Sorry, Tucker Carlson: Statutory Rape Is Still Wrong if the Victim Is Male

What Women Really Think
June 6 2014 1:15 PM

Sorry, Tucker Carlson: Statutory Rape Is Still Wrong if the Victim Is Male

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Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images

As I previously predicted, the new Fox News show Outnumbered is shaping up to be must-see TV for fans of retrograde ideas about gender. Tucker Carlson particularly relishes the role of being the big man who's going to tell these silly girls (his co-hosts) that they don't know anything about how men "really" think, and he trotted out another doozy on Thursday by complaining about a female teacher getting arrested for rape. While you would think an anti-feminist like Carlson would enjoy hearing that women commit rape too, Carlson objected because he simply doesn't believe that statutory rape counts if the perpetrator is female and the victim (in this case, a student at the teacher's school) is male. 

"It's ludicrous that we are calling this a rape. Are you serious?," he griped. "I'll tell you what's wrong to this extent — he went and tattled to the police and destroyed her life. Are you joking? What a whiny country this is."

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In fact, the student did not "tattle" on the teacher. According to NBC New York, the 38-year-old gym teacher from Queens carried on with a 16-year-old student over the summer, and he told a friend about it. That friend told a parent, who then reported it to the police. Which was the right thing to do, since adults who take sexual advantage of minors, regardless of gender, are engaging in criminal behavior. 

Carlson was leaning on a couple of untrue assumptions, or what feminists might call "rape myths," to justify his tirade. One is that, as anyone who has ever listened to Van Halen knows, all boys are hot for teachers, so teachers can't actually take advantage of boys. "You’re this boy, and all of a sudden you’re a rape victim? You pursue an older woman, and have a relationship with her, and you’re a rape victim?" Carlson said. "It defies common sense. And anybody who’s being honest with himself knows exactly what I’m talking about." But just because minors might want to have sex with adults doesn't mean that the adults are right to exploit them. After all, minors also want adults to provide them with alcohol, but that too is illegal. And to assume that boys of a certain age are more equipped than girls to consent to sex with an adult assumes that boys, by virtue of their gender, are smarter and more capable of handling themselves than girls are.

The other false assumption in play is the idea that all sexual assault is treated the same and that everyone who is found guilty can expect to have the book thrown at them. Carlson seems hung up on the idea that the teacher is being charged with "rape," but she is not actually being treated the same as someone who forced themselves onto someone else with overt violence. She is being charged with third degree rape and a third degree criminal sexual act, because our justice system figures out the different degrees of various crimes and is supposed to mete out punishment accordingly. "Boys and girls are not the same," Carlson pleaded to his co-hosts. Good news, Tucker! Neither is third degree and first degree rape.

Amanda Marcotte is a Brooklyn-based writer and DoubleX contributor. She also writes regularly for the Daily Beast, AlterNet, and USA Today. Follow her on Twitter.

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