Picture the following scenario:
In the cubicle farm at the office, a group of female coworkers are looking at a web page featuring news of an arrest. A local teacher has been busted for repeatedly having sex with a 14-year-old female student--in his home, in the supply closet at school, and even in his station wagon while the girl's cheerleader friend was driving them all over town.
There's a picture of the offender, too. He's a handsome guy, obviously in shape. The women gathered around the screen in the cubicle guffaw and give each other knowing glances.
"Not too shabby," says one.
"Where were those teachers when I was fourteen?" says another.
"Yeah," says a third. "They're going to fire the poor guy. That's going to cause a lot of broken hearts at that school. Imagine all those girls who didn't get their turn. They're going to beat up the little idiot who turned him in."
There's a link to another story at the bottom of the web page, and somebody follows it. It's one of those "Related News" articles, and this one gives details on another recent arrest. Another teacher arrested for having sex with students--only this one is a woman teacher, and she was caught sleeping with a 15-year-old male student.
Immediately, the mood changes.
"Look at that fuckin' perv," one of the women says.
"Yeah. They oughta just drag her out into the street and hang her from the nearest streetlight."
"Sicko. If that had been my son, I'd make sure she never gets to see her trial date."
Do you think this is far-fetched?
I was reading this article on CNN about the huge number of teachers cited for sex abuse in the last few decades. Ninety percent of the offenders are male.
Now, I've noticed an enormous double standard among male coworkers and acquaintances when it comes to female and male educators having sex with their students. The same crowd that advocates very creative and gruesome punishments for the male variety usually has a completely different attitude towards the female variety, especially when the female teacher in question is attractive.
I've debated the issue with people, both online and in real life, and it never ceases to amaze me how much of a double standard people can embrace without even recognizing it. When the Debra LaFave case was in the news, one guy told me that he'd high-five his son if he made the news for having had sex with her. When I asked him whether he'd also high-five his daughter if she made the news for screwing her English teacher, his expression darkened considerably.
"That's different," he said. "I'd kill the son-of-a-bitch myself."
One thing I didn't ask, because it hadn't entered my mind at that point, was to point out his own hypocrisy in a more daring fashion by asking him if he'd high-five his son for having sex with his attractive male gym teacher...but I believe I already know the answer to that, anyway.