...or so says a double-standard in our society, says usually-off-her-rocker Globe and Mail columnist Margaret Wente. Since they take down their articles after a week, and since the URL for this is ridiculously long, I'll just pick some quotes from the column.
It's about a teacher in England (a Canadian citizen, though) who only today was acquitted of indecent assault charges on two boys, brothers aged 14 and 15. The age of consent in Britain is 16.
The prosecutor, in the summation to the jury argued, "If this were a male teacher having the sexual encounters with girls in his charge without even a thought about the use of a condom to protect them, you wouldn't say, 'This must be every schoolgirl's dream.'"
Writes Wente, "As for you, dear reader, confess: You secretly believe those boys might have had an okay time, don't you?"
She goes on later, saying, "Ms. Gehring (the teacher) has been very bad and must be spanked. She needs lots and lots of therapy. But the harm she did to the boys is not equivalent to the harm an older man inflicts on girls who are genuinely unwilling. You can't just change the genders in this story, because that changes everything.
The men's-rights lobby hates to hear this sort of talk. They think it's nothing but discrimination. For every battered-wife campaign, they want one for battered husbands, and if Ms. Gehring isn't strung up by her thumbs, they'll be marching in the streets."
What do you think? Is there any truth in what she's saying, or is she full of it?
Honestly, I think that sometimes--sometimes!--stereotypes exist for a reason. While not all boys from that age group would be willing to go along with Ms. Gehring's game, it'd be a helluva lot easier to find a boy, than it would for a male teacher to find a girl, and for that reason, I think Wente isn't that far off the mark.
Still, if you read the news article that I linked to above, you'll note that Gehring got off without any punishment. That's wrong, because the law should apply evenly to everyone.
------------------ My God can beat up your God. -Weights and Measures
[This message has been edited by Dzuunmod (edited 02-05-2002).]
Well, I don't know if we can say that it's wrong she got off without punishment... was she found guilty or not guilty? If not guilty, then I'm afraid you're gonna hafta begrudgingly accept the jury's verdict. But if she was found guilty and let off with a slap on the wrists, then that is clearly wrong.
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She was found not guilty (I fixed a link up there about the story), but it seems to me that when everyone involved is pretty much admitting that this woman had sex with underage kids, that the case ought to be pretty cut and dry.
------------------ My God can beat up your God. -Weights and Measures
Don't rely on news in this case from someone you wouldn't normally trust in any other case. The woman was found not guilty and the facts seem to suggest she socialised with her pupils, perhaps a little too much with some flirtation involved but that is not a crime.
The problem was that her previous record (that was for obvious reasons of justice not revealed until after the trial) suggested that she had these problems before. No smoke without fire? Well it is not outside the realm of possibility that she acts in a strange manner wherever she went and that roused suspicions. That means she was being silly, not necessarily breaking the law. And if there wasnt enough evidence to be sure she did have sexual relations with her pupils, then she shouldnt have been convicted.
The other point is a strange age of consent law which isnt very well defined and got a bit lost the last time it was updated (homosexual consent is now 16). A slight double standard in that the age of consent for heterosexual sex, for men but not for women is 14, or at least so I am told. This can be coupled with the way statutory rape is often ignored by the already over burdened police.
She will probably find it very hard to work because her recruitment agency has disowned her. That is punishment enough in my opinion.
The correct way to judge these cases is how much persuasion (if any) was involved and how much the "victim" has been genuinely hurt. I somewhat doubt that the boys are seriously injured by the crime, if indeed it did take place. If the precise circumstances of the case were transfered to a male teacher and female student, my opinion would be the same. However, often then the situation would not be the same and the teacher may have used his/her superior position to gain sex from a student with even force or persuasion involved. Each case must be taken on its own merit.
------------------ 'An Anarchist is a Liberal with a bomb' Trotsky
quote:it seems to me that when everyone involved is pretty much admitting that this woman had sex with underage kids
At least one-third of those involved in the alleged incidents says that it did not take place. It's basically the word of two brohters against the word of the teacher. Unless there was proper evidence (which, incidentally, does not include the opinions of pretty much everyone NOT involved with the case), then it's their word against hers... which isn't that solid a basis for conviction.
Okay, I admit it, I made my first reaction without reading the article. I hold to my basic reaction, though, that the teacher really needs a refresher course on professionalism. However lonely she may have been, making her students into her best buddies was not a good idea.
Unfortunately, her career is probably ruined despite being found not guilty. School districts tend to take a dim view of that sort of thing.
I find it interesting that the prevailing view seems to be that girls can be intimidated and/or coerced into sexual activities by their teachers but boys cannot. Huh? Both boys and girls have a healthy interest and curiosity about sex, and many of the same persuasions and coercions available in a school situation would work equally well with either sex. To assume that only young women are subject to the machinations of unethical professionals seems downright sexist to me.
I thought I recalled a similar case in the U.S., and after a hunt I found it. This article is almost 4 years old. At present, I believe Mary Kay Letourneau, the teacher involved, is still in jail. I found her website interesting (if somewhat hard to navigate), but I honestly don't know what to believe, except that, given the circumstances, I sure think it would have been wiser to wait until her lover was of age before engaging in sexual activity.
[This message has been edited by Lady Moonlight (edited 02-05-2002).]
If a reasonably attractive woman had offered to have sex with me when I was fifteen It would have made my day. No, I take that back, I would have made my year. I don't know the circumstances behind what went on here. Its quite possible that she was pushing sex on them. Cornering them and basically coercing them into having sex with her. If so then that is a pretty bad situation. If, on the other hand she offered with no strings and no pressure, and they were interested, then I don't see how the experience could be anything but enjoyable. Of course the same thing could be said about a grown man and a fifteen year old girl. There are plenty of fifteen year old girls who wouldn't mind having sex with an older guy at all.
Is this right, is it wrong? In order to answer this question more information is needed. To me the question is one of maturity and informed consent and especially sexual predation. What we don't want are sexual predators taking advantage of naive people in order to satisfy their own sexual urges. On the other hand what crime is being comitted when a mature fifteen year old chooses to have sex with someone 5 or 10 years older? Since people that age commonly have sex with others in the same age group I don't really see what the issue is. I think it is sick that I live in a culture where at 20 it would be a felony crime for me to have a relationship with a girl three years younger than me. I believe that children need to be protected from pedophiles, but confusing the legal status of being a minor with the developmental stage in life of childhood is absurd. A 17 year old is no more a child than a 25 year old is an adolescent. At 20 I'm no more mature than most 17 year olds. But our society plays this make believe game where I'm an "adult" and my would be girlfriend is a "child". This is an issue for me because there are enough 17 year old freshman where I'm going to school that I have to worry and ask a girl how old she is before I do anything about asking her out or otherwise pursuing her.
Anyway I just wanted to say that the best people to ask about whether this woman did anything wrong or not are the two guys she slept with. If they're old enough to have sex with the girls they go to school with, they're old enough to have sex with her too. They know what they wanted or didn't want and can certainly tell you how they felt and feel about it now.
That's a pretty big "if". Since she's in a position of authority, it would be very difficult to feel no pressure, even if her words didn't apply any.
As a teacher/librarian myself, I have to agree with SapphireCat. Ethically, there are things that you just Don't Do, and getting into sexual situations with your students in one of them. There are numerous relationships where a sexual element simply isn't appropriate, and I happen to believe that the teacher-student relationship is one.
I hate to be the one to throw the monkey-wrench into things, but I have to admit that I really don't see any problem with a relationship between a student and a teacher, or any person and another who is, professionally at least, in a position of power above them -- so long as the acts are consensual. A lot of users seem to feel that a relationship of this kind is wrong under any circumstances.
While there is the possibility that, yes, advantage could be taken, but that's not a standard for every relationship of this nature.
Those are my thoughts, anyway.
"Conversation, like certain other portions of anatomy, works best when lubricated." -- the Marquis de Sade (Quills)
quote:Dude_who_writes tells us: I hate to be the one to throw the monkey-wrench into things, but I have to admit that I really don't see any problem with a relationship between a student and a teacher, or any person and another who is, professionally at least, in a position of power above them -- so long as the acts are consensual. [emphasis added]
The consent thing is the messy part. How do you deal with the situation in which consent is initially given, then later revoked, but that isn't understood by the person wielding power? What happens when the subordinate feels something is wrong with the situation, but doesn't dare express it for fear of retribution? What about blackmail or quid-pro-quo?
The fact that their superior can retaliate will affect the subordinate's decision-making process, most likely resulting in appearing to give consent where it normally wouldn't or shouldn't be given. Stanley Milgram did a rather famous experiment on obedience to authority, which seems to tie in here.
------------------ Sapphire Cat The world needs me, to know not everyone is the same. Artist, poet, programmer, dreamer, and crossdressing bondage kitty
A similar problem is having a romantic relationship with a subordinate at work, one for whom you are responsible for performance and salary reviews. One of the issues is what happens if that person is really good at what he/she does? If you give them a raise/bonus/promotion who amongst your coworkers or those of your partner is going to believe it was a merit reward? It's a great way to start morale problems in your organization. One must not only be fair one must be seen to be fair.
That is not to say that I never had an office romance. However it was with a person not in my line of authority nor in my department.
------------------ We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.
- Albert Einstein
[This message has been edited by Bobolink (edited 02-18-2002).]
[edited due to poor grammar]
[This message has been edited by Bobolink (edited 02-20-2002).]
To give another side of this question: When my sister was in high school, a seventeen-year-old boy began dating his math teacher, who was in her 40s. In return, he got an A in the class without doing any work or writing the exam. As soon as he graduated (i.e., as soon as she was no longer of any use to him), he dumped her, causing her a lot of trauma, since she believed he loved her.
I can't see how a relationship where one person has power over another (whether it's an employer-employee relationship, as Bobolink said, or a teacher-student relationship) can be a good idea.
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