Barbara Goldberg at Reuters has a new article about the apparent rise in arrests of female teachers for sexually abusing male students. There’s a growing understanding, Goldberg argues, that the underage victims of female sexual predators are just that—victims—and not some lucky young punks who got to live a “hot for teacher” fantasy:
In U.S. schools last year, almost 800 school employees were prosecuted for sexual assault, nearly a third of them women. The proportion of women facing charges seems to be higher than in years past, when female teachers often got a pass, said Terry Abbott, a former chief of staff at the U.S. Department of Education, who tracked the cases.
A Saturday Night Live skit earlier this month perpetuated the idea that it’s an honor and a privilege for a young man to be statutorily raped by a female teacher, with the victim saying he instigated it, calling it “the best day of my life” and fist-bumping the judge.
The skit drew ire on social media not just because it regurgitated tired clichés about how sex is a male victory and a female shame, but because it distorted the realities of this kind of sexual abuse. Female sexual predators work the same way male ones do, by flattering vulnerable young people who want to feel more grown-up than they are; the effects can be the same, too. “Depression, low self-esteem and difficulty maintaining future relationships are among the long-term consequences that male victims face,” Goldberg writes. The expectation—reinforced by skits like the one on SNL—that you should prove your manhood by gloating about the affair can cause “confusion and guilt over whether they are actually victims.”
Fortunately, law enforcement is slowly getting better at taking this problem seriously—likely because more women are entering law enforcement. “Law enforcement is increasingly feminized, and women are much less prone to the old attitude: ‘Oh, this is just some kid who got lucky,’ ” David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center, told Golberg. “They recognize the issues involved and they go after women who violate the statutes.”
It makes a lot of sense that an increase in women in law enforcement results in more consideration of male victims. After all, women aren’t under pressure to “prove” their manhood by yukking around about how “lucky” one is to be targeted by a sexual predator. A creep is a creep, regardless of gender.