Stop romanticizing pedophilia, statutory rape, and teacher-student relationships
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Dear ABC and Marlene King,
I have been a fan of Pretty Little Liars for at least a year, I have enjoyed guessing who the ever-so-mysterious "A" is and seeing what happens next in the series. I would say Pretty Little Liars is defiantly one of my favorite television shows.
However, the relationship between Ezra Fitz and Aria Montgomery concerns me very much. I hope this doesn't personally offend anyone, since that was certainly not my point, but this relationship is setting up a bad example for teenagers and young people everywhere.
First of all, I'll start with how the relationship between Ezra and Aria began. They met in the first episode of the series ever. Now, at the time, the viewers we suppose to believe Ezra had no idea that Aria was only 16, that she was a minor, and that she was going to be his student at Rosewood High because Aria lied about her age and said she was attending College. However, later, in Season 4, we discover Ezra not only knew who Aria was before the pilot episode, but he knew she was a minor and that he was going to be her teacher.
Ezra was, behind Aria's back, working on a book about Aria's missing friend Alison DiLaurentis (who was another minor he was involved with) which is why he claims he lied to her. At Aria and Ezra's encounter in the first episode, they end up in the bathroom at least going to second base after just talking for the first time ever. In this bathroom scene, Aria sits on the counter where Ezra makes out with her somewhat roughly. In general, it's a bad idea to go make-out with strangers in bathrooms, but my point here is that Ezra knew Aria was his student and she was only 16 but he still made out with her in the bathroom, he still did something sexual with her desptie this knowledge. Now, before we knew Ezra always knew about Aria's age and etc, I might have possibly let it slip if he really didn't know. But now we know he did. He purposely seduced a teenage girl, he purposely manipulated her and lied to her just to find out more about her friend Alison. I lost lots of respect for Ezra, not just because he lied, but because he knowingly targeted a teenager sexually.
It's a known fact lots of young people and teenagers watch this show and use the four main girls as role models and generally think their decisions are reasonable and completely okay to do. This is very well encouraging teenagers to think that it's okay to date someone over 18 when your under 18, that it's okay to make-out with strangers in bathrooms, that it's okay to be with someone after they lied and manipulated you in a horrible way. This is unintentionally encouraging youths to submit to pedophilia. Generally, adults who go after minors in a sexual or romantic sense are dangerous people and often plan on kidnapping the minor and possibly sexually molesting them. Now, I now Ezra never kidnapped Aria or forced her into sex, but he did statutory rape her, no matter what way you try to spin it. So, by, having this "super romantic" and "sexy forbidden love affair" on a show watched by many minors, it's spreading the dangerous message that statutory rape is okay. It certainly isn't it and I'm sure you'd all agree.
Second of all, without Aria and her friends' consent, Ezra video-taped them, spied on them, and watched them. This is a common tactic of pedophiles and stalkers. I know on twitter Marlene King stated Ezra watched them to "keep them safe", but if that was the case, he could have asked about it instead of going behind their back and obsessively stalking them with these cameras. The thought of an adult man secretly video-taping four teenage girls without their permission for his own selfish reasons is pretty disturbing, is it not? He did it for this so-called "true crime" novel about Alison that he's writing, it's still selfish, creepy, and stalker-esque. It still sends a lethal message to teenagers and young people. I know a 10-year old girl who watches Pretty Little Liars - now, at 10, you don't really know about pedophiles or statutory rape; so, if someone at a really young age like 10 years old watches this show, they'd likely think Ezra isn't a stalker or that he doesn't sexually abuse minors. Since it started at a young age, it could lead to permanently engraving in the child's head that older people aren't trying to manipulate you and it's okay if your teacher kisses you or is obsessed with you.
Third of all, in a episode closer to the end of Season 4, after Aria had found out about Ezra's lies and manipulations, she was going to the Rosewood High principal's house to tell him about her and Ezra's relationship and probably the fact they had underage sex as well. I was really relieved when Aria was off to do that. I thought that it might finally send the right message, that it wasn't okay to let yourself be statutory raped or manipulated by some older person you think is attractive. But then, however, Aria's friend Hanna Marin told her not to tell the Principal about Ezra and her, that it wouldn't just effect Aria, that it would effect Ezra too. So, it's okay for Hanna to defend a man who manipulated her best friend and entered a relationship with her even though he knew how young she was? I don't think so. Hanna even said something similar to "It's just better if you don't tell", I don't believe that's the exact words, but never-less, it encouraged a culture of silence. Many victims of rape and pedophilia stay quiet and are haunted by their horrible experiences for many years and their attackers don't go through a single day of prison and doesn't suffer for their wrong actions. In the eighth grade, I had a friend who was sexually obsessed with me and this girl we were both friends with, he wanted to sexually harm us. Luckily, nothing happened since we both told our parents. However, if someone in a similar scenario sees this on a popular TV show, it would discourage them for telling a trusted adult and it would make them more likely to stay quiet and possibly stay in danger.
They are a few other reasons that Ezra is setting a bad example & sending a bad message and how this is romanticizing an abusive and illegal relationship, but I'll refrain since the general message likely came across. I sincerely hope you can find a way to show that the things Ezra did to Aria (and in some cases, her friends) are not okay and promote sexual abuse and underage relationships and stop making statutory rape into a good thing. Please stop glamorizing an abusive relationship and stop making a pedophile into a good person despite his actions.
A concerned fan
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