Happily Ever After: Myth, Rape, and Romance in the Mary K. Letourneau Case

Mary Kay Letourneau, a teacher who raped her 12-year-old student. We examined magazine coverage surrounding the event to determine what narratives were used to explain a crime that reversed the traditional roles of criminal and victim. We found that journalists relied on rape misconceptions and myths of proper (hetero)sexual roles, including the Good Mother and Princess in romantic fairy tales to tell the story.

The construction of this narrative erased the crime, turning rape into romance and (re)establishing masculine hegemony.

Co-author: Dr. Dustin Harp, University of Texas at Austin

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