Reactions to former Webb City teacher charged for having sex with a student show gender judging
The accusations against a former Webb City teacher of having sex with a student triggered numerous Facebook posts on Wednesday. But the nature of the public’s comments in cases like this, regardless of the victim’s age, often hinge on whether the accused is male or female.
Facebook commenters show surprise when a female teacher is charged with having sex with a student.
“People are so quick to judge.” “She’s married and has children.” “She doesn’t seem like that type of person.” Mental health counselors say reactions to a woman accused of a sex crime versus a man often differ because of stereotypes.
“Men are seen as the aggressors and the women as the victim, so sometimes the idea of the age difference or whatever kind of gets thrown out of the window,” says Deanna Street of Counseling Associates of the Four States.
Talking to people in downtown Joplin many admit gender judging exists.
Stephanie Ruckman says women are less impulsive.
“I get surprised when women do (get charged with sex crimes) because women think more than men,” Ruckman told us. “Honestly! We think into things more than men do.”
“Women, you know, they’re considered more the delicate type, that they don’t do stuff that men do,” says Judy Tune. “They look at men more as predators.”
Combine that with a stud stereotype image of males that also came out in Facebook comments:
“A high school males dream. Who’s the victim here?”
“I think, unfortunately, you get the almost like a cheerleader type response from other peers that, that was really cool,” says the counselor, Street. “‘Way to go!’ Really not that acknowledgement that this is not ok.”Counselors says society’s social mores help blur the lines as to how people react to such incidents. In fact, sometimes students don’t consider themselves victims.
“Sometimes they don’t get till much later that it was an abuse – it was a manipulation – that lines were crossed and that it wasn’t their fault or that it wasn’t right,” says Street.
Some commented about the student’s age of 18, but to the law, counselors and others, age is irrelevant when boundaries are broken.
“The bottom line is that any person in power of position… they need to take responsibility,” says Street.
“I think they’re more disgusted when men do it,” says Ruckman. “But it’s disgusting either way. It’s violating, very violating to kids.”
“Abuse is abuse is abuse is abuse,” says church pastor Cliff Mansley. “It doesn’t matter whether it’s a man or a woman.”