When Boys Are Victims

Stock photo of a teacher in classroom

There’s a story in the news about an adult teacher, 24, committing statutory rape against their 13 year old student. The teacher is a woman and the child is a boy, and that has made all the difference in public reaction. Our ageist and patriarchal rape culture is not kind to victims of any gender, but that unkindness takes different forms when a teen victim is a boy or a girl (with other genders not acknowledged at all).

When a girl accuses her male teacher of sexual misconduct, the world asks what she was wearing, how developed her body is, and whether she came on to her teacher. People doubt it happened at all, but concede that if it did, it was probably her fault.

When a boy accuses his female teacher, the world cheers. They joke. They share their hot for teacher fantasies. That a child has been made the victim of a sex crime gets pushed under the rug of horny jocularity. They concede it probably happened, and was a good thing.

Same sex abuse allegations are responded to differently still. When a boy says an adult man abused him, we’re a bit quicker to agree (but doubts plague all rape victims). If a girl says a woman hurt her, I’m not sure how we respond. It’s a rarer occurrence by far.

A woman teacher did the same to a boy in my middle school. At fourteen I knew that was sexual abuse and statutory rape, that his age was below the age of consent and therefore ANY adult sex with him was by definition a crime. But the shock jocks on the radio expressed utter confusion at her arrest. Her lawyers successfully argued their rapist client was “too pretty for jail” and by now her probation term is probably up.

I have a boy, currently ten years old. He begins middle school in the fall. He is so very young. The boy victim in this most recent case, soon to be a father by his rapist’s pregnancy, is closer to my son’s age than that teacher’s. That boy is closer in age to a kindergarten student than he is to that teacher. The age gap is so enormous it’s against the law. [Edit: the teacher had an abortion.]

To boy victims: I’m sorry this world delights in your abuse. I’m sorry everyone is saying you must have liked it. I’m sorry no space is made for your complicated feelings, which may include guilt or shame or even missing your abuser. Your abuse story matters. You matter.

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