I saw something yesterday that I reacted to so strongly that I was immediately incensed. There is a new movie coming out that is based on a thirteen year-old being raped by a teacher. The concept is nothing new. We are reading about this kind of thing on a regular basis in the newspaper. It starts with a child being enamored with a charismatic adult in a position of power. Then comes the empowerment of the child by the attention of the adult (commonly called grooming). After the child’s natural defenses and normal boundaries are lowered the perpetrator moves in and physically seduces them.
There doesn’t seem to be anything surprising here for the plot of a drama. The surprising part is that this is beginning of an Adam Sandler comedy called “That’s My Boy”. A thirteen year-old boy is seduced and raped by his “photo-brushed” teacher. They could not have possibly done anything else to make her look like a playboy bunny cutout if they tried. The pull on the minds and bodies of thirteen year-old boys in the movie is made quite clear. The trailer depicts a courtroom scene with a very pregnant teacher being sentenced for a crime and the judge saying; “The fact that this has resulted in a pregnancy leaves me no choice, but to levy the maximum penalty.” At the mention of the pregnancy the 13 year-old father/victim, beams from ear to ear and gets high fives from his friends sitting behind him, aka “way to go stud.” In traditional male terms this evidently constitutes rites of passage into some perceived concept of manhood. And then a lesson comes from behind a courtroom camera in the way of an arm (presumably the boy’ father) slugging the boy across the face and saying “Dumbass.” The message I hear is obvious, it’s okay to screw them, but don’t get them pregnant.
So the movie is clearly stating that this is about boys growing up to be real men and not about child abuse and rape. But the reality is that in 2012 it behooves all of us to be aware that an estimated twenty percent of our children are sexually abused before their 18th birthday. That includes one in six boys and they wear the scars and life distortions just as much as the girls do even if their abuser is a woman.
As is commonly the case the child is often still smitten with the abuser and the attention from such a powerful person long after the abuse ends. They either think it is a reciprocated love or they may go along with, and then block, the physical part just to maintain the overall relationship for the validation and power it conveys. How can a 13-14-15 year old comprehend the manipulations of an adult? The child is made to feel important and loved in a way they desire by someone who is doing nothing more that using them to fulfill their own deviant needs.
The insidiousness of this scenario on the child is devastating. In the first place it destroys all normal relational boundaries. Parental love, encouragement by a coach, caring of a teacher, guidance by a minister or priest is not supposed to include any type of sexuality. The child grows up not understanding there are different types of love and caring, some which are appropriate and some that are not.
If sexually abusing a child is not bad enough, think about the sadistic manipulation of a teen or just pre-pubescent child by knowing how easily they can be sexually aroused and using that as a tool against them. Which is exactly what the teacher does in the movie. A child may actually think they are “falling in love,” or be instantly thrown into carrying shame as a shroud from that day forward.
As a result they may grow up not respecting societies moral boundaries, crossing lines that may include becoming a perpetrator themselves. Or they may take the road of the majority of child victims knowing that there was something wrong and internalizing those feelings. In doing so, most victims take responsibility for the abuse as though it was their fault. Thus cometh the immense shame and all it’s minions; self-loathing, alcohol and drug abuse, illness, eating disorders, self-mutilation, crime, and all too frequently suicide.
This movie is insulting on many levels. The first is that it depicts child abuse and rape as a glamorous and desirable thing, under the conditions that it is a male adolescent victim and an attractive female perpetrator. The second insult is the perpetuation of a male image first objectifying women and second continuing adolescent male behavior into adulthood and thinking either is acceptable. I think not!
If you find this objectionable as well, please join me in boycotting this film and also letting the producers and distributors know just how offensive you find making a comedy about child sex abuse really is. I believe in free speech. I also believe in feedback………….. Stay tuned.
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