Here’s an interesting story making the rounds this morning. Interesting in that it not only involves the vetting of punishment of a female school teacher, Shannon Alicia Schmieder for raping a 14 year old boy, but also interesting in the way the media have chosen to react to this woman’s sentencing and the way it forces us to reconsider gender equality.
Having confessed to two counts of sexual misconduct with a 14 year old boy the courts decided to sentence Ms Schmieder to a 40 year sentence (with 20 years to be served), yet in the reporting of this news item the dailymail has gone out of its way to let the readers know that the sentencing is comparable to what manslaughter or other serious criminal offenders are often given, failing to disclose that in fact it is often the case that males when found guilty of similar crimes are par for the course often given lengthy jail sentences.
Notes the dailymail: ‘We were forced to realize that role models of our community like preachers, teachers, scout leaders, coaches, and even mothers that you love and trust, and have known for years, and you would believe would never hurt your child could be a sex offender. This is physically and emotionally hard to accept.’
Shannon Alicia Schmieder, 39, was told she will have to serve 20 years – by far the toughest sentence ever handed out by a US court to an educator accused of underage sex.
Legal experts said the jail term was the same for manslaughter and other serious crimes.
Far the toughest? Not necessarily so. The toughest because she is a woman- quite arguably, but had the gender roles being reversed one wonders whether this incident would even be receiving media attention as it has become matter of fact that when males offend with respects to crimes like this severe punishments are a matter of par for the course. With respect to a woman receiving a sentence that some would consider arduous a sense of disquiet is now suddenly palpable, with the implication that perhaps it’s time to bang our pots and pans and express our displeasure. Never mind that the media likes to stay quiet or even reinforce such punishments when it is a man in the dock.
Reflects the mother of the 14 year old boy who’s trust and care she had given to Ms Schmieder:
‘We were forced to realize that role models of our community like preachers, teachers, scout leaders, coaches, and even mothers that you love and trust, and have known for years, and you would believe would never hurt your child could be a sex offender. This is physically and emotionally hard to accept.’
What may also be hard to accept is that it may be just about time that if we are to vet punishment against sexual offenders- we do it with an even hand and stop the pretense of how certain punishment have become so onerous, when one half of the population will tell you it has always been business as usual.
But if one really wants to gauge attitudes towards raped 14 year old boys and the female teachers who perpetrate these types of crimes, I have plucked a couple of dailymail reader comments which are quite revealing indeed:
They are sending a message to everyone else on this one. While I don’t agree with what she has done in any way. I really think that boys of 14 are not traumatized by sex with anyone. Hormones raging more so than girls. I bet there are many female teachers more than a little frantic on this sentence.
Interesting. Would they be saying that if the genders were reversed? What do you think? And here’s one that knocked me off my feet:
Oh my God 40 years! I assume this lady is a menace to society and this boy is damaged for ever? Absolutely not, this is a complete abuse of power by the Judge. Surely the harm caused to the victim and the danger to the general public should be taken into account in these matters? That ladies life is now over, they may as well have executed her for giving that lad (and lets be absolutely honest here) a great time and probably a safe, adult sex education without the risk of sexual transmitted diseases or pregnancy. I except she abused her position and should be punished but this sentence is appalling. 6 months and a record would have dealt with it. Also that mother needs a jolly good reality check, she’s obviously completely deluded. I expect she thinks those tissues under his bed are from blowing his nose?