I do not expect much of feminists when it comes to them discussing men’s issuses, particularly not male feminists, and especially not the type that wind up in so-called men’s spaces like the Good Men Project. The reason is because feminists have a penchant for attacking and maligning the very men they claim to support.
For example, the Good Men Project ran an article originally posted on Dr. Nerdlove. Harris O’Malley presented his take on “The Difference Between Toxic Masculinity and Being A Man”. It is the typical anti-male nonsense one sees about sexual violence against women. A handful of men commit horrible acts, therefore all masculinity and men are to blame.
Of course, women are not the only victims of sexual violence, something feminists like O’Malley begrudgingly acknowledge. Granted, his way of acknowledging this was by blaming “toxic masculinity” for a woman raping 13-year-old boy. According to O’Malley, the issue is not the adult woman who raped a child but the “toxic masculinity” that makes people ignore the rape:
Alexandra Vera, a middle-school teacher in Texas, was having an affair with a young man. It had started off with some crude flirting – he tried to contact her on her Instagram account, which she refused – but soon her resistance crumbled. She gave him her phone number, accepted an invitation to hang out. When they met up, they drove around and kissed in her car. Their relationship quickly became sexual – they were having sex almost every day, and she became pregnant. There was just one catch.
Vera’s lover was a 13 year old boy. Her student, in fact. And after Child Protective Services began an investigation of her relationship with the boy, she was soon charged with continual sexual abuse of a minor.
What’s significant about this, however, is the fact that nobody is willing to call it rape.
Really? One would have thought what is significant is that this woman raped a 13-year-old boy, got pregnant, and got an abortion after the investigation began in an apparent attempt to hide her rapist activities. Or that she flaunted the boy around her neighbors, claiming he was her brother. Or that she repeatedly had teen boys at her home. Or that she allowed those boys to drink to the point that neighbors noticed beer cans and bottles around her lawn.
No, the most significant element to O’Malley is that the media did what it always does in these cases and labeled it “a relationship”.
It is nice that O’Malley takes issue with this. The way the media frames these cases is a problem. Granted, it is a problem advocates for male victims and men’s rights activists have complained about for decades while feminists like O’Malley mocked their complaints as nothing but “what about teh menz” whining. But now that the rest of society is starting to think this is wrong, now feminists think it is wrong too.
Yet what O’Malley finds wrong is not that a woman repeatedly raped a 13-year-old boy. It is this:
Not surprisingly, comment after comment about this story follows the same pattern: “hot for teacher”, “I wish I could go back to high-school”, “lucky son of a bitch”, etc. And why shouldn’t people celebrate his luck? He’s a horny 13 year old, living the dream! Sure, it’s a crime, but hey, what 13 year old didn’t dream about boning his hot teacher?
We’re willing to cut him slack because he’s a 13 year old boy. If this were a 13 year old girl, we’d be having a very different conversation right now, with correspondingly different headlines.
We would, but that has nothing to do the actual problem, which is that a woman raped a 13-year-old boy. O’Malley thinks there is a different problem:
Yeah, 13 year old boys are frequently horny. 13 year old boys, in the throes of puberty, frequently fantasize about sex with any number of people – celebrities, teachers, babysitters, etc. But there are reasons why we have age of consent laws, and that’s because children rarely have any idea what the fuck they’re doing. The fact that they may want something with their heart, soul and gonads doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea to actually achieve them. They certainly don’t have the life experience or the maturity – hell, even the brain development – to handle an adult relationship, doubly so with someone who is not only nearly twice their age but in a position of authority over them.
So the issue is not that this woman took advantage of this boy and manipulated him to so she could use him for sex. The issue is that the boy lacks the maturity to handle an adult relationship. That sounds a lot like victim blaming, but perhaps I am not being fair:
Vera’s victim was in the position of being a father before he had even left the eighth grade. No matter how badly he wanted to bust a nut, he was in no position to handle the responsibilities or consequences that come with sex. And Vera, despite being 11 years his senior, is clearly not a person of responsibility or good judgement herself… something he might recognize were he older. She is a grown woman who by her own words, couldn’t resist the “charms” of somebody who had barely outgrown playing Yokai Watch.
No, I was right. That is classic victim blaming. Vera is not at fault because by her own admission she is irresponsible. The boy bears the responsibility because of his immaturity. He would have known better not to trust Vera had he not been such a hormone-driven teen boy.
Curiously, O’Malley does not offer any evidence that this was the boy’s actual response to Vera. Much like the people who assume the boy was “lucky”, O’Malley assumes the boy could not control his teenage lust. The possibility that Vera groomed the boy and lied to investigators to cover up her actions never seems to cross O’Malley’s mind.
I read over a dozen articles about this case, and every one of the only reports Vera’s side of the story. There are no interviews with the boy or his parents or prosecutors. There is no corroboration of Vera’s claim that the boy’s parents knew about or supported their “relationship” or that the boy initiated the “relationship”. The only evidence corroborated by an outside party are instances of the boy flirting with Vera at school.
If one reads the above link, Vera’s account sounds remarkably like the typical child abuser claim: she did nothing wrong. The boy came onto her, and at first she resisted but he was so persistent that they had sex. After that, she goes to the boy’s home the next day when his parents are not there and has sex with him again. She claims that she was introduced as his girlfriend, but it is unclear whether she was passed off as a teenage girl or if the boy’s parents knew who she was.
It sounds like a lie, yet O’Malley appears to have bought it, apparently solely so he could make this claim:
But no matter how hot she may be, Vera raped a child. While not every victim of sexual assault or molestation will behave the same way – there are women out there who have been abused or assaulted who brush it off as “no big deal” – the fact is that these tropes of toxic masculinity mean that we’re unwilling to acknowledge his abuse. That unwillingness to call sexual abuse for what it is means that other victims have similarly difficult times coming forward, admitting that they’d been abused or getting the help that they need.
You know what else makes it hard for victims to come forward? People saying things like, “Yeah, 13 year old boys are frequently horny. 13 year old boys, in the throes of puberty, frequently fantasize about sex with any number of people – celebrities, teachers, babysitters, etc. But there are reasons why we have age of consent laws, and that’s because children rarely have any idea what the fuck they’re doing.” Or things like “Vera, despite being 11 years his senior, is clearly not a person of responsibility or good judgement herself… something he might recognize were he older.”
When you hold boys responsible for protecting themselves against predators, they learn that there is no point in coming forward because people like O’Malley will simply blame them for it. O’Malley can try to weasel his way out of the rape apologism and misandry of his article by claiming “no matter how hot she may be, Vera raped a child”, yet that claim sounds hollow when the only reason he says it is to argue that the real issue is the victim’s is not mature enough to handle the “relationship” and the “toxic masculinity” that makes people think he is “lucky”.
What would have helped is if it looked like O’Malley actually thought a woman having sex with a 13-year-old boy wrong.