The Conjugal Classroom

| Sat Nov. 3, 2007 8:11 AM PDT

The latest female teacher caught boffing her young male student got busted in Mexico. Even women-haters take the weekend off, but you can bet that come Monday, the right wing blogosphere will be afire 'proving' that feminism = female monsters and that female criminals benefit from a double standard in public reaction and come sentence time.

These are crimes, to be sure, whatever the perp's gender but there's no arguing that the grown woman-paperboy thing is qualitatively different from the football coach abusing youngsters in his care. According to William Saletan at Slate, both should be punished but female abusers are rightfully punished less severely and regarded with less animus:

Move over, Mrs. Robinson. The new public enemy is the bespectacled babe who teaches our kids math in the classroom and sex in the parking lot. Dozens of female teachers have been caught with male students in recent years, and the airwaves are full of outrage that we're letting them off the hook. On cable news, phrases like "double standard" and "slap on the wrist" are poured like pious gravy over photos of the pedagogue-pedophile-pet of the month. "Why is it when a man rapes a little girl, he goes to jail," CNN's Nancy Grace complains, "but when a woman rapes a boy, she had a breakdown?"
I hate to change the subject from sex back to math, but this frenzy—I'm trying hard not to call it hysteria—reeks of overexcitement. Sex offenses by women aren't increasing. Female offenders are going to jail. And while their sentences are, on average, shorter than sentences given to male offenders, the main reason is that their crimes are objectively less vile. By ignoring this difference, we're replacing the old double standard with a new one.

The data are startling; women who having sex with young boys are wrong and deserve punishment, just not as much as the average, and far more numerous, male abuser. Now if we could just figure out why a love of children can lead to sex and how to stop it.

Get Mother Jones by Email - Free. Like what you're reading? Get the best of MoJo three times a week.