Female Sexual Predators

When I was in my twenties, I had never heard the term “female sexual predators,” perhaps because it had not yet been coined. When I met some, I was shocked.

I grew up in a small California town of 15,000, founded by Quakers. It had a lot of Christian churches and the bars were outside city limits (unless in a hotel). I attended a Catholic women’s college for my bachelor’s degree in nursing, where we argued about whether or not to kiss on the first date. Opinions were divided. The ones in favor, ruled out ‘French Kissing.’

My first exposure to predatory females was at The Catholic University of America in Washington DC where I was studying for my master’s degree in Psychiatric Nursing. (I did not learn till many decades later that my oldest brother had been accused of rape by a girl who was just out to ‘make trouble’ for him and his friends.)

For me, The Catholic University was the ultimate in Catholic education, where Catholics got advanced degrees in just about everything, imbued with Catholic moral principles. In my naivete, I thought that not only did Catholics attend this university, but that they were “practicing” Catholics. They were trying to live up to the church’s teachings. Here was a university where nuns in habits and priests and seminarians, in cassocks, studied theology and philosophy. Clergy and religious were easily identifiable.

Some of my classmates deliberately set out to seduce the seminarians as they ‘had not yet been ordained,’ (At least they left the priests alone. Or else they did not admit to it,)

When I asked them why they wanted to seduce seminarians, they told me ‘it was just in good fun.’

For those who do not know anything about Catholic moral teaching, it is very clear. Sex outside of marriage is a sin. “NO hanky panky outside of marriage!” This means NO sexual intercourse. No “playing around with yourself” and no sex with others of either the same sex or the other sex – although there was no great emphasis on homosexual behavior. The entire emphasis was on heterosexual sex and masturbation. This is called “chastity” and all unmarried Catholics are called to practice chastity.

So why would Catholic women deliberately try to seduce Catholic seminarians?

Why would Catholic women deliberately and knowingly encourage Catholic men to sin? Especially Catholic men who are studying for the priesthood?

This question puzzled me then and puzzles me now.

I was naive then and was totally naive about the sexual behavior of priests until recently. I had heard stories about hanky panky among priests and nuns, but I dismissed them as unusual. I heard about active lesbian nuns but dismissed the thought. I heard about priests’ relationships with their housekeepers in Italy – but it could never happen in the US.

Now I have learned about male sexual predators through the Me-Too movement, where male sexual abuse in all spheres of life is being exposed. Not only are children sexually abused but young men are subjected to powerful homosexual predators.

These stories are all about male sexual predators in positions of power. And these stories grieve me. My moral standards for Catholics, which I hold very high, have been crushed. Even worse, is that they have been held secret for so long.

But they do not obscure the fact that there are female sexual predators as well. The television network “Investigation Discovery” (ID) offers factual accounts of crimes. (My favorite program is Lieutenant Kendra, a former homicide detective from Colorado Springs, Colorado.) Because of these programs, I have learned that women can be liars, cheats, murderers, and predators of all kinds. I have become more aware that women are not necessarily morally superior to men. I can no longer claim a moral high ground for members of my sex. Women cannot be trusted to tell the truth any more than men can. Not a fact I wanted to learn.

Sadly, I have learned that Catholic Christians are not more moral that their Protestant sisters and brothers. I was and am disappointed. Chesterton is right when he said

The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting –

it has been found difficult and not tried.

I thank God every day for the men and women who follow church teaching to the best of their ability.