Yes, Rape Victims Get Erections, Too

We need to get over the myth that men are invulnerable to sexual victimization at the hands of women says Hugo Schwyzer.

On Thursday, an Ohio judge sentenced Stacy Schuler, a popular high school gym teacher, to four years in prison for having had sex with at least five male students, including at least two members of the football team. During her trial, Schuler’s defense lawyers suggested that her judgment had been compromised by her vegan diet, irritable bowel syndrome, and anti-depressant medication.

Schuler’s case raises a familiar debate, one that’s been going on at least since Mary Kay Letourneau became a household name fifteen years ago. (For those who’ve forgotten, Letourneau was a 34 year-old middle school teacher when she began a sexual relationship with a 13 year-old student named Vili Fualaau. Sentenced to prison for second-degree child rape, she bore two of Fualaau’s children – and ended up marrying him after he turned 21.)  The debate hinges on fundamental questions about the differences between the sexes – and about what it really means to be abused. What it boils down to is this: are sexual relationships between grown women and underage boys as harmful as those between adult men and underage girls?


Because women are much less likely to sexually abuse teens than are men, those rare cases that do feature female defendants tend to attract lots of media attention – particularly when the woman involved is relatively young and conventionally attractive. Invariably, someone will suggest that the boys involved were lucky, and that rather than being abused, they had lived out every straight teen guy’s fantasy of nailing the hot teacher. When, as in this Ohio case, the boys involved are described as distraught at what had happened to them, there’s often a sense of disbelief. How could normal red-blooded American boys be upset about the fact that they got laid?

The myth that men are invulnerable to sexual victimization at the hands of women is a powerful one. It sits alongside several other myths. For one, we have a hard time believing that grown women could be attracted to adolescent boys (while we accept as normal the idea that grown men are sexually fixated on teen girls.)  Second, we have a hard time acknowledging that guys are every bit as emotionally vulnerable as their sisters, just as easily traumatized by a predatory adult. Young men may indeed be horny (as are more young women than we sometimes admit), but a strong libido doesn’t functional as psychological armor.

But perhaps the most enduring myth brought up by cases like this is the idea that pleasure is incompatible with victimization.   Real victims only feel pain, never arousal – or so far too many people still believe.  An erection, or better still, ejaculation, functions as proof that a boy wasn’t really harmed. Most predators who molest children and underage teens know this; many sexual abusers go to great lengths to try to arouse their victims. The child’s pleasure functions as a kind of absolution in the mind of the abuser; “I can’t be that bad if I made them feel good!”

But of course, an orgasm isn’t evidence of consent. As decades of research have shown us, a surprising number of male and female victims of sexual abuse do report having experienced some physical pleasure while they were being molested. That memory of arousal can lead to greater feelings of guilt, as it seems proof in a child’s mind that he (or she) was somehow complicit in what happened. “Part of me enjoyed it, so I must have wanted it,” the thinking goes. Some therapists who work with survivors of abuse say that these cases are often the most difficult to treat.


By not taking the sexual abuse of boys seriously, we perpetuate toxic myths about men and women alike. Muscles and high testosterone levels offer little protection against emotional violation; even football players can be profoundly injured by a sexually irresponsible adult. We need to acknowledge that young women don’t have a monopoly on psychological vulnerability, just as young men don’t have a monopoly on intense lust. And we need to remember that when it comes to relationships between adults and teens of either sex, desire and pleasure are never evidence of consent.

photo: Joseph Gray / flickr

About Hugo Schwyzer

Hugo Schwyzer has taught history and gender studies at Pasadena City College since 1993, where he developed the college's first courses on Men and Masculinity and Beauty and Body Image. He serves as co-director of the Perfectly Unperfected Project, a campaign to transform young people's attitudes around body image and fashion. Hugo lives with his wife, daughter, and six chinchillas in Los Angeles. Hugo blogs at his website


  1. RevSpinnaker says:

    No statistics to quibble about here!

    Go for it.

  2. When people hit puberty they should be able to consent to sex. The focus here should be on consent and not age. A fourteen year old should be able to consent to have sex with a 30 year old if they are able to consent to sex with another 14 year old. Ridiculous. The idea that social awareness, intelligence, and moral functioning track with age is ridiculous. A sizable minority of 17 year olds are more childish than the majority of 14 year olds. Age is a nigh arbitrary quantifier as regards the psyche. There are so many ‘adults’ who are really scared, jealous, and selfish children. In fact, it is the majority (currently.)

    • martrevion says:

      I have to agree, because you’re absolutely right. And more so that,’ if the seven year old was already prepped to take it up the ass against his will before he turned 14, you damn right he/she has the right to consent to be with someone more mature than they are. The real truth is they(we) learned already against our will by an older person ANYFUCKING way what it felt/feels like to be stuck with those feelings, They stay with you until You decide to disarm those feelings and desires you’re having SECRETLY. That’s hell itself when you believe for you, it;s unnatural to feel that way. Again, IT IS WHAT IT IS! All cases are not valid, because I know now If I was 14 and my fine ass history teacher, my hot ass science teacher(get my point) would have even HINTED to me that he wanted to give me some dick at that moment, I WOULD have said,”where will we go to do it at!!!!!!!Keeping It too real because it’s healthy, Tell the fuckin truth, It ain’t hard.

  3. “Because women are much less likely to sexually abuse teens than are men, those rare cases that do feature female defendants tend to attract lots of media attention ”

    Categorically INCORRECT. First of all, it is NOT rare. And second of all, the MSM bends over backwards to avoid reporting incidences of female pedophilia. Here is a listing from just ONE MONTH (Nov 2011):

    (AL) Amanda Watkins,
    teacher – Guilty of rape of boy, 15. Sentencing TBD,

    (CA) Chrissy Ann Dunn, 31,
    neighbor – Sentenced to year in jail for lewd act and oral copulation of boy, 14,

    (CA) Patricia Ann Serrano, 43,
    neighbor – Accused of sex with boy, 12,

    (CO) Terah Allyn Rawlings, 32,
    teacher – Accused of sex with boy, 15,

    (CT) Tricia Coccomo, 38,
    teacher – Supreme Court reinstates convictions and 12-year prison sentence,

    (FL) Amanda Cooney, 26,
    teacher – Accused of interfering with missing boy, 16,

    (FL) Sheryle Lynn Vanlandingham, 42,
    neighbor – Gets 5+ years prison for sex with teen boy,

    (IL) Melissa Calusinski, 25,
    daycare worker – Guilty in death of boy, 16 months. Sentencing date TBD,

    (IN) Katherine Cervantes, 35,
    neighbor – Accused of sex with boy, 14,

    (KS) Cathleen Balman, 42,
    teacher – Accused of indecency with boy, 15,

    (KY) Amy Noles, 38,
    teacher – Accused of sex abuse of male student,

    (LA) Heather N. Daughdrill, 28,
    Bible camp teacher – Accused of carnal knowledge of boy, 13

    (MI) April Patzkowsky, 32,
    teacher’s aide – Gets seven years prison for sex with male student, 14,

    (MN) Tameshia Leeann Allen-Hodges, 23,
    teacher – Accused of pimping disabled female,

    (NC) Megan Trainor, 24,
    teacher – Accused of indecent liberties with male student, 16,

    (NC) Yolanda Shonta Williams, 23,
    teacher – Accused of sex with student,

    (NY) Claudia Tillery, 42,
    teacher – Accused of sex/alcohol offenses involving 6th-grade boy,

    (OH) Sarah Hickman, 37,
    teacher – Accused of contributing to delinquency of student,

    (OH) Shannon Hurley, 41,
    neighbor – Accused of liquoring up and having sex with two boys, 14 and 16,

    (PA) Lhonda Kanode, 41,
    neighbor – Accused of sex assault of boy, 15,

    (PA) Gabrielle Suzanne Marvelli, 39,
    teacher – Guilty of sex with male student, 17. Sentencing date TBD,

    (SC) Erica Mae Butts, 25,
    neighbor – Sentenced to life in prison for death of girl, 3,

    (SC) Carole Ann Hope, 36,
    teacher – Accused of sex with student 11 to 14 years old,

    (TN) Cindy Garner Clifton, 41,
    teacher – Accused of rape/contributing to delinquency of 11 boys, aged 11 to 14,

    (TN) Jeana Lynn Gunter, 35,
    neighbor – Gets probation for sex with boy, 15,

    (TX) Lori David, 38,
    neighbor – Gets no jail for online solicitation of boy, 16,

    (TX) Amanda Lynette Logue, 25,
    teacher – Accused of improper relationship with student,

    (TX) Kaci Pomerenke, 31,
    teacher – Gets three days jail for sex with male student, 14,

    (TX) Cynthia Stewart, 43,
    guidance counselor – Accused of sex offenses involving boy, 15,

    ((WV) Summer Lynn Burford, 34,
    neighbor – Accused of sex with boy, 14,

  4. Very interesting article and interesting conversation, I’m surprised there is so much minimization of the sexual abuse of boys by women. As a female survivor of sexual abuse (committed by men) I have no equivocation about the validity of sexual abuse experiences of young men who have victimized by mature women.

    Rape need bot be defined entirely by the physical aspects of the event; it is more defined by the emotional and personal boundaries that are first violated for the abuse/rape to occur. The power imbalance that exists between a young teen or a child and an adult is great and is the over-riding factor in such cases. The stereotype that only men can rape certainly gives power to the legitimizing women who overpower their young subjects using sex as their tool and disempowers the victim. I am sorry for those victims. As a woman who suffered under the rule of a very mysoginist household growing up and never had my experiences validated, I have some idea of how horrible it feels to have a horrible and shaming experience completely minimized, ignored or worse, to be blamed for it happening.

    Additionally, as the article states, the physical responses to sexual arousal are entirely physiological and not within our control. Again, the stereotype that a woman cannot abuse a man because she must stimulate arousal to consummate a sexual relationship and therefore must engender the males’ consent is rubbish. Manipulation and gentle seduction all gain the victims consent temporarily, but not to gain mutual pleasure or to participate in an egalitarian and sharing relationship, but usually as a pattern learned, of giving in to pressure from an authority or performing sexually to avoid a perceived threat (bodily, emotionally) or to gain another unrelated favor (money, food, security).

    Its all sexual abuse and is a crime.

    • As a male victim of a female paedophile, I couldn’t agree more.

      Its all sexual abuse and is a crime.

  5. Helen Raten says:

    My boyfriend is 21. When he was a virgin and at the age of 17 he was raped by a friend of his mother. A woman who worked in the school he attended. They had more than a few sexual encounters. His mother never found out. Since then he has always been attracted to older women (I’m 30). He has a hard time maintaining an erection, he thinks because of guilt and fear that he would get her pregnant as he didn’t use a condom. He is also very depressed. Works full time but sleeps a good 3 hours when he gets home from work.

    I believe it is all connected to his first sexual experience. Is there anything I can do that would help him? I’ve encouraged him to see his doctor and think counselling is essential. At the moment he seems reluctant, although definitely not unwilling.

    It’s all very sad.

  6. Tom Matlack says:

    But accusing Hugo of rape isn’t a personal attack? This is not the place for that.


  1. […] got a rare Sunday post up at Good Men Project this week: Yes, Rape Victims Get Erections, Too. I look at the myths we have about boys who are sexually abused by older women. […]

  2. […] in point: In his recent article, Hugo Schwyzer claimed, “Because women are much less likely to sexually abuse teens than are […]

  3. […] member of success. While underage boys can be victims of rape by women (a indicate we made here), their somewhat comparison manly counterparts are culturally improved versed to enter into […]

  4. Sources…

    […]here are some links to sites that we link to because we think they are worth visiting[…]…

  5. […] such as Deborah’s, a sexual encounter with an adult might genuinely “feel really good.” As I’ve written before, we make a huge mistake by assuming that the victims of sexual abuse never feel […]

  6. […] know that female teachers (and other authority figures) can and do rape boys. The fact that they do it with a good deal less frequency than their male counterparts rape […]

  7. […] For more reading, check out Yes, Rape Victims Get Erections, Too […]

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