Less Sauce for the Goose

Filed in National by on February 7, 2018

When a male teacher has sex with a female student, it causes outrage, but it rarely makes the news outside the local police report. The guy goes on the sex-offender registry, maybe to prison, but it’s just too common to be news. When a female teacher seduces a male student, though, our prurient interest knows no bounds. I’m not making a value judgment there, just taking note.

It seems we might also have a gender-dependent double standard when it comes to politicians and marital infidelity. When a male politician is accused of cheating, it typically draws call for his removal from office. That hasn’t been the case for Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, who last week held a news conference to admit to an affair with her chief of security. The calls for her resignation have been relatively muted and center on whether she misspent public funds on trips she took with him.

Barry deserves some credit for tackling the issue head-on, something a lot of men in the same situation don’t do, and I suppose it helps that she’s a liberal in Nashville, which is more liberal than the rest of Tennessee. But I’m not sure that but explains the more forgiving attitude. That’s not to say everyone has reacted that way — many people who talk to the media say no double standard should apply — but they seem to be in the minority in Tennessee. Consider this story about the metro council proposal to investigate the affair — no grandstanding, no outrage, just a measured call for an investigation so long as it doesn’t interfere with other investigations. Again, not passing judgment, just passing along an observation.

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  1. Dana Garrett says:

    Maybe it’s just true, Alby. Women do not offend as much in these areas as men do. That’s why it seems more aberrant than constitutional when a woman does it than a man. We’re more forgiving for those who have a greater chance of being fixed.

  2. puck says:

    “Women do not offend as much in these areas as men do.”

    Then who are all these men having affairs with?

  3. pandora says:

    My problems with her behavior are:

    1. Misuse of public funds – if true, she should resign
    2. He was her subordinate. Not saying the affair wasn’t consensual, but if he claims (and he hasn’t yet) that he was pressured in any way then that’s a big problem and she should resign. If the affair was consensual, then I have no problem – and as a progressive I have never had a problem with consensual relationships – only non-consensual.

    Your wording in the first paragraph is interesting. Was it deliberate? Because the framing is one I hear so often: “When a male teacher has sex with a female student/When a female teacher seduces a male student”

    Far too often society views the pre-teen/teen boy as “scoring” (with people high-fiving him) and not as what he actually is, a victim. That mindset hurts everyone.

    Looking at past cases like this (teacher/student) the punishments are all over the place.

  4. bamboozer says:

    I think every story like this is unique, have not read up on Barry and the affair which seems to have been prolonged, which to some extent implies it was consensual. If public funds were misspent she should resign, there is no question. Suspect the muted response is because Barry is a sympathetic figure, not your usual Newt Gingrich total pig from hell, and as noted she’s confronting it head on. As for the famed double standard that will never be resolved, indeed it cannot as it’s a matter of ever shifting public opinion. Personally I see teachers and students have sex as a poor fit for Barry’s politically charged affair, these are two adults, not kids.

  5. Alby says:

    @pandora: Good catch. I was just trying to avoid repeating the identical wording, but I wouldn’t have switched the verbs. Some of the male-on-female assaults, probably most, would fit a definition of seduction as well, as it’s pretty much the same practice as “grooming” a victim, but we rarely hesitate to call it rape. Yet while the same predatory instinct may be involved for a female teacher (I don’t know enough to say confidently it’s the same), the R word is used a lot less often.

    You are correct, sentencing for female teachers who transgress like this is all over the place.

    @bam: “Suspect the muted response is because Barry is a sympathetic figure, not your usual Newt Gingrich total pig from hell”

    That’s just what I’m wondering. Is she a more sympathetic because she’s a woman, or because she seems like someone who’s truly contrite? Until we have more women put in this position, it’s hard to extrapolate.

  6. alby says:

    @puck: I’m talking about the power dynamic, as you I’m sure could tell.

    I almost forgot, this is the subject on which you always play dumb. Are you going to launch into another defense of Vance Phillips for us?

  7. Ben says:

    It kind of reminds me of Mark Sanford. This story seems more like a forbidden romance and less like, as Bam nicely put it “typical pig from hell”. It also isnt Clintonian (bill).

    The power dynamic is a bit troublesome, but let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that she didn’t leverage her position to engage in sexual activity. Also setting aside the allegation of misuse of public funds, for the sake of argument….

    That means these people just kind of fell for each other. Something that happens to many many people, even if they are in a monogamous relationship with someone else…. even if they aren’t trying to.
    I think we genuinely feel sympathy for people in this situation because it is very relatable, even if we haven’t experienced it the same way.
    But like Sanford, after some denial, she owned up to it. It also means her political career doesn’t have to end.

  8. Alby says:

    @Ben: Good point of comparison. I had forgotten about him, despite the fact that he has come back from his disgrace and now holds a seat in Congress.

    The public funds in question come to about $20,000. Just for comparison, the Pentagon recently announced that it lost track of $800 million. There are no plans to prosecute anyone for that.

  9. puck says:

    @alby – you still haven’t been able to locate any evidence in that Phillips case?

  10. mouse says:

    And 45 and his GOP crooks want to spend like 90 billion more on the military industrial complex. It sickens me

  11. Alby says:

    @puck: The fact that you consider the woman’s testimony “not evidence” says everything that needs to be said about you.

    You once condemned the Central Park Five, only to find out that your biased ass was wrong, and so now you won’t believe even credible evidence.

    Your high opinion of yourself is unwarranted.

  12. Tom Kline says:

    And 45 and his GOP crooks want to spend like 90 billion more on the military industrial complex. It sickens me

    You are free to go Commie.

  13. RE Vanella says:

    Our large adult son has been reading 1950s comic books again.

  14. mouse says:

    Ya know, one could do a Master’s thesis on you people and your robotic non sequitur parroted smears. And get with the program, you’re on the side of the communists along wit your orange carnival barker clown

  15. RE Vanella says:

    Do you think Tom knows he is the joke? Always has been. Our large, soft adult son is a laughingstock.

    Does he see himself as a great troll? Fuck, that would be delightful, wouldn’t it…

    Every court needs a jester, Tommy, so dance monkey. Dance.

  16. Gerry W says:

    Marion Barry’s political career pulled out of the doldrums by showing on film he was up with the latest trends. DIO (died in office as they say) never hurt his political career. Megan Barry may be appealing to the Walter Mitty constituent, Hey guy, it could have been you, and you know just maybe. Regarding only $20,000 let us not forget that Baltimore Mayor Sheila Pratt Dixon was dropped from office over much less than that. In her Immortal words on the Courthouse Steps after her conviction, “How can I be convicted of Theft, it was a bribe> How do you steal a bribe?!!! Good Street logic, but lacking in that you just admitted you take bribes. Still Sheila has been more than willing to shake down other candidate by entering primaries (usually is rewarded with a no show consultation position by the new administration for dropping the effort in her campaign ) Never underestimate the guile of a female politician.

  17. Alby says:

    We have another female harasser, and naturally she’s prominent in the #metoo movement: One Cristina Garcia, a state assemblywoman in California, has been accused of groping a 25-year-old male staffer.