From November 22, 2005: Getting some hands-on experience

On the John

Getting some hands on experience

Completed on November 22, 2005

So many jokes about office hours and detention and erasing the blackboards after school! Can'
So many jokes about office hours and detention and erasing the blackboards after school.

As you may have heard, a 23-year-old middle school reading teacher in Florida pled guilty this past November to having sex with one of her students, a male who was fourteen at the time. The teacher, Debra Lafave, was sentenced to three years of house arrest and seven years of probation, a sentence that has set off a controversy in the media with many pundits who consider the ruling to be “light.”

Their reasoning is simple: if the genders of the teacher and student were reversed, with the 23-year-old male teacher sleeping with the 14-year-old female student, the teacher would have been sent to prison. It’s a double standard, they say. If it’s wrong for a man, it should be wrong for a woman.

Well, yes, this is true; it is a double standard. But it’s not an unnatural double standard, one rooted in personal favoritism. This double standard simply comes from societal norms. In our society, men are viewed as sexual predators, which means that if a 14-year-old girl is sleeping with a 23-year-old man, she’s a victim. But if a 14-year-old boy is with a 23-year-old woman, he’s a conqueror. An adventurer. He’s having his sexual Bar-Mitzvah. When Alexander the Great was thirteen, he was tutored by Aristotle, and when he was sixteen he was named interim king of Macedonia while King Phillip was in Babylon. This guy was the very definition of “mature,” and yet I’d wager that even with all of his accomplishments, one of his highest aspirations was to sleep with his 23-year-old sword and shield technique teacher.

To me, the problem here is simple. Forget about the “double standard.” The real issue is the failure of teenage girls to embrace their inner-sexual predator. For so many years, women fought hard for equal rights. The right to vote, the right to fair wages, the right to pregnancy leave, and with all of that comes the right to be a sexually aggressive teenager. To take control. Boys and girls are pretty similar until they hit puberty, and then we suddenly veer off into opposite directions with the hopes that one day, some how, we’ll arrive at the same destination. Pubescent boys immediately begin a sexual treasure hunt, while pubescent girls play hide and go seek.

This is wrong. We need to teach our girls to shed their fear and timidity, to learn to take advantage of female sexual power. We need to get them out of their passive mindsets. After all, that’s what happens eventually. Every woman in America between the ages of about 17 to 23 comes to realize what weak-willed and hard-wired fools we are, and as soon as they figure it out they smile, knowing that from now on, they will be able to get pretty much anything they want. Actually, I’m glad that most teenaged girls stay away from older men. If girls were like boys in middle school, men wouldn’t get into college because the entire upper half of every senior class in America would be entirely comprised of young women who have extorted A’s from their male teachers. There’d be no stopping them.

Of course for many women, the age trend is the opposite. I don’t have any female friends my age who have slept with teenagers, yet I know four who have gone to bed with men in their late twenties or early thirties. I guess they heard so many horror stories from other women about how 14-year-olds “just don’t fulfill my needs,” they figured they’d save themselves the aggravation and head up the ladder rather than down it.

Lafave made a bad decision, (a few times over), and she deserves to be punished. Three years of house arrest and seven years probation might not sound like much, but it keeps her out of school for three years, and I’d assume that one of the terms of her probation is that she is no longer allowed to sleep with students. To me, this all sounds pretty fair. After all, let’s not just discount the fact that this was a 23-year-old with a steady job. As a 24-year-old without one, this is pretty damn impressive.

Anyway you cut it, Lafave was in the wrong. She slept with a student, she committed statutory rape, and she cheated on her husband. If those three acts had been committed by a man, yes, he would have received a much stiffer penalty. It’s a double standard, but there have always been double standards when dealing with men and women. We haven’t exactly been up in arms over the years over a woman’s right to equal wages or paid maternity leave or any other area in which women get the shaft, so let’s just nod our heads and keep things in perspective on this one. Debra Lafave has been punished. Her teaching career is kaput. And the world will continue to produce more serious yet less entertaining social problems, such as war, hunger, discrimination, and poor education.

Speaking of which, Debra Lafave can still tutor in-home, can’t she?

Copyright 2005, jm silverstein


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