The Loving Embrace

Pamela Turner

What is that spell we cast upon the crowd?  How are we held up to the stake, bound by misconception, and burned for our perverse tricks?  This article from BBC News lightly explores the elusive and overly fantasized sexual encounter between a young child and an older woman. A young man speaks up about his own relationship with his mother, identifying it as child abuse. Of course, upon reading child abuse and pedophilia in the same sentence, an older man comes to mind, and while the appearance constantly changes, he still remains dark-natured, sneering, remarkably deceptive. 

A woman runs not across my mind.

The female rapist almost seems as mythical as an unicorn or fire-breathing dragon with large leathery wings and blood running through its pupils. And, thus, the female rapist seems all the more enchanting, all the more elusive, and just as necessary of an evil as the monsters underneath our beds. She is a monster, but an acceptable monster.  Although I’m literally ignoring the detrimental state of a traumatized victim regardless of our captor’s sex, most people just don’t believe that a woman can rape a man.  

The Sexual(ized) Victim

Female and victim are synonymous, a rattled relationship that follows us like that omnipotent stranger behind our shoulder. From the cradle to the grave, we learn that we are targets. And while the intentions for our harm and misuse may vary, there is always the expectation of sexual danger. Even during this moment of sexual liberation, women liberation-however you define it-our gendered lessons (for ex. fairy tales in which we are saved or save ourselves through some romantic promise of a kiss) can and do mentally and emotionally self-contain women in a state that takes away our rage, our passions, our indefinable evils that aren’t gendered, evils that are accessible to everyone. 

Domestic Advantage

Lee R. Edwards speaks of this stifled madness in his book, Psyche as Hero: Female Heroism and Fictional Form. Using the extensive catalog of female characters in the fiction world, he points out that we settle our frustrations through our matriarchal space-our home or dwelling over which we reign. Like Jo March and Clarissa Dalloway, if and when women aim to empower themselves, they most often start at the home. It is here that they can define the act of heroism for themselves: Unravel the happy house and take aim against patriarchy and all that encompasses it. This containment of female drama and anger in literature can correlate to that of true life crimes committed by women. As noted on, between 1976-1997, over 60% of the 60,000 murders committed by women involved an intimate relationship between killer and victim. Women also play intimate roles in the development of many children’s lives, as teachers, nurses, and mothers. 

Although the female pedophile does not always develop violent behavior, the environment in which a women’s emotional or psychotic disorders can become exposed perhaps sets the stage for when the lines between reason, morality, and wrongness blur. Because here, under the sexual scope, the maternal learnings of a woman are always tender, thoughtful, and caring. So, in the portrayal of a female pedophilia, her impact upon the child is registered as tender, thoughtful, and caring.

Mary Kay Letourneau

When Mary Kay Letourneau sexually abused her high school student, Villi Furlaau, she declared it a passionate and romantic relationship. Here, the multi-layered environments set up the complications of the female sexual predator, because both victim and predator do not believe that she is one. Being a teacher in a classroom setting places Mrs. Furlaau (the couple married in 2005) in an easier position as a pedophiliac, but only our laws can label her as such. However, in the long run, Villi Furlaau assisted his wife in being released from prison, and the two now have a family. 

Thus, even here do we see tremendous biases in the way women’s rage or disorders are viewed. Younger victims seemed endowed with new sexual knowledge after such encounters. Their older, female lover has broken them into the world of carnal desire. For encounters in which both the victim and perpetrator are the same age, even then do we see a lack of violence or brutality most often associated with traditional images of rape (man is aggressor, woman is passive and afraid). The female victim’s dominance is sexualized, allowing her to gently seduce and catch her man. Although studies do show that male victims can devlop an erection though they are not aroused, our own cultural definitions of sexuality and sexual relations can not understand this biological response. For men, deep down, they will always enjoy sex, even when it is forced upon them. 

Sexual(lized) Psycho

This obviously provides a polarizing and complex portrait of the female sexual predator. Her dominance is present, as she has somehow manipulated her suitor into engaging in sex, but that dominance is denied any power or male-exclusive traits (anger, rage, etc). This type of power is only demonstrated by physical force (for ex. scars and wounds). But, what we learn from sexual abuse is that sometimes the occurences are not violent. Instead, there is a mental and emotional breaking down of will and reason in the victim, so that her or his captor also plays a protective and nurturing role in this victim’s life. Is it only natural for a woman to play such a part without the situation being remotely perverse? 

Briana Broiztman and Ashton Larson

Briana Broitzman and Ashton Larson were arrested for sexual abusing senior citizens at a nursing home. Gaining access as volunteers, those who fell victim to these women’s activities were subjected to regular genital assaults. Such activities included giving the male patients erections, sitting on their faces, groping female patients’ breasts, and inserting fingers into the patients’ rectums. Many of the patients suffered from dementia and Alzeimer’s disease, further separating them from the consent needed for such acts to be complicit. And, suppose these male and female patients were fully aware of the situation. If they had not reported the young girls’ actions, would that mean they were suspect for statutory rape and assault? On the surface, what makes this incident provocative is because of the nature of the crimes committed against these patients. However, the depravity of these prolonged encounters also exhibit sadistic tendencies in which they enjoyed humiliating and degrading their victims. Because their crimes were so sexual, because they were young attractive girls, the disturbing element of this entire story is based on the act themselves and not based on why these girls performed these acts in the first place.

The diluted intermingling of cultural codes with psychological study displaces woman from rage and man from vulnerability. We are so swayed by our own notions of monsters and victims, that woman as sexual predator in any regard is a perversely ambiguous figure. As we hear more about these cases, we can only hope to part the curtain of female passivity and fearlessly embark deep into her own thanatos, that which lurks under no other bed but her own.

  1. This is an interesting topic to me on a personal level and I appreciate your mature perspective. When I was 19, a woman about 24 or so bought me a few drinks at a club in Jacksonville, NC. I only remember having a few drinks and then waking up in a hotel room with her on top of me. Apparently, she had control of me for 7 hours or longer before the affects of whatever she put in my drink wore off completely. I won’t go into great detail here, only to say that it was rape and I did not enjoy it.

    Feel free to contact me if you want to discuss it further.

      • chriscicchelli
      • June 5th, 2009

      Hey James,

      Thanks for the comment. To me, The subject of female pedophilia and male-victimized rape is one that is discussed usually with great bias because of the assumptions we have about men and women. I once dated a man in the past who had a similar experience in college. He was very depressed afterward, unable to speak about it with other friends because he felt as though it was not a big deal… when, obviously it was. He spoke to a female friend who encouraged him to seek out counseling, which eventually helped him understand the incident.

      Thank you so much for sharing. I hope to find more conversations like these in an effort to understand that rape is not always about sex and not always about women.

  1. May 6th, 2009
    Trackback from : The Loving Embrace

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