From January 1 to March 18, 2014 two news specific Google alerts were set for the words male and female. Out of the thousands of news stories, there were 16 stories involving teacher student sex cases. Two stories involved male teachers acting inappropriately with students. One male teacher had received 50 lashes in Somalia for sending ‘flirty’ messages to a boy of undisclosed age. The only other male teacher incident in the alerts, was an incident that took place in Arizona, when a male teacher was arrested for removing a 6-year-old girls shirt as punishment for the girl refusing to lower her shirt from over her head when asked repeatedly to do so by the 54-year-old kindergarten teacher. The girls shirt was returned to her after ten minutes of punishment. There was a teachers assistant in the class that verified the story.
There were 14 different stories of female teachers who were sexually involved with over 20 boys ranging in age from 14 to 18. In terms of sex offences involving a teacher and student, it is far more likely that the teacher will be a woman. Some of the reasons proffered by the defence on behalf of the ladies? “A bad decision at a low point in her life.” Another excuse was that she was “suffering mental health issues which led her to seek friendships.” Or the more dubious defence assertion, “My clients phone was hacked, and she didn’t send any of the
Research carried out by Jeff Sandler and Naomi J. Freeman indicated what other researchers and many people already know – that female sex offenders are significantly less likely to be incarcerated for the crime of sex abuse. Ostensibly, we are left with the conclusion that male sex offenders are held by society to a higher standard of expectation than women are. The message reflected by the lenient sentences for women by the judicial system is clear, being a male victim is not as important as being a female victim.
An argument could be made that there is more ‘moral turpitude’ or a greater offence when a man has sex with a pubescent 14-year-old girl, than when a woman has sex with a pubescent 14-year-old boy. Why would this be? Both teens are under the age of consent. Society, collectively believes that teenage females are victims. Whereas with boys, there is an almost congratulatory undertone that they ‘got lucky’ with an older woman. The males don’t act like victims, because society doesn’t paint them with the narrative of victim-hood.
In a recent case, (March 2014), a 16-year-old male ‘victim’ sent the following text to his teacher/lover – “Got the police round … Just get the story straight for when they come for you.” Not the kind of text you’d expect from someone in a victim mentality. Society expects females to be helpless victims, it is a narrative from a different age, reinforced by an idealized medieval institution of Knight’s in shimmering armour.
There is most certainly a parallel universe in English-speaking cultures where the same crimes get a radically different treatment in the court system based on the perpetrators gender. In that parallel universe social moralities view the offender and victim very differently when the offender is female and the victim is male. There is an underlying assumption that female sexual assault against males is simply assumed to be less harmful. Hence it’s deemed to be a less serious offence when males are the victims and women are the perpetrators.
Yet a 28-year-old teacher has sex with her 14-year-old student and gets 6 months in jail. Another 25-year-old teacher hand writes an apology, gets 10 years probation and a $5,000 fine. In another recent case reported on in The Guardian, (although the offender was not a teacher), the judge said, “that he would be lenient with the sentence – which will see her released from jail after one year – because she ‘realized it was wrong'” She started having sex with the boy when he was eight until he was 16.
We seem to dismiss the fact that they are, even though teenagers – still legally children. Under-age males are lucky, and the females unlucky? Society still seems to think so.