Playing to fantasies: why we excuse female rapists

Every time a media outlet reports on a woman raping a boy, someone comments about how it is every boy’s fantasy. Usually it is not just someone. There are often hundreds of comments like that, many of them from women but mostly from men. They all say the same thing: where was this teacher when I was growing up?

The idea that every boy wants to have sex with his hot teacher is fairly common. One could argue that plenty of teen boys do fantasize about their female (and male) teachers. This is only natural. These are often the only adults outside of family members that the teens regularly see. One would expect teen boys (and girls) to develop crushes on some of them. John Salmon of The Libertarian Republic shared his own story:

When I was about 14, I realised I was attracted to older women. I don’t simply mean those who were a couple of years above me at school; I mean 10-15 years older than me. […] While other boys my age were actually hooking up with girls, I was fantasising about my science teacher. She was only in her early twenties at that point but, as a 14-year-old, early twenties may as well have been early forties. It was nothing out of the ordinary; I used to fantasise about being kept behind for some random indiscretion and then being seduced by this older woman.

I don’t remember every specific detail of each fantasy but I do remember one thing – we never had sex. My fantasies were not about me wanting to have sex with her; it never got to that point. My fantasies were more about being seduced and the feeling that what we were doing was taboo. I fantasised about her naked and the kind of soft porn touching that you’d find on Channel 5 in the late 90s.

The key word to note in the above paragraph is what this article is about – fantasy. I never acted on my fantasies and, as far as I was aware, the teacher in question barely even knew I existed. The important thing to remember is that these scenarios were all in my head. I never once thought they would come true. In fact, if there was even the slightest hint that one of them may come true, my general social awkwardness would have put that to bed fairly quickly (no pun intended).

It is also possible that Salmon’s teacher, if so inclined, might have exploited his social awkwardness to continue the abuse. Someone who has difficulty connecting with others will likely try to maintain whatever connections they manage to make. Anyone interested in controlling them can use that to their advantage. This is one of the reasons why so many victims of abuse fit a similar personality profile. It is easier to manipulate someone who is shy, isolated, or awkward because they crave attention.

Getting back to Salmon’s point, the issue here is not that he did not fantasize about his teacher; it is that he never intended to act on it. It is normal for teenagers to fantasize about the adults around them. Some of those fantasies may even involve people they are related to, which brings in an extra level of taboo.

The point is that they are just fantasies. These are not things most teens actually want to do, let alone understand how to deal with should they happen. We seem to understand this on a social level when it comes to girls. We understand that men may exploit them, manipulate them, use them, and then toss them aside. Yet we ignore this element when it comes to boys. Instead of protecting boys from abuse or even acknowledging that they can be abused, we treat female-on-male rape as a rite of passage. It is something boys should enjoy.

But as Salmon states:

When we start minimising a teenager’s experiences with sex and older women we run the risk of telling them they are somehow wrong to object to what happened to them. When the first thing we do is recount our own jealousies over these scenarios not happening to us, we somehow tell these victims that they should feel bad for feeling bad; that they are somehow special for going through what they went through. “Why are you so unhappy? There are a million people who would love to go through what you went through!” If that is the first, and sometimes only, response that these boys see, it tells them that their feelings are somehow misplaced.

This is often as far as it needs to go before most boys abused by women learn to keep the abuse to themselves. The message is clear: the teacher did not do anything wrong; you did. Adding the emotional turmoil of abuse to it only worsens the situation.

As Salmon notes:

If we continue to tell young boys that they should somehow be happy at their ‘sexual awakening’ at the hands of an older woman, we run the risk of damaging them almost beyond repair. We run the risk of damaging their approach to sex, to sexual thoughts, and to healthy sexual relationships with others.

It is not that we run the risk of doing this; we actually cause it to happen. It is common for boys abused by women to experience more problems than those abused by men precisely because of this narrative around female abusers. Male victims of female abusers tend to have more relationship problems, greater difficulty trusting others, a greater likelihood of mental illness, a greater likelihood of turning to drugs or alcohol, and a greater likelihood of engaging in risky behavior.

There is also what happens to the women who commit the abuse:

When we treat female offenders leniently and place some amount of blame with the victims we tell them that their experiences aren’t really that bad, that they should be able to live with them. When we take it upon ourselves to tell young and teenage boys when they’ve been raped, rather than actually listening to the victims, we run the risk of condoning and, to some degree, encouraging this kind of behaviour. When we treat female offenders leniently and make excuses for their actions, we tell boys that their victimisation isn’t important, that their wellbeing isn’t as important as that of girls.

Again, we do not risk this risk; we do it. Women receive far lesser sentences than men for the same crimes. When both women and men abuse the same child together, the women often receive the lesser sentence even when they are the primary abusers. Even in situations where everyone admits what the woman did was predatory and vile, the woman tends to get a slap on the wrist, most often probation.

Of course, that assumes the law in the state or country allows for women to be prosecuted for the crimes at all. Many countries, such as the UK, do not allow women to be charged with rape. In those cases, the women are charged with sexual assault, which tends to carry a lesser sentence.

When we rightly react with outrage to lenient treatment of male offenders yet fail to react with the same behaviour to female offenders, when we tell boys that their suffering is not the same as girls, when we celebrate female sex offenders and create a film that treats their plight as comedy, we tell boys that their sexual wellbeing is less important than the sexual needs of women. When we congratulate boys who outright state that they did not enjoy what happened to them we tell them their suffering is not really warranted. We tell them that they are weaker than the average man for not enjoying it, and we tell them to suppress their feelings because they are destroying the fantasy of somebody else.

Yet this is what we do. We tell male victims of female abusers that they do not matter. Their pain does not matter. Their feelings do not matter. Their demand for equal treatment and justice do not matter.

Worse, we have a political movement that frames sexual violence as something only men do to only women. That movement reinforces the idea that if boys complain about the abuse, they are essentially making something out of nothing. It does not help that this movement is quick to attack anyone, particularly male victims, daring to challenge that narrative. This is part of the reason why “we celebrate when abusive, manipulative males are sent to prison, yet we complain when abusive, manipulative females are simply arrested for similar crimes.”

We not only have an existing tradition of holding males accountable for protecting themselves, but also a modern tradition of excusing women’s behavior by blaming it on men. Those two elements combine to create the current situation. Our society in general does not want to take female-on-male sexual violence seriously and the support community is so indoctrinated by an anti-male ideology that it will not acknowledge male victimization.

None of this is irrevocable. We can change this attitude if we want, but we have to want it to change and we have to want to change it. Plenty of people do desire those changes, yet many more do not care or are invested in keeping the status quo.

The irony is the oddity of that status quo:

When it comes to fantasies, we all have them, no matter how disturbing, controversial, or seemingly contradictory to everything we may believe, but we know there is a line that we don’t cross. If a woman has a rape fantasy we are, as functioning adults, able to see the divide between fantasy and reality. We are able to see the divide between a fully consensual enacting of a non-consensual act. We do not react to women being raped (for the most part) with wistful expressions of disappointment that, for some reason, we have not been the target of said rapist.

So, when it comes to teenage boys, why are we so willing to see that line broken? Why are we so willing to not only see that line broken, but to justify it by removing the boy from the situation and expressing disappointment that that scenario didn’t happen to us?

Why are we so unwilling to put our own feelings above those of boys who have been manipulated, exploited, and abused? Why are we so unwilling to treat boys the same way we treat girls?

Why are we so unwilling to let boys develop sexually when they are ready? Simply put, why are we so unwilling to allow boys to be boys?

I think the answer lies in the last question: we have convinced ourselves that adult women having sex with teen boys is allowing boys to be boys. We convinced ourselves that boys are somehow capable of fending for themselves. We ignore that we systematically teach boys from a young age that if they show any pain or fear we will mock or ignore their pleas. We teach them not to show their feelings and then use our own warped teachings as “proof” boys are not harmed by abuse.

This is why so many man express disappointment that they were not abused by their teachers. We taught them to respond that way. We taught them that these are the feelings they should express.

Do many men actually regret that their high school teacher did not have sex with them? Probably not. It is more likely that they are simply saying what they think they ought to say because if they said what they really believe they would be shamed for it. In order to protect themselves from being shamed they shame the boys who dare to speak up.

In any other instance we would call this behavior out for its wrongheadedness. Yet we continue to allow it when it comes to abuse partly because we simply do not want to deal with it, partly because of how we think of boys, but mostly because of one truth we desperately want to avoid: women are just as down and dirty as men, even (perhaps especially) the pretty ones.

Advertisements

28 thoughts on “Playing to fantasies: why we excuse female rapists

  1. This is a post absolutely everyone should read. Too many have been taught to believe that sexual fantasies = what the fantasizer really wishes to do irl, hence it can be excused and written off if it actually happens. This is not only wrong in a disgust-inducing sense, but a literal condoning of abuse in most cases. It needs to stop, regardless of whether this stupidity is directed towards males or females.

  2. As my therapist said; “You love toblerone but would you enjoy someone forcing the whole thing into your mouth?”

  3. That is a beautiful analogy, James. Unfortunately, it will still go over a lot of people’s heads, since they don’t want to understand.

    For example, a commenter on my blog, back when I still posted, claimed that because my lover is 15 years older than I, that means I “have daddy issues” and I *wanted* what my stepfather did because I’m “obviously only attracted to old men”. Though I used a scenario like yours to try and explain the difference…he couldn’t get it and I ended up having to block him. Same with some of the commenters when I reblogged one of TS’s posts regarding this exact topic 2 years ago. The most disheartening thing is that every ignorant/cruel comment was from fellow men. What society has a lot to answer for, especially towards it’s boys and men.

  4. Nice post.

    “Male victims of female abusers tend to have more relationship problems, greater difficulty trusting others, a greater likelihood of mental illness, a greater likelihood of turning to drugs or alcohol, and a greater likelihood of engaging in risky behavior.”

    And they are condemned for it. I’ve heard so many men recount how in their AA programs they were told, “No, no, no… don’t talk about that now. Let’s get your drinking under control first.” The wives complain “He should have told me about this BEFORE we got married!” The therapy interns in my groups who would so reliably immediately change the subject when a man disclosed a female abuser.

    And all we hear is men are reluctant to ask for help. Nobody seems to notice what happens when they do.

  5. I really wish more people would read things like this and REALLY listen to what it’s saying. One of my biggest grievances with society is this often mindless assumption that boys can’t be harmed by this because “it’s every boy’s dream” and “he knows exactly what he’s doing” etc. Seriously, what pubescent/adolescent boy has any idea what he’s doing?

    It’s particularly annoying because then if the boy/man comes forward down the road to report the abuse and how it has negatively affected his life, everyone wants to be like “yeah right! You weren’t complaining when you were 13/14/15 banging your hot teacher/aunt/older female figure!”

    The whole point about criminalizing statutory rape is that it has long term consequences that often aren’t recognized until the victim does mature and realizes how his psychological development and relationships with others has been impacted by the abuse (things children probably aren’t thinking about in the moment)

    Everyone recognizes this if a woman says she was negatively affected by a relationship she “willingly” engaged in when she was a young teen with an older man, and that she was being groomed and that the harm is finally catching up to her as an adult. But all of a sudden when a man says the same thing–that he was harmed by a relationship he “willingly” engaged in when he was a young boy with an older woman–now it’s “why are you only complaining about now now, huh??”

  6. Thanks Tarnished. And I can relate to that so you have my sympathy and understanding. In my teens I used to say “men can’t be raped” because I was in denial about what had happened to me, and because I didn’t want to believe it (I assumed that I was the only male in the world to be sexually assaulted by a girl for one thing). However, when I understood what had happened to me, I had a major breakdown, yet the first person who came across me was a man who saw me crying and tried to help me, but when I told him what was wrong, he accused me of “taking the piss” and even asked if I was gay. Number 1, no I’m not, it happens to straight men as well, but Number 2, what on earth has that got to do with it? In fact, one of my friends from school (who’s a good friend of mine otherwise) told me I should’ve “reciprocated” and they’d have left me alone (as regards to my male abusers), also he said (as regards to my female abuser) that “you get an erection…not rape”. And that she’d been abusive to others as well, which means what? If anything, it proves my point as most sexual abusers are repeat offenders anyway.

    I think you’ve got it in a nutshell in that first line tbh – that’s the problem in society regarding rape and sexual abuse in general. Rather than living in a “rape culture”, we live in a society that is the opposite extreme; one that is so horrified by sexual abuse that it turns a blind eye rather than trying to understand it. So most people haven’t a clue. e.g: “You wore that, you were asking to get raped.” TRANSLATION: I haven’t a clue what I’m talking about. “No, don’t teach me how to dress, teach men not to rape.” TRANSLATION: I haven’t any idea what I’m talking about either.

    Anyway tarnished, sorry about the long winded reply, but if you want to chat further, I could drop you a line? If we need to help each other 🙂

  7. It’s not just sexual abuse.
    This extends to girls and women outright abusing men, period. Whether it’s hitting or getting in their face, nobody wants to take it equally seriously. Unless a man retaliates out of self-defense, then the pitchfork mob comes out to crucify him.
    Think about the 8-ball jacket wearing male passenger on the subway. There he is getting constantly berated, insulted and shouted at by a woman for his choice of fashion. Then she takes it up a notch, past the point of no return, by hitting him. Understandably irked and boundaries violated, with nowhere to go (the subway was IN MOTION at the time), the man fights back by slapping her hard. In an instant, fellow male passengers jump out of their seats to assault the guy. What were they doing when HE was on the receiving end from the woman? Sitting on their worthless butts. I tell you, if there was no video, the man would be in jail because she, and her fellow white knights, would spin it as him abusing her.
    This whole thing breeds a mentality in women where they feel they can get away with physical and mental harm so long as there are enablers around to support the bad habit, in the home environment, society, and law.
    And it all starts when they’re children. Hitting boys, yelling at boys, berating them. While their parents, teachers and role models spread the message that “Boys are worthless and dumb.” Moreover, the media hype it with stories of fictional, empowered female protagonists unleashing the same thing on supporting male protagonists when they don’t deserve it.
    Worst of it all, you speak out on this thing and be prepared to get called a misogynist, woman hater, and other vile trash. From people who thought cared about what you had to say in the first place.

  8. Thanks James. You have my sympathy as well, and my door is always open to those who might want to talk. My contact info is in the About Me section of my blog. Just be aware that I work in retail though, and don’t always have a lot of time to respond in a timely manner (though I *will* do so within 24 hours).

    …but when I told him what was wrong, he accused me of “taking the piss” and even asked if I was gay.
    How callous and ignorant. My heart aches that you had to hear that. You’re absolutely right, it would not have mattered in the slightest if you were gay or even bi. Sex when you don’t want it is rape. Full stop. What one’s orientation is doesn’t mean a damn thing, imho.

    In fact, one of my friends from school (who’s a good friend of mine otherwise) told me I should’ve “reciprocated” and they’d have left me alone (as regards to my male abusers),
    Yeah…no. Doesn’t work even remotely like that in my experience. The only times I didn’t fight and forced myself into “reciprocation” were when under the threat of my pets being killed. As you obviously know, the concept of “give them what they want and you’ll be left alone” isn’t valid in that type of situation.

    also he said (as regards to my female abuser) that “you get an erection…not rape”.
    No. No no no. The fact that one’s body has defensive measures that closely mimic arousal to prevent harm (like increased blood flow, relaxation of muscles, erections, or lubrication) in no way, shape, or form means the abuse is wanted by the victim. This took me a long time to come to terms with and not experience self-disgust, and it is so very sad that such a lie is still being repeated. For what it’s worth, I don’t think your friend is deliberately ignorant when he says these falsehoods. It is what gets repeated by the media, and few ever choose to question it.

    Rather than living in a “rape culture”, we live in a society that is the opposite extreme; one that is so horrified by sexual abuse that it turns a blind eye rather than trying to understand it.
    True. So very, unfortunately, true. It’s easier for those not involved to sweep it all under the rug and given half-hearted (and often sexist/misandric) lip service to survivors than to face the problem head on.

  9. It’s always nice to see people who have been abused try to get into the minds of those who have not been abused. When I was thirteen I had explicitly sexual fantasies about a teacher in some of my classes. This went on for two years because I had her for some other classes the next year. She was maybe in her early 30’s, but I happen to think late 20’s. A real tull, thin, stunner. Any sex I would have had with her would have been consensual and it is possible that if nobody found out about it and she was responsible in terms of birth control (even then I knew about condoms but females have more and better options) then no harm would have been done. It’s one thing to assert that as a matter of policy (‘baby’ teens which I was at 13 and 14) should still be totally protected from sex, let alone sex with an adult authority figure who easily could abuse their experience (short of virgins) and position. That is a legitimate argument I respect. But ‘false consciousness’ is not an argument I ever respect be it from purported Mens Rights Activists, Feminists, or male or female survivors. We are a sexual species and I would maintain that the vast majority of uncoerced sex that we could ever encounter can do us no harm whatsoever, unless you have birth control failures or diseases. A few years later when I was 17 there was another teacher who attracted me in the same way. Are my experiences really all that unusual? I submit not. And I certainly don’t think they are unnatural.

  10. “The whole point about criminalizing statutory rape is that it has long term consequences that often aren’t recognized until the victim does mature and realizes how his psychological development and relationships with others has been impacted by the abuse (things children probably aren’t thinking about in the moment)”

    Bullshit. Somehow, magically, sex from an older partner is different than sex from a younger partner. There are arguments that make sense, esp when it comes to potential abuses, but sex doesn’t magically psychologically become damaging because someone is 15 and the other partner is 20. You also have totally overlooked the BAD things about criminalizing statutory sex like we do now:

    A. The fear by adults of false accusations
    B. The fear of even TALKING about sex with teens. Heck, it should be adults that teens come to with consent issues, safety issues, all that stuff, instead when we aren’t prosecuting them for sexting, we are letting them figure it out on their own. Which we then punish them for if it they get it wrong once they turn that magic 18.
    C. The Sexual Marketplace effects. Older women just love to keep raising the AOC, because it’s well known that men find women in the range of 15 or 16 to 25 to be most attractive
    D. The fact that in the US at least we don’t make allowance for good sexual ethics – which would be something useful to teach – on the part of the older partner. Nope, every 25 year old that boffs a 16 year old in a state in which the AOC is 18 , is treated the same as if they used force or drugged the younger partner.
    E. Sex is a tremendous locus of control and you don’t learn to set your own boundaries when you have people ‘protecting’ you for your own good
    F. Can I even list the regressive or obsolete (nowadays one has birth control, modern medicine and abortion to take the potential ‘sting’ out of sex) memes that are still on the statute books and in some cases still referenced in language supporting or proposing the current laws? 1. Fear of male sexuality. 2. Female sexual innocence. 3. Fear of pregnancy. 4. Loss of virginity as a bad thing, at least for girls. 5. Religous prohibitions leading to shame about nudity or sexual desire. 6. Feminist ‘objectification’ 7. As Toy Soldiers himself has pointed out ‘magical’ thinking on the damage that viewing OLD child porn might cause a victim 8. Magical thinking about other things. 9. Everyone ‘knows’ based on very shoddy psychological or feminist research etc.

    Sorry, but not buying it. Abuse almost always has an element of force or coercion. Absent those, no harm, no foul for most things.

  11. It’s always nice to see people who have been abused try to get into the minds of those who have not been abused.
    The reverse is also interesting…

    Any sex I would have had with her would have been consensual…
    If that is what you felt, then that is fine, imho. I don’t think anyone here is saying that such fantasies are unnatural. I will even say that actual sex with her likely would have been “consensual” for you, in the sense that you actively wanted it. But as a 13 year old with a drastically changing body and brain swimming in new hormones, I know that even if I *wasn’t* being abused at home I was far too young to be mentally and emotionally prepared for anything sexual…whether my body could handle it or not (which is a separate, purely anatomical aspect). As it was, I was not ready to have sex til between ages 21-22. Could you, at 13, have been mentally and emotionally mature enough to make that decision for yourself? Perhaps. But you I hazard a guess that you’d be the minority. Now, at age 17, yes, I’d argue you were in a much better position to know exactly what you wanted.

    We are a sexual species and I would maintain that the vast majority of uncoerced sex that we could ever encounter can do us no harm whatsoever, unless you have birth control failures or diseases.
    Yes, the vast majority of uncoerced and/or consensual sex shouldn’t be harmful to the participants. Mistakes do happen from time to time, which can result in unintentional pain for one or both parties, but that is rare for the most part. The presence of physical pain/harm is not necessarily the difference between consensual and nonconsensual, or coerced and uncoerced, though. Something can be nonconsensual but result in no physical harm, just like how coerced sex can result in automatic/defensive sexual pleasure. Mental and emotional harm is more difficult to see as the scars are left in one’s behaviors instead of skin.

  12. Clarence, why do you assume it is difficult for me to understand what it is like for those who were never abused? I was raised to think sex between adults and children is normal. Would that not put me in a better position to understand this situation?

    I am under not allusions that teens do not want to or do not have sex with adults. I am also not naïve about the potential benign outcome of such an interaction.

    However, what you describe is not one of those situations. You look back on the situation with adult eyes on a teenage desire. It is possible that it would not have bothered you in the slightest. It is also possible and probable that such an early experience with someone exploiting your youth and stamina for their own sexual desires could have had a dramatic impact on all your future sexual interactions.

    It may not have been abuse to the extent that you were threatened. However, it could easily have been a situation where once the teacher got what she wanted she would cut you off. And you, the inexperienced teen caught up in puppy love, would have no idea how to deal with someone who seemed so interested in you suddenly ignoring you.

    That sort of thing can devastate an adult. Imagine what it could do to a teen, especially if it is their first sexual experience.

    I agree every case would not end like that. However, I have spoken with enough gay men who began having sex as young teens with men twice their age to see this typically does not end with the prison having stable, healthy relationships.

    So let us not pretend that just because we are sexual beings even as children that it is appropriate for adults to have sex with teens. While every instance will not end in horrific abuse, plenty of those situations will be abusive, coercive, or manipulative. At the very least they are potentially exploitative, and that is why they are wrong.

  13. Bullshit. Somehow, magically, sex from an older partner is different than sex from a younger partner. There are arguments that make sense, esp when it comes to potential abuses, but sex doesn’t magically psychologically become damaging because someone is 15 and the other partner is 20.

    It is not the sex people take issue with. It is what typically comes with it, i.e. the way these interactions usually begin and end.

    Yes, there is the potential for false accusations. Yes, there is the chance that we make adults afraid of talking to teens about sex. Yes, there is a host of other potential overreactions.

    These do not have to happen, though. We can say that a 28-year-old should not have sex with a high school junior without saying that they cannot mention sex in front of them.

    It does not have to be either or. We can act sensibly and realize that some adults will exploit teens and the easiest way to prevent that is to say adults cannot have sex with someone under the age of consent.

    Where I take issue is when we use consent laws in a contradictory manner. When we say the age of consent is 16, we should not turn around and charge someone with statutory rape for having sex with a 16-year-old who consented.

    I also think we should consider the child’s perspective, particularly their maturity. Some teens can handle the responsibility. In those instances, we should then look at the behavior of the adult to see if they were exploiting the teen or if there are legitimate feelings towards them and then proceed from there.

  14. “So let us not pretend that just because we are sexual beings even as children that it is appropriate for adults to have sex with teens. While every instance will not end in horrific abuse, plenty of those situations will be abusive, coercive, or manipulative. At the very least they are potentially exploitative, and that is why they are wrong.”

    Well, this is a major disagreement. Because even if we can agree on what is exploitive (and I suppose we do in the vast majority of cases), just about ANYTHING can be potentially exploitive. It really is something like ‘grooming ‘ behavior, ‘objectification’ or ‘manipulation’ which can potentially be seen in every action esp with the right ideological blinders on. The concepts do refer to real behavior and said behavior WHEN PROPERLY DEFINED is problematic and even abusive in some or most cases, but they are, in practice, so loosely defined by most self interested ideologues or by half-educated people as to be nearly useless, except for putting everyone in a state of near-permanent inquisition.

    The real question isn’t whether something can be ‘potentially’ exploitive. It should be DID exploitation go on, or at least (and this is where you can make the legitimate argument against highschool student/teacher sex) is the risk for the potentially exploited party very great, and is the incentive for the exploiter to exploit very large?

    Because said risk is greater for High School students than College students is why I support a blanket ban on sex between High School Teachers and students and why I am not ok with the blanket bans between student/faculty in colleges ONCE the student is out of the teacher’s class or out of his or her direct control. But that doesn’t mean – short of removing him or her from education – that I support blanket penalties for the said sin. It should matter how and when and how much and who initiated it and yes age when it comes for other penalties such as jail time.

  15. TS: “I also think we should consider the child’s perspective, particularly their maturity. Some teens can handle the responsibility. In those instances, we should then look at the behavior of the adult to see if they were exploiting the teen or if there are legitimate feelings towards them and then proceed from there.”

    We are in agreement on that.

  16. Clarence, you’re engaging in the same fallacy you bemoan in others when its applied the other way. Just because you probably wouldn’t have felt harmed if your sexual fantasies were made reality with an older party doesn’t mean others will brush it off.

    And this:

    “We are a sexual species and I would maintain that the vast majority of uncoerced sex that we could ever encounter can do us no harm whatsoever, unless you have birth control failures or diseases.”

    You realize that you’re including children in here, right? Though you don’t outright say it, saying WE are a sexual species also means everyone of any age.

    This kind of thinking leads to dangerous assumptions. Like, for example, a case in the UK where an older babysitter molested an eleven year old boy. The boy explicitly told the court he felt uncomfortable and knew what she did was wrong. However, his own father said otherwise and encouraged it as “another notch on his belt”. The judge didn’t think the babysitter did anything wrong either as she was less mature than the boy according to him.

    Luckily the courts are appealing her original suspended sentence due to this error.

    Point is, his own father thought he was ready for this. At age eleven, mind you. He basically abandoned his son when he needed it the most. The boy afterwards was psychologically DAMAGED after the act. He couldn’t eat, had trouble sleeping.

    So I don’t know why you keep projecting your sexual fantasies on to others that were your age because that’s basically what it is.

  17. TS:
    I appreciate that you DO (and most of your commenters ) approach these things with both nuance and empathy. I understand it can be hard. And I do wish to let people know (you know me but I haven’t commented here in awhile) that my occasional defense of consentual older teen/full fledged legal adult sex is very very much dimininished when it comes to ‘baby’ teens such as the 13/14 year olds and NONEXISTENT when it comes to pre-teens. And we can ALL agree on a few more things:
    A. When adults force children OR teens to give them attention in that way via force, drugs, or threats it is wrong in a major way in some ways worse than say, a stranger rape. Esp if the adult is someone the child or teen trusts or loves 😦
    B. Though I disagree with some here on this thread who think younger teen males esp (for whatever reason) don’t commonly have sexual thoughts about their teachers based on THEIR experiences – I think a majority do, though I don’t know how much of a majority – we all agree that female assaults on males -both physical and sexual- are given way too much cultural and legal leeway. Poor Eagle was basically ignored when he tried to talk about lots of his abuse. Recently I have had to basically ‘educate’ one of only two college girls I know on my own Facebook. She literally had a hard time wrapping around her head that guys could be raped, even if passed out. Which is really whack, because she is someone who doesn’t like the current Social Justice Warrier infestation of her school.

  18. One more thing I’d like to add, Clarence:

    Your thinking of everyone as a sexual species also leads to people letting women off the hook when they rape a boy. The last thing anyone wants is more boy victims swept under the rug.

  19. Eagle:

    Teens are not ‘children’ and since I’m not talking about prepubescents, no, most of what you are complaining about does not apply to me. I’m aware of that case, I’m sure I read about it here, and I’m sure if I commented it was to condemn the father.

  20. Oh, I see you explained yourself a little further. Well, that’s good you agree that there are problems with thinking of 13 to 14 year olds as less harmed when they’re goaded into sex from an adult and anything below that age OFF LIMITS. That we can agree on.

  21. Well, this is a major disagreement. Because even if we can agree on what is exploitive (and I suppose we do in the vast majority of cases), just about ANYTHING can be potentially exploitive.

    I do not think we disagree. We are not talking about two adults or two teens engaging in a mutual relationship. We are talking about an adult with more experience and a greater position of authority engaging in a relationship with a child with no real experience in the matter. There is a far greater potential for exploitation in that situation than in others.

    Let us be frank, most grooming behavior is little more than the typical dating behaviors. When one wants to attract a potential partner one buys them things, takes them places, watches their favorites films and shows, etc. It is not the behavior itself that is wrong but who it is done to that makes it wrong. The average 13-year-old has no real understanding of this dynamic. It is easy to take their inexperience and convince them to do a host of things they may not want to do.

    I agree that blanket sentences are a bad idea. We do need to tailor them for the situation. That does not mean, however, that there should not be a standard response to this type of behavior. The reason why is because if we let people off because the child was more than willing, then a predatory person may simply choose a teen with a massive sex drive and then use that as an excuse abuse them. The case Eagle mentioned essentially devolved into that (by the victim’s father no less).

  22. Excellent article and comments here:

    I actually find myself agreeing with both Clarence and TS: Clarence because I do think statutory rape laws in many states are too Byzantine and focused on age as a number, and TS because these situations- typically involving a teacher, caregiver, or an older relative- really don’t fit that mold.

    Here’s the Occam’s razor for rape- ask yourself if the perpetrator’s actions would have lead to sex REGARDLESS of the victim’s willingness? If the answer is yes, then it shouldn’t matter if the victim was, by chance, willing. That’s like catching someone driving drunk and letting them go because they were lucky enough not to crash, this time.

    When a teacher or older relative has sex with a preteen I think the answer is yes. Even if the boy didn’t want to have sex he would feel pressured to do so anyway because of the perpetrator’s authority. And the perpetrator knows this.

    When someone who isn’t in a direct position of authority has sex with a 13-15 year old, then maybe the answer is no. I don’t think it’s reasonable to assume that a 17 year old in a relationship with a 14 year old doesn’t care about the 14 year old’s consent.

  23. Peter, I think the power dynamic between adults and teens matter regardless of the adult’s status. It is the age and experience difference that creates the situation. The teacher position only worsens it.

    I think the key factor in many of these cases is how the adult behaves. We can set aside some of the inherent need for secrecy. In other words, we already know the adult will want to hide the relationship. What we must look at is how the adult goes about it. If they threaten, seek to expose the teen, or blame the teen, these are indicators that the adult probably is not that genuinely interested in the teen. One can contrast this with someone who makes no attempt to hide their interaction with the teen or even informs the parents of the relationship (I have heard of both).

    As for teens dating teens, I think the laws should not even apply to them. Why charge a 17-year-old with a sex crime for dating or having sex with a 14 or 13-year-old? These are people well within the same age group. Unless there is clear abuse, we have no reason to charge someone with a sex offense for having sex with another teenager. It becomes even more ridiculous when we pretend that turning 18 magically changes things. It is reasonable for an 18-year-old to date a 15-year-old. This is hardly abnormal. I think something beyond a five-year age difference is when we should start to question the person’s interest. Thirteen-year-olds and 18-years-old do not have much in common, so one could reasonably ask why they would hook up.

  24. I studied abroad in Brazil when I was 20, and this has heavily influenced my opinion on the issue.

    I was there two months, and in that time I must have been approached by half a dozen 12-15 year old girls who wanted to date me. I would turn them down, but it was an eye opener. Different culture, different rules.

    First, just the notion that girls would actually ask out a guy. Theoretically, that can happen in America. But I had never really had it happen. As an aside- it wasn’t just teenagers doing this, I had some older women approach me as well. It was just that since I had never actually had to reject ANYONE before, I was surprised by how often I had to cite an age difference.

    And get back a blank look.

    Because also, apparently that is just normal there. The girls didn’t care (“it’s okay, my last boyfriend was 28”), the guys I was talking to didn’t care (“you and your weird American morality”). I started to feel like, maybe I’m the jerk here. Judging someone else’s culture. They seemed fine.

    So, having experienced that, I just can’t defend the notion that age difference alone is sufficient to differentiate between a harmful and an acceptable relationship.

    But, the stuff we’re talking about didn’t happen in a foreign country. And it IS involving teachers and students. And the victims are flat out telling people they were hurt. So that becomes a tangential discussion.

  25. Even after reading this, I still think I would count myself lucky if one of those teacher hotties had come onto me. Sorry not to jump on the rape bandwagon, but sex is a part of life, and a boy above 15 or so is probably not going to be harmed by that, just sayin.

  26. Frank, the information we have suggests that the situation is hardly harmless nor is the victim lucky. This holds true regardless of how the victim initially feels. Their behavior often changes to the point where their grades drop, they stop hanging out with friends, and they cut off their family. The only reason you think it would be good is because you are thinking of the sex. You are ignoring all the follow up that affects the victims.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s