Thursday, August 04, 2005

Just a Good Ol' Catholic School Girl

By now you've probably heard about yet another sex scandal involving a female school teacher and teenage boys.

(CBS) A female teacher at a Catholic high school in Albany, N.Y., allegedly had sex with a male student and, reports Judy Sanders of CBS affiliate WRGB-TV in Albany on The Early Show, he's not the only one with whom she's said to have had relations.

Beth Geisel, a 42-year-old Christian Brothers Academy writing instructor, mother of four and wife of a bank president, said nothing as she surrendered to face charges of raping a 16-year-old male student last May.

... The school fired Geisel after she was caught having sex with a 17-year-old CBA student in the back of a car June 10, says Sanders.

Because that student was of legal age to give consent, there were no charges filed.

Okay, so she's married to an old fart and decides she wants some hot young action. But geez, with her teenaged students?

Police point out sex with an under-aged boy is just as serious as with a girl, though its not always treated that way.

I absolutely agree with that. This woman is a sexual predator. She might not fit the stereotype of one, but that's what she is. People often say that stereotypes exist for a reason, but this is a perfect example of why we can't rely on them.

"Unfortunately," says Colonie Police Chief Steve Heider, "our society precludes a lot of young men from reporting it, because it is thought of a conquest, not a victimization."

Now I can't get Van Halen's Hot for Teacher out of my head. I realize the song isn't meant to be taken seriously and I don't wish to censor it, but I think the attitude it portrays is quite common. And that does make it harder for boys to say no to sex. While girls have to deal with the virgin/whore dichotomy, boys are taught that they should always want sex -- even if they're not ready for it.

I know I had fantasies about a 20-something male teacher when I was a senior in high school. It was hard to concentrate on his lectures because my mind kept wandering. But had he ever tried to hit on me, I would not have been ready for it. I was only ready for it in fantasy, not reality. Perhaps these boys felt the same way. The difference is that their teacher used her position to her advantage, and mine didn't.

**WARNING**: I'm about to speak frankly, and in a very un-PC way. I can see why Geisel is sexually attracted to 16 and 17 year old boys. Some of them are pretty hot. Boys (and girls) are maturing faster these days, and it is natural for us to desire them. They don't look like boys; they look like men. And I'm sorry to break it to all the fundies out there, but women actually do have sexual desires. And we often desire young men. They are hot. (Some older men are hot, too. I'm just sayin'...)

But -- and this is a **BIG** but -- Geisel is still wrong, and she is still a sexual predator. The fact that 16 year old boys are hot is not an excuse for what she did. Our hormones tell us to do lots of things that are wrong. It's our responsibility to keep it under control. I am sick of people using the excuse that it's "natural" to do something, and therefore it should be excused. Bullshit! I wouldn't let a man stalking teenage girls use that excuse.

Yet I'm not so sure it should be illegal for an adult to have sex with a 16 year old (regardless of gender). I happen to think our society infantalizes teenagers unnecessarily. They aren't children. Most 16 year olds are capable of consenting to sex in my opinion. In Iowa, the legal age is 16. So it would be perfectly legal for Geisel to move to Iowa and have sex with all the 16 year old boys she wants.

I would like to know what other people think on this one. What should be the legal age? 16, 17, or something else? I think we do need a legal age in order to protect children, but 16 seems old enough to me for both boys and girls.

Comments:
If they can be trusted to drive a 2 ton car without adult supervision they're probably old enough to decide who to have sex with. I'm much more bothered by the woman using her position of authority and power than the age issue. This is akin to a boss having sex with his/her employees, in my mind.
 
Unfortunately, age has little to do with when kids are ready. Extreme cases may run from much younger to never for both sexes. It depends on physical, mental, and emotional development, not candles-on-a-cake.

We use an age because short of "going for it", there's no way to tell, and by then, it may be too late. Sixteen for cars, eighteen for wars, twenty one for bars. Eric suggests the "driving age". For the average, that may still be too young. Eighteen may be better for sex, but should there be exceptions if there's no harm done? Yeah, I know, how do you determine that?

Another number here that causes problems is the age difference. I get grief for thirteen years between me and my wife. There's twenty-six here. Once again, it's not the number, it's "Does it work?".

Questions involving children cause me the most un-libertarian thoughts too. Part of me says it's their life, let them decide, and another part knows better. Letting parents decide can even be worse in some cases. Should we restrict some people from reproducing unless they can pass a "fitness test"?

Opinions only, not answers.
 
I'm of the opinion that children shouldn't be driving until they are 18. there is no need for them to drive any sooner and statistically they are much more likely to be involved in an accident. I suppose 18 is old enough for consent, but in the case of the children and their teacher, even if they were old enough to consent to having sex, by the fact that she has authority over the children, she is guilty of sexual abuse.
 
I can see why Geisel is sexually attracted to 16 and 17 year old boys. Some of them are pretty hot.

Tell it how it is. That's what I like about you.

I agree that there are 16-year-olds that could reasonably consent to sex but are they emotionally mature enough to handle the other implications sex has? Sex can bring many headaches with it, which is the last thing teenagers need more of these days. Adolescence can be a pretty loopy moment in life--not a good time to be making these kinds of decisions.

I really don't have a suggestion as to what the age of consent should be, though.

Oh well.
 
I'm glad to see you back posting.

You're beating a dead horse with this notion that fundamentalist Christians aren't interested in sex.

One day, when you move away to the big city, you'll be surprised to discover that the feminist left has enormous problems with sexuality, and that the ability to create a good sexual relationship has nothing to do with one's political views. An evangelical Christian is just as likely to have an exciting and fulfilling sex life as a hip, liberal living in New York City.

I think that you are extrapolating far too much from your conflict with your parents. Here's what I bet they really want: (1) they want you to stay close to them, (2) they want you to share their values, and (3) they want grandchildren.

Try to find a way to work out your differences with them without clubbing them over the head. Years from now, you'll be very happy that you did.
 
I think Eric got it right. In general 16 should be old enough to consent to sex BUT teachers should not be having sex with their students due to the power imbalances inherent in the relationship. I do have some worries about big age gaps when the kid is only a teenager, though - at a certain point you start seeing power imbalances again. I have no idea how to deal with that though, other than that the parents should be concerned if their kid is dating someone much older. I'm actually a lot more worried about kids driving than them having sex to be perfectly honest, given that the chance of getting themselves killed is a lot higher.
Stephen - you really need to stop arguing with the imaginary feminists who live in your head. Most of the feminists my age I know have no issues with sex at all (some of the Second Wave ladies are another matter, admittedly) and this feminist adores her Dad. It's not all about rebellion you know.
By the way Red, most countries in Europe set the age of consent at about 16 and it seems to work fine (it's even lower in Holland and they have one of the lowest teen pregnancy rates in the world). And it's good to have you back!
 
Here's another thought that always occurs to me when people are wringing their hands about the subject of teens and sex. How old were you when you first had sex? How old were most of your friends? In my case 15-16 seems to be about average for my peer group, and I don't see any signs of anyone being traumatised by having sex at that age. I think there's a major element of "kids these days" going on in conversations about teens and sex, with adults choosing not to remember that they did all the same things when they were younger and seem to have come out of it unscathed. The same thing happens when people talk about drugs.
 
"Most of the feminists my age I know have no issues with sex at all..."

Your response indicates that you have enormous "issues with sex."

As I said, the ability to build a good sexual relationship has nothing to do with political ideology. The fact that you think it does tells me that you have very serious "issues with sex" and that you are consumed with rebellion against daddy.

When you finally grow up, and cease to build your life around ideology, you might begin to understand.

But, you'll probably have to leave San Francisco to do that. The junior high school clique mentality you are stuck in is pretty much the norm in SF. I used to live there. I know.

Any plans to ever become an individual? Or do you plan to remain in junior high forever?
 
The fact that you assume that you can tell anything about me from one blog comment and the city I live in is very telling. Did the nasty junior high clique San Francisco people pick on you? (I'm not even from here, BTW)
I get along with my Dad just fine, thanks, and my sex life is going rather well. My husband seems to think so too. Keep up the projection, though, it's kind of amusing. Few things are funnier than watching a guy attempting to police the ideas of women he doesn't even know.
 
*snores*

You two going to say anything with substance?
 
Already did, TestSubject. See my earlier comments above. 16 seems like a good age of consent to me (and it also seems to be the de facto norm anyway), but I don't think that a teacher sleeping with their students is acceptable regardless of whether or not the kid is technically of legal age. It's an abuse of power, no matter the gender of the abuser, and the adult needs to be the responsible person in that situation.
 
I'm a little interested in the tones, here... the concern for teenagers "being emotionally ready to have sex" or not.

That's an interesting conversation, but it's not the question being asked here. Teenagers clearly have sex with one another... and is it somehow safer for a 16 year old to fumble around and have sex with a 17 year old, but not, say, with a 27 year old who knows what (s)he's doing, including how to properly employ safe-sex measures? Why does it suddenly become okay at 18, to have sex with an 80 year old, then?

The question is, is criminalizing teen-adult sex a good policy? I think that is what should be focused on, here.

I have a problem with what this teacher did because it violates a clear and obvious set of ethics involving a teacher-student relationship. She should be fired and prohibited from working again as a teacher, but I do not think she deserves jail.
 
Sorry to post anonymously, but you gotta do what you gotta do. I am male, and had sex with my boy scout leader when I was about 14. I was (and am) straight, but the fact of the matter is that early adolescent boys have a serious problem with hormones, and at that state of my life I really wasn't too picky about how I got my needs met. This may be why I don't feel like I was "molested" or "abused", even though about 99% of society would say that I was. In my mind, I was using him at least as much as he was using me, so although there was an obvious abuse of power going on, it did not strike me that way at the time, and I am not sure that it strikes me that way now.

Which is not to say that I would ever condone such behavior. I am now the father of two teen-age girls, and if I were to discover that they were in a sexual relationship with an older person, or a person in authority, I would be outraged to say the least. It's just to say that in at least one case that I know of (mine), I was apparently mature enough at 14 to make the choice.

Of course, sex is such a complicated issue. In the early 70's there was no AIDS, and in a homosexual encounter there is no possibility of pregnancy. Also, while sex can enhance and deepen a loving relationship if profound ways, that is obviously not what I was doing at 14. On the other hand, it's not obvious to me that what I did at 14 interfered with my normal sexual development later in life (bet Stephan has an opinion about that, though...). I think part of it has to do with ones attitude toward sex - in the early 70's it was just no big deal. As I got older and became more emotionally mature, it became a bigger deal, more fraught with emotional issues, and casual sex became more and more difficult (eventually impossible). Had I on the other hand been raised in an environment of "sex is a **HUGE** deal, abstinence only, blah, blah, blah," I can imagine that there might have been some serious damage done. Or maybe not. Who knows? I don't see any way to make a blanket statement about what is appropriate - it seems to be a case-by-case sort of thing.
 
I can still remember what it was like being 16, and nobody had to "teach" me to want sex. I wanted it and I wanted it right NOW, goddammit.

And I did have sex for the first time at age 16 -- with 16-year-old girl, as it happened.

And also as it happened, there was one teacher in my high school I really had the hots for. She was in her 30s at the time. Even though I wanted her, I never let her know, fearing rejection and being mindful of the taboos regarding such fraternization.

But in my dreams, ahhhhhh.

The reason I bring all this up is, every situation is unique. Only the people directly involved in a situation can know whether it's exploitive or fully consensual. And the authorities only can know, and only _should_ know, if one of them complains.

Now, I don't mean to imply that an adult having sex with a pre-pubescent child is okay. I don't believe it is because pretty much by definition, a pre-pubescent person isn't _physically_ ready for sex. In this case it _is_ reasonable to presume that if sex takes place it is manipulative and exploitative. And such children do need protection from the sick bastards out there who would prey on them.

But once a person has full physical functionality, then if they're not "emotionally ready" for sex, that's the fault of our social standards which infantilize our teenagers, and of parents who fail to teach their children how to recognize and avoid predation.
 
Students are supposed to be going to school to learn and not have sex with the teacher. It looks like the teacher is irresponsible and the student is irresponsible. If a married teacher with four kids is trying to set a bad example to her own children, she is doing a good job. When her own daughters get pregeant at an early age, all they have to say is, "Well mom did it". Teachers are there to teach. I'll bet that there is something in her contract that states that she is not supposed to have sex with the students. If there isn't, then there should be.
I am the mother of three children. I send my children to school to get an education and it's not sex education with on the job training.
I want my children to mature enought to make good educated decisions about sex and when it is appropriate. I hope they prosecute all the teachers that are having sex with their students.
I honestly think the legal age for sex should be 18. I am still old fashioned in that respect. As far as driving goes, insurance companies will tell you that boys are a high risk because they like to show off. Girls seem to do better. My oldest was almost 17 when we let her loose on the world. My middle one was 17 and a few months and my youngest is 23 and he still isn't old enough to drive. He is driving, but I won't get in the car with him. He hasn't had an accidents, but he has a mountain of tickets. I get my grey hairs from this one.
 
I think the boys like it, unlike most girls who are raped. I think boys just like it and don't consider it rape - some girls may not consider it rape either. I think it depends on what they call it - the people involved, not the law.
 
Drumgurl, I am very interested in your site. Would you mind sending me an email? I'm at groundhogday63@onwisconsin.com. Not a stalker -- no worries!

Thanks!
 
I'm glad that Anonymous posted. While in civil society definitive, if not minimal, standards of behavior must be codified, a dialogue regarding regarding the differing sexual needs of men and women is certainly in order. It naturally varies individually. Which is why the state need not be involved on a functional level.

I am not one to condone the sort of student/teacher relationship Drumgurl has posted, not by any means. But I think the sexual needs of male and female teenagers are so fantastically different -- intimacy (belonging/pregnancy versus expulsion/satisfaction, reversely -- one can wonder just how traumatised this boy is going to be. Anonymous's post illustrates this point.

I also think that our society tends to deny the real true nature of ourselves as humans: We are sexual creatures, just as a start, and it's silly to believe that we as humans are not going to begin realizing their sexual, intimate selves until they turn 18. (Just as a concrete example, I was having remarkably explicit, soap-opera fantasies at a disturbingly young age.)

It varies from teenager to teenager, of course, but it's ridiculous to some extent to even try to legislate consented behaviors. Should the state truly have a vested interest in personal, capably consented decisions?

Are 16-year-olds really so stupid? Can they not recover from their idiotic decisions without the rule of law? I know a lot people, myself included, who have somehow managed to bury/ignore/analyze/move on from their less-educated decisions.

But, like I said, having your teacher come on to a kid, regardless of gender, is, well, just not a good practice. Common sense. But when you have a female teacher and a teenage boy student, is there really a power issue? I wonder if a boy full of hormones perceives this, or if for him it's something else entirely...

Thoughts? Thank you for letting me post!

GD
 
I'm sorry, drumgurl -- make that groundhogday74@gmail.com. Thanks!
 
I always find it an odd question about whether or not teenagers are emotionally mature enough to deal with the consequences of having sex. Frankly, I don't think most adults live up to the implied standard of "mature enough" when it comes to sex. Thirty year olds can still become emotional wrecks because of sexual relationships, people over retirement age can still be consrtucting their lives in an unhealthy manner based upon emtionally traumatic events in their pasts, and people of all ages have a long way to go with regard to "safe" sex.
 
Are you guys fundies or something?

The age of consent should be whenever you can give consent. How hard is that? If the parents don't like it they can tell the kid to hit the road. I think that's more effective than using the sledgehammer of government coercion to hit people in the head when they behave inappropriately.

I think Sweden's age limit, 15, is pretty decent, but it's still arbitrary and thus wrong.
 
I agree that it is wrong for a teacher to have sex with someone who is in a dependancy situation. But isn't this a case for civil law? Just sue her for breaking the terms of her contract or something...
 
Whaa? No I don't think the leagal consenting age should be lower. Whaa? (That is a what that is so incredulous, I couldn't even pronounce the "T.")
 
But I think the sexual needs of male and female teenagers are so fantastically different

You were never a female teenager, I'm guessing.

Somebody who finds teenage boys 'hot' should not be around teenage boys as a career choice. Teachers of any age should not fuck their students of any age. The age of consent issue is kind of beside the point here.
 
In the UK the age of consent is 16, I guess that's reasonable. However I agree with those who think this should be a civil matter - fire her for breach of contract, not put her in jail.
 
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