Insty has been running a new “intro tag” – “TEACH WOMEN NOT TO RAPE” – often linking to news stories of school teachers who are arrested for having sex with students. Also mentioned on some of those posts: “Remember, one reason there are so few male teachers is that people are afraid they’ll be sexual predators.”
Now, it seems to me that there is a problem here, in that a male teacher who had sex with a 15 or 16-year-old student would be automatically assumed of using his position of authority and disparity of power to unduly influence his target, male or female. (And let’s face facts: 15 and 16 year olds are not children, they are young adults, biologically speaking, and the only reason they are not young adults mentally and emotionally is because our culture is guilty of deliberately delaying their development until their early twenties, which is absolutely and utterly ridiculous.)
Somehow this doesn’t seem to be an issue with a lot of people responding to the same situation between a female teacher and a male student, though I do see a bit of the same dynamic (power imbalance, misuse of authority) when a female teacher seduces a female student. It’s almost as if male students can’t be victims – as if there is no inherent power imbalance between a female teacher and a male student. Hmm, I wonder why many people in our culture think like that? *coughfeminismcough*
Of course, when it’s a female student, the fact that she willingly – and likely, eagerly – had sex with her male teacher doesn’t excuse the fact that the teacher is not allowed to fraternize with his students. Society will tolerate such pairings only if the teacher and student in question wait until after graduation to officially begin a relationship – and even then, there will be deep suspicion of wrongdoing on the part of the teacher. Yet when a female teacher seduces a male student (possibly more than one, by the time allegations come to light) there are a large number of people who assume that male fifteen and sixteen-year-olds are perfectly capable of assuming total responsibility for the (heterosexual) relationship and its potential consequences. Including ending up with court-ordered child support payments to the teacher, if she uses him to get herself pregnant.
It doesn’t come up much (because there are so few male teachers) but I suspect people would react very differently if a male teacher were found to have seduced a male student. The same script – abuse of authority – would run for a male student as well as a female student. But if a heterosexual 15-year-old is old enough to be expected to take responsibility for his part in a relationship with a female teacher (including child support!), then there’s not much reason to flip the script and make him a victim in a homosexual relationship – unless society’s script for such situations is that the male teacher is always a predator.
Notice that the script simply does not allow any other role for the male in authority except “predator” – and that the script also does not allow the female to take on the role of “predator” even under the exact same circumstances. The social narrative implies that she did nothing truly wrong in seducing male students even if she’s brought up on charges.
Well, why not simply equalize things by relaxing society’s taboo against male teacher/female student relationships? Because there are very good reasons to think that the kind of man who will seduce a young teenager does not do so out of pure romantic intentions. You might as well put out a sign and say “abusers’ victim buffet here” at every public school! But the truth is that there are just as many women who are abusers, and there is no social safeguard for male targets of abuse, because society regards women who exhibit abusive behavior as “empowered”.
“She hit you? What did you do to her? You must have done something.” “She’s a woman, she can’t really hurt you.” “If you get into a fight with her, it’s your fault.” All kinds of victim-blaming go on when it’s a male on the receiving end. If men are socialized into thinking that they can’t be victims even when their girlfriends are literally smacking them around and screaming in their faces, how are teenage boys going to be able to defend themselves from a “hot teacher”? Answer: they aren’t.
A woman who seduces a student is a predator. Period. If she weren’t a predator, she could have waited two years before “hooking up” with a student and just gone trolling for one night stands in the meantime, if celibacy was so intolerable to her.