Double Standard When It Comes to Underage Sex?

Should boys and girls be treated differently when it comes to underage sex?

In 1997, 35-year-old Mary Kay LeTourneau was arrested for having sex with her then 13-year-old student. At her trial, she was pregnant with their child.

It was the first of many highly publicized cases of teachers who had sex with their much-younger male students.

Sandra Beth Giesel, 42, had sex with her 16-year-old student. And 24-year-old Debra LaFave had sex with a 14-year-old.

Pamela Rogers, 29, who was on probation for having sex with her 13-year-old student, went to jail for then sending him a cell phone video of herself dancing erotically.

Although each of these female teachers was criminally prosecuted, many people view the women's sex crimes very differently than they view similar crimes committed by men.

Both Rogers and LaFave have fan Web sites. Their admirers write things like, "I want to go back to high school!" and "That boy is a hero … got to be the luckiest kid on earth."

One LaFave site includes a tribute video set to the Van Halen song, "Hot for Teacher."

'Different Standards'

Movies and television often portray having sex with an older woman as an exciting conquest. The Comedy Central show "South Park" shows police officers impressed that an elementary school student slept with an attractive teacher. One cop jokes to the another, "The crime is she isn't doing it with me!"

When one of ABC's "Desperate Housewives" slept with a high school student, all season the student was shown as a lucky guy, never as someone who Eva Longoria's character Gabrielle was sexually exploiting.

There are differences between men and women, but is there something about that difference that makes it less serious when a woman sleeps with a younger boy? Studies do show that most teenage boys who had sex with older women say that the sex was voluntary and the experience positive.

Certainly parents treat their boys and girls differently. According to one survey, 61 percent say there is a double standard when it comes to sex. Bob and Tara Hoffman, who live in San Diego, give their son much more freedom than their daughter.

Matthew, who is 15, gets to go out around the city with his friends and stay out late, with hardly any questions asked, while Kelsey, even though she is two years older, is grilled.

"Unfortunately, girls are more vulnerable," said Bob Hoffman. "And so we're very protective of Kelsey when she goes out there into the world."

Kelsey doesn't think it's fair. "My friends are questioned and grilled when you know, I'm not even sure if my parents even know all the people my brother hangs out with."

Tara Hoffman admits her daughter doesn't feel like this is fair. "And guess what? It's not fair," she said. "It is different standards, but she's my daughter."

Negative Consequences

"There's definitely a double standard," said child psychologist Lisa Boesky. "Parents tend to see their girls as fragile, vulnerable, more in need of protection … When it comes to their boys, there's kind of this message of, 'Be careful out there.' They may even purchase some condoms for them, or basically tell them to be safe and don't get anybody pregnant."

But this double standard is a mistake, say many researchers, because boys are vulnerable too.

Although most boys who had sex with older women said the experience was positive, those same boys are also more likely to have emotional and sexual problems later.

Page
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...