Gender Bias in Statutory Rape

When I was in my senior year of high school, my physics teacher was arrested for sexual assault. Turned out he had been having sex with a 17-year old student and sexting a few more. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison and 10 years probation.

This is Molly Shattuck. She was a cheerleader for the Baltimore Ravens and now does fitness or something. She's 47 years old. On Friday she received her sentence after pleading guilty to statutory rape of a 15 year old boy. Statutory rape is sexual activity where one person is below the age of consent. It is illegal. In Delaware, the age of consent is 16, but statutory rape also applies when the victim is under 18 if the perpetrator is over 30. A minor cannot consent to sex. This should not surprise anyone.

Shattuck faced a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. The victim's parents pressed for jail time. His mom argued, "Ms. Shattuck is a criminal. She stole his innocence. He is changed," and "any adult who rapes a child deserves to be in prison." The impact has been undeniably devastating on the family.

But Shattuck didn't get the maximum. Instead, she was sentenced to 48 weekends in jail, which she will serve over the next 2 years. So, every other weekend she just has to visit a Violation of Probation Center. The DA didn't want to "punish her three kids." She gets to still raise her son after assaulting his friend. Her ex-husband, the children's father is one of the wealthiest men in America, but apparently being raised by your father is worse than being raised by a rapist and pedophile.

Every single article I've found about this has mentioned her crying. She "spoke through sobs" or was "incredibly tearful." Some attribute it to the breakup of her marriage, and claim she was "emotionally distraught" after her husband "abruptly left her for a younger woman." They actually separated back in 2013 and have been remarkably friendly, but whatever. Maurer (Shattuck's attorney) even claimed Shattuck and the boy were mutually interested in each other. "When you read the text messages, it almost looks like there's a romantic relationship going on between two adults," he said. Except a 15-year-old is not an adult. Rape is not romantic.

You want to know how sexism hurts? Look at this. Why are we talking about statutory rape differently when it happens to a boy? Why, when my teacher has Skype sex with my classmate, who has stated it was "exciting" and "went along with it," was it reported as "he repeatedly pressured her" and "forced her," but when a woman drove a FIFTEEN YEAR OLD to an empty parking lot, gave him a beer, and forced him to kiss her, it's described as a romantic relationship?

Why are we having a hard time labeling a woman as a pedophile or a rapist? Why is her being with her children more important than their safety, or the safety of other children in the community? Why is there an endless string of comments along the lines of "I wish she would rape me" or "What a lucky kid" or "Where where moms like that when I was a kid?"

Statutory rape wasn't even believed to be possible between a young boy and an older woman until the late 70s. It was just ignored, because people interpreted it as "sexual initiation" for the boy. This is how sexism hurts. Statutory rape involving a male victim is equally as criminal and damaging as when it occurs with a female victim. The rapist is equally as responsible and should be punished equally. We need to stop pretending that this is funny, or lucky, or ok. Because it's not.