“Seduced by your teacher at 16 thereby robbing of your childhood, oh yeah that’s surely worth 10 million…”
—Drew Curtis’ Fark, satirical news aggregation site, commenting on a mother’s 10 million dollar lawsuit against Brooklyn and the teacher who had repeated sex with the mother’s 16-year-old son, whom she was supposed to be tutoring.
Let me begin by saying that Fark is one of my favorite sites. It is consistently irreverent and funny, and its news links have inspired some of the most interesting exchanges on Ethics Alarms. Let me also say that I understand that the point of the site is to make snarky, often irreverent, sometimes obscene and intentionally outrageous tongue-in-cheek comments about news stories trivial, major and odd, and that for the most part, it accomplishes its mission with wit and good humor.
This comment, however, is wrong, unethical, because whatever value it has as humor is outweighed by the harmful attitude it reinforces. Whether it is the sentimental, , “Summer of 42″ myth of the beautiful right-of passage of a teen-aged boy with the help of a loving, lovely, adult woman, or the macho “All right–I sure would have loved to have had a roll in the sack with MY hot high school teacher!” reaction of the locker room crowd, the idea that an adult teacher seducing and having sexual relations with a minor student is anything but sexual assault, rape, and a dastardly breach of trust, position and power does affirmative and continuing harm. The currency and resiliency of this enabling attitude (read the comments to any online news story about a female teacher prosecuted for having sex with a student) emboldens sexual predators in the schools, reinforces an indefensible double standard ( a male teacher who has sex with a female student is an unequivocal villain, but a boy being raped by a female teacher is a lucky stiff) ) and worst of all, makes student victims more vulnerable.
The cultural assumption that a boy who is seduced by a teacher has been given some kind of gift is in the same category as the claim that women who are raped secretly “want it.” It is important that this theme be rejected, which means that websites like Fark shouldn’t reinforce it even in jest, because the jest does reinforce it. Hitting communities, schools and teachers with tough jury verdicts is an essential part of eliminating this far too common crime in our schools. Ten million dollars in damages properly states how wrong and intolerable the conduct is, and like all forms of rape, it is nothing to laugh at.
Source, Graphic: Daily Mail
(Again, thanks to Jeff Field for catching a typo!)