Have you guys tired of my posts on alleged attacks against the family. While I have a handful left, I’m going to take a bit of a break to focus on some other topics that have been on my mind lately. The Boy Next Door has gotten a lot of publicity lately, given its release date was this past Friday. This movie focuses on a sexual experience an adult woman has with a 17-year-old boy, whose age she presumably did not know until she sees him show up in her class. This boy has recently moved next door, hence the name of the movie. Am I alone in feeling something a bit off about this? Nothing I have seen so far speaks of controversy or drama surrounding the movie, but I have a major problem. From what I’ve seen so far, this movie victim blames the 17-year-old boy for his seducing ways, playing the woman as the actual victim. Um, WHAT!?
Not that long ago, I read a Buzzfeed article about a 44-year-old man who had sex with a 16-year-old student. In the end, he got a pathetic 18 months in jail. As reasoning for this lenient sentence, the judge argued that the 16-year-old girl groomed and seduced the man during a time of emotional turmoil in his life. The article included social media reactions of people complaining about victim blaming. As right they should. Plenty of 16-year-olds get crushes on teachers. Some may make advances, at which point the responsible adult should report her to the principal – not sleep with her!
I fail to see how The Boy Next Door is that much different. The child in question is only a year older than this real life girl. What if we switched the genders. If this movie was about a 17-year-old girl who seduced her teacher into a sexual relationship, people would be beside themselves with fury. For that reason alone, I have a huge problem with this movie. So, it’s wrong for an adult male to sleep with a female student, but if an adult female sleeps with a male student, that student is to blame? Please. That is the complete opposite of gender equality.
I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t some kind of grey area here. When I was in high school, I had a friend who slept with her fair share of men. She told me about an excursion she had one weekend with an older man (he was in his 20s). Only after they slept together did he realize she wasn’t of age. I’m sure that man was well terrified. While she didn’t mind and didn’t press charges, the ball was in her court. I don’t think ignorance usually flies as an excuse for wrong-doing in a court of law. Still, one could make the argument that, if a person honestly thought the partner they were having sex with was at least 18, that no wrong occurred.
The law is that way for a reason, though. The other option would be to give child molesters the upper-hand by letting them make the argument they didn’t know a child was under 18. What happens when a man tries to sleep with a 12-year-old and claims she looked like she was 18? I don’t know that there is a balance. Either we automatically assume the adult did wrong, regardless of ignorance, or assume the child was effectively at fault for looking too much like an adult.
As a feminist and supporter of gender equality, everything I hear about The Boy Next Door bothers me. While i haven’t seen the movie, it seems to be more about victim blaming than anything else. Is it wrong of the boy to stalk his teacher and black mail her with pictures of their lovemaking? Yes. However, that does not, in any way, excuse the teacher for sleeping with an under age boy.
Why do women who do this always seem to get off a little easier than men who do the same (and when do get off easy, there’s more outrage)? This just seems so backwards, more so because no one seems to be talking about this. Why is no one talking about the victim blaming nature of The Boy Next Door? Why aren’t people outraged? Am I missing something here?
Have you seen The Boy Next Door? Did the movie blame the victim as much as the previews? How do you think people would have reacted if the movie was about a 17-year-old girl and her male teacher?
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