Maybe you've heard this story already. Goes like this. Fifth grade teacher out west, by accounts a good and well-liked teacher, burns a DVD for her students, a wrap-up of their year together. She makes copies and mails them out to all the kids' homes. Nice teacherly thing to do, right? Why she's considered a good and well-liked teacher. Except that somewhere in the middle of the scenes of fun and frolic, learning and striving, there's a scene of the teacher at home, on her couch.
And obviously in the grip of sexual passion.
The teacher did not intend for that scene to be in there. I don't know how it did get on the DVD. Probably she saved something to the wrong folder and wasn't careful enough when she was clicking on files to copy. Kind of amateur mistake could happen to anyone. It might have been a YouTube video or a clip from a family vacation to Disney World. But it happened to be what it was. Then she didn't play the final version through to review it. Another mistake. The real mistake. She's a teacher. She knows the rule. Always double-check your work.
She watches it later. Or someone watches it and tells her what she's done. Too late, naturally. In a panic, she starts calling parents, begs them to return the DVDs or destroy them. She's on the phone in tears. Most humiliating day of her life.
But someone didn't return their copy or trash it. They sent it to a local TV station.
The station does a story.
And they show the scene!
Pixilated, blurred, so you can't see anything definite, including her face. But you can tell she's naked. You can tell she's a youngish woman with light brown hair. You can tell she's having an intimate moment.
And then they name her.
How do they get to do that? Show the video or give out her name?
She's not a public figure. She hasn't been arrested and it doesn't appear the police are thinking of charging her with anything. What would they charge her with? From the station's story, it doesn't even sound as if she's in trouble with her school district. To me, and I would guess to most reasonable adults, what she did was the equivalent of accidentally leaving her curtains open on a day a parade happened to be passing by her house. She goofed, but it's up to the grown-ups outside to look the other way and not let themselves become Peeping Toms. All the DVDs should have been returned or thrown away and all the adults in her life should have gone about pretending it didn't happen.
Instead, she's on television starring in a soft core porn short.
On the internet too. The station's story has been picked up by its network and they put in on their website, with the video and a screen capture, pixilated and blurred, but still clearly the image of a youngish woman with light brown hair, naked and aroused. If you know who it is, and you would know because the network gives her name too, you could tell it was her.
What you can't tell is what exactly is happening to arouse her or who's making it happen---if anybody, because something else you can't tell is if she's with someone. Looks like one body and one set of legs to me. She's facing the camera...Well, she's facing the ceiling, but you get the picture. I suppose there could be somebody under her or off to the side out of the frame. The camera's at the far end of the couch, but raised a bit so that it's looking down at her at angle, so the somebody with her might be holding the camera. But it's an awfully steady shot. Whoever it is might just have superhuman self-control. Maybe they're using a tripod. But maybe she was using a tripod. Maybe the camera's on top of a computer or on a shelf. She may have been filming herself. Not that it matters, except that she's married. She's identified as being a Mrs, at any rate. Story doesn't say if there's a Mr, but if there is and he was the someone with her, under her, beside her, holding the camera, shouldn't he get a mention, as in this was something between a wife and her husband, not an audition for Playboy? Even if she was alone, isn't it likely that he was her intended audience? Maybe he was out of town and found or was supposed to find a pleasant surprise in his email?
What I'm saying is, the reporter doesn't present this as part of a married couple's sex life---and do I need to add the word private before sex life?---he presents it as something she did.
As if all on her own decided to ask for trouble.
Of course, not mentioning the husband does something else. It keeps the focus on her as a naked woman posing for a camera instead of allowing it to broaden to her as a person with a life.
And about that life? What if her husband wasn't the intended audience? What if he wasn't there, under, next to, in front of, wherever? What if the someone under, next to, in front of her wasn't him. Or a him? Or one him?
Besides broadcasting to the world her mistake, making her into a public spectacle, and giving everybody who knows her a rough idea of what she looks like naked, the station and the network might have let the world in on her private soap opera.
Why do they get to do that?
Where are her lawyers and why aren't they on TV cackling with anticipatory glee at the prospect of a whopping big settlement in the law suit?
Even if the network and the station are legally covered, how did they justify adding to her embarrassment and humiliation?
No, don't tell me.
This isn't about her. This isn't about sex. It's about the children.
You can probably guess, probably hear in your heads, how it goes. The reporter, in earnest and unctuous tones, framing it as a story about shocked parents and traumatized eleven year olds. "What do we tell the children?" The reporter's even found a father to blather on pompously about the problems he had explaining it to his kids, how he had to stay up all night discussing "the birds and the bees," as if it's the worst thing in the world, having to talk about sex with your own children when they're on the brink of adolescence. This father is angry, not just at the teacher, but at the school district, which so far hasn't contacted him to offer "counseling."
What happened, guy? Kids walk in on you when you were watching the DVD by yourself?
I don't know what I'd have told my kids at that age about something like that. Part of the reason I don't know is that I don't know what they'd have seen. I don't know how explicit the scene is or how long it goes on. The story doesn't say. The reporter doesn't even hint at what's going on. He and the anchors just call the whole thing "a sex tape." I'm a cynic. I'm convinced that if it was something really dirty they'd have found a way of cluing the audience in. So this is what I think: It's her, alone, and it's quick. From the blurred screen shot, it looks to me that you can't see much, maybe some flashes of her breasts. I think you'd have to be more sexually experienced than your average fifth grader to know what you're looking at isn't more than what curious kids might see in an ad in Cosmo or on HBO, and what would you tell them if they happened to cast their innocent little eyes upon either of those?
It's complicated by the fact that in this case they know the naked woman and she's their teacher, but I think that may actually make it easier to deal with.
"Kids, even teachers are human and they have lives of their own that are none of our business. Your teacher didn't mean for you to see this so for her sake we'll pretend we didn't."
Maybe it's clear that she's masturbating or doing it reverse cowboy or taking part in an orgy, in which case there'd be some questions I'd have trouble answering off the top of my head.
I don't think it would keep the whole family up late into the night though.
There are questions I couldn't answer.
Like, what kind of creep wouldn't have trashed the DVD like she asked but hand it over to the TV news instead? My money's on the pompous father demanding counseling for his children because how else did the reporter find him and why is he the only parent on camera or quoted in a story supposedly about shocked and outraged parents?
And what do the reporter and the producers at the station and the network think the teacher did that she deserves to be humiliated like this?
I know the answer to the question why did they air the story?
But why do they think her sex life is their story to sell?
The main question I've got no answer for, however, is the one I've been asking all the way through this post.
How come the station and the network can get away with this?
For the record: No links. You can find the story yourself, too easily enough, if you're inclined. You don't really need to. I've given a pretty good account. Left out one thing though.
That pompous father? The story doesn't give his full name. He's just referred to as "Joe," with the quotation marks to imply that "Joe" might not be his real name. "Joe's" face isn't shown either.
So this is how it goes. If you're a woman and you get naked in front of a camera even for your own private viewing, your name and essentially your face are going to wind up all over the place. But if you're a man and you volunteer to go on TV and publicly condemn that woman (and remember I'm convinced this is the guy who dropped the dime to begin with), you get to keep your identity a secret and wear a mask to the stoning.