No Penis, No Problem

40 Pages Posted: 8 Dec 2005

See all articles by Kay Levine

Kay Levine

Emory University School of Law


Accounts of female statutory rapists have begun to spring up everywhere, seemingly for the first time. Female teachers having sex with their male students, female bus drivers and coaches having sex with their male charges, female adults having sex with the boy next door - the stories abound. Is this a new breed of criminal? One might think so, given the gendered history of the statutory rape law, the legal scholarship from before and after the Supreme Court's Michael M. decision, and the enforcement policies over the past century, all of which assume that defendants are male and victims female. But in fact, the psychological and psychiatric literature suggests a long history of female sexual abuse and a wide array of female perpetrators. While societal scripts about appropriate behavior have kept us relatively in the dark about the nature and extent of women's abuse of boys, scientists have begun to document the motivations behind female perpetration and the experience of males as sexual abuse victims. Rather than continuing to rely on highly gendered notions of age-differential sexual experiences, legal scholars can and should use knowledge from these areas to help us understand and suggest responses to the "new" wave of crimes, criminals and victims in the statutory rape caseload.

Keywords: statutory rape, gender

Suggested Citation

Levine, Kay, No Penis, No Problem. Fordham Urban Law Journal, 2006, Emory Public Law Research Paper No. 05-37, Available at SSRN:

Kay Levine (Contact Author)

Emory University School of Law ( email )

1301 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30322
United States

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