Article Title



gender, statutory rape, victim, women, men, sexual abuse, pregnancy


Over the past century and a half, the gendered essence of statutory rape has become deeply embedded in the purpose of the statute, extending its tentacles far beyond the statutory language, such that we can no longer extricate the male-on-female image from the formal law's requirements for prosecution. The reality of statutory rape is, however, far more complex than the traditional gender construct implies. Female sex abusers and male victims exist, in substantial numbers and varieties. Part I documents the statutory rape law's gendered essence, explaining the formal law's traditional gendered classification scheme, the Supreme Court's approval of that approach, and the literature and enforcement policies that have reinforced this decision between the sexes over time. A careful review of the history and literature shows that the law itself has fitted us with blinders, compelling us to focus exclusively on harms caused to girls by adult men and to ignore the possibility of female-perpetrated statutory rape of boys, even in the years since the law became official gender-neutral. Part II begins with a discussion of the societal scripts that constrain our ability to accurately interpret the behavior of both genders when it comes to sex. It then introduces the psychiatric and psychological literature about female sexual abusers and male sexual abuse victims. The evidence we can extract from these studies - about the frequency of female abusive behavior, the nature of such behavior, and the likely motivations of both victims and perpetrators - should inform how we handle these issues in statutory rape literature in the future.



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