William Matheson (nova_one) wrote,
William Matheson
nova_one

Re: "The sex offender no one suspects"

A letter I wrote to Maclean's, regarding a report on female teacher sexual transgressors:

Anne Kingston’s thesis, that the treatment of female teachers who become sexually involved with their male students reflects legal and cultural double standards, is borne out, but I hope that we don’t solve this double standard by making female teacher offenders and their (sometimes-unwilling-to-be) victims as miserable as their male counterparts and theirs.

Given the extreme consequences we mete out to sexual transgressors, we must more than ever before reflect on how we know that our outlawed sexualities are innately harmful - that is, damaging by their nature, beyond their violent, life-destroying extrinsic consequences. The exacerbating effects of the secrecy and isolation necessary in these teacher-student relationships also merits analysis. It is akin to how getting gunned down by the mob would have been an attendant risk of trading in alcohol during Prohibition.

Psychology has before failed to test assumptions based on social norms, with tragic results. Only in 1973 did the American Psychiatric Association declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder. Furthermore, mandating the status of victim on people who don’t want it is inhumane. There’s also something sinister about insisting that someone is hurt in an invisible way and might not even know it. It should be regarded as skeptically as we would Recovered-Memory Therapy and Facilitated Communication.

Robert Shoop’s mechanisms for the alleged damage could have been used to defend prohibiting premarital sex. He’s a specialist in education law, not a scientist or even a psychologist. The ‘damage’ from doing the inappropriate thing is an increased propensity to do the inappropriate thing. Similarly, if someone takes me jogging, and I enjoy it, I have an increased propensity to jog. And I might have difficulty settling for walking anymore – why walk when I can jog? But jogging, fortunately, isn’t illegal.

William Matheson
Sherbrooke NS

* * *

Dear Mr. Matheson,
Thank you for your letter.

It will be considered for publication, but final decisions are not made until the final moments of the magazine's production, and no letter's inclusion can be guaranteed. If you do not want it considered for publication, let us know immediately.

Meanwhile, it has been forwarded to the author of the article, who will appreciate the feedback.

All the best,
Maclean's


* * *

I give this a much, much longer treatment in a formal blog post: "Mandatory Victimhood: In light of female teacher transgressors, let’s examine our assumptions". Writing this letter was an opportunity to distill my message into 300 words or less fewer.
Tags: law, letters, sex, sexuality
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