by Randall S. Frederick
In my last piece, I spent most of the article listing instances of sexual misconduct by female teachers and concluded by raising questions about female sexuality. While, for my purposes, these two issues will intersect, I am not so concerned with the crimes themselves as I am interested in their implications. That is, I would suggest that we are seeing the confluence of a few occurrences. Sex happens. Abuse happens. And rather than look into each instance, seeking to condemn “what went wrong” individually (was it true love? Stockholm Syndrome? rape? convenience?), I’m much more interested in the way that we, as a society, are reacting. As I noted previously, there comes a point where you just shrug and move on. Another teacher had sex with her student? Hunh. Well, I wonder what the weather will be like this evening… To focus on the incidence of teacher-student liaisons is to miss causality – for all of our verbiage on how “wrong” and “inappropriate” their congress may be, abuse by female teachers continues, even in some sense flourishes. There are a number of reasons for this, most of which are readily apparent:
One, men have not been the primary face of early-to-highschool education for a few decades now. There is undoubtedly a statistical link between female presence in a classroom, and female teachers having sex with students which is inversely related to the absence of male teachers. This is not to say that there are not instances of male teachers abusing their charges. It is to say, as one reader put it, “There are always going to be more female teacher offenders, by the mere fact there are more female teachers in the school system.”
Two, there remains a question of power dynamics – an authority figure “making” their student do something against their will. I am not convinced of this in all cases as there exists a strong and compelling case for the way males celebrate male sexuality. Rapper Chris Brown admitted to having sex at 8 years old to a teen girl.
He lost his virginity when he was eight years old, to a local girl who was 14 or 15. Seriously? “Yeah, really. Uh-huh.” He grins and chuckles. “It’s different in the country.” Brown grew up with a great gang of boy cousins, and they watched so much porn that he was raring to go. “By that point, we were already kind of like hot to trot, you know what I’m saying? Like, girls, we weren’t afraid to talk to them; I wasn’t afraid. So, at eight, being able to do it, it kind of preps you for the long run, so you can be a beast at it. You can be the best at it.”
Rather than call this abuse or even try to connect Brown’s childhood “trauma” to his headlining abuse of former girlfriend Rihanna, most of his fans agreed with him – sex at this early age proves his virility and elevates his status as a “real man”, even “a beast.”
Brown’s early initiation into sex is hardly a stand-alone case in media. Southpark spent an entire episode (ironically?) congratulating a kindergartener for having sex with his teacher. Multiple characters say how “nice” it was that the child got it on with his teacher. More, the entire first season of Dawson’s Creek, followed one of the characters having sex with his teacher, Ms. Jacobs. Unlike Southpark, which (arguably) played the story for laughs, Dawson’s Creek promoted the storyline for it’s sexual value in all promotional materials; a young boy had sex and “became a man.” At no point during that first season, or in any subsequent season, was there an episode which confronted the issues of “abuse” or “victimization.” Rather, the character willingly participated and even pursued his teacher and every character (except for the school board) that heard about it congratulated him.
And shamed the teacher.
Third and fourth, as I noted at the end of my last article, I believe there exists entertainment value – not just the oft-repeated “sex sells”, but that female sexuality sells because it is novel. Unique. You mean… she wanted to have sex? Wow!
There exists, for a myriad of reasons, a double-bind on female sexuality. If a woman has sex, it is newsworthy. And if she enjoys it, it is newsworthy. And if she enjoys sex with someone younger than her – god forbid – she’s a whore, a slut, a whore, and deserves the full intensity of our shame-based relationship with sex. There is a well-documented and expansive list of male celebrities who have short-lived relations with a revolving door of much younger women. Personalizing this statement, there was a seven year gap between my father and mother. My father had already gone to Vietnam, travelled from Boston to San Francisco to Casablanca and back again, then graduated from college all by the time my mother finished high school. Age disparity between an older male and younger female goes relatively unnoticed unless there is too wide a gap for it to be “believable.” If he is with a women young enough to be his granddaughter, the girl must be a gold digger.
Again, even here, when it comes to age disparity, we are assuming a lot as we shame the female and not the male. Is there any room to tell the 17yo male, “You had sex with a married teacher. What you did was a bad thing” instead of weeping over how he was victimized? If a woman is much older, we celebrate male sexuality because he is being initiated into manhood. If the woman is much younger, it proves his continued virility or the woman is a gold digger. His sexuality, sexual identity, and “goodness” is upheld, even celebrated, to the detriment of the female partner.
Now, this brings about serious questions of power. Namely, when an older woman has sex with a student, is she reclaiming her sexuality? Authority? Finding some measure of power? Even here, many are afraid to navigate. Indeed, in posing the topic of female teachers using their supposed power to abuse their students, some changed the topic to calling the teacher a “slut” and “shameful.” Even focused intensely back to the issue of power, they once again navigated to their belief in how “she should feel ashamed” rather than the topic of power. And where the issue of power was present in the conversation, there was an anger which blinded to even discussing what that power looked like.
Is it possible that, underneath the headlines and mugshots, we’re too afraid to talk about women finding a measure of pleasure, power, identity, and value in having sex with their students? Looking at the list from the first article, you may have noticed that many of the women were in their early thirties, an age when many believe female sexuality “first begins to emerge.”
While it is certainly true that human biology has a part to play in these instances, there remains a larger meta-narrative where, I believe, we are exploiting female sexuality. In a private conversation, Kyle went on to say in a series of messages:
- We’ve had so much indoctrination from laws, religion and culture that we forget the very basic human instinct to fuck everything that walks
- emphasis added obviously, not really a factual statement
- but I think we don’t give enough grace to the fact that Jesus calls us to an incredibly high standard to avoid adultery even to the point of not noticing other attractive people
- i don’t know about you but I can’t magically turn that part of my brain off
- Anyways, probably preaching to the choir though
- Honestly though, I really don’t know why Christians are so aghast when other people have sex, it’s one of the most logical things for two people to do with one another
- Sometimes I fear that the people I’ve become surrounded with have forgotten things like this because of how long they’ve been in Christian circles
When I asked, “So what are your thoughts on female teachers with younger students? Is it natural (guys like younger women, so we shouldn’t be surprised when women like younger guys = mating/ biology/ etc) or is there a social element that alarms/ interests you?” he went on,
- Nothing about it alarms me, other than people shouldn’t do what the law doesn’t allow. While there may be pragmatic exceptions, sex with a student isn’t one of them.
- I think there is also the very practical fact that most of us have never been as skinny or otherwise as physically attractive as we may have been right around 18. I know was my best looking from about 19 to 20 and had a relationship with a woman in her mid 20s, and looking back now, primarily i was just her physical sex toy cause I was good looking
- What I’m saying is, I think there’s a lot of things that happen when proximity is involved,
- you’re around someone enough, they become more attractive
- the right scenario happens, you somehow wind up sleeping together
- I just don’t think it’s that surprising. Doesn’t mean we should allow it, all their power issues are probably at play
- but i think the stronger power is the biological impulse to “get lucky”
- I dunno. I just don’t think a woman thinks to herself “I am in a powerful situation and can make him do what I want!” as much as they think, “Mmmmm, yummy!”
- i’m being a bit flippant, but I think you get my point
That is, once we allow for the idea that humans are basically mammals and want sex – male as well as female – there is an implicit failure in their relationships. A husband fails to satisfy his wife, fails to value her, and so she looks elsewhere. The child’s parents failed to ask the right questions, raise their child the right way, or simply pay attention. Both parties clearly have mental instability.
If you are attracted to someone under the age of 18 and you are over the age of 25, there is something off in that… If you are attracted to [youth], you need to have a very long conversation with some very good professionals.
I propose this is too easy an answer, and is another example of “othering.” While I take a firm stand against teacher-student relationships, I think our rush to judgment is indicative that there are larger issues at play that we do not want to address. The easy choice is to point to failed relationships or mental instability, and such a choice flies in the face of reality as many of these teachers pass mental health exams, and we fail to question the mental health of the participants once they are both past the age of 18, as if 18 is a magical age in which everything gels and we “get it.” If you want to have sex with a 17 year old, something is wrong with you. If you want to have sex with an 18 year old, mazel tov! Something is broken not with the individuals, but with our understanding of sex – especially female sexuality.
Continued in pt. III (coming soon)