It is a national pastime to second guess the handling of situations we couldn’t possibly imagine. In that vain, I find myself asking, if the child (allegedly) being violated (in a university locker room shower) had been a girl, would this story have a different ending?
Would an adult, regardless of professional status or age, hesitate even for a moment before dragging a girl child to safety? Would anyone, anywhere, doubt for a moment that the child was in serious jeopardy and needed rescue? But substitute a boy child and our impulses become a bit more restrained. Our sexist view of sex knows no age limits. Our reaction to an adult male authority figure having sex with an adolescent girl is that of revulsion. We wouldn’t dream of nudging and winking as we do when hearing about a teenage boy having sex with his female teacher. Somewhere down deep we feel that boys, once physically able, are always delighted to have the opportunity to have sex. Girls, however need to be protected.
I do wonder (indulging hindsight) what would have happened if a young female staffer had come across the boy (allegedly) being violated. Would a woman had seen two males being sexual, or would she have seen a child being attacked? Would a woman have gathered up the boy while screaming rabidly at the perpetrator? This is of course is a gross generalization of gender proclivities, but it does feel accurate.
I’m going out on a limb and suggesting that despite political strides (equal marriage) and representation in popular culture, as a country we are woefully uncomfortable with homosexuality. (The fact that men incorporate (simulated) lesbian intimacies into their heterosexual fantasies is not proof of enlightenment but of viewing women sexuality existing only to please men.) Despite the fact that adults having sexual contact with children, has nothing to do with being attracted to members of the same gender and everything to do with a sexual attraction to children, it is conceivable that the shower violation was interpreted as homosexual. I find it repugnant to consider that anyone would view a child being accosted as a sexual act, period, but I can’t help come to this conclusion after playing the hindsight game. I fervently hope I am wrong.
Perhaps if any good can come of this scandal, it is a reexamining of childhood and our (adult) role in children’s lives. All adults have a moral obligation to protect children. In the extreme, we concur. Most of us would drag a child out of the path of oncoming traffic. Danger really is not always that black and white however. If we are confused about what we are witnessing, ask questions. Asking a child if they are okay will almost always tell you what you need to know. Even if you are not certain about anyone’s age of consent, a simple “Whoa, what are you guys doing?” will yield information. Silence really is complicity.