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I got it bad, got it bad, got it bad - Jason Lindquist
Idle ramblings of an idle mind
jlindquist
jlindquist
I got it bad, got it bad, got it bad
...maybe too bad.

There's been a lot of coverage of high school teacher-student sex scandals. The cases of Mary Kay Letourneau and Debra LeFave are the most prominent, but they've been reported everywhere, and with greater frequency over the last few years. There's a general pattern to them: When the student is female, she is always presented as a victim. When the student is male (AND the teacher is female) he's almost never presented as a victim, and reaction is usually that he's lucky, getting to live out any adolescent boy's dream. I have to admit to buying into that pattern myself. I've wondered about the girls' side--is there a nature/nurture issue at hand? Are they traumatized because of something in the nature of a girl's development? Or does it have more to do with the gender roles that society still enforces? For the boys, I harbored no questions. "If that happened to me, yeah, I'd hit that." I wrote off emotional considerations--after all, it's often said that teenage boys only put out emotionally as an avenue to satisfy their physical desire for sex. In my own teenage years, it would have been nice to get both, but if not, I would've been happy with just the sex.

Then I read this week's Rolling Stone. Sabrina Rubin Erdely's article, "Sex, Lies, and Phys Ed" tells the story of Jason Eickmeyer and his affair with phys ed teacher Traci Tapp while he was a student at Hammonton HS in New Jersey. The short summary is this: though a popular and talented athlete, Eickmeyer was emotionally quite vulnerable. The affair and its surrounding particulars completely turned his world on its head. Unable to cope, his academic and athletic progress collapsed into epic failure. When his self-destructive behavior finally boiled over senior year, his mother had found out, the police were called in, and Eickmeyer became a pariah amongst both his peers and teachers. Six years later, he's still suffering, still alienated, and too broke to afford therapy. The affair wasn't even an open secret, it was just common knowledge. The staff didn't want to believe the rumors, or didn't care. The students thought it was great, or didn't want to be outcast for rocking the boat.

Based on what's written, I see nothing exceptional about Jason Eickmeyer. Not even his father's illness and the deterioration of his parents' marriage--both of those are far too common. There is nothing presented that suggests he should be particularly vulnerable compared to other high school students. He's surely not the only case, just one of the few widely-documented ones. Just because teenage boys often do not get emotionally attached to their sexual partners doesn't mean that they can't and they won't. Any boy is likely at risk of suffering the same emotional trauma. I've long considered Vili Fualaau's continuing attachment to Letourneau, and their eventual marriage, to be wildly out of whack. Looking at what happened to Jason Eickmeyer, I'm probably wrong about that.

(There is an associated story where Erdely talks about how difficult the story was to investigate.)

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ginmar From: ginmar Date: January 16th, 2009 09:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Where are you reading that the male children aren't being treated as victims? There's a huge amount of disgust directed at Mary Kay Letourneau and others, whereas in cases with girl victims---when they're reported at all---the papers liberally quote from the defense attorneys, who of course try and call the girl a slut. And then there's the Roman Polanski thing, where his words get quoted over and over again, and where the girl gets criticized by prominent female bloggers at Jezebel, a huge website.

They're ignoring male teachers molesting females in favor of covering the females molesting males angle. The younger the boy, the more sympathy there is for him. At best, for female victims, is a neutral explanation. Even the Glen Ridge case featured coverage with a lot of speculation as to the developmentally-disabled girl's sexuality. In male molester cases, too, there's often skepticism based on the girl's veracity, especially if the guy is the pillar of the community type. When males molest boys, the attitude is always one of horror. AFter all, that's what girls are for. People didn't care about Catholic priests molesting girls after all. They only cared when the stuff about boys came out. Not to mention sometimes the victims themselves have some pretty offensive views about girls and women. "I'm not a girl!" Because, you know, molestation should happen to girls.

Part of the problem is that female sexuality gets analyzed and criticized ad nauseum---with the emphasis being on raising her libido for her male partner's benefit. Male sexuality---normal and common male attitudes---don't get much studied. If they're studied by feminists, it gets discounted. Female molesters are regarded as freaks, while female victims are often discounted as Lolitas.

Molesters always pick vulnerable children. Always. Often they pick kids of a different class, so they won't be believed. The men often are high status. The women, far less so, and the boys are never disbelieved or called liars.

It's significant that this story about a female moleseter/male victim gets a big story in Rolling Stone. I can't remember the last time I saw such a thing about a male molester/female victim. The message is that oh, well, molestation of girls is so common it's boring, and besides teenage girls are probably lying and hysterical, or what's the big deal? Isn't that they're there for? Roman Polanski, after all, is a well-respected director. A prominent gay actor, Jeffrey Jones, was arrested for molestation, and he's now a pariah.
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