Of course, you know it's wrong for pimply teenage pupils and their foxy school mistresses to be having sex. So why are we secretly wishing it was us? Read our take then post your comments below.
By Bart Blasengame
Debra Lafave, photo by AP Photos
They call it an epidemic. Over the past two weeks, no fewer than three female teachers across the country have been accused of sleeping with boys ranging in age from 13 to 17. When you hear the word epidemic, it's usually a bad thing. AIDS, SARS, obesity, reality television. But when you see the word used in reference to what appears to be a collective reenactment of a Van Halen video, you have to ask yourself: How is this a bad thing? Consider the last couple of years: there was Mariama Buchanan, 27 at the time, the English instructor in Chicago reportedly caught "half-naked" with a 17-year-old football player in the back of a parked car. Katherine Tew, the then 30-year-old North Carolina cheerleading coach nabbed for allegedly wooing her 17-year-old pet with tequila and text messages. And Kathy Denise White, the 39-year-old special-ed teacher in Texas who, according to an affidavit, kicked off a couple of mornings by giving one 17-year-old lad a special tutorial in oral history. This month, Allena Ward, a 23-year-old South Carolina middle school teacher, was charged with banging five teen studs, and Marcia Amsterdam, a speech teacher at junior high in Brooklyn, was charged with spreading her thighs for a 13 year old. Still, none of them stole our hearts quite like Pamela Rogers Turner and Debra Lafave. That's because, like Mary Kay Letourneau before them, Pam and Deb looked like they should be starring in their own ruler-flicking Girls Gone Wild spinoff.
Down in Tennessee, 27-year-old Turner was arrested in February 2005 for having sex with a 13-year-old studentunbecoming behavior for a former World Championship Wrestling Miss Monday Nitro, don't you think? LaFavea married 23-year-old Florida reading instructor who, back in 1999, happened to pose as a motorcycle-straddling gearhead pin-upwas caught offering hands-on biology lessons to a 14-year-old. In the back seat of a moving car. While the kid's cousin was driving.
What's the big deal? Come on: The only thing these gals are guilty of is acting out one of the most tried-and-true plotlines of porn—the slutty, improbably smokin' teacher who needs to be taught a lesson by her baby-faced pupil. And if the guys are guilty of anything, it's telling their peers that life is exactly like teacher-wants-to-blow-me.com. "My mind these days always goes to Internet porn, and I just wonder if these guys are primed to expect real life to match those fantasies," says novelist Tom Perrotta, who has explored themes of suburban sex and power in books like Election and Little Children. Listen closely: That clatter you hear isn't a public outcry. It's a bunch of guys frantically searching the Web for naked photos of Pam and Deb.
And is that their fault? For years now, the schoolboy-tempting harlot has been an acceptable, even hilarious staple of pop culture. Weird Science, Risky Business, To Die For, American Pie, Notes on a Scandalall of these movies featured a seasoned vixen revving up the hormonal glands of innocent lads. All were big hits. I mean, Weird Science is about some high-school lab rats who create the perfect older woman, played by Kelly LeBrock, who subsequently serves as their professor of carnal knowledge. Not even the star of the flick was immune to the fantasy. "Once I saw Kelly LeBrock, I had a chubby for, like, the 11 weeks that we shot the movie," says actor Anthony Michael Hall, then 17, now 38. "She showed up on the set and the whole crew was just in stunned silence. So that was my first Mrs. Robinson experience."
"None of that titillating material that our society pumps out takes into account the reality of who the teacher is that would do this," says Dr. Drew Pinsky, the popular physician and addiction expert. "But there's nothing abnormal about a young male being tempted by an attractive, fully developed female in a position of authority. It's a forbidden fruit, and it's a boundary that shouldn't be violated, but it's tantalizing for young males. And if the male actually is able to live out the fantasy, our society goes, 'Oh, that lucky guy!'"
Let's be clear here. A grown man taking advantage of a young girl is one of the most horrendous acts imaginable. When a male member of the species goes bobbing in the kiddie pool, he's a sexual predator and is rightly nailed to the wall, and we don't even blink when a father puts a slug in his brainpan during the perp walk. But when a woman—a firm, buxom blonde woman with a thing for burger flippers—makes sweet, sweet love to a young boy? That's what wet dreams (and billion-dollar entertainment franchises) are made of.
Stop your internal dialogue for a second. I know we're supposed to be outraged. But the fact is, these women aren't monsters, they're just crazy . . . and hot. Who, I might ask, is unfamiliar with that combination? In cases like these, says Dr. Pinsky, "if a woman performs sexual acts on a child, especially if that woman is in a position of authority, it is usually a sign of a significant psychiatric problem." Point taken. No straight man, be he 13 or 33, has ever let raging mental instability get between him and a tangy piece of ass. Besides, could it be that these blackboard vamps are actually doing American society a favor? "I knew of this guy who'd drive his son down to a whorehouse in Mexicali so he could relieve all that pressure on a prostitute rather than the eighth-grade girls in his class who aren't going to give it up anyway," says conservative commentator Tucker Carlson. "In other words, it's a way to save their maidenhood. It's a pressure valve. As a parent, I'd feel a lot better knowing that every boy in the class was sleeping with his teacher and not my daughter."
Indeed, what nobody's saying (at least not out loud) is that we ought to be happy for these pubescent pioneers. Flash back to your awkward sexual awakeningthe yellowed Playboys, the scrambled "Skinemax," the bra section of the JCPenney catalog—and let out a cheer for the little guy. The only reason that dude's going to need some heavy therapy is that no bra-padded, brace-faced junior-high playmate is ever going to stack up to a former Miss Nitro who could suck the graphite from a No. 2 pencil. "We're going to find a lot of really unhappy schoolgirls who have had their crushes sexually enslaved," says cultural commentator Mo Rocca. "I feel very badly for adolescent girls, who are insecure enough as it is. They'll have no one to ask to the Sadie Hawkins dance, because all their potential dates will be in the sack with their teachers."
Still, you say "What about the children?" Are you kidding? Right now, any one of those little Miss Crabtree-bagging twerps is probably being carried atop the shoulders of his classmates like some conquering hero. The name of each one will shine on in his school as a beacon of hope to every jock, geek, stoner, and spaz who has spent the better part of his teens wearing grooves into his palms. Aim your pity in a different direction, gentlemen. The real losers here are the fathers of the, ahem, victims. These dutiful dads can't just clap their sons on the back and say, "Fine work, little man." No. Publicly they have to put on the shame face, furrowing their brows, shedding a few tears at all that innocence lost, working up a froth of righteous indignation. But privately, those poor saps have to deal with the realization that the fruit of their loins has already one-upped the old man—at 13!
But, hey, at least it obviates the need for that awkward, sperm-curdling rite of passage known as the birds and the bees. After Junior's been properly serviced by his teacher's hungry mouth, Dad probably doesn't have to tell him where the ho-ho goes. "We have a real problem in this country with kids who are having unsafe sex, and I think part of the problem is that they're taking courses in sex education that are completely in the abstract," Rocca points out. "And so, clearly the key to learning about safe sex is fucking your teacher early and often."
Enlightenment. Now, isn't that what school is all about?
(Adapted from an article originally published in the April 2005 issue of Details.)