When I was in high school, and I’m fairly sure I’m remembering this correctly, a teacher was dating a student. She wasn’t his student, and she was a senior, and I don’t think their relationship was a deep, dark secret, although they were discreet. I’m also fairly sure they married shortly after graduation, so I have to assume her parents knew. A little Googling reveals that he was employed by the district for many years, and may well still be. He was a rookie then, so let’s say he was…23, 24? And she was 18, maybe 17. That’s an age gap that wouldn’t turn a head if they were a few years older, or if this happened a few years earlier. To this day, I have no idea how it slid past the administration, but maybe her parents approved, and – hell, I don’t know.
But even then, I think it was understood that the teacher wasn’t a child molester. (It might have been a little creepy, but they did get married, after all.) The problem with people like Dennis Hastert isn’t that he’s a molester, but that he abused a power relationship, that he imposed himself sexually upon someone in a subordinate position. It’s about consent, and when it’s appropriate to even ask for it. But a 17-year-old is at least physically an adult.
I believe the term for this is not pedophilia, but ephebophilia, describing a sexual attraction to adolescents. A while back I was complaining about the May-December – no, March-December – sexual relationships that turned up in Jim Harrison’s later fiction, between a 60-something man and a 15-year-old girl. The character says he thinks 15 is the cutoff, a thought I find pretty fucking gross, and still do. But there has to be a cutoff somewhere. Arbitrarily, we set ages of consent or legal majority. A 17-year-old might legally be a child, but they’re not.
If you’ve had one in the house, you know what a maddening mix of both they can be.
Fuck Dennis Hastert, anyway. Imagine groping some poor high-school boy, after telling him a massage will help him lose weight.
And speaking of him, Neil Steinberg’s column about the very same.
I pay less attention to internet culture these days, and this is why.
The new hockey arena in Detroit will be called the Little Caesar’s Arena. NO ONE likes this (and there are still more than $200 million in public dollars in this goddamn thing). I hate the new era.
Have a great weekend, all.