I’m an avid reader of periodicals. I generally read more news in print than I do online.
The Associated Press recently decided to do a series of stories on teachers who sexually abuse their students. I was shocked at their emphasis on male teachers. Have the stories of Pamela Smart, Mary Kay LeTourneau, and Debi LaFave said nothing that did not bear repeating? While many offenders may indeed be male, it in no way diminishes the crimes of those who are female.
I decided to research the stories of the women a little more. On the surface, the horrors seem apparent enough. Smart’s case seems especially bizarre to me since the media focus was on the murder of her husband. There is fairly discussion of her methods of preying on Bill Flynn. LeTourneau had two children by her victim, and is now married to him. LaFave currently blames her actions on bipolar mood disorder.
The devastation of the familes involved were especially apparent in LeTourneau’s story. Both the children of her ex-husband and the siblings of her victim seemed thoroughly traumatized. According to the Wiki article and others:
In 2000, Fualaau’s family sued the Highline School District and the city of Des Moines, Washington for emotional suffering, lost wages, and the costs of rearing his two children, claiming the school had failed to protect him from Letourneau. The jury ruled against them and no damages were awarded.
While the city and the school may not have accountability, the impact on the family is pretty clear.
But deeper descriptions in the books Gorgeous Disaster by Owen LaFave (yep, the ex-husband) and If Loving You is Wrong by Gregg Olsen seem much more disturbing, and even chilling.
From http://www.crimerant.com/?p=92 (Owen talking about the book):
“This is about power… Sure, these women are beautiful and use that beauty to control men, but deep down I wonder how much of their self-worth, self-esteem, is hampered by being told how gorgeous they are. I wonder if you are constantly told how attractive you are when growing up if you have some kind of fear as you get older that you might lose that. You lose your beauty, you lose your power.”
LeTourneau’s father was a senator involved in a scandal with a woman who was suspected by one physician of genitally damaging her infant son. Needless to say, the details are too explicit and upsetting to mention here.
There are pervasive attitudes in society that unfortunately undermine what I would consider a proper perspective of the matter, including the following:
- Well, a male teacher having sex with an underage female student is clearly wrong. But what young guy wouldn’t want to have sex with his teacher?
- The husband must be gay or not doing his duties in bed to satisfy the woman.
- The story is really about a crime of love, not sexual abuse. It is a True Crime/True Romance sort of story. (Note: no such material has ever featured stories concerning male teachers and female studies that was actually based on real life accounts, to my knowledge.)
But I would say the story reaches much, much deeper than that. It’s not just teachers and their students. It’s moms and sons, too. I think the latter is the one that society is even MORE reluctant to discuss. One might think that moms are expected to be nuturing, caring, and loving– and all should be above emotionally or sexually raping their sons.
But some do.
(Note to Friends: does this post make more sense now?)