Mary Kay Letourneau, who made headlines in the 1990's for having a sexual affair with her 12-year-old student, was back in the news this week. She was arrested for failing to appear in court for a suspended driver's license violation. I doubt she'll see much jail time, though. But if the roles were reversed, and a male teacher who had sex with a female student was arrested for failing to appear in court for a suspended driver's license violation fifteen years later... eh, it would still be a boring story.
The headline read: "Notorious Ex-Teacher Mary Kay Letourneau Back In Jail Again." During the opening of the show Shark Tank, Mark Cuban is described as "notorious billionaire." I looked up "Saddam Hussein" on-line and some of the articles and essays referred to him as a "notorious dictator." So... a young woman who has an affair with her student, the rich owner of an NBA basketball team, and an international war criminal are all "notorious"? To quote Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." These people have nothing in common. How can they be described in the same way? And, quite frankly, none of them have anything in common with The Notorious B.I.G.
But "notorious" is still more consistent than the word rape. In 2013, in Utah, an attractive young teacher was arrested for raping her 17-year-old male student, after they had consensual sex. I know what you're thinking: "They have sex in Utah?" But is this really rape? Rape is a really big deal. Thousands of women are raped every year. It's a brutal, sick, sadistic, disgusting, dehumanizing crime. Do we really want to compare the suffering that female victims go through with that of a horny dude with a boner? Women are the victims of physical abuse, economic inequality, and historical discrimination. Can't we at least let them keep rape? Now we're taking that away from women?
Google "teacher sex scandals." You'll find case after case of twenty-something female teachers having sex with teenage boys as old as sixteen and seventeen. But is this really a big deal? Heck, seventeen-year-olds are old enough to illegally buy beer!
Teenage boys want to have sex with their hot teachers. I'm not saying they should, but it's something they fantasize about. It's a lesser crime. Nobody ever masturbates to the idea of getting their credit cards stolen.
Some people get upset because they think the punishment for these female teachers is too lenient. They say, "If the roles were reversed, and it was an older male teacher with a teenage girl, society would be outraged." Yes, that's true. And that's because if the roles were reversed, the situation would be different. Men and women are different. 17-year-old boys and 17-year-old girls are different.
On Duck Dynasty, if the roles were reversed, and the ducks started shooting those bearded guys, society would think differently... especially if they're gay ducks.
Sometimes, theoretically "reversing the roles" is illogical. A situation in which an adult man has sex with an underage female student is not the same when you reverse the roles; there is an emotional and physical difference, and there are structural power differences between the sexes. Now- if you really reverse the roles, and female teachers had penises and their male students had vaginas, then maybe you could make an accurate comparison... which reminds me of a party I went to in West Hollywood.
There are real victims in society: murder victims, victims of assault, people who paid to see that Johnny Depp Lone Ranger movie. But 17-year-old boys who willingly have sex with a 26-year-old woman and then brag about it to their friends are not victims. That's a slap in the face to the young girls who have been sexually manipulated by much older men.
The real issue- the real disgrace- when it comes to these stories about female teachers and their male students is not the intercourse. Rather, it's that these women are bad teachers. And they punch a black eye in the face of the millions of good teachers whose intent is to educate and inspire, rather than using the classroom like it's their own personal eHarmony site because their boring husbands don't pay attention to them anymore. The problem isn't that these adolescents had sex; it's that they can't read.
Do you want to know the real reason why so many people are so sanctimonious and fake-outraged when a story comes out about a female teacher sex scandal? Institutionalized sexism.
The social systems that guide society put women at a disadvantage. Our education system puts women at a disadvantage. Our economic system puts women at a disadvantage. Our political system puts women at a disadvantage. Heck, we've have had forty-four Presidents of the United States (forty-five if you count Morgan Freeman) and we still haven't elected a woman. Statistically, if you're an educated, successful woman in America, your chances of becoming President are the same as if you're a prostitute. Zero.
So society tries to rationalize its terrible treatment of women with the comforting assurance that "See? Women are just as bad as men. They rape, too." But women aren't as bad as men. And the issue of sexual assault is one of gender control- the power that men in society have over women. It's not "equal."
Of course, I could be wrong. I can't really speak about any of this from personal experience. When I was in high school, most of my teachers looked like Mikhail Gorbachev.