I just read the most disturbing article. A female primary school teacher who tried to have sex with her 10-year-old student walks free of jail, with her name on the sex offender list for eight years and a community correction order.
The news is deeply disturbing for any right thinking person, I’m sure of it. Especially because, as the victims father so aptly put it, ‘if it was a 46-year-old man and a 10-year-old girl… it would most likely be a different outcome’.
Such a punishment doesn’t demonstrate any level of gender equality. I’m not for a second blaming society on what happened to this poor child, but I am holding it responsible for the punishment of his teacher- who tattooed his name to her chest with an infinity symbol.
While our society continues to undermine the agency of women, this goes further than to handicap all the decent, smart and worthy women we know. It enables those wrongdoers who are deserving of retribution to walk away largely unscathed. If you read, watched or listened to this story and thought it an example of gender equality working in the favor of women, I beg you to keep reading.
Not only is that statement linguistically illegitimate- if you are the victim of inequality you are deemed inferior and therefore this can only work against your favor- but it fails to recognise that women can be threatening.
If more value was placed in the power and agency of women, maybe the severity of this crime would have been brought to justice in a more deserving way.
If you’re too consumed in the facts of that situation, I’ll give you another example: the elevator. Unless you’ve been living under a cactus and didn’t catch wind of the Solange Knowles attack on brother-in-law Jay-Z in the elevator of an American hotel earlier this year, you’ll have noticed all the jokes and memes created in the aftermath of the leaked CCTV footage. While no parties appeared physically injured as a result of Solange’s attack, the incident was still written off by many as laughable. Why? Nobody would be joking about, or trying to justify (by considering what Jay must have done to ‘deserve’) this situation if it were reversed.
It is not funny when women are violent and it is not harmless when women are predators. These are awful crimes against humanity and we all need to recognise that in brushing these incidents off, we aren’t making it any easier to be female than male. We’re undermining their ability to cause damage. We’re doing the opposite and it isn’t good for anyone.