I wrote this for my own journal and then discovered this community and thought it would make sense to post it here. (Please note that the title is meant to be ironic.)
Women Commit Crimes for Love, Men Are Just Monsters
One of the things that bothered me most about this sad story (aside from the violence against a child, obviously) is the way many media outlets reported it. For example, the above article reads:
Here is how that story would have been reported if the teacher had been a man and the student had been a girl:
That is how it should have been reported.
Of course, I do believe in “innocent until proven guilty,” even though the media often don’t seem to. They’re far too quick to print the names and faces of alleged criminals, probably ruining innocent people’s lives. That’s another issue for another day, though, and of course the situation is a little different when they’re actively looking for someone who has been kidnapped. My complaint here is simply with the double standard regarding sex/gender and the reporting of crimes. This is nothing new, of course, and it’s sad that it’s the second thing that came into my mind when I heard this story (the first being that I hoped the child was okay), but I think the media’s portrayal of crime has something to do with the way crimes are prosecuted with regard to, but not limited to, sex and race.
Women can be every bit as violent, cruel, devious and greedy as men, but many of the media (and others) seem to think that a female authority figure who has sex with a boy is doing it out of some sort of twisted, misplaced love, while a man who does the same is just a monster who deserves to die. The woman’s story becomes a very special Oprah episode or a Lifetime made-for-TV movie that invites us to look deep into the woman’s soul to figure out what horrible demons from her past forced her to turn to crime. The man? Who cares? Lock him up! Even with other kinds of crime—burglary, murder, prostitution, drug dealing, etc.—we often assume a woman was pushed into it by her boyfriend, husband or another man, while men are just itching to commit crimes all the time for any reason whatsoever.
CNN.com reported on the "liaison" between the teacher and student. MSNBC reported that the teacher and student were “on the run.” No, they weren’t! She was on the run, and she was taking her victim with her. Even if the boy said and thought he wanted to be there and did not resist, or even if he thought up the plan himself, a 13-year old—even the world’s most mature 13-year-old--isn’t mentally or emotionally capable of making major decisions about love, sex, relationships, or “running off” to another country. That's why 13-year olds are taken care of by parents, teachers and other authority figures who are supposed to know better. This crime has been portrayed almost as an illicit love story; if the sex roles were reversed, you can bet no one would be mentioning love, liaisons, intimacy, or running off. They'd be discussing kidnapping, rape and child abuse. The teacher is charged with several very real crimes, but this seems to be secondary in the headlines.
There are, however, a few evils that I think we should blame entirely on men: the TV show Jackass, competitive eating contests (yeah, I know, there’s a woman who competes who can stuff more hotdogs in her face than most men can, but she’s just confused), and, of course, the automatic pasta-twirling fork.
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