Kirk Douglas fondly recalls an affair with his teacher: “I had been a ragamuffin kid of 15 coping with a neighborhood filled with gangs. Under my teacher’s guidance, I became a different person. I’m eternally grateful. By today’s standards, she would have gone to jail. I had no idea we were doing something wrong. Did she?”
It’s understandable why a young man of 15 wouldn’t feel and think that something so pleasurable, so natural, so exciting. so gratifying, so empowering was “wrong.” And, obviously, given such feelings (even assuming he did feel it was “wrong” because of moral and religious inculcation), he didn’t think he was a victim of “rape” and CSA who was “traumatized,” devastated, and “scarred for life.”
What of his teacher? It’s likely she thought it was “wrong” in the sense of it being “inappropriate” and unprofessional. But perhaps she didn’t even think that. And I’m certain she didn’t think it was “wrong”in the sense of being aberrant and unnatural and/or egregiously immoral and transgressive. And, even more so, I’m sure she didn’t think it was “wrong” in the sense that she was a “rapist” and “pedophile” and “child molester,” and that her lover was a victim of “rape” and CSA who was “traumatized” and “scarred for life.”
And it’s likely that she knew or feared she was guilty of a “moral’s offense,” however defined, but wasn’t unduly worried since there was little chance of anyone knowing or suspecting they were having sex and telling school officials or calling the police.
But today, almost surely, she’d be arrested, prosecuted, convicted of a felony or felonies, and sentenced to anywhere from 6-12 in jail, if lucky, to 10-30 years in prison; to years of punitive “sex offender treatment,” both in jail or prison and after her release; years of quasi-totalitarian post-incarceration supervision; and registration for life as a uniquely monstrous and dangerous criminal. And she’d be vilified as a “sexual predator,” “child molester,” “pedophile,” and “rapist” with no penis, and Douglas would be viewed and defined as the “victim” of a traumatic and life-destroying violation even if he told the authorities and all else that he enjoyed the sex and was a willing participant -because this was his actual experience, incredulously, in contrast to the delusions of CSA victimologists.
Now, apparently, Douglas knows their affair was “wrong.” But does he think it should have been a felony as it is today and since the 1970’s or even a misdemeanor? Does he think his teacher and women like Mary Letourneau, Debra Lafave, Cassandra Sorenson-Grohall, Melissa Bittner, Abigail Simon, and many others are “rapists” and “pedophiles” who should be charged with felonies and sentenced to months in jail or years in prison and all the extra/post-incarceration punishments? It would be fascinating to read or hear his opinions in an interview in a magazine or on national television.
Ironically and paradoxically, in respect to intrigues and dalliances between young men under age 18 and adult females, above all teachers, the America of today and of the last 20-years is far more repressive, draconian, hysterical, irrational, delusional, and inquisatorial than the America of Douglas’s youth, the “good-old-days” or “bad-old-days,” depending on one’s values and politics and weltanschauung.
Savor the irony, the poetic injustice, if you will: without her guidance, he might have ended up dead or buried in prison rather than going on to become a rich and famous and legendary actor, one of the most feted and iconic of all the great movie stars of the post World-War II era. Not only did she turn him into a “different person,” not only did she enrich his life morally and artistically and intellectually, not only did she give him the sex that he craved and enjoyed and fondly remembers, she might have even saved his life. But if they had such an affair today or in the 1990’s, her life would be blighted -profoundly, tragically, hellishly- if not utterly destroyed. She would be branded with the “new-age” scarlet letter, figuratively, until she died. She would never be free again. Unlike her “victim,” she’d be traumatized, devastated, and scarred for life.