Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Can Sex Offenders Be Sexy?


Photo by Eli Hodapp

Blogger Richard Connelly of the Houston Press is in hot water this week for his post "The Ten Hottest Women on the Texas Sex Offender List."

Connelly seemed to sense the format was controversial even as he published the piece:

"I can understand how some people might react to this. On the other hand, it's a way of getting readers to look at the info, maybe get them to realize there are people out there like this and they all don't look like the obvious stereotypical pervert."

Not only did he include the name and the mug shot of the criminal, but the gender and age of their victim-- the youngest being a 2 year old boy. Connelly insisted he was merely trying to challenge assumptions about "typical" sex offenders.

Disclaimers aside, was he really oblivious how revolting his "glamorizing" of sexual assault would be?

The outrage was rather predictable. Connelly offered an apology shortly after, explaining trivializing child rape never crossed his mind, but should have-- and his hindsight (thanks to readers' comments) is now 20/20.

"I can only say the intention was to shock (in what I hoped would be a positive way) and not to offend. To a lot of people, I failed miserably. I can understand that, and I apologize to them."

Yet a few years ago, Coed Magazine featured a "Sexiest Sex Offenders" list, focusing on teachers, with little to no backlash. And "the sexy school seductress" or "hot for teacher" scenario describing women like Mary Kay Letourneau has been the basis of several (made for TV) movies.

Gender impacts everything-- even how we feel about crime. And there's definitely a double standard when it comes to adults having inappropriate sexual contact with minors.

The issue was addressed years ago in a memorable South Park espisode where Ike dates his kindergarten teacher and the local police won't intervene because it's "hot."



While society doesn't necessarily associate the word "woman" with "sexual predator," the unusual nature doesn't excuse the way these images were portrayed at the Houston Press-- and elsewhere.

Connelly has attempted to make amends. But there's still work to be done convincing others there's nothing attractive about an adult taking advantage of a child, whether it's a man or a woman. 

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