I was recently interviewed by Examiner.com‘s Michele Gwynn about a topic that really, really, REALLY riles me up – predatory women teachers and underage, young men survivors.
This *topic* and the apparently growing trend troubles me to no end. It also hits on so many dimensions of social justice inequalities. These include (but are not limited to) power differentials between teachers and students, sexual exploitation, sexism and our cultural inability to see women as predators, racism and our cultural inability to see white women as predators, and all kinds of arcane ideas about masculinity, specifically heterosexual masculinities as they’re experienced by adolescent men.
Here’s a snippet:
[Tibbals] states, when a teacher accepts a contract to teach, they accept all the rules that go with it which includes not dating students, not taking advantage of the power they have as the instructor, as the adult. Teachers are responsible for more than a student’s education. They are responsible for their safety during the time that student is in their custody. Violating that responsibility is directly causing harm to that student. (here)
Check out “Young male students and predatory female teachers, where’s the outrage?” in full right –> here
Point of clarification: I feel that the story I told about two former students did not come clear in the published piece…
Re a class discussion about Paul Walker immediately following his death, one student stated during the course of the conversation: “Who cares, he was so beautiful…” re Walker’s romantic and presumably sexual relationship with a 16 year old woman, which began when he was 33.
Soon after, students were presented with a final exam prompt that (among other things) asked them to critique three topics we had covered during the semester within the context of their perspectives on gender and sexualities. A second student wrote a deeply personal essay about her experiences as a teen dating a man in his mid-20s. She related feeling everything was great at the time but came to realize years later that she had been taken advantage of. She also struggled with feelings of betrayal re her own immediate family, all of whom had been supportive of the relationship when it was occurring.
Further, here’s an interesting list of women teacher-predators through the ages… what patterns do you see?
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2 thoughts on “Racism, sexism, & power – interview/commentary on predatory women teachers (5/5/14)”
This is a topic that’s bothered me for years. I recall sitting around with some male friends when we were all college students (way back in the ’70s), and we somehow found ourselves discussing rape…specifically whether or not men could be raped. I was the only one of us who believed that such a thing was even possible. The reason: a woman could not possibly force a man to have sex against his will.
I tried to make my point by positing an extreme scenario where one of their loved ones was being threatened with death if they refused to have sex with a female rapist. The guys maintained that sex wouldn’t happen, because they wouldn’t be able to have an erection. I pointed out that I believe that assumption to be false, but didn’t belabor the point. So I asked, “what if you were being forced to perform oral sex on her?” This resulted in a bit of hesitation, but they still maintained that a man could not be raped by a woman. I’ve never had this discussion with any women.
I think this points out several issues that contribute to our blindness regarding female predators and female on male rape. The first is that men, and perhaps women, have difficulty believing OR ADMITTING that such things might exist. A second issue is the belief that physical signs of sexual arousal…erection and/or ejaculation for men, and lubrication and/or orgasm for women…somehow constitute proof of consent, even though these responses are nothing more than reflexes. Finally, there is a strong issue with the common narrow definition of rape and sexual assault in terms of forced coitus. Many people, both male and female, clearly don’t think of forced fellatio as an assault.
@Kevin – you hit on so many hugely significant issues in your final paragraph… The idea that physical signs of sexual arousal somehow constitute proof of consent, especially in terms of men being assaulted by women (or other men), contributes significantly to our difficulties believing/admitting such things actually even exist. Any guy who’s ever been 12 – 16 years old will tell you that sometimes boners just happen… yet even that tiny little fact seems invisible within existing rhetoric about this topic. As a society, we have so much work to do in terms of unpacking masculinities and their intimate connection (but not 1:1 correlation) to physical bodies before we can ever truly “get” this issue…
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