Sally C. Pipes - Contributor
[Courtesty of Pacific Research Institute]
C. Pipes is President and CEO, Pacific
Research Institute [go
to Pipes index]
Lies, and Sociology
PC double standards…
[Sally C. Pipes] 4/6/05
capital city comes the latest chapter in the gender chronicles,
a real stunner.
19, Sacramento police arrested Margaret De Barraicua, a 30-year-old
teacher at McClatchy High School, for having
sex with a 16-year-old student in her car. The teacher’s
two-year-old son was strapped into a safety seat in the back
at the time. On top of all that, the vehicle was parked outside
of an elementary school at the time of the arrest. It was not
the first sexual encounter between the two.
The case drew international attention, as have others involving
older female teachers and younger male students. De Barraicua,
who said she and the student were in love, and that all activities
were consensual, is free on bail. The school district did not
fire the woman but placed her on paid administrative leave. And
now from the social science benches comes the cry that Margaret
De Barraicua is the victim of gender bias and stereotypes.
professor of sociology at the nearby University of California
at Davis, told a reporter for the Sacramento Bee
that “I would hate for her to get a harsher penalty because
we have a cultural bias against older women having sex with a
Grindstaff said, “There are cultural sanctions
for women having too much sex. For men, sexual activity doesn’t
work against them. He becomes the stud. She becomes the slut.”
is this woman living in? There may well have been a cultural
for women having too much sex in, say, 1955.
But not in the Age of Madonna, MTV, and “Desperate Housewives.” As
Tom Wolfe has recently pointed out, the culture is drenched in
sex, for women and men alike.
As for some cultural bias against older women partnering with
young men, that exists mainly in the isolation wards of sociology
departments. De Barraicua is not being prosecuted for breaking
a cultural taboo. She is being prosecuted for breaking the law,
which forbids adults from engaging in such activities with those
Her offence, statutory rape, could be prosecuted as a misdemeanor
or felony. Prosecutors may seek a maximum sentence of three years,
which prompted the sociological charges of gender bias. Her lawyer
wants no more than 90 days of community service.
a psychologist who evaluates sex offenders for the courts,
told a reporter
that what De Barraicua did would
not even qualify as a crime in Massachusetts. The effect of De
Barraicua’s act on her two-year old son, now in the custody
of her husband, does not appear to interest sociologists or psychologists.
It might be recalled that Mary Kay Letourneau got six months
for sex with a boy who was 12. She then served seven and a half
years for violating a court order to stay away from him. A 34-year-old
basketball coach in California got six months for sex with a
16-year-old female student. Six months in prison is a lot harsher
than 90 days of community service. There are other realities
police had discovered a 30-year-old male teacher having sex
16-year-old female student, in his car outside
an elementary school, with the teacher’s two-year-old child
a captive audience in the back seat. They would likely have called
in a SWAT team. Courts would have set bail higher than the $20,000
for De Barraicua. The school district would be pressed to fire
the offender, rather than offer the paid-leave arrangement that
De Barraicua got.
For their part, the courts should focus on the law and the facts,
not the flighty gender theories of sociologists. Yes, cultural
stereotypes exist. Often they are wrong. Women can be CEOs, postal
workers, soldiers, pilots, serial killers, and sexual predators,
just like men.
As for double standards, they still exist as well. And Margaret
De Barraicua will be the beneficiary of one if she gets the slap
on the wrist her lawyer wants instead of jail time. tRO
2005 Pacific Research Institute