TheCatSite.com › Forums › General Forums › IMO: In My Opinion › Did I overreact?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Did I overreact?

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
I got an apologetic email from one of my students today, whom I really lit into on Wednesday (the last day of school before the Easter break). Now I'm wondering if I should have taken a different tone. The background is: Three weeks ago, a 16-year-old girl was raped by 8 teenaged boys in Stuttgart. She had met one of them at a club, and gone outside with him for some "petting", "necking", or whatever you want to call it. (The legal drinking age is 16 here.) The two were soon joined by two of his friends, and then another 5, and they all took turns having intercourse with her. She didn't put up any resistance (which I find understandable, as it was 8 to 1). The boys (16 to 18) were arrested, and claim that the sex was "consensual". Once the story hit the media, another girl came forward, and accused two of the boys of having raped her a year ago. The police state that her claim is very believable.
This has been a major topic of conversation at school, and I was horrified to overhear a 23-year-old female student remark during a break that, "It was her own fault, why did she go outside with 8 guys?", referring to the girl. My reaction was, "She went outside with one guy, and even if she had gone outside with all eight, most guys wouldn't do that! It might have been stupid, but certainly wasn't her fault!" I had the class after the break, and instead of translating a business letter, we discussed "date rape", "spousal rape" and "Can a prostitute be raped?" The vast majority of the students seemed to agree that the victim was just that, an innocent victim, but there were a few dissenters, oddly enough all female. They apparently want to believe that such a thing couldn't happen to them.
My student has apologized for making me angry, and says she feels humiliated because she made that stupid remark, which led to so much discussion in class. That wasn't what I intended at all, and I feel bad about having humiliated her (that's what I wrote in my reply). I talked to my boss this evening, and she told me not to worry about it - the class Casanova had told her all about what a great class we had, and gave her all the juicy details of the discussion. However, I feel guilty about having taken advantage of the opportunity to perhaps influence some kids' opinions at the expense of this particular girl. She's a nice kid, but a bit of an airhead. I don't regret having induced the kids to discuss this in class, but it was probably unwise to have reacted to this gal's remark outside of class. What do you think?
post #2 of 24
I don't think you overreacted. Have you seen The Accused with Jodie Foster? It is about a situation way too similar to what you described in Stuttgart (except these were all adults and it was inside the bar....) The defense for that was "she asked for it."

If it changed her or anyone else's mind, then you certainly did the right thing. Contrary to current popular thought, a little humiliation isn't always a bad thing...
post #3 of 24
I don't think you over reacted at all. You have probably taught that girl to think before she speaks, and made her realise she was wrong to misjudge that poor girl so quickly. And that fact that there was an open discussion is brilliant. They are lucky to have you.
post #4 of 24
I don't think you overreacted, someone's got to teach these people. One of the first things a rape victim does is blame herself, like why didn't I fight back, what did I do to provoke this, I shouldn't have done ............(fill in the blanks). And they're ashamed and feel guilty because they think everyone is going to think the same way.

But my first thought after reading this was when is she going to be fired? I think if you did this here in the US, you'd be front page news, what with all the craziness going on in the schools here, especially since you talked about such a sensitive subject during school time.

I've visited Germany a few times (I have family there) and was shocked at the amount of drinking going on (and driving). But I didn't know that 16 was the legal drinking age, somehow I'm not surprised. My cousin told me (I could be wrong) that there are at least 5,000 different brands of beer in Germany.

Jill and Candy
post #5 of 24
You didn't overreact. I'm glad that you said all of that, because she needed to know that. She probably will think before she thinks now. If shes sorry, then you don't really need to worry that much about it anymore, she probably knows you're right
post #6 of 24
You definitely did NOT overreact. Your students are fortunate to have a teacher who would seize a "teaching moment" even though it was not in the area of the class subject. Such situations are never easy. You did the right thing.
post #7 of 24
I don't think your response was inappropriate, and it may have put a thought or two in the boys' heads (the class is co-ed right?) that might be helpful. Especially since the girl went outside with one boy, not eight: her comment wasnt even based upon the facts.

I do sometimes wonder whether teenage girls realize that they are putting themselves at risk when they walk out at night wearing skin tight skirts that barely cover their underwear, and what their parents are thinking when they let them dress lke that. I don't think they understand the degree to which males' sexual response is physical much more so than cognitive, and that teenage boys often lack the control of adult males, especially if they have been drinking. I'm not defending non-consensual sex, but the point at which the perpetrator is being prosecuted is already too late for the girl.
post #8 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by jcat
They apparently want to believe that such a thing couldn't happen to them.
Well, this is sort of how some people deal with things. "Bad things" only happen to "Bad Girls" and since they are not a bad girl they are safe. That they do not see the problem as affecting but rather as someone else's problem.

Spousal rape is only a relative new legal concept. Up to a decade ago such thing was not possible even in places such as UK. Reasoning being that one have consented to sex by signing the marriage vows. Of course a prostitute can be raped but in many countries either the law does not allow it or that they charge the girl for solicitation instead.

Another question is with regards to rape committed in times of war by troops. It been stated that the accused should not be able challenge the rape charge by questioning the female about whether there was consent.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jcat
She's a nice kid, but a bit of an airhead
Just as a side note, I don't think airheads are all that bad. Well, the airheads I know may behave in an airhead manner but are quite smart, like getting As for their work and taking special papers that teach beyond the subject. In fact I recall a time back when I was in high school, where I was sort of 'pitching' (more like arguing) an idea for a particular school performance to a teacher. The other people in the committee all went home and the only person that stayed back next to the performers, was this airhead girl who stood side by side with me fighting for my idea. People just focus on her airhead behaviour, her looks and her boobs but under all that is a real great character and intelligent person.
post #9 of 24
No you didn't overreact, and thank you for taking the time to make these kids think. One thing most people don't think about...even if it started out consensual, the moment she said "NO, STOP", it became rape!

One thing I have learned about kids...even if they're college aged "kids", they think they're indestructable. Nothing bad will ever happen to them, and if it did, they'll just bounce. Thats one of the beauties, and pitfalls of youth.
post #10 of 24
Sounds like you took advantage of a teachable moment to me, also.

I agree with Bumpy's comment about the reasoning behind the attitude that the girl assumed - by assuming that anyone who is victimized brought it upon herself, she can assume the attitude that she will always be safe. That would also explain why the victim's critics were women. It's good to bring them back to reality, so that they may be more receptive to teaching about safety issues and learn to be cautious, instead of assuming that "it couldn't happen to me".

It was probably also good for the young men in the class to hear it - bringing the issue out from under the rug, for an enlightening discussion about consent and rape.
post #11 of 24
It sounds to us like the world needs more teachers like you.

Jeff & Susan
post #12 of 24
I am so very glad you had this discussion with your class. Rarely do young people have the opportunity to really think about sexual assault. It is only by forcing them to think about it that we can end some of the hideous beliefs people have about rape.

Every Fall I talk about sexual assault in my Freshman Orientation class (college students). I am always appalled by how many students don't consider it rape when a man has sex with an unconscious woman or how many male and female students believe that if you have engaged in heavy petting with a man, it is okay for him to force intercourse even if you say no. And, you wouldn't believe how resistant they are to changing their beliefs. It truly saddens me.
post #13 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by lotsocats
Every Fall I talk about sexual assault in my Freshman Orientation class (college students). I am always appalled by how many students don't consider it rape when a man has sex with an unconscious woman or how many male and female students believe that if you have engaged in heavy petting with a man, it is okay for him to force intercourse even if you say no.
This reminds me of the first Avalanche game we were at this year. There were these two guys, 35ish, obviously pretty professional by dress. (My other impression was that they were egotistical pigs, since they were about falling over themselves to flirt with the little high school girls in front of them...) They were talking about the Kobe Bryant thing, which had just come out in the news. They were saying that it shouldn't even BE rape, there should be a new misdemeanor statute of sex without consent. Because, really, it isn't rape if a chick drinks too much and passes out.... I really wanted to ask them if they drank too much at a party and passed out and some guy had sex with them, would that still be "sex without consent"?
post #14 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by valanhb
I really wanted to ask them if they drank too much at a party and passed out and some guy had sex with them, would that still be "sex without consent"?
Oh, to be a fly on the wall when you asked that question!
post #15 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by valanhb
I really wanted to ask them if they drank too much at a party and passed out and some guy had sex with them, would that still be "sex without consent"?

Great idea! I wonder how many guys would change their tune if they thought of it that way!
post #16 of 24
Well, I chickened out and didn't actually ask. I didn't want to get kicked out of the game, and I probably would have been. A friend pulled some strings to get us that good of tickets, so I didn't want to cause a scene.
post #17 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by iluvcandy
But my first thought after reading this was when is she going to be fired? I think if you did this here in the US, you'd be front page news, what with all the craziness going on in the schools here, especially since you talked about such a sensitive subject during school time.
I teach English at a private, state-accredited, coed "junior college", so that gives me a bit of leeway. Only one of the kids (the "Casanova" I mentioned) is still a minor, but he'll be 18 in May, and I know he's sexually experienced, as I've already had two of his ex-girlfriends crying on my shoulder. And we did have the discussion in English, with words like "consensual", "spousal", etc.. written on the board. The Department of Education encourages teachers to take advantage of opportunities to discuss and analyse current events, so I wasn't worried about losing my job, though I could have gotten a reprimand from my boss for commenting too harshly on an overheard remark.
post #18 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by lotsocats
I am so very glad you had this discussion with your class. Rarely do young people have the opportunity to really think about sexual assault. It is only by forcing them to think about it that we can end some of the hideous beliefs people have about rape.

Every Fall I talk about sexual assault in my Freshman Orientation class (college students). I am always appalled by how many students don't consider it rape when a man has sex with an unconscious woman or how many male and female students believe that if you have engaged in heavy petting with a man, it is okay for him to force intercourse even if you say no. And, you wouldn't believe how resistant they are to changing their beliefs. It truly saddens me.
I remember your mentioning that in another thread, and that was one of the reasons I decided to hold the discussion with the class. You'll be happy to know that the entire class considered intercourse with an unconscious, extremely intoxicated or hallucinating woman rape, and felt that a prior relationship wasn't a mitigating factor.
One thing that surprised me, though I have heard it before, is that some of the girls equated rape with homicide, claiming that it was "murder of the soul".
I didn't feel it was the time or place to bring up my own experience, but I privately disagree with that view. I was in a self-help group, under the auspices of the police department, and I think that telling victims that, and treating them as if they are somehow going to be permanently damaged, lessens their chances of finally coming to terms with the crime and managing to put it behind them.
post #19 of 24
I think you have a wonderful point about not wanting to give rape victims the idea that they are permanently damaged. In fact, what we always focused on when I used to treat rape victims was the importance of changing from a victim into a survivor, and that part of the transformation is realizing that you are still a whole person....a person with emotional scars, but still a whole person. We also would talk about how emotional scars are just like scar tissue on our skin, it is different from the rest of the skin, but scar tissue is a lot stronger than regular skin. So while the memories of the rape can be difficult and painful, the experience can serve to make the survivor a stronger person.

Also, I am soooo glad that none of your students thought that having sexu with an unconscious person was acceptable.
post #20 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by jcat
I teach English at a private, state-accredited, coed "junior college", so that gives me a bit of leeway.
The ironic thing I as I always see it is that often when some people complain that certain stuff (not just about sux) should not be taught in school, often the school that bears the brunt of it is public schools or average schools. So it ends with the the crummy students getting less But the top schools whether are they private or even some top public school do talk about such issues. Maybe the equivalent of the gymnasium in Germany Jcat? At least with private school even if they are not a top school there is some leeway.
post #21 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bumpy
The ironic thing I as I always see it is that often when some people complain that certain stuff (not just about sux) should not be taught in school, often the school that bears the brunt of it is public schools or average schools. So it ends with the the crummy students getting less But the top schools whether are they private or even some top public school do talk about such issues. Maybe the equivalent of the gymnasium in Germany Jcat? At least with private school even if they are not a top school there is some leeway.
The public schools may be a little bit paranoid because they are dependent on public funding, and thus on politicians worried about offending constituents. Thus the economic/religious/educational background of any given area plays a very big role. Some of my students attended "Realschule", sort of a "middle school", and are hoping to qualify for a technical college by graduating from our school ("staatlichanerkanntes Berufskolleg"; the best equivalent I can come up with is "state-accredited junior college"). They are not used to dealing with controversial issues in class. Many, if not most, attended a Gymnasium, and have had a far better all-round education, and are accustomed to discussing most topics you throw at them.
I don't think "political correctness" plays as big a role here as it does in the U.S. (though sometimes I wish it did; I recently did a translation with a class from a "quality paper" which included the expression "Schlitzauge", i.e., "slant" or "slanty-eyed individual", "Chink" or "Nip", and I had to point out that one wouldn't see that in a mainstream U.S. publication, and that many, if not most, Americans would be highly offended by it, myself included). No, I have to qualify that - the interpretation of what is "p.c." is different. Topics like (premarital) sex, religion (cf. evolution), homosexual marriage, etc., aren't considered controversial, while most Germans are absolutely paranoid about anything that could be construed as even vaguely anti-Semitic or "neo-Nazi".
I attended a U.S. public school from kindergarden through ninth grade, and then transferred to a private parochial (RC) high school, and found that both systems had their own restrictions/proscriptions. Having managed to "put my foot in it" numerous times, I decided over two decades ago to just follow my gut feeling of what was (in)appropriate or educational. In this particular situation, I'm sorry that my student felt humiliated, and feel that I should have considered that before saying anything. On the other hand, as a teacher I have a certain obligation to allow/show my students how to look at various aspects of any given situation, and come to an "informed opinion". If I could only get them to watch the news and read newspapers/news magazines, I could "die happy"! The Internet helps: I'm constantly suggesting links, and the usual comment is, "Mrs. B. is an Internet junkie!"
post #22 of 24
I do not think that you went overboard....you simply stated the facts....all too often people judge situations without knowing the facts. This girl bviously needed to learn that. Rape and abuse are often misunderstood, and I'm glad you brought it up. As a future teacher, and working for quite awhile as a teacher's aid....there are those teachable, off the lesson plan moments where there is an opportunity to help students learnabout something they may have a question about...and even though your "tangent" was initiated by only one student....I'm sure it enlightened your other students as well (or at least made them think about it). I took a sociology class last summer and we talked about rape in depth...for a few days, and also in regards to the different forms of abuse (which caused two verbally abused girls to speak out)but nonetheless, I learned a lot!


The world needs more teachers like you.
post #23 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by jcat
The public schools may be a little bit paranoid because they are dependent on public funding, and thus on politicians worried about offending constituents. Thus the economic/religious/educational background of any given area plays a very big role. Some of my students attended "Realschule", sort of a "middle school", and are hoping to qualify for a technical college by graduating from our school ("staatlichanerkanntes Berufskolleg"; the best equivalent I can come up with is "state-accredited junior college"). They are not used to dealing with controversial issues in class. Many, if not most, attended a Gymnasium, and have had a far better all-round education, and are accustomed to discussing most topics you throw at them.
I don't think "political correctness" plays as big a role here as it does in the U.S. (though sometimes I wish it did; I recently did a translation with a class from a "quality paper" which included the expression "Schlitzauge", i.e., "slant" or "slanty-eyed individual", "Chink" or "Nip", and I had to point out that one wouldn't see that in a mainstream U.S. publication, and that many, if not most, Americans would be highly offended by it, myself included). No, I have to qualify that - the interpretation of what is "p.c." is different. Topics like (premarital) sex, religion (cf. evolution), homosexual marriage, etc., aren't considered controversial, while most Germans are absolutely paranoid about anything that could be construed as even vaguely anti-Semitic or "neo-Nazi".
I attended a U.S. public school from kindergarden through ninth grade, and then transferred to a private parochial (RC) high school, and found that both systems had their own restrictions/proscriptions. Having managed to "put my foot in it" numerous times, I decided over two decades ago to just follow my gut feeling of what was (in)appropriate or educational. In this particular situation, I'm sorry that my student felt humiliated, and feel that I should have considered that before saying anything. On the other hand, as a teacher I have a certain obligation to allow/show my students how to look at various aspects of any given situation, and come to an "informed opinion". If I could only get them to watch the news and read newspapers/news magazines, I could "die happy"! The Internet helps: I'm constantly suggesting links, and the usual comment is, "Mrs. B. is an Internet junkie!"
I can understand being freaked out about the Nazis thing. I'm Jewish with A German ancestral background (among others ), and I have met German people who actually felt that they had to apologize for me for; "the past behavior of our countrymen". I always reply that it isn't their fault what happend, and that keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive is the best thing that we can do to make sure that it never happens again.
post #24 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by vinceneilsgirl
I can understand being freaked out about the Nazis thing. I'm Jewish with A German ancestral background (among others ), and I have met German people who actually felt that they had to apologize for me for; "the past behavior of our countrymen". I always reply that it isn't their fault what happend, and that keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive is the best thing that we can do to make sure that it never happens again.
The whole topic of "collective guilt" is confusing to many young people here. Very few people who were active Nazis are alive nowadays, but I believe there is still a general feeling among the German population that the country as a whole has to "atone" for past sins, the so-called "sins of the fathers". To most kids nowaday, WWII is ancient history. I would compare it to Americans' feelings about our country's history of slavery, and the genocide of Native Americans. I can understand it; the first person in my family who immigrated to the U.S. served as a surgeon in the Union Army and is buried right outside Gettysburg. Although I know that there were no slaveowners in my family, I still feel shame that my country adhered to such a horrific practice. I married a German citizen in June of 1980, and my sister married a Jewish-American six months later. As you can imagine, there was a lot of discussion in and outside our family about it. My sister's marriage didn't last too long, but the bond my husband forged with my former brother-in-law because of the "adversities" exists to this day. I think we're all a bit hypersensitive about anti-Semitism, and, as a result, all too aware of the plight of Palestinians. It's a no-win situation.
I agree with you. Although it makes no sense to attach blame to those born long after the fact, there is a historical obligation to ensure that past horrors are not forgotten. My sister's s.o. is a Sioux, and having grown up on the East coast, where the few remaining "Amerinds" are basically considered exotic, I'm totally disgusted with how Native Americans are treated in the Midwest, where she now lives. The "pecking order" back East is far different from that in "America's Heartland", or here in Europe, and it really saddens me that most human beings seem to need to categorize others and have some picture of "otherness". I'd love to think that we can learn from the past, but current events dash those hopes.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: IMO: In My Opinion
TheCatSite.com › Forums › General Forums › IMO: In My Opinion › Did I overreact?