I think of all the education that I missed, but then my homework was never quite like this
Sadie at Jezebel wrote an interesting post about the apparent increase of female on male statutory rape cases. The good news: despite extensive media coverage, there really hasn’t been an increase in the amount of female teachers engaging in sexual relationships with their underage male (and occasionally female) students. The bad news: that’s mostly because it’s always been more common than most of us realize, it’s just that more people are speaking out about it, both in terms of personal experiences and the endless debate on how it’s somehow “different” than when a male teacher sleeps with a female student.
Read any article online about an adult woman arrested for statutory rape on an underage male, usually one in which she has a position of power over, and you’ll get approximately two comments down before the chorus of “Kid’s lucky, I wish I had had an older woman show me the ropes when I was his age!” begins, followed by the insistence that males never have sex against their will, and that it just isn’t the same as it would be were the genders reversed. Men and women both willingly apply double standards that allow women who participate in such relationships to not take responsibility for their actions: after all, women don’t prey on people they perceive as less powerful than them like men do. Despite as weird and inappropriate a situation as fucking your teacher might be, teenage boys are never coerced or manipulated into such a thing, because somehow they know exactly what they’re doing and what the possible outcomes of it might be. However, suggest the same thing about young teenage girls, despite the fact that they do tend to be more emotionally mature than boys at that age, and you’d have the internet equivalent of angry villagers pounding at your door bearing torches and pitchforks. Male teachers are always predators, while female teachers are simply fulfilling a Letters to Penthouse fantasy.
Even if the relationship is consensual, that doesn’t negate the fact that the older party is acting inappropriately. Maybe jail time isn’t necessary, but they need to not be in a position of power over young people, as clearly they don’t recognize boundaries. These stories, particularly the ones where the teacher is a woman, are dishearteningly similar: they befriend their students in a way that goes beyond normal standards, spending time with them outside of school, chatting online or on the phone, even inviting them to their homes. That in itself is incredibly weird, and you can bet that if it was a male teacher inviting his students to his house “just to hang out” red flags would be flapping all over the place. Yet with female teachers, they’re “reaching out” to their students, creating a bond, offering them support, especially if they’re having problems at home. The line between “teacher” and “friend,” particularly if the teacher is barely out of college, even moreso if the teacher begins treating their students as confidantes, becomes blurred and complicated. Now you picture yourself at age 15 or so getting involved in a situation like that with one of your teachers. Do you think you’d be going into a sexual relationship with them absolutely knowing what you were doing?
While male teachers who engage in sex with their students are inaccurately blasted as pedophiles, women are excused for such behavior. They’re “lonely,” they’re trapped in unhappy marriages, they thought they were in love. I’ve even seen the occasional suggestion that teenage boys are simply impossible to resist, with their wispy mustaches and their jeans drooping below their asses. It is clear that many of these women are emotionally stunted, perhaps to a pathological level, given how many of them are caught by being stupid enough to leave a trail of sexually explicit e-mails and text messages written in the abbreviated “OMG u r so hot bb!!!1!” fashion of the people they’re supposed to be teaching. Are they really thinking and acting with the judgment of a 16 year-old, dumbing themselves down to either appeal to their young friends and lovers, or are they subconsciously aware that what they’re doing is wrong and are trying to get caught? Whatever the case, again, they should probably rethink teaching high school as a career, at least until they’re capable of controlling themselves.
We live in odd times. A man chasing after women, girls, who are far too young for him, whether he’s in a position of power over them or not, is considered gross and a little pathetic. Yet women chasing after young men, sometimes men young enough to be their sons, are given a “you go, girl!” round of applause. It’s empowering for women of a certain age to still be able to draw attention from younger suitors, while for men it’s a desperate, futile attempt to recapture their youth. Girls who have sexual relationships with older men are victimized, while boys in the same situation with women are lucky bastards. What it comes down to is the most deeply ingrained gender stereotype of all, as far as sexuality is concerned: women have sex for the emotional attachment, while men have sex just to get their dicks wet. So there lies the problem, because of the messy emotional aspects a young girl is always going to be damaged by a relationship with someone in authority, while boys will simply bounce back unscathed. When we get to the point where we as a society can admit that sometimes women do sleep with people just for the sex, and that men occasionally get attached to the people they have sex with, maybe then we can treat this issue equally, expecting both male and female aggressors to answer for their actions accordingly.