Washington Post Op-Ed Calls For Decriminalization Of Consensual Sex Between Teachers And Students

I see a lot of off the wall op-eds, typically conservatives promoting positions based upon premises which are contrary to fact, but this is one which transcends ideology. Betsy Karasik, identified as a writer and former lawyer, argues in The Washington Post that “consensual sexual activity between teachers and students should not be criminalized.”

Here is a part of the op-ed:

I’ve been a 14-year-old girl, and so have all of my female friends. When it comes to having sex on the brain, teenage boys got nothin’ on us. When I was growing up in the 1960s and ’70s, the sexual boundaries between teachers and students were much fuzzier. Throughout high school, college and law school, I knew students who had sexual relations with teachers. To the best of my knowledge, these situations were all consensual in every honest meaning of the word, even if society would like to embrace the fantasy that a high school student can’t consent to sex. Although some feelings probably got bruised, no one I knew was horribly damaged and certainly no one died.

She also asks:

If religious leaders and heads of state can’t keep their pants on, with all they have to lose, why does society expect that members of other professions can be coerced into meeting this standard?

While the system has been imperfect, religious leaders who have molested children are not being treated sympathetically under the law. We are well aware of extramarital affairs on the part of heads of state but I bet the repercussions would have been more severe if Monica Lewinsky was a 14-year-old.

I have no doubt that there are areas of the law which should be revised, but teachers having sexual relations with 14-year-old girl students is not one (especially as it is likely that the teacher realizes the age gap, even in the case of girls who could pass for 18).

Reaction, as would be expected, has been pretty negative to this op-ed. As is typical of the genre, conservative blogs have responded with a visceral response (including an erroneous claim at Newsbusters that this op-ed by someone who is not on the editorial staff somehow alters the fact that The Washington Post leans to the right). Also, as is more typical of the genre, the liberal blog Lawyers, Guns, and Money has a more thought out response to Karasik on the legal isues which is well worth reading. There is more at x0jane from a female perspective:

The fact is, a 14-year-old girl may be capable of agreeing to sex with a 49-year-old man, but she doesn’t have the emotional and mental maturity to consent.  I was 25 before I realized that every man I’d slept with as a teenager was a pedophile. It seemed to me that since I’d courted the attention, that I was fully culpable. What teenager believes she is not mentally or emotionally capable of full consent? I thought I was an adult, although when I look at the picture of myself from the time period above, I see a child.

I thought I was the exception for these men, the girl so precocious and advanced that it superseded social norms. I thought that I was “older than my chronological age.”

It never occurred to me as a young sexually active teen that the adult men I had relationships with may have been manipulating me, that they had designs and motives I couldn’t see from my limited child’s perspective.

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