Monday, April 13, 2015

"This story has a creepy headline and is missing the word 'rape'"

A writer I follow on Twitter, Irin Carmon, tweeted this recently regarding the new People Magazine profile of Mary Kay Letourneau, a former schoolteacher who was (twice!) convicted and served jail time for statutory rape for sexually assaulting one of her male students, first when he was 13 years old and again when he was 14 or 15. She became pregnant both times and now has two daughters with him.

I find it extremely discomforting that, as Carmon points out, the People story never uses the word "rape" or even "assault," despite the fact that the law and common knowledge are clear that a child of 13 is not capable of consenting to sex, especially with a 34 year old adult and really especially with an adult who holds a position of authority over him — she was his sixth grade teacher. And yet, People's article sounds like it describes an enduring romance, a forbidden love.

And then, this morning, the Daily Beast ran this story with a caption on Facebook asking if Letourneau should be given "a second chance."

The fact that the media find it at all appropriate to describe her story this way astounds me.

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