From a Submariner's Perspective is a weekly column, written in response to the letters sent in to advice columnist "Prudie" at Slate.com. Each week, The Submariner responds to the letter writers in a way that Slate.com author, Emily Yoffe, probably can't (but perhaps would like to...). Each entry is headed with a link to the orginal questions and Yoffe's answers. Enjoy!

Also, if you have questions that you'd like answered by The Submariner, or anyone here at "The Fly", just write to me at smagboy1@gmail.com and I'll forward to the appropriate party/parties for an answer (or you can write to them directly via the e-mail addresses on their pages)! Once the answers are published, I'll drop you a note letting you know.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

...on Sexy Time with Teacher, SIDS, Family Christmas and More!

http://www.slate.com/id/2277308/ (12/09/2010) <---Original Prudie Questions Can Be Found There

Hey hidey-ho, Shippers! It’s final exam week here in The Lagoon. I’ve just completed one, and am now gearing up for another. Crazy days, indeed! But, far be it for me to miss a day at the dock! I hope that December is treating you all well--better than our poor Letter Writers, that’s for sure! And, speaking of those poor sods, let’s get crackin’ on their letters, shall we?

LW#1: Dear Prudie, I’m a high school senior who’s just discovered that Mr. A., my favorite teacher at my all-girls private school, is having sex with one of my closest friends and fellow student, Ms. Bee. We’ve known Mr. A. forever and he’s helped us through all sorts of rough times (divorcing parents, deaths of family members, etc.). I think of him as a father figure, yet, what he’s doing is so wrong on so many levels! What’s worse is that Ms. Bee wants to use me as cover so that she can spend the night with Ms. A. in a motel! I’m not sure what to do? Do I tell someone? I’m afraid of losing this friendship if I do the wrong thing. Signed, I’m Only Sixteen

Dear Sixteen. You had me at “all-girls private school”... Huh? What? Oh, your letter! Listen, there are so many problems with this letter that I don’t know where to start, but, let’s prioritize, okay? First off, and most importantly, no, you do not, under any circumstances, provide cover for this tryst. Tell your friend that, while what she does with her own time is her business, what you do with your time is yours. And lying for her is something that, a) you won’t do, and, b) not something a true friend would ever ask of you in the first place! If she’s adult and grown up enough to be having sex with a teacher, she’s adult and grown up enough to figure out for herself how to do it without involving her friends. Next on the priority list, though, is the throwing around of words and phrases by other advice columnists like “sexual predator”, “conquests”, “stalking of victims”, etc. Let’s get this straight. Based on what you’ve said, your friend is a victim only of bad judgment and of a poor taste in her fuck buddies. Her idiot teacher is an adult, yes, and technically breaking the law, yes, but it doesn’t sound, at all, like he’s victimizing her. Further, if the gender roles were reversed, I doubt there’d be so much moral outrage. Your friend is making a bad decision (she’s Ms.Bee-havin’...ba-dum-dum!), but, it’s not one that’s particularly uncommon at her age (sex with inappropriate people). And it’s certainly not one that has to (or even should) lead to arrests, jail time, court cases, trauma, late-life suicide, counseling, etc. It should end when your friend realizes she’s dating a 45 year old man (and all of the crap that that type of relationship implies)! And you need to stop with the “he’s having sex with her” bull. Try “they’re having sex.” It’s a lot more honest. And accurate. I’d advise telling your friend that you will not help her, and, too, that you want to hear no more about this unless it ever becomes a situation where she does become the victim of any form of abuse. Tell her that you don’t want to harm your friendship, but that you can’t be complicit in her geriatric love connection (you can say that un-ironically, I cannot, since, you know, I’m of the “geriatric” age that your teacher is). Good luck!

LW#2: Dear Prudie, my husband and I recently lost an infant child to SIDS. We’re understandably devastated, as is our family. We’re planning to spend Christmas with my in-laws, but, I just don’t have the heart or energy to buy a bunch of presents. So, to solve this, I want to spend time to buy our one niece something nice, and then, for our adult relatives, I want to purchase gift cards. My MIL, god bless her, is appalled by this idea, and, because she wants to “help us in our grief” (and, because I suspect she’s grieving, too) has instructed all of our in-laws to send us a Christmas list in order to “ease the effort of our gift-buying”. Prudie, I get nauseous even at the thought of doing that shopping. My MIL thinks she’s doing the right thing, but, she’s killing me. What can I do? Signed, Hurting and Being “Helped” Too Much

Dear Hurting. I’d send a note to your MIL that says, “Thank you, Mom, but I don’t have the energy to buy presents this year, and, no, I don’t want anyone’s help to do so. I want to fucking buy gift cards. Is that so fucking difficult?! It’s what I’m going to do, too. I’m sorry that it offends you, but, frankly, it fucking offends me that it offends you! Get the goddam fuck over yourself! Thank you, and God Bless you in this most wonderful time of the year. Love, Your Loving Daughter-in-Law.” You can take out the cussing if you want, but, the sentiment is clear, yeah? You’re the gift-giver. You want to give gift cards. Give them. They’ll be appreciated by those who are worth your time, and, for those who aren’t? Who cares?

LW#3: Dear Prudie, for the last many years I’ve included my daughter’s financially destitute best friend and her poor-ass, beggar, barely literate family in our Christmas celebration. They’ve been very gracious, well-behaved, and almost engaging on this day every year (and, truthfully, intelligence and affluence is often over rated in our dog-eat-dog society and it’s important to demonstrate graciousness from time to time, don’t you agree, Prudie?). Sadly, as my family has grown (my son is now married and has a child, and my daughter is engaged), I don’t have room for this family of vagabonds. There’s just no longer any room at the table. I feel, um, guilty that I won’t be able to brag to my true friends about helping the poor people this year invite them this year, as they have nowhere else to go, but, I can’t just magically shrink my real family. Do I have a moral obligation to host these people, despite a lack of seats at my table? Signed, Happy Homemaker

Dear Pretentious Prick Asshole. Congratulations on the growth of your blood family. May the blood that binds you all continue to be a source of great pride for you and yours. No, you have no moral obligation to anyone, least of all, people upon whom you so obviously look down your nose. So, you know, free yourself of guilt and continue encouraging your blood family to grow. Me personally? There’s only one thing that gets someone uninvited from my table, and that’s rude assholery. And that occurs in equal proportion among my blood family and non-blood family. Matter of fact, I find the idea of family to be defined as those who I identify with as family, not those whose DNA indicates a biological accident of similarity. But that’s me. I have a feeling that this family whom you’ve been gracing with your benevolence will be just fine this year without you. May you be equally as well off. And may you live long, and prosper.

(Update!  12/11/2010:  Longtime reader JayJay had this to say to LW#3, and, it was so powerful that I felt in needed to be included right here.  Sometimes, you just have to recognize a good smackdown when you see it.

From JayJay to LW#3:  You suck. Congratulations, you win the Shitty McShittypants award of the year. I hope your tree catches on fire. I hope you choke on your turkey. I hope your presents are actually gift-wrapped dogshit. I hope you drink too much eggnog and throw up.

All I have to say bout that?  Amen, JayJay.  And to all, a good night.)

LW#4: Dear Prudie. I like to contribute money to my grand-niece’s college fund for Christmas every year. I have three other grand neice’s/nephews by my sister’s other children, but, they have never acknowledged a single gift from me (from weddings to births to holidays). I would like to continue gifting just the one, appreciative niece’s daughter in this way, but, my sister manages the kids’ college funds, so, she’ll know if I don’t start putting some toward each child. Is there a kind way to give to only the family to which I’m close? Signed, My Sister Has Only One Good Kid

Dear Gift-Giver. Of course you can give to whomever you want, whatever you want. The issue here is not the gifts, however, but rather, your relationship with your sister and how you fear it may suffer. I’d discuss this with her! Why not? Explain to her why you feel the way you do! Too, I’d recognize that the children are not at fault for their parents’ sins. That’s not to say that you should give them gifts, but, perhaps you could consider putting aside money for each child that you, yourself, manage. Attempt to get to know the children on their own terms (ignoring their relation to their rude parents). Some may share your interests? If, as they grow, you see that they’re demonstrating the ability to move past their parents’ rudeness and, too, if you feel they could benefit from your largess, by all means, give them the money you’ve saved. If you do not see that it’d help, go to Europe with it! On you! Win-win! Good luck!

****
Well, Shippers, that about does it! I’ve got to get back to schoolwork, but, before I do, let me wish for you a wonderful and happy day and weekend, and, fair winds and following seas to you all! And Cornish game hens for your plates this weekend. They’re yummy!

40 comments:

  1. Smag,

    Completely in agreement on LW#3. Disinviting people because the TABLE isn't big enough? That's some offensive bulls--t right there. What's going to happen when a few more grandchildren are born and not all the blood relatives fit at the table? Favorites will have to be picked. Lines will have to be drawn. Lives will be shattered (and all because someone clearly can't get themselves to IKEA to buy a $25 table extender called Fleurdegirly and a couple of $5 chairs, or something like that). I don't about everyone else, but my best Thanksgiving was in a dorm room in Scotland. A bunch of us had all of our friends, American and non-American alike, over for a meal. We didn't have enough chairs. I think we served frozen pizza as a side dish. The Scots brought haggis, which was truly vile. I think we served everything on paper plates. But, you know what? It was awesome. Everyone was there for the right reasons, no one cared about the little things, and everyone had a great time. Kind of put the holidays in perspective for me for the rest of my life.

    I've got to say, though, I agree with you 98% of the time, but I have to respectfully disagree with your response to LW#1. I DO agree that teenagers make very stupid decisions about who they sleep with. And I completely agree that true friends don't ask friends to lie for them. But I DO think the school administration needs to know about this guy. It would be different if this girl met him at a club she had gotten into with a fake ID, or at a Starbucks, or at one of the million other places teenagers go to meet hook-up partners. But this guy is a teacher. Of teenage girls. And part of the deal of being a high school teacher is that you don't get to sleep with your students. Period. For a HUGE number of reasons. I mean, sure, this girl is 16, but who's to say he's not hooking up with a 14-year-old, too? Or hooking up with another 16-year-old that doesn't appear to be as with it as this girl? Sure, sure she's complicit, but he's a teacher. A set of rules applies to him that don't apply to her. Sure, that sucks for him, but he knew this when he got into this, I'm certain. And, yet, he's still doing it. He knows it's illegal, he knows it could get him fired, he knows its hugely problematic, but he's still doing it. That's on him. The consequences of informing the school administration may be harsh, but it's the right thing to do here. And he took that risk when he jumped into bed with her.

    Good luck with the finals! They'll be over before you know it!

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  2. Dear Smag,

    I hate, in some ways, to be the first one to disagree with you. In other ways it is kind of exciting!

    The teacher boinking his student, my dear Smaggy, IS taking advantage of his position. He is being unprofessional at BEST. But he is doing worse than that----he's using his position to get 16 year old girls to think they are in love with him. I agree with Emily that this is almost certainly not the first time he's done it, either. When ever you read about these guys evenutally getting turned in there are always (at least around my end of the lagoon) many victims. And I do call them victims, too.

    How very convenient that these two girls he has attached himself to have had emotional issues, and he seems like their wiser, older knight in shining armor! You are wrong that this is akin to other kinds of sex a 16 year old might be having, inappropriately or otherwise. A 16 year old should not be screwing a 45 year old guy, especially not one who has been in on her emotional secrets and weaknesses as a side bonus to his job working at her boarding school. He's in a perfect place to take advantage, and that is what he has done. This guy has a formula and he is just so thrilled that it works! So much candy in his line of work, so ripe for the picking if you play your cards right!

    And no, I would not think differently if the genders were reversed. The women who do this disgust me even MORE, for some reason. And you'll notice that they get the same treatment their male counterparts to, fired and jailed.

    I hope the LW takes Prudie's advice.

    Oh, and BTW ---- LOVE YOU SMAG!!!

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  3. DAng it! I missed out on being first.

    oh well.....

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  4. Ahoy Tressea! I love your Thanksgiving story, and agree wholeheartedly with its lesson. :-)

    As for LW#1, let me be more clear, because you make some really good points and I don't want to seem obstinate! ;-)

    First off, I would not blame the LW for turning in the teacher. He's a Class-A idiot. And, if he goes to jail, gets fired, loses his career, etc., it's all his fault. Every bit of it. So, in that way, I can't fault anyone who advises to turn him in.

    Further, I agree that he could be having sex with other students, but, I see no reason to predict that it might be with 14 or 12 or 10 year olds? Matter of fact, because he *is* with an ostensibly mature (enough) 16 year old, I have a feeling that that indicates he's *not* with the less mature (physically and emotionaly) girls. Does that make it okay? No! Excusable? Not in the least. At all.

    But, for me, it does mitigate the situation enough such that it's not about him being a "monster", "stalking", "victimizing", "preying on little girls". That's what bugs me about the letter. The friend, Ms. Bee, *is* in on it. And, though she'll likely suffer some emotional confusion from this (as most of us do regarding our early exploits), she doesn't seem to be being coerced. Or in much emotional turmoil.

    So, I guess, more than anything, I want to point out that this isn't a monster vs. innocent child scenario. It's a dumb, idiot adult vs. an inexperienced young adult who'll hopefully learn from this (without being too hurt). And, hey, if he gets busted and his life ruined, so be it. He's being an idiot and I can't excuse that. But he's not a monster (at least based on the letter's evidence). At least in my humble opinion. :-) What about gender role reversal? How would you feel then? Just asking.

    Much good cheer, tressea! :-)

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  5. Ahoy Bella! I'll let my response to Tressea stand for most of what you've said, but, to be clear, you're absolutely correct that female teachers get punished as severely (if not more severely!) than their male counterparts. I admit, freely, that the justice seems to be blind there (which is a good thing). I'm more talking about the opinion of the general public and I wonder if that informs our reaction to this type of scenario. :-)

    Now, as I said to tressea, please know that I don't, even for a second, *excuse* this guy! There is no excuse for his actions. And, he *is* an idiot. It's just that I don't think of him as a stalking monster. Idiot? Yes. Monster? Not as much.

    If you're correct about his active employment of a formula, however,--in other words, his active cultivation of these reltionships, over and over, with hand-picked, vulnerable girls?--I'll be unwilling to continue defending him against charges of "monster".

    But, for now, I'll have to say that, while I don't disagree that he's absolutely in the wrong, I do disagree with him being devil spawn. ;-)

    Much love to you, too, Bella! And happy holidays! :-)

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  6. Smag,

    Thanks for the response. Yeah, I completely agree with you. I *don't* see any evidence that this guy is a monster (although I'm willing to deem him a creep) or preying on little girls. And, you're right: there is a difference between sleeping with a 16 year old and sleeping with a 12 year old, and we don't have any information to suggest that he's doing the latter. COULD he be a monster? Sure. But, I think you're right that, in these kinds of scenarios, everyone jumps on the monster bandwagon right away and doesn't acknowledge that there *is* a very big difference between a guy who's sleeping with a 16-year-old and a guy who's preying on an 8 year old. And calling this guy a monster risks diminishing the likely-to-be far more horrific consequences of a guy sleeping with a child (Although both are completely inexcusable and very rightly punishable). So, I understand your point.

    I would feel exactly the same way if this were a female teacher sleeping with a male student (although I do think there are -- usually -- big differences between the way 16-year-old girls and 16-year-old guys view these things). And the fact that we usually treat those situations differently really sucks (at least in my mind). Would you view it differently?

    Cheers!

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  7. Smag, I have to join Bella and Tressea on letter 1. He is WAY more than wrong. I think he is "stalking". He gets close to them while they are younger and when some trauma happens (which always does with teenage girls) and they are older he swoops in. He probably lives in a state where 16 is legal. They trust him since they have known him since they were 12 and he uses that.

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  8. Ahoy, tressea! I always want to view it from the "victim's" perspective. So, regardless of gender, if the 16 year old feels coerced, pressured, victimized, etc., regardless of gender, then, I want the teacher busted. And hard. To the full extent of the law. If, however, the 16 year old, regardless of gender, is complicit and active in pursuing the relationship (regardless of how ill-advised that is), even if they're wrong, and, even if they'll eventually be hurt as they gain life knowledge, etc., I'm much more about advising not saying anytyhing.

    I mean, that's tough because, what if I'm wrong? What if the teacher really *is* a psycho monster? So, in the end, I would *never* fault anyone for saying something, calling the police, encouraging others to say something, etc.!

    And, here's the kicker: my own daughter is 17. So, to say what I have said here, I've had to think of how I'd react to a situation like this if she were in it. And, while I'd definitely want to kill the guy, and, while I'd most certainly *threaten* him with statutory rape charges, if my daughter was complicit, I'd *probably* never actually make those charges (I can't say for sure as, thank god, I've never had to deal with this). I'd sure as heck try to keep her away from the guy, though! You know, in a clever, manipulative, parental way (like threating the guy with a gun or soemthing, and, telling her that I'd found out that he has cooties!). :-)

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  9. Smag, I must in all good conscience disagree with #1, as well. Predators (which he may not be, but odds are that he is) tend to pick professions, homes, or wives which facilitate access to their preferred victims. Victim is what she is, but do you in all seriousness think he intends anything more than to toss her aside when the next year's class comes up?

    If this were something the friend could bring up with another adult (preferably her own parents), that would be one thing. But the very need to sneak around behind everyone's back indicates it's a very bad idea. A teacher - a person responsible for helping these girls develop into healthy and responsible adults - should always have his students' welfare in his mind, not to mention his own career and incarceration status.

    What I'm saying is a responsible adult would (a) not get involved with his students (which IS a legal form of sexual harassment!), (b) wait till any students he might have an interest in graduate before taking up with them, or (c) ask the girls parents if they object to his seeing her.

    You say this is not something he should go to jail for. I disagree. What's so different about this monster from the molesting Catholic priests you've seemed to hate in the past?

    And yes, I'd be just as morally outraged if one or both genders were reversed.

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  10. Oh Captain, my Captain!

    A huzzah to you for LW#1! I thought I'd be the only voice of reason in the entire ocean ~ I'm so glad I'm not floating out here alone!

    I don't know about you, but when I was 16 I was no child, and no one in their right frame of mind who could look at me would claim I was. I was fully capable of my own thoughts and deeds, understood the repercussions of such, and took full responsibility for my own actions. We both know girls that age know exactly what they are doing, don't we? I, too, was dismayed by the words being thrown around ~ "pedophile"? Really? Stalker? Are you kidding me right now?

    I agree with you wholeheartedly, Smag ~ and as always, appreciate your ability to cut through the hysteria and not fall prey to knee-jerk reactions.

    LW#3 had me a bit puzzled. At first, I thought the daughter's best friend "and her young family "meant the daughter's best friend and her parent(s) and siblings." Then I got the idea that the daughter's best friend's *parent* might be a single mom, so it would be daughter's best friend and her single mom, maybe a sibling. But when I re-read it, and saw that she'd been hosting them for 7 years, I got the idea that it was the daughter's best friend's OWN little family ~ spouse (perhaps) and a child. So, I was wondering what the real problem is ~ is the LW tired of having her daughter's friend's single mom over (who would likely be her own age) ~ maybe she's uncomfortable with how much her husband enjoys having her there? Why all of a sudden is the introduction of three more people around the table sending her into a tailspin? It's almost as if the daughter's friend's family were good enough to round out her table and make her feel like Lady Bountiful until her REAL family could show up, and now that they've served their purpose, are simply in the way. Tsk tsk. She totally deserved the Smag-down you gave her, Dear. Take it from someone who would have little family if she did not count amongst them those that she defined as family ~ be careful what you wish for. An empty table waits for us all.

    Lovely to be with you here in the Lagoon, as always, Diving Buddy! See you on the other side! :*

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  11. Alas, that's the problem of projecting. You were a mature Mermaid, not a mere tadperson at age 16. However, many girls at age 16 are much less mature and dizzy and incapable of making reasonable decisions at that age. I know my friends and I at 16 were pretty naive and immature.

    Since the girls in question attend a "private, all girl" school, I'm willing to believe they are more like I was at that age than our esteemed Mermaid at the same age.

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  12. Et tu, mommylady?! ;-) Just kidding. I understand and appreciate your perspective. But, like Mermaid, I just don't think that, in most cases, 16 is the same as even 14. And I know who I was at 16. Was I as wise as I was at 24? No. But, I was more than wise enough to take responsibility for my actions.

    In the end, though (and I do think this is important), I fully admit that this man is in the wrong and that, if someone turns him in, he should suffer under whatever rules apply to him. It's just that, in this case, I don't think that's the most important part of the letter. ;-)

    Much good cheer! :-)

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  13. Ahoy, CoolOne! I agree that he'll toss her aside next year! Most undoubtedly! :-) But, too, I hope that she's ready to toss him aside, too! By then, she'll be moving on with her life and ready to go to college and grow up. Something that I don't think this teacher has ever done.

    Now, as I said to mommylady, I fully admit that this man is in the wrong and that, if someone turns him in, he should suffer under whatever rules apply to him, and, too, I admit that this guy is a creeper. But, I'm not willing to go all "monster, evil, pedophile stalker" on him. Why not? Because he (presumably) didn't force or even coerce this situation (at least not like those victims of priests are said to have been coerced--you know, with the pressure of God's will, etc.). Because what he's apparently doing, while not particularly savory, is in no way rape or even forced. Ms. Bee is a willing participant. Now, agreed, she's a minor, so, I understand that she can't give full consent under the law, but, I'm willing to posit that she's more capable of it than most are giving her credit for. Please know that I'd throw him in jail myself if I thought he'd raised even a pinky toward willfully hurting her.

    Cheers! :-)

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  14. Ahoy, Diving Buddy, MM!

    How are you? I've missed you here in The Lagoon! Welcome Home! :-)

    Surely you knew you could count on me and my general cranky-ness regarding LW#1. ;-) Plus, as you know, I'm all about taking responsibility for one's own actions, even when one *is* a smarty pants know-it-all 16-year-old sleeping with her teacher. ;-)

    With LW#3, I wasn't sure, either. I guessed that it was the LW's daughter's friend's parents and perhaps a sibling? That's what led me to my particular level of frustration with the LW. Sounded almost like s/he was referring to other people as "those" people. Sometimes it's what's *not* said in the letters that speaks the loudest, eh? :-)

    Much good cheer to you, Diving Buddy! And, may I say, OMG, you look just deliciously fine in your winter scales and shells! Mmmm-mmmm! ;-)

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  15. CoolOne, I'll admit to projection, too. It's how we form our perspectives, I suppose, but, like MM, even though I wasn't fully mature, or even *mostly* mature, I would never have wanted a consensual sex partner jailed, and, even at 14, I'd had one who could have been (one who I remember with great fondness, actually!). ;-) If nothing else, I'll allow that perhaps we need more details to truly know. Fair? ;-)

    Good cheer to you, CoolOne! :-)

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  16. Ah, CoolOne, my dear friend. It's odd, isn't it, how projecting only becomes a *problem* when it results in a scenario that's much different than your own? If pressed, I would say that it's the projecting of all the negative possibilities onto this situation that's causing the problem.

    Why is it not just as acceptable to believe this girl was like me at her age? Or like my girlfriend, who got married to a 35-year old man in her junior year of high school? She was so mature she wore cute little wigs to school ~ not because she needed to, but because, a) she looked adorable, and b) as she put it "I'd rather do my husband than do my hair in the morning." Several of my girlfriends received their diploma with wedding bands on their fingers, and a few buns in the oven. We may very well be talking about a relationship that results in a marriage in a few years, as distasteful as the idea seems to y'all. I think people should be more careful how they talk about the consensual sex between two parties, and I'm going to stand firmly on the idea that that's what these two are engaged in.

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  17. asking for a "friend"December 9, 2010 at 2:42 PM

    #1 - If I was 16 yr old me and 45 year old cougar teacher hit on me, I'd be on top of the world! and playing "Hot for Teacher" ad nauseum! :).

    #3.1 - make the indigents sit outside your window like the little matchstick girl til they freeze.

    #3.2 - put all the goodies, e.g., turkey, fixings, etc. in the middle and then have a battle royale among the poor to see who really wants it! :).

    good luck on exams Smag! U can do it! no mountain too high, etc. haha; :).

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  18. Greetings, asking for a "friend"! Like you, if I was my 16 year old me and a teacher hit on me, I'd be on top of the world--provided that I understood that's what was happening! I was notoriously slow-witted in the realm of picking up those cues.

    As for 3.1. and 3.2, I'm just truly saddened by that letter, so, I'll live your excellent ideas until later. ;-)

    Thanks for the encouragement--with this last exam, I'll be exactly halfway to my MS! Yay! :-)

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  19. Greetings hrumpole.

    I have to say that, while I'm certain that MM can speak for herself, I did not take her post to be an invoking of pregnancy and/or marriage as some sort of provision of immunity from criticism, but rather simply as "visible" proof of at least one type of "invisible" relationship that meets the standards of this discussion that was happening unseen, whether people want to acknowledge that fact or no. In other words, we don't know what we don't know, yo know? ;-) Yet, look, here's proof that what we don't know is, in fact, undeniably happening. That's not to devalue other relationship types that, at that time, were still "invisible" on the surface! It is only to prove, through the obviousness of their undeniable presence (pregnant bellies and wedding rings), that some, in fact, did exist behind the shadows. Am I making sense or just blathering?

    Sometimes a bulging belly is, in fact, just a bulging belly. Sometimes, though, yes, it's a cigar! ;-)

    At the same time, please know that I'm not chastising you! I know that unless someone is a member of a particular culture/subculture group/subgroup, etc., they can't necessarily notice/understand how the words/views/actions of another might be taken. I'm not trying to value or devalue anyone's POV. I'm simply portraying what I see as MM's intent--what *I* took from her post. :-)

    Much good cheer, of course, as always! And, happy holidays, too! :-)

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  20. I disagree that Mr. A's relationship with Bee is best described as a freely consensual relationship on Bee's part, and not necessarily because of her age.

    Why are therapists and doctors not allowed to have sex with their ADULT patients? Because a doctor-patient relationship tends to be a relationship with an unequal balance of power, one where the patient is in an especially vulnerable position relative to the doctor or therapist. The concern is that this leaves the patient in a position where they may be manipulated or taken advantage of. The idea is that not everything a person voluntarily agrees to do is necessarily something they've freely consented to.

    IIRC I read once that in the UK the age of consent is higher when the older party is an adult in a "position of trust" -- like a teacher -- than if the older party is just some random person off the street. Don't know if that's true where LW1 is located or not, but the idea is that people in positions of trust are in a position where they have to be especially concerned about the possibility they're unduly influencing the other party's decision.

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  21. I grant your point, good sir. I just find the two concluding sentences confusing.

    [We may very well be talking about a relationship that results in a marriage in a few years, as distasteful as the idea seems to y'all. I think people should be more careful how they talk about the consensual sex between two parties, and I'm going to stand firmly on the idea that that's what these two are engaged in.]

    If Ms Mermaid means to blast those who have called Mr A a pedophile or a child abuser, that's one thing. But a rewrite of the first quoted part might be, "You ignorant idiots might disapprove, but they're married, or will be soon, so shut up."

    In case anyone can't tell, I've been running into a lot of the Straight People are Magic Attitude lately. I have no problem accepting that I see it where it isn't intended. After enough exposure, look hard enough, and one can discern it almost anywhere.

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  22. Hrumpole, I'm just going to come out and say it. You really need to stop being so sensitive all the time about the gay thing. It's becoming rather tiresome that you should constantly look for offense where none is intended. I can't manufacture things that did not exist, and I cannot give anecdotal evidence of consensual sex happening between persons of over and under age requirements who also just happen to be gay because I was not privy to any at the time. I am sorry if my personal anecdote about my own personal experience has somehow offended you and made you feel excluded. My intention was only to give evidence against the thundering hordes who are throwing up their hands and proclaiming 16 year old girls incapable of formulating a rational opinion on their own about who to bed and wed, and the only evidence I can present is that which I and my friends have experienced ~ as 16-year old heterosexual girls. That my experience happens to rest solely within one type of sexuality is something that is completely without the bounds of my control.

    As to your query about friend lying about the tryst ~ since I have separated the age/teacher issue from the rest of it, I would say that this should be handled as one would any other similar request from a friend. If one is morally in objection to *covering* for friends in this manner, then she should not do it. If, however, her reluctance rests solely in her own personal judgment and distaste of the relationship between her friend and the teacher, then I think she is not being a true friend.

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  23. I quite agree with your point about the possible maturity of 16-year-old girls. On reflection, I shall grant you as well that Unintentionally Uninclusive was poorly chosen. I was grasping for a tag line and that was the only one that came to hand. I did not mean to imply that you ought to have provided equal evidence.

    May I start over? Unfortunately, my original post has disappeared, and I cannot reword it, but will you accept my asking, with all due respect, whether you have other points in favour of the possible maturity of the 16-year-old participants besides pregnancy and marriage?

    I do apologize for posting here while I have been in the middle of blasting the Prudecutor for sniping at the It gets Better Project, but I am fairly certain I said it was my first impression. It was more one of those things one notices intellectually than an emotional response, but I have given offence and hereby apologize for it. I am sure my agitation at the Prudecutor made me sound more emotional, and as this is going to be another of those evenings (I still have not gotten out of L1 yet, despite starting more than three hours ago) when I can never get finished, I am going much faster than I should. Very bad of me.

    I like the way you put the last point. Well expressed.

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  24. All right, that's a fair enough question, hrumpole. I can see now that I tailored my examples based on sexually-based signs of maturity (which is what the LW's predicament seems to be about) ~ hence the specific marriage and pregnancy references.

    I did have three girlfriends that petitioned the court to be emancipated from their parents at the age of 16, two so they could be free to attend college. They could neither graduate nor matriculate early without their parents' permission, and were more than ready to move past it, both having jobs and living independently already.

    The third had a baby in her freshman year of high school, and another in her junior year, and by the time she graduated, she had been working at the Department of Motor Vehicles for two years (which everyone pretty much knows means she was set for life) and she had her own apartment and her own car and was very happy. Now, I realize that her story does include pregnancy, two in fact, but I'm hoping that the fact that she was not married, will mollify your standards of gauging maturity, and you would find her sufficiently thus included. :)

    I've missed Prudie's comments on the IGB project. Where is this happening? I'll stand elbow-to-elbow with you against her, friend. Just please remember ~ the only thing I can't tolerate is intolerance... and the Dutch. ;)

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  25. Oh, but I LOVE the Dutch! I won a gold medal at the Gay Games in Amsterdam and met an aspiring opera singer there who'd almost seduced Stephen Fry. I'd have lived there in an instant if I could have done - but, obviously, matters of liking are matters of liking, and I shall not urge the Dutch upon you.

    The Prudecdutor's "snipe" at IGBP occurred during her Monday chat in her reply to the LW who worked with mean Girls. I am deliberately blowing it out of proportion on my page half in fun, but I do think she trivialized the IGBP, and it did leave a nasty taste in my mouth that she would make a passing reference to IGB videos without a passing nod of reference to one of her own colleagues as originator of a project which, as I have put it, "has probably done more good to the world in a calendar quarter than her entire collected life's work." I also get to give her thirty whacks with a wet mackerel over those Brokeback puns from a while back.

    Oh, good grief, I am STILL not on L2 yet!

    Do you know, it just occurred to me that this all ties together in LW1 being terrified only of losing the friendship with Bee. *Terrified* strikes me as an interesting word, one that might be a good deal more appropriate in circumstances that might apply to how IGB came about in the first place. At least LW1 does not have to be terrified that, if the truth comes out, Bee will be shamed and shunned and might even do herself lethal harm. One small blessing.

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  26. Oh, and you had extremely interesting friends. Good for them.

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  27. HA! I love that movie! It's from "Austin Powers: Goldmember" hrumpole. The arch villian, Dr. Evil, has a strange hatred of/fascination for all things Dutch. And it serves as a running joke. Some quotes:

    Dr. Evil: You know Goldmember, I don't speak freaky-deaky Dutch. Okay, perv boy?

    Nigel Powers (Austin's Dad, played excellently by Michael Caine): All right Goldmember. Don't play the laughing boy. There's only two things I hate in this world. People who are intolerant of other people's cultures and the Dutch.

    Etc.

    In what event did you earn a Gold Medal?!

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  28. You beat me to it, Smag! Yes, hrumpole, do tell! :)

    And by the way, I did have interesting friends, but they didn't seem so terribly, at the time. I'm honestly shocked that they seem so out of the norm for so many people. I was just explaining to someone earlier that, at that age, for most of the kids I knew, high school was a formality we were all anxious to be free of ~ because it held us back from the lives most of us were already living!

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  29. I probably have already said more than I ought. Would you two mind terribly if I stop mentioning my own past? I can tell you about my friend and his attempt to seduce Stephen Fry instead, which is a much more interesting story anyway. They had been corresponding for some months and by some extremely fortuitous chance were able to meet in London. I think they were actually trying to meet somewhere else, and it just happened sent letters that crossed in which each told the other he couldn't make their planned meeting as he'd have to be in London. A dinner was arranged. My friend, who was extremely short on funds at the time, put together them sort of outfit that Catherine Howard might have worn had she had an opportunity to appeal to Henry VIII in private to spare her life, or at least a male version of the same. Dinner was all that a film director could have asked and then came the Moment. Mr Fry announced with deep regret that he was in the midst of a fidelitous phase, and sadly not available for whatever had been planned by way of dessert. And there ended the beginning of what would have been one of the Great Romances of the end of the last millenium. But there is one plus. As they have never since both been available at the same time, they are still on excellent terms, and the proposed indiscretion remains, so far as I know, very much on the table for some time in the future.

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  30. Thanks, Hrumpole, for the Fry story, and thanks to all for the nuanced take on L1.

    Have these people never seen 'The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer'?

    Yeah, high school is a device for keeping girls at their most mateable age from mating, and it doesn't do a great job, at least partly because it delivers them into the influence of creeps like Mr. A.

    Sixteen-year-olds don't have to be tabula rasa, capital V Victims to miss the large part of what's going on here, like, why doesn't a forty-five year old man have a more appropriate girlfriend, or a better-developed sense of caution, anyhow. And if LW1 lies for Bee, as girls might do, she's lying for him, too;

    I remember finding it difficult to say no to a high school teacher who asked me to stop at the liquor store for her, and that's with no hormonal spin at all.

    High school girls have agency, yes, but they often have logic like my friend whose crush on her swim coach, (unlike mine on mine) did progress to dating. She says now, "I was sure it was true love--I touched his Thing, didn't I?"

    But it's LW1 who asked for advice, and she should turn down the request for cover. She should tell Bee, "Seriously?? as your friend?? people could get in So Much Trouble for that, I don't want anything to do with it."

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  31. I keep coming up with so many different angles for L1 that my head is spinning. My latest is to wonder how LW1 KNOWS that Bee has had sex and been responsible. The obvious conclusion is that she is just accepting what she's been told (dangerous, as Miss Marple points out in *A Caribbean Mystery* and Hercule Poirot points out in *The Murder of Roger Ackroyd*), which is probably the obvious conclusion as well for her knowledge of the affair. But then it occurred to me during the night - what if LW1 actually has GENUINE FIRSTHAND KNOWLEDGE about Bee's sexual history, meaning, she was actually present either as a participant, an observer or what one might phrase as a parallel.

    But I have been so worried about whether Bee is really telling the truth or not (even if we discount possible jealousies on LW1's part) that I may finally have a solution to the whole situation. LW1 should get Bee to bring Mr A to her to convince her that he isn't a creepy predator, and I'd advise her to tape the conversation. That way, if Bee is making the whole thing up, nothing more will come of it. If Mr A refuses to admit a real affair to a third party, it might change Bee's perspective. And if Mr A has the vanity common among creepy predators, he may think that, especially given the similarity of his relationships with the two girls, he can smooth talk LW1 as well, he may take the interview and then LW1 can decide how to proceed - probably turning him in. I suppose ideally I'd have her take neutral outside opinion before deciding - probably not possible. But at first thought this seems to leave as many doors open as possible. I have been very worried about LW1 going to authorities or others with insufficient (or no real) evidence - there are numerous bad possibilities.

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  32. LW1- I don't like the sexual predator label being thrown around either. There is a big difference between a 16 yo and an 11 yo. Should he be put on a sex offender registry? No. Should his teaching certificate be revoked? Yes. Whether it's lawyer/client, therapist/patient, corrections employee/inmate, or teacher/student: if you are engaged in a professional relationship with someone that puts you in a position of authority over them you shouldn't be having sex with them- regardless of their age. If you want to pursue a sexual relationship, you need to terminate the professional relationship first. This guy is a dipshit.
    LW3- You suck. Congratulations, you win the Shitty McShittypants award of the year. I hope your tree catches on fire. I hope you choke on your turkey. I hope your presents are actually gift-wrapped dogshit. I hope you drink too much eggnog and throw up.
    :)

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  33. hrumpole, I love the story about your friend and Stephen Fry! And, too, that they are still friends. Life is an amazing thing, yes?

    As for your (fair and reasonable) desire not to share with us the category in which you medaled, I must choose one myself in order to satisfy my curiosity. I rather like the idea that it was in body building because that would make you, in my mind, into a sort of intellectually brilliant, stunningly literate Arnold Schwarzenegger. And *that's* a powerful image! But, regardless of the category, competing against people from the rest of the world? And winning? That's incredible, hrumpole, and worthy of great appreciation. So, regardless, many congratulations and much respect (not that there wasn't already great respect--just saying).

    Good cheer! :-)

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  34. Ahoy, Cantahamster! And much agreed in that the most important thing seems to be turning down her friend's request. All of the other will come out in the wash soon enough.

    As for love equaling touching his Thing, doesn't it? ;-)

    Much good cheer! :-)

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  35. hrumpole! Your solution of calling for a meeting (and then taping it) is brilliant! There's no down side there. Well, unless, like a bad TV show, the police pop into the room right as Mr. A. is about to confess what he's been up and and perhaps right as he's about to make a move on our young LW. Because then she'd have a reason to hate the police for having interrupted her most excellent sting! Damn the man, always bringing everybody down. :-)

    Much good cheer to you, kind Sir! :-)

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  36. OMG, JayJay, your rant is so wonderful, so incredible, so full of the vim and the vigor that I've included it in my column. I hope you don't mind? If you do, I'll happily remove it.

    Thank you for it, though, because it almost very nearly earned my keyboard a coffee shower!

    Good cheer! :-)

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  37. My reticence was in no way intended as an indication of a lack of trust in you or Ms Mermaid. It would be too easy an identifier, and it would be tedious if anyone who happened to know and dislike me in real life should suddenly start cross-examining me here.

    My current favourite interpretation (dramatic bias admitted) is that Bee made a pass at Mr A and is so furious at being turned down that she is using LW1 (whom she suspects of being Mr A's real object, whether she's correct or not) in an attempt to bring him down, wanting 2-against-1 testimony. This has come largely from LW1's being terrified of losing the friendship, which suggests that maybe Bee is in training to become a Queen Bee someday, and is expert already at manipulating her closest friend. But there are so many good jealousy angles, it's hard to settle on one specific line for long.

    As for LW3, perhaps one might advise her to poison the no-longer-wanted guest's eggnog, and privately wish that she might accidentally drink it herself. The poison can be fatal or otherwise, as one prefers.

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  38. I understand completely, hrumpole! There was no offense taken at all. Plus, a bit of mystery is always fun, yes? :-)

    I like your current favorite interpretation! Not only does it supply some needed intrigue to the letter, it puts faith in our 16-year-old protagonist that she can be more than a helpless, simpering victim at that age. :-)

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  39. Ahoy Captain! Hope your exams went well and you're having a splendidly rewarding weekend. I sure admire you for working full time and going to grad school!

    Love your proposed letter to the insensitive in-laws and I sure love JayJay's note to the LW with the shrinking Christmas table, that gross person who wants to desinvite his/her daughter's friend after so many years sure deserves it. I suspect the LW of being an old fuzzy duzzy (sp?), i.e. compulsive, who is defeated by the size of a table (I say "old" 'cause I know about such things, even though I seem to be getting more lacksadesical (sp?)as I'm growing older. I only use the dining room table as a buffet and let people sit wherever). Oh well, I expect the daughter to be writing to Prudie about this...

    As for the high school student/teacher sex, it's not about the age difference, it's about what a teacher is expected to do and not do.

    You have to draw a line, you need rules 'cause who knows what the next teacher will do. (I'm speaking as a person with slightly anarchistic tendencies, so trust me, when I support an iron clad rule there are good reasons for it).

    If these two are so much in love, they could either wait till she graduates, she could drop out of school, or he could quit and take a job elsewhere. The teacher might not be a predator and he might think he's genuinly in love with the kid but there are predators in the 1-12 grades teaching profession and you have to have barriers, even though they do get broken.

    In addition there is a question of honor. I sure understand that it's hard for a teacher to resist young girls (or young boys if he's gay or if the teacher is female) throwing themselves at him or her, but resisting temptation and instead using this as an opportunity for mentoring is part of the job. If the teacher in the letter can't do it, then he should chose another profession.

    Also, think about it. This is a private all girl school, so that teacher has no competition among heterosexual girls....

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  40. Smag,
    I'm delighted:)Oh, and LW3- Merry Fucking Christmas.

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