Just as Catholic parishes and schools sigh with relief that the sex-abuse crisis appears to be under control, a new sexual predator is emerging, preying on Catholic teenage boys in schools across the country. This new predator is younger, gentler in appearance, nearer in size and age to the young male victims, and enjoys an almost perfect cover. They wear tight T-shirts bearing slogans like “Boys Drool,” receive confidential free health care that encourages their predation, and often receive encouragement from mentors and supervisors who seem enthralled by the power they wield.
The new predator is . . . female. She claims secrecy, support, and even approval as a matter of right — and, often, receives all three from the staff and faculty of Catholic schools, which should know better. That she herself is disturbed and needy often goes ignored in deference to her sexual “empowerment” and in fear of the scandal and backlash for calling her what she is: an abuser.
I first noticed this alarming social dynamic in our parochial middle school here in San Francisco. Our son, encouraged by a romantic interest in one of his classmates, secretly placed a white, long-stemmed rose in the young girl’s desk. When the object of his affection opened her desk, she coughed loudly to get the class’s full attention, stared at my son, and ripped the flower to shreds, slowly dropping the destroyed petals to the floor.
“Well, yes,” I was later told by a teacher. “Girls can be a bit mean at this age. They are experimenting and testing boundaries that, for them, tend to be social. They experiment with attracting and rejecting boys’ attention.”
“Experiment?” I wondered at the time, marveling at this vacuous defense. My son’s school, like every Catholic middle and high school, has firm, well-enforced boundaries to control boys’ bullying each other and in any way harassing girls. No boy would dare similarly humiliate a girl — much less touch, push, or harass a female peer — without fully anticipating swift, certain, and painful consequences, including expulsion. Nevertheless, I have watched girls throw themselves against boys, shove and trip them, rumple their hair and tug their clothing, whisper derogatory, stinging insults — all with no consequence, no correction. Experiment? How about “bullying without compassion or correction”?
Girls suffer no consequence for bullying their male peers. Since my son’s experience, I’ve heard stories of girls throwing gifts from admirers out the school bus window, sharing a “break up” note with the whole class before handing it to the rejected boy at day’s end, and posting vicious, ridiculing comments online — all after having coaxed, urged, and encouraged the boy in his affection. “That’s how girls are,” the educators shrug, without explaining why the boys are taught to respect a strict code of behavior, while girls purposefully flaunt it and emotionally debilitate, injure, and humiliate boys.
Sadly, unchecked as much of this behavior is in middle schools, the situation worsens as the children mature into adolescence, where female schoolyard bullies turn into sexual predators. Stories abound of boys looking for healthy dates and relationships (see my article on freak dancing, “No Freaking Way“), only to unwittingly encounter sexually experienced, aggressive girls who, in their neediness and emotional instability, employ guilt and temptation to coax middle school and high school-age boys into sexual activity. To turn them down, these predators know, the boys will be subjected to further ridicule and assertions of “unmanliness.” Their very masculinity is directly challenged — and they are but young teenagers. They are alone — without protection, without information, without defense that might alert them to the dangers at hand. And if matters leave their control, these same girls may mercilessly blame the boy, weep crocodile tears of offense, and claim assault.
You may be thinking, why haven’t I heard of this problem? Where are the studies? Where are the complaints? If there’s been wide-scale offense, where are the victims? We, as a Church, have been too willing to ignore problems that we have not been forced to confront. But ask your daughters. Ask your sons. Be willing to listen, and hear.
Our educators know — just as they know of the problem with freak dancing. As a result of that article, I learned that public school educators were far ahead of Catholic schools in prohibiting this sexual display called “dance.” So why have Catholic administrators failed to act on the sexual harassment of boys by girls?
First, many adults remain in denial about the plight of our young men. The radical feminist mantra that boys dominate and repress girls still reigns in the minds of Catholic school educators. Even as the student body in colleges reaches 60 percent female (“The New Math on Campus“), educators continue to pretend that girls — not boys — remain the disadvantaged, oppressed gender.
Second, in California, the radical feminist agenda has pushed for a host of laws that allow girls to obtain confidential “reproductive health” care. Internet sites like www.teensource.org and Planned Parenthood’s “Teen Talk,” aimed at teenage girls, explicitly and enthusiastically encourage girls to engage in aggressive sexual activity by “taking control” and viewing sex as yet another hobby, not an emotionally defining interaction between feeling persons. This is but one consequence of the Pill, now celebrating its 50th anniversary.
Third, the girls’ access to this information is cloaked in supreme confidentiality. On Teen Source’s guide to “Your Health, Your Rights,” young girls learn that,
Some will insist that this system is designed to support healthy sexual relationships among teens. But instead, it provides a secret armory of information and tools for girls to harass and manipulate their male peers. They have no responsibility for the harm they inflict on boys, and yet they will cry foul at the slightest perceived harm to themselves.
It’s time for our Catholic parishes and schools, once again, to drag themselves into the real world and refuse to allow this predation on our young men. We must create environments and conditions where a sexually predatory female is identified for what she is: a bully and an abuser. Let us establish boundaries and protections for teenage boys, so long neglected and left to fend for themselves in a dysfunctional system where others seek to use and abuse them — the unprotected, ignored victim of modern sexual sport.