The mustached man lurking around the playground. The socially-inept peeping Tom leering over a neighbor’s fence. The flasher in a dark alley. These are just a few of the stereotypical sex offenders that we know and fear.
But there’s a lot that we don’t know about sex offenders… but should. There’s a subset of offenders that’s breaking the old stranger danger stereotype, and there’s not a single mustache among them.
That’s because they’re women.
Female Sex Offenses: The Under-Reported Crime Stat Of The Century
According to The Center For Sex Offender Management, fewer than 10% of arrested sex offenders are female, and women make up only 1% of adults arrested for forcible rape. Women also make up only 1% of all adults who are arrested for sex offenses.
But there’s some issues surrounding how female sex offender statistics are gathered. It’s widely believed that many incidents go unreported. Why? Because young boys get social cred for hooking up with older women—it’s just the way our society has always been.
There’s no shortage of examples that prove this point. The Graduate, in which the middle-aged Mrs. Robinson seduces recent college grad Benjamin, is widely considered to be a “coming of age” story. Anne Bancroft, the actress who played Mrs. Robinson, revealed that young men often approached her to confess that her character was their first fantasy.
Or take any number of websites with names like “The Top 10 Hottest Female Sex Offenders.” Go to one of these sites, and you’ll read about how desirable the women are… and how “lucky” the young boys were.
A Double Standard Between Male And Female Sex Offenders?
But adolescent boys who get taken advantage of aren’t lucky, they’re victims of a crime.
This is one reason why we have such a hard time with the concept of a female sex offender: a double standard that’s based on gender stereotypes. Is a child’s first sexual experience “rape” or a “rite of passage?” You might change your answer depending on whether the victim is a girl or a boy.
It gets worse: most female predators use emotional manipulation to make their victims think they’re “equal and willing” participants. As a result, many boys are confused and hurt, and might not even realizethey were raped until much later in life.
The Traumatic Aftermath Of Female Sex Abuse
Women may represent only a small percentage of sex offenders, but their crimes are just as serious as men’s are. The victims of female sex offenders often suffer trauma well into their adult lives.
Colin, a man who’s now in his 30s, spoke to the BBC about his experience as a sexual abuse victim. The perpetrator? His mother. Because he “couldn’t sleep at night” and suffered from “flashbacks of my mum on top of me,” his teenage life spiraled out of control as he turned to drugs and violence to cope with this trauma.
It was hard for Colin to accept his mother’s actions as abuse. Mothers are viewed as nurturers, not aggressors. Colin worried that nobody would believe him if he spoke out. And even though his mom hurt him, it still felt “wrong” to betray her.
The Motivations Of The Female Sex Offender
We look at female sex offenders differently than we do males. Where we might vilify the man, we often diagnose the woman predator as depressed, lonely, or mentally ill. And it’s not just society: it’s been shown that female sex offenders identify themselves differently as well. Many female offenders view themselves as being in a relationship with their victims. Says Robert Weiss of the Sexual Recovery Clinic in California, “Women, in general, seem to look for relationships and not necessarily sex—although female offenders will have sex with a minor.”
A particularly horrific instance of this behavior is the story of Joyce McKinney. The 25-year-old former Miss Wyoming kidnapped her victim and chained him to a bed for 3 days while she assaulted him. He was 19. When he promised to marry her, she freed him, and he subsequently went to the police. After 40 years, Joyce McKinney still claims that she “loved him so much.”
Uncovering The Terrifying New Face Of Sex Crimes
The climate is slowly changing. Increased awareness is spreading across the Internet. But research on female sex offenders still has a long way to go. Limited data and persistent social prejudices ensure that female sex offenders remain a niche research topic.
The topic gets divided further by research suggesting that many types of female sex offenders exist. Among these are:
The sexual mentor: these women believe they are a sexual “tutor” in their “relationships” with underaged victims.
The predisposed: these women were abused themselves or suffer from mental illnesses, and tend to act alone and victimize their own families.
The coerced: these women are pressured by a man to commit sex crimes.
The third type is noteworthy because it is specific to female sex offenders. Women who are “co-offenders” are more likely to be charged with non-sex crimes in addition to their sex offenses.
Female sex offenders remain a small population among sex offenders as a whole. For the time being, thebest practices for avoiding sex offenders apply to both genders. Search your state’s sex offenders registry, run a background check on yourself to locate nearby sex offenders, and arm yourself with the information you need to keep your loved ones safe.
Ashley is a writer and photographer who is passionate about technology, online safety, and environmental conservation. Based in sunny San Diego, she spends as much time on, near, or under the water as possible. Add her to your circles on GOOGLE+ and follow her on Twitter.