Well, this is uncomfortable: USA Today reports that the Houston Press is under fire for publishing an article titled "The 10 Hottest Women on the Texas Sex Offenders List." To compile his favorites, writer Richard Connelly scoured the databases of 15 different counties to pick out the best in a batch of mugshots. How To Know When Sex Is Not Consensual
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The feature included a brief description of the crime, as well as the age and gender of the victim. Most of the women were charged with sexual assault of males, although a couple of the victims were female. The two youngest victims were aged two and four. Ripple-Effected Souls: Spouses Of Sexual Abuse Victims
Since its publication last Thursday, the article has generated almost 700 comments, most of which criticize Connelly for sugarcoating the crimes of female rapists. Calling these women "hot" seems to condone their actions, as it perpetuates the idea that female rapists are only fulfilling a fantasy shared by every teenage male. These women aren't criminals, they're seductresses!
In an apology letter issued that same day, Connelly claimed that he'd compiled the list to overturn the stereotype of sex offenders as "slovenly fat guys in T-shirts asking kids if they wanted a ride." He didn't intend to glamorize child rape, but to generate buzz and thus raise awareness of the crime. If more parents knew that sex offenders could look like beautiful women, then they'd be as wary about leaving their child alone with one as they would be with an older man.
"The intention was to shock (in what I hoped would be a positive way) and not to offend," he wrote.
Even then, most readers weren't convinced. Although a few commenters thought the list was funny, many more asked if he'd follow up his article with a "10 Hottest Male Rapists" list (so that women can be suspicious of handsome men!). Others said he could have picked a more tactful way to point out how normal sex offenders can appear.
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Mr. Connelly might have meant well, but we're siding with the critics on this one. We can't imagine that such a list would have been funny to the victims of these "hot" sex offenders.
Is this list offensive?