Emily Writes: The lies we tell ourselves about the sexual abuse of boys

In New Zealand last year, a Blenheim teacher who raped two schoolboys was jailed. Apparently Jaimee Marie Cooney is the first female teacher in New Zealand to be convicted and sentenced for sexual offending against students. That tells you something about the reporting and conviction rate for teenage boys when it comes to rape and sexual abuse.

Her defence lawyer claimed the sexual abuse of 15-year-old boys in a car was “not degrading”. The lawyer also claimed the boys were big athletes, which is a defence we’ve heard before (girls looking like women) which apparently makes them fair game for sex offenders. Thankfully, the judge didn’t buy any of that victim-blaming and actively challenged it. The teacher was sentenced to two years and six months in jail. Thanks to comprehensive coverage by the excellent Anna Leask, we know what happened and we know what was said in court.

Victim blaming in the aftermath of assaults like these adds to a culture that means boys are too afraid to speak out. Children, teenage boys, young men – they hear people when they talk about these cases. They hear the mental gymnastics, the jokes about being “hot for teacher”, or that you can’t really rape a man. They hear that it’s not degrading, that grooming is just being hit on, that it’s a compliment, and that they’re big boys.