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May 26, 2005



Very good post and I agree with you, I do believe, 100%. Pleasure can't be considered "consent", something I know all too well since I was assaulted by someone I (embarrassing as it is to admit it) initially thought was my boyfriend crawling into bed with me. Consent is a sticky issue--for instance, can you say that someone "consented" to have sex if they do so while being deceived? That's a tough call--for instance, I find it utterly reprehensible to lie about birth control usage by poking holes in condoms, swearing you are on the pill when you're not, claiming to have a vasectomy if you don't, etc., but is it sexual assault? What about claiming you aren't HIV positive but you are and you transmit the disease? Consent is hard enough to define without conflating consent and pleasure. Sometimes I've had bad sex but I certainly consented to it, for instance.


What a horrific experience you relate, Amanda!

I like the way you put it: "Consent is hard enough to define without conflating consent and pleasure." Amen.


Obviously, now that they're both consenting adults and she's paid her debt to society, etc., etc., it's hard to come up with a good legal reason to oppose this marriage that wouldn't commit government to a fair bit more paternalism than I'm comfortable with. And there's also no point in wishing two such troubled people ill-will. So I don't actually have any quarrel with your post. But....

As you know well, adults with significant roles in the lives of children shape those children. Their interaction with them plays a role in making them who they are. I can't help but think that while your first inclination is understandable, I can't join you in finding much to celebrate in the marriage between a childhood sexual abuse survivor and his victim. And I do think that you (and I, and much of society) would have a more negative gut reaction if the gender roles were reversed. There are perhaps good reasons for this, but bad ones too.


Hugo, I see this just as you and Amanda see it. It seems that the public (or at least some significant section of them) sees it differently. If Jenelle's description of the network coverage of the story is at all correct, then there are some serious issues raised. Jenelle raised the issue this way: "I don't think people really believe that a boy can be abused, or at least that it isn't as serious as when a girl is abused."

Is there good reason for Jenelle to get this impression?


I agree with Hugo, Mary Kay Letourneau deserved prosecution even though her student experienced an orgasm. I think the key issue here is 'his age', this was not a consenting adult. She was totally irresponsible to have a relationship with a boy that age! You have to consider the consequences of your actions before you leap into a relationship with an age differnce like this one. What was she thinking?? This was a totally irresponsible act on her part and a violation of her ethical position as his teacher.


Is there good reason for Jenelle to get this impression?

I think it's totally clear that most people don't take heterosexual statuatory rape of little boys as seriously as they take heterosexual statuatory rape of little girls. It's a symptom of the double standard: a girl who has had sex is defiled, while a boy who has had (straight) sex is lucky.

I suspect that feminists, who are much more aware of and critical of the double standard, are a lot more likely than the mainstream culture to see Mary Kay Leturneau for the rapist that she is.


Stanton, here I stand shoulder-to-shoulder with my MRA friends. Little boys can be victimized every bit as much as little girls can be, even if that victimization may take place in different ways and even if, perhaps due to biology, they may be more likely to experience physical pleasure from some element of their abuse.

We do a terrible disservice when we promote myths of male invulnerabilty.


I agree with djw. I don't want an overbearing paternalistic state barging in at this point considering Vili is an adult but I worry about the effects the parents' relationship and its history will have on their/her kids. I find nothing in this so called "marriage" to be joyful about. She broke a covenant in her first marriage to start this relationship, she broke her moral/ethical obligations as a teacher and her selfish actions led to her kids losing their mother in a time when they needed them (her first marriage falling apart).

I have no doubt if the sexes were reversed, there would be no end of condemnation of the male teacher and the marriage (probably still have ET, inside edition etc. sleazing it up) or it would never happen. The guy would still be in jail, and the girl have been taught to hate her abuser. I'm tired of the whole, "oh boys aren't hurt by it, they fantasize about it anyway!". Yeah, and so do girls. Doesn't make it right for adults to take advantage of them or that they're ready for that responsibility, just because they're walking bags of hormones aka "young, dumb and full of cum".

Mr. Bad

First of all, Hugo's comment "Let me say also that my first inclination is to celebrate whenever two people (especially two who already have children together) choose to make a lifetime commitment to each other." doesn't square with his record re. his Pluss commentary. In that case, he certainly was not "celebrating" her choice to pair up with him, therefore Hugo that statement is quite hypocritical.

Next, as hard as it might be for some to believe, having an erection is not always a "choice" (i.e., men cannot always control/choose when and when not to have an erection). Indeed, men often get erections when they are the victims of violent physical and mental trauma (e.g., severe car wrecks, torture, etc.), and ejaculation is similar. With the proper stimulation, whether or not it is voluntary, enjoyable, etc., in healthy, properly-functioning males ejaculation is inevitable. One sees this e.g., on farms when steers are captured, restrained and stimulated (electrically and otherwise) to collect sperm for use in artificial insemination of cows; the steers are most definitely not enjoying the experience. Therefore your presumption that "he experienced considerable physical pleasure" is false (Hugo, you're a historian and women's studies wonk, so leave the anatomy and physiology to those of us who study it for a living.).

Also, consider the tremendous power differential between the two, not just when he was 12 and she was ~35, but continuing thereafter. Feminists have argued that no reasonable, legitimate consent can ever be given under such circumstances. That makes this a clear case of multiple rape; she should be in jail for decades, not years.

Thus, I think that not only Hugo's response, but the response of society in general, is profoundly hypocritical. Like Jenell et al., I think that if the sexes were reversed there would be a much different reaction, and the adult male would likely be enjoying decades of the much-touted "male privilege" we all hear about while looking at the outside world through the bars of his prison cell. That is, if he survived prison, which is unlikely for men who sexually abuse children (aka pedophiles).


Mr. Bad, if you're interested in comparing adolescent boys to steers, we really have no common ground for further discussion. Stanton ("I see this just as you and Amanda see it") is clearly a reasonable and thoughtful representative of MRAs, you, I'm afraid, aren't.

When and if Professor Pluss marries his fiancee, I will indeed celebrate that. A marriage is a cause for celebration, but it doesn't mean that the circumstances which led to that relationship are always worth celebrating.

Mr. Bad

Oh, and I forgot to add this, but FP beat me to it, so I'll just say that I agree 100% with him/her re. the profound betrayal that LaTourneau perped on her first family. There should be no end to the shame that society heaps on her for that, let alone her exploitation, rape and abuse of Fualaau.

Mr. Bad

Oh please Hugo, that's ridiculous. I was clearly referring to mammalian physiological response to make the point that not all erections and ejaculations are "pleasureable." Stop trying to hide behind some lame Strawman.


Mr. Bad:

There are ways to make your points, some of which are quite important, without charges of hypocrisy and ignorance. You lose credibility and audience when you constantly express in tones that are "sneering."


Mr. Bad

Hugo said: "When and if Professor Pluss marries his fiancee, I will indeed celebrate that. A marriage is a cause for celebration, but it doesn't mean that the circumstances which led to that relationship are always worth celebrating."

So Hugo, would it make it better in your mind if Pluss' fiancee was 25 years younger than him, and he exploited and raped her before he married her, just like LaTourneau did?

Mr. Bad


You're correct, of course. Sorry to one and all. However, the blatant hypocrasy, sexism and female chauvanism I encounter around places like this gets on my nerves.


I think (and I'm mildly shocked I'm saying this) Mr. Bad isn't exactly being treated fairly in this particular conversation. I strongly suspect his point about the physiology of erections is irrelevent in this particular case (that is, I suspect that MKL's manipulations of the situation had the 12 year old playing the role of willing participant), but doesn't seem out of the bounds of possibility. The commentary on steers, I thought, was illustrative in a much more limited sense than to be taken as an allegory the way Hugo took it.


Sally: Thank you for your input. I confess that I expected a certain amount of acceptance of this double-standard from the feminist camp, or else outright denial that a double standard disadvantaging males could exist in our society. You have demonstrated otherwise, and I thank you.

Hugo: I'm glad to be on the same side with you on an issue! Do I understand, then, that you would support an initiative put forward by MRAs to require equal treatment under law for male and female perpetrators? I believe that finding some common causes to support could be very healing.

Mr.Bad: Persons who disagree with you do not have to be your enemies. It is not helpful to assume that they are. For example, there is no need to jump straight to accusations of hypocrisy when you detect an inconsistency. Perhaps it can be clarified, as in this case, but if not, then by remaining civil, you have an opening for making a case that will actually be HEARD. I happen to agree with you most of the time, but often I wince at the tone you take. I guess I have hopes that fora such as these can serve to build bridges, rather than simply provide a place for debate. Does any of this make sense to you?


An interesting point came up hos mig: is the distinction between boys vs. girls, or between penetrators and penetratees? Or is it more about the gender of the perpetrator? We don't have much trouble condemning NAMBLA, after all.


Mr.Bad: I see that I was not the only one to address this, and you have answered. Still, Hugo made it clear how he feels about rapists, male and female. I don't get why you would ask if Hugo would think adding rape and a greater age disparity would improve matters.


One sees this e.g., on farms when steers are captured, restrained and stimulated (electrically and otherwise) to collect sperm for use in artificial insemination of cows; the steers are most definitely not enjoying the experience.

Uhm, Mr. Bad? If you can manage to collect sperm from a steer, would you mind letting me in on the secret? I could make LOTS of money with that one. Scientists might be interested in the technique, too.

Now, as to the couple being discussed, it is my hope that they are not in an abusive situation, but there is no way that any of us can determine that. That being said, if she's turned her back on her older children, I've opinions that don't sit well with my faith. Having helped two of our four children through severe abandonment issues, I have quite a bit of difficulty dealing with parents who abandon their children. Being a mother, I have even more difficulty when the abandoning parent is a mother, especially when three of our four children were abandoned by their mothers.


yami: Perhaps you are on to something. If you want to see a royal double standard at work, think about the celebrated Vagina Monologues, where Ms. Entsler relates the story (true story, she once insisted) about "The Little Coochie Snorcher That Could". It's the story of a rape, similar in many respects to the rape that is the topic here. An older woman took a thirteen-year-old girl into her house, convincing the girl's mother that it was a harmless sleepover. But that night, she plied the little girl with alcohol, and seduced her. When the girl's mother called to check on her, she was out of breath from the intensity of the sexual activity. "Why are you breathing hard?" the mother asked. "We're exercising," the little girl responded. And at every performance, the audience laughs with amusement.

Now imagine the same audience, viewing an identical scene in every respect, except the two persons are a priest and a thirteen-year-old altar boy. Not so amusing now, right? Well, wake up people: RAPE IS NEVER AMUSING! And these double standards need to go. But it won't happen in this case. VM is a sacred cow, and the rape is blessed by millions.


Well, Caitriona, I spent much of my childhood on a northern California ranch. It embarrasses me (and should embarrass others too) that we didn't catch the distinction between steers and bulls! Having sat through more than one castration myself (and having watched as my stepgrandfather did the cutting), I (and a certain someone else) ought to be clearer. Our bad.

In his comment above, Stanton has begun to bring in cows. I sense a trend.

Can we all agree to leave animal husbandry out of this thread?

Oh, and as far as Letourneau's family is concerned, the article I link above says:

"Letourneau's teenage daughter, Mary Claire, from her earlier marriage, was maid of honor...."

That tells us that some kind of healing has likely taken place.

Mr. Bad

stanton asked: "Mr.Bad: I see that I was not the only one to address this, and you have answered. Still, Hugo made it clear how he feels about rapists, male and female. I don't get why you would ask if Hugo would think adding rape and a greater age disparity would improve matters."

Because, stanton, in Hugo's original post re. the Pluss case, his issue was about the age difference between the two (as witnessed in his comment that he hoped she was of "non-traditional age" or something like that), and in that case both people are adults. In this case, age is one issue, along with exploitation, abuse and statutory rape. Therefore, if Hugo is truly an egalitarian, if we made the cases much more similar (via adding exploitation, abuse and statutory rape to the Pluss case), then I would think that Hugo would soften his view of the Pluss case. Unless of course the Pluss case wasn't really about age and the power imbalance that goes with it, but about something else that was unstated in the thread.

There is no evidence or even rumor (that I know of) re. rape in the Pluss case, yet Hugo remains much harsher towards Pluss than he does LaTourneau. I think that, plain and simple, this is due to (biting my tongue, trying to be nice) bias based on the gender differences between the two cases. And Hugo seems to not be sticking to his stated principles vis-a-vis rape because he is apparently willing to accept - or at least forgive - rape when a woman perps it on a boy, (who was a minor no less) and move on to "celebrating their lifetime committment to each other." I see a double standard there. He seems to want to rationalize it by assuming that the boy "enjoyed" it (which as I tried to point out, is not a valid assuption if you're basing it on the simple fact that he ejaculated), but the same argument was used against female rape victims back before we got serious about prosecuting rapists. Defense attorneys in those cases argued that the woman dressed provocatively, led the guy on, probably enjoyed it, and therefore was "asking for it." I see Hugo making very similar arguments here and I'm not buying them.

And again, I apologize to Hugo et al. for being so harsh, but this really seems to be an unfair case of double standards.

Finally, Caitriona (Mr. Bad blushing bright red): I guess I meant a bull, right? Kinda like taking sperm from a gelding, eh? I admit it, I'm no rancher, but my point wasn't semantics, it was male mammalian physiology.


Hugo, I was wondering just what kind of ranching your family did when you didn't catch that. ;-)

I'm in the middle of reading an article I pulled up after I read your post. It gives some interesting background to the story. Haven't gotten as far as the wedding yet.


Her daughter was maid of honor? Yes, I suppose that would imply some healing. And we don't know the entire story, I suppose. It's possible that there was abuse in the family, and the children support her departure, even if the relationship to which she fled was a bit weird. None of this excuses the rape, of course, no matter what the unknown facts are.

And my bovine reference was illustrative of an attitude, and had no animal husbandry aspect at all - but I will honor your request to abandon it for now.

I understand the topic to be "societal attitudes toward rape victims" and it was extended to include rape perpetrators. Other than the bull 'stuff', I believe things are pretty well on-topic.

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