On Monday, we posted an article detailing a male student's sexual encounter with his female teacher. Today, we're publishing a piece from the opposite perspective, that of a female student who was taken advantage of by her male teacher. This article originally appeared on VICE UK.
I still clearly remember the first time I set eyes on him, across a crowded assembly hall. He had pale skin, pink cheeks, and big yellow eyes like a cat. He seemed both amused and embarrassed, as if it were an episode of Quantum Leap and he had ended up there quite by accident. He was unlike anyone I'd ever met before. He wore Armani suits and quoted poetry. I was totally and utterly smitten from the very beginning. I changed subjects after a term of A-levels just so I could be in his class.
While I was still at school, our relationship got into weird territory. It started out with him lending me modern American novels and foreign movies. I'm from the pedestrian suburbs of London; you have no idea how grown-up and sophisticated watching Danish Dogme 95 cinema made me feel at 16—like Grace Kelly collecting her pension in elbow-length gloves. After this fairly innocuous start came the mixtapes, with handwritten cassette covers. This was my introduction to the Jesus and Mary Chain, Jane's Addiction, and Bowie. It wasn't just me he made them for. There was a select group of us, his little fans. We felt very special. I wonder now why other teachers weren't more concerned. He was in his mid 20s and had a long-term girlfriend, so maybe they thought they had no reason to be worried.
Back then I used to write poetry. I'd even won some competitions and everything. Somehow, I came to read him one and he told me that "to write poetry as a teenager that is not teenage poetry, is a gift" and my heart melted inside of me, infusing through me like syrup through a sponge pudding. Now I cringe—how desperate I was to be loved, how easily he manipulated me.
He became my editor. We would sit in a small room at the school and go through my poems. He would cut them mercilessly, every stroke of his pen making him more powerful. In my mind he was Ezra Pound to my Eliot. And if he hadn't quite scaled the heights of creepiness and pretentiousness, he would read me "The Wasteland" aloud, all the while doing a subtle pelvic thrust in his chair, like he was breathing through his balls.
I'd never had a crush of this intensity before, and I haven't had one so overwhelming in the many years since. I went to sleep every night thinking about what it would be like to kiss him. I wasn't very sexually experienced, and I still didn't really know how to masturbate. I didn't know what sex was like either, so it was enough just to imagine the kiss, over and over again.
I never confessed to him how much I loved him. I never even really flirted with him in an explicit way. I did, and still do, see showing someone that you like them as a sign of great weakness. But I remember us bickering like a couple, sometimes having full-blown fights where one of us would storm out. That's not a normal teacher-pupil relationship. Despite my stiff upper lip, he knew I was head over heels for him. Of course he did.
When I left school we kept in touch. That wasn't that odd at my school. A few of my friends stayed in touch with various teachers. Then, of course, I so desperately wanted it to be out of the ordinary, but it wasn't. I met up with him a few times for some dinner or a coffee, but he didn't cross the line.
Related: "Love Is Pain"
During the Christmas holidays after my first term at university, he called me and asked me to come and meet him in the pub that evening. I hurriedly showered and shaved my legs. For someone so lacking in sexual experience, I was very optimistic. I set off to meet him. I was excited. I was nervous. I had an unsettling sense of foreboding. He had recently split up with his girlfriend and was already in the pub— a Wetherspoons—when he called. Somewhere in my naive, fantasy-riddled teenage brain I sort of knew that this wasn't going to end well. Nobody makes their best decisions in a Wetherspoons.
When I arrived, he was drunk. He said that he had something to tell me, but he couldn't until I was as drunk as he was. He went to the bar and came back with four double tequilas. I sipped the tequila tentatively, and promised him I wouldn't tell anyone what he told me. As he edged toward me, I edged away, unwilling to discard either my coat or my sobriety. Eventually, he gave me snapshots of what had happened. After his recent break-up, something had occurred with another ex-student. She was younger than me but had left to go to a different sixth-form. This was a girl he'd been form tutor to, while she was in year 10 and 11 and still in school uniform. Her boyfriend was there in the pub, spoiling for a fight. Maybe she was too, and I was her punishment.
Then he kissed me. By this point I was drunk, and even though I'd yearned for this very thing for such a long time, I was still aware enough to be embarrassed that I was kissing my teacher in a brightly lit Wetherspoons.
We got a taxi back to his. It was so cold inside his house that I could see my own breath forming little clouds of condensation; it felt colder than outside. We got into bed, and it was the first time in my life that I ever really enjoyed a sexual experience. I suddenly understood what the fuss was about. Teenage boys were never really my thing.
In the morning, it was a rush to reach the front door before his mother saw me. He lived with his mother at 27, and this was before the recession. We walked to the station together and he said, "I'll pass on your regards in the staff room." He said it so casually. I was quietly horrified. I couldn't understand why he would want to give them even a hint of what had happened.
When I got home, I was elated. I'd achieved my goal. I'd gotten what I wanted. I felt validated—the chemistry I had felt between us was real; I'd been right. Then very slowly, over the next few days, the picture I'd painted of him and our relationship began to slip, to slide down, revealing a much more unwholesome reality underneath. I kept trying to pull it back up, to make it stick fast, and pretend I hadn't seen what was underneath.
A few days later we texted and he agreed to meet me in another pub. I was less excited and more anxious this time, worried my picture of him was going to disintegrate entirely. He swept in wearing a long coat, which this time he chose not to remove. We talked for a few minutes, just small talk. He gazed into my eyes earnestly: "Why don't you stop being so miserable and get yourself a boyfriend?" he asked. He left, and that was the last time I ever saw him. I spent the rest of the evening drinking as much as I could physically consume and suddenly finding profound meaning in Boyzone lyrics.
The biggest problem with fulfilling the fantasy of sleeping with your teacher is that the kind of teacher who would sleep with their student is almost inevitably going to be the kind that is a complete asshole. The kind of teacher who would ever be worthy of such attention would never take advantage of the position of power they have over students in their care. Even though I had left school, the massive power imbalance remained. The Teacher Crush is therefore a moral paradox, in which you'll be eternally frustrated because the object of your affection is worthy and will therefore never sleep with you, or you will be taken advantage of by an old pervert and your fantasy will be ripped away from you. You will feel betrayed in a way you didn't even understand possible before it happened.
As I look back on it now, his behavior seems calculating and predatory. He waited until I'd left, so he never broke the law. But he knew I would be there, ready and willing. He used me to make himself feel better, despite the consequences for me. I suspect he's done it more than once, too. I suspect he's done it many times.
For the next term at university I drank at least half a bottle of vodka every day. If I felt even a fleeting moment of shame, it was like a trip switch that made a reel of film play in my brain: the cold house, my own breath forming little clouds of condensation, the rush to get to the door before his mother saw me, the sentence "stop being so miserable and get yourself a boyfriend" playing over and over again.