Hot For Teacher

In an effort to fulfill every teenage boy's fantasy, Debra Lafave, a 23-year-old middle school English teacher, allegedly had multiple sexual encounters with a 14-year-old male student.

I'm not sure what to think about this case. Speaking from personal experience, I had the capacity to make adult decisions by age 13, and I suspect that many of my friends also had the ability to consent around the age of puberty. It depends on the person though - some may not be able to make these decisions until much later, and some never at all.

The fact that different people mature at different ages demonstrates just how arbitrary age of consent laws can be. While most of us feel extreme disgust and hostility towards those who would molest extremely young children--children who clearly do not have the ability to give consent--age 14 is well into the grey area, where a knee-jerk, blanket charge of rape is unwarranted.

Regarding Eugene Volokh's recent inquiry into this subject, if we are to have age of consent laws at all, these laws should be closely correlated with the age of puberty, as they are in Europe and Canada. (As the old saying goes, "If there's grass on the field, play ball.") Once teenagers are already sexually active, it doesn't make much sense to prohibit them from sleeping with whom they want to sleep with. True, some teenagers could still be taken advantage of by adults even after they have sexually matured, but it seems to me that the burden of proof should be on the accuser and not the accused.

Interestingly, Debra Lafave was allegedly "turned on by the fact that having sexual relations with him was not allowed." So perhaps this is a case of perverse consequences (pun intended): were it not for the age of consent laws prohibiting sex with 14-year-olds, Lafave may not have bitten from the forbidden fruit. (Notice that this is the same argument often used against drug laws.)

The only thing I find potentially troubling with this case is the possible abuse of power. It is not clear from the news reports whether the male "victim" was a student in Lafave's classes, but even if he wasn't, most parents probably don't want to send their children to a school where teachers are free to boink the students. Whether Lefave abused her position, I do not know, but my initial reaction is not moral outrage.

Also worth mentioning is the possible double standard: Would the situation be any different if this were a male teacher and female student? I don't see why it would, other than cultural assumptions about male power and female victimhood.

Somewhat related: I've heard people say that there can be no such thing as rape of a male by a female, at least in terms of traditional intercourse, because male sexual arousal is a sufficient sign of consent. There was a recent Law & Order episode about this issue - a group of women handcuffed a male stripper and had sex with him. They claimed in their defense that it couldn't be rape because he would not have remained sexually aroused if he had not consented.

The prosecutors responded by arguing that in many cases when women are raped by men, the women experience sexual pleasure even though they strongly refuse and experience psychological and emotional pain as a result. The fact that the body can involuntarily respond to physical sexual stimuli even when the mind rejects these advances is a source of guilt for many rape victims, both male and female.

And while I'm on a tangent, this claim reminds me of one of the oft repeated defenses given in support of taxation: Taxation isn't theft because the taxpayer benefits from government services like roads, national defense, public transportation, police, fire, etc. Yet the fact that someone may enjoy some amount of benefit when coercion is used against them does not itself justify that coercion. A man or women who is raped didn't ask to be raped, even if some small aspect of that rape was physically--albeit involuntarily--enjoyable, just as a taxpayer didn't ask to have his property seized from him, even if some portion of the stolen goods is used for his benefit.

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Charging this as "rape" is

Charging this as "rape" is certainly unwarrated, according to the text in the report. The student clearly consented to the sexual encounters. The charges finally levelled were "lewd and lascivious battery" and "lewd and lascivious exhibition." ">Both are 2nd degree felonies.

I'm on the "consent side" of this argument. People cannot fully learn unless they experience and acquire knowledge from mistakes. Certainly parents can set their own rules and the school as well, but this is a HUGE punishment for an attractive woman who engaged in mutual sexual relations with a male student. Reading that police report made me sick not because of the acts but because of the prying nature of the inquiry into personal lives.

She broke her wedding vows, no doubt.

Ack, the link got eaten.

Ack, the link got eaten. It's here.

My first thought was "where

My first thought was "where was someone like this woman when I was 14?"

That was also most of my subsequent thoughts on the matter...

Interesting thoughts. I'm

Interesting thoughts. I'm not sure if I would draw the line at puberty ("if there's grass on the field..."). I think that this still may be harmful to the young teen. However, it's not this modern post 60s, sexually libertated era that has suggested that line. The Ancient Jews were the first in Western culture to draw it a LONG time ago. And since then, even in the good old days of conservative morality, 13-year-olds have been able to marry adults. In the modern, post 60s, era the push has been for the age of consent to go UP, not down.

Also, the religious right has been on this kick of slandering gay people with wanting to have sex with "children." Virtually all of the incidences that I've investigated involve teens well past the puberty and often the age of consent. But those teens are almost always referred to by the religious right as "children."

For instance, here's a passage from CWFA:

"Lenning noted in her letter that Jennings had failed to report an older man?s seduction of a 16-year-old boy into sexual acts after the youth came to Jennings for guidance in 1988 over emotional problems...'Jennings? refusal to report the sexual abuse by an older man of a student who came to him for help was a violation of the Massachusetts child-abuse reporting law, for which Jennings could have been prosecuted,' said Jan LaRue, CWA?s chief counsel. 'The fact that the statute of limitations has run out on the crime is no excuse for the NEA to honor a man who covered up the crime of a fellow homosexual with total disregard for the child."

Notice how a 16-year old -- a biological adult, well past the age of consent in most states -- is continually referred to as a "boy" and a "child."

But Jerry Lee Lewis marrying his 13 year old cousing (while he's over 18 himself) in the heydey of social conservatism in the South...that's not abuse.

I'm not convinced the line

I'm not convinced the line should be drawn at puberty either, but wherever it's drawn, it won't please everybody. Regarding this case, 14 seems a little young to me to consent. But I'm fairly socially conservative in my personal life, so perhaps I'm biased.

I agree with Micha that the

I agree with Micha that the line should be drawn at puberty. In our post-modern era, where children are kept in confinement until they are 18, we tend to think of anyone under 18 as still a child. However, throughout history, puberty marked the start of adulthood. There was no such thing as adolescence. If we treated teenagers like adults and allowed them to make their own choices, instead of herding them into indoctrination centers - excuse me, schools - no doubt they would be learning more personal responsibility and the ability to make better choices for themselves.

I also agree with Jay's

I also agree with Jay's comment above. That teacher is hot.

I would have done the same thing the 14 yr. old did if I ever had an opportunity like that present itself in H.S.

I cannot help but think that

I cannot help but think that if it were one of my daughters at age 14, and a male teacher had a sexual relationship with one of them -- I would consider the bastard a pedophile[or what is the correct term when they prefer them at puberty?]

I can't bring myself to think if I had a son that it would be okay for him at 14 just because he's a boy.

I do agree that there have been cases that should have been looked at more individually, as rape has been too harsh a sentence imo, as well as forever being labeled a sexual predator. I'm speaking of consensual sex between possibly a 16 or 17 year old and an 18-20 year old.

Excellent analogy to

Excellent analogy to taxation arguments. Just because I might claim a meager refund on April 15th, doesn't mean I can't claim they're raping most of us.

"The fact that different

"The fact that different people mature at different ages demonstrates just how arbitrary age of consent laws can be."

Don't you think consent itself is an arbitrary standard to apply, Micha?

Who the fuck would just tell

Who the fuck would just tell on a teacher that hot?! She can rape me anytime!