke could come to her instead of Margot, the two of them could have both had sex. And Luke wouldn’t be in trouble. She’d still have her buddy on the boat. And she would have been sexually fulfilled. The empathy here is just completely missing. The captain then hears about both her disrespect to Margot and her sexual harassment of Adam and calls her into, I think, it’s the bridge.

 

BELOW DECK AUDIO:

 

CAPTAIN: Adam feels uncomfortable with some moments out. And he’s tried to say no. You have not listened to him and his boundaries to be set. The second thing is after my multiple speeches with the crew about boundaries, about respect, did you not go into Margot and say, “Paul, Luke, I wish he would come in and see me.” There’s a big disconnect now. And it’s not what I want, part of my team. You’ve disrespected exactly what I actually set out to do. For you to go to Margot and say that just shows you have not listened to a word I said about boundaries. And it showed a little respect and empathy to Margot. I’m trying to move forward as a team. I’m trying to get that behind us. And you have brought it straight back up. So, in that, I’m going to terminate your employment tonight.

 

LAURA: Wow.

 

LEAH: Again, I want to look at the captain’s language. This is not about her behavior with either Margot or Adam. This is about her disrespect of him as a captain. Listen to it again.

 

BELOW DECK AUDIO:

 

CAPTAIN: After my multiple speeches with the crew, you’ve disrespected exactly what I actually set out to do. And it’s not what I want, part of my team. Just shows you have not listened to a word I said. I’m trying to move forward as a team. And you have brought it straight back up.

 

LEAH: “You’ve disrespected exactly what I set out to do. You haven’t listened to a word I’ve said. I’m trying to get it behind us. And you’ve brought it straight back up.” In many ways, this is about the captain showing his authority and getting his ego up. Here, I’m about to use the worst reality TV cliche. But he might have taken the right action, but I’m not really convinced that he did it for the right reasons. And then, Laura has this final moment with the camera before she leaves the boat.

 

BELOW DECK AUDIO:

 

LAURA: I think he’s making a mistake because there’s no real reason. Give a warning. Talk to people. Sit down. Don’t just fire. That’s not good leadership. That’s a zeroship.

 

LEAH: And finally, the captain calls the crew together one more time to let them know that he has also fired Laura. And they’re now going to be crew members down on the upcoming charter. And here’s what he has to say.

 

BELOW DECK AUDIO:

 

CAPTAIN: What we got in front of us now in respect for understanding crew, that understand each other’s boundaries. And I have a lot of empathy for what happened. And now, we move forward.

 

LEAH: Again, there’s grace for the fact that we are not seeing everything. There might have been much more conversation that happened that we don’t get to see. But given that this is all that we do have to work with, how the fuck does he know that everyone in that room is now a respectful understanding crew that understands each other’s boundaries and has a lot of empathy for what happened? In what way does he know that there’s not another Laura in the group who just hasn’t shown their true colors?

 

You now have a young woman who’s traumatized, who blames herself for what happened. So, here’s what I want to say about this. Women punish themselves. And we, as a culture, punish women for getting drunk and then experiencing a sexual assault. We say, “If they weren’t drunk, then it wouldn’t have happened.” We say, “What did she expect? She was acting this way. And so, of course, it happened.”

 

So, are you telling me that every time a man gets drunk, he can expect that somebody is going to anally penetrate him? Because honestly, there’s no difference. Men are expected to have bodily autonomy no matter what state they’re in. And we don’t yet have the same expectation for women’s bodies.

 

So, no, Margot is not responsible for what happened to her. She does not need to be ashamed of herself. She should be able to assume that people are going to respect her regardless of the state she’s in.

 

Now, I understand that we live in the real world. And that is not what happens. But if men can assume that their bodily genital autonomy is going to be respected even when they’re drunk, we should be able to expect the same for women. It makes my heart hurt every time I hear a woman say, “I’m so ashamed of myself. It’s my fault.”

 

Please hear me now. It wasn’t your fault. It was never your fault. There are no different rules for you than there are for people in other bodies. You have the right to expect bodily autonomy. And that means that you are allowed to go out and get drunk if you want to.

 

Now, here’s the caveat. Consent can only be given when you’re sober because a lot of things start to look really different when you’re drunk. Beer goggles are a real thing. When you’re drunk, you’re not able to give a clear appropriate consent for sexual activity, which means that nobody should engage with you while you’re drunk.

 

It also means that if you know about yourself that you have a habit of getting frisky when you’re drunk and making decisions that you wouldn’t make under other circumstances, you probably want to have some friends with you who are going to do what the chief stew did here and take care of you, make sure that you go home alone.

 

If you know that you tend to make decisions that you’re not happy about the next day, I highly encourage you to get some wing people who are not there to get you hooked up, but who are there to help you hold the boundaries that you want to hold for yourself.

 

Okay. That’s it for our deep dive into Below Deck Down Under. If there are some pop culture things that you would like me to do a deep dive into, please send me an email. Let me know what they are. I will happily consider your suggestions. I also have a long list of things that I want to look at and people that I want to reach out to have these conversations with me. So, I’m really excited to finally be doing this piece of the work that I love so much, which is looking at the intersection of sexuality and pop culture, my two favorite things in the world.

 

So, again, thank you for your enthusiasm about this work. I’ve also gotten some wonderful laser coaching sessions done with listeners who’ve reached out to me. So, as a reminder, if you’d like to do a free laser coaching session with me for the podcast, go to www.goodgirlstalk.com/podcastcoaching. That link is in the app you’re listening on now.

 

A 30-minute session will be a great way to get you some concrete tools and to also help others who are dealing with similar issues. If you want more ongoing support, check out www.leahcarey.com/coaching for information about my regular coaching packages. While you’re there, you can set up a free no pressure, no obligation phone call to see if we’re a good fit for each other. So, that’s at leahcarey.com/coaching. And that link is also in the app you’re listening on now.

 

If you have comments or questions about anything you’ve heard on today’s show, call and leave a message at 720-GOOD-SEX. Full show notes and transcripts for this episode are at www.goodgirlstalk.com. And you can follow me @goodgirlstalk on the socials for more sex positive content.

 

Good Girls Talk About Sex is produced and edited by me, Leah Carey. And transcripts are produced by Jan Acielo.

 

Until next time, here’s to your better sex life!

 

[MUSIC]

 

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 – Nazar Rybak

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