Although I share your views completely I do think your approach in "A Call to End Sexual Violence Against Girls in School--An Open Letter to Women's Rights Advocacy Organizations" is poorly thought out.
Personally I am dead-set against any use of physical force, as a teacher I never ever raised a hand to a kid, also in schools where it was a custom to do so, and as a parent of six daughters I'm proud to say that short of a mild slap on the hand when they were doing something dangerous as a toddler I never ever spanked or slapped them.
However, the approach you take here is populist but stupid. First of all it confirms the notion that a difference should be made between girls and boys in this matter, and second because it's in sharp contrast with reality.
In my 27 years as a teacher both in the USA and in Europe I witnessed time and again that teachers tend to be much milder to pupils of the other sex. male teachers are generally much more critical of boys who behave poorly, and female teachers have the same views on girls.
In consequence I have noticed that in schools where physical punishments are used girls have to worry much more about female staff. Of course, in a situation like you describe in "Rape: Lesson No. 1" your conclusions are correct. However, here you describe a situation that is anything but standard. Let's be frank about it, the age level we speak of is one that generally isn't the one where most pupils end up getting physically punished (I expect that children age 8-12 or so are most at risk).
If one would assume that a male teacher would be aroused by spanking a female child that one would assume that the teacher involved would both have paedophile and sadistic tendencies.
It's a sign of the times that people would even think such things. Although all things imaginable on this earth will take place at some time somewhere, but it just isn't something to base rules on. Besides, when you feel this to be a serious problem one would also have to make sure that no homosexual teachers would be allowed to spank boys, and no lesbian teachers in case of girls.
Sorry, I find your views on spanking 1000% correct, but this approach you choose as rather perverted.
Dear Mr. R_____,
I am writing on PTAVE's behalf in response to your e-mail (subject: "warped views").
Let me say first that we are glad to hear from a career educator who shares our opposition to corporal punishment. That you defied custom as necessary to refrain from this insidious practice speaks well of you in particular.
The disagreement you express is with our "rather perverted approach" in "A Call to End Sexual Violence Against Girls in School--An Open Letter to Women's Rights Advocacy Organizations." I believe, however, that your objections are based on misunderstanding of this letter, an incomplete assessment of the realities of school corporal punishment currently in the United States, and misconceptions regarding the contingencies of sexual abuse via spanking.
To begin with, it is surprising that you characterize the letter as "populist." To denounce the widespread and time-honored practice of spanking children--no matter what approach one takes--is hardly affirming to the views of the common people. The indictment of corporal punishment as an avenue of sexual exploitation is probably the least popular by far of our many arguments against this popular form of discipline.
More critically, you say that this letter "confirms the notion that a difference should be made between girls and boys in this matter." I might agree with you were it not for the important qualification Mr. Riak made in the fourth paragraph:
"The purpose here is not to make a moral distinction between the mistreatment of girls as compared to that of boys, but to present the issue in terms of your particular mission: the protection of women. We deem any form of deliberate infliction of pain directed at the pelvic area of a non-consenting, under-age person, irrespective of gender, to be a sexual violation."
In U.S. schools, it may be generally true, as you say, that "teachers tend to be much milder to pupils of the other sex." This does not mean, however, that it is rare for teachers, and certainly not for school disciplinarians, to be quite harsh to pupils of the opposite sex. In one well-documented case, in fact, a North Carolina high school had a discipline policy by which boys could opt for landscaping duties in lieu of paddling--but not girls. (Raking leaves was too unladylike, officials reasoned.)
While you agree with our conclusions regarding "Rape: Lesson No. 1," you say, "However, here you describe a situation that is anything but standard. Let's be frank about it, the age level we speak of is one that generally isn't the one where most pupils end up getting physically punished (I expect that children age 8-12 or so are most at risk)."
This may not be a "standard" school paddling. The problem, however, is that neither were there any standards to preclude such a paddling from taking place. Shouldn't there be?
Do we really know how atypical this young woman's experience was, or how atypical it would be today? At any rate, it is an experience too traumatic to be simply marginalized and written off.
As for the age of students, I imagine you're correct that pre-teens on average are "most at-risk" to be paddled, but this has not stopped tens of thousands of 13-18 year-olds from getting paddled around the country each year in public school settings alone. (And of course, the sexual untowardness of buttocks-beating increases with students who are older and more developed.)
You continue: "If one would assume that a male teacher would be aroused by spanking a female child that one would assume that the teacher involved would both have paedophile and sadistic tendencies."
Since you use the term "paedophile" here, I assume that by "child," you mean specifically a child below the age of puberty. Sexual interest in spanking such children is not is not quite as narrow and discriminate as you suggest. Among true pedophiles, the focus on children's buttocks might be motivation enough without the accompaniment of sadistic tendencies. There are also flagellants, including spanking fetishists, who are not pedophiles or sadists as such but who would derive some degree of satisfaction from spanking children or adults, male or female. Flagellantism of this order is rather obscure, but it is evidently common enough to support a thriving branch of the pornography industry.
Concerning the prospect you envision, of schools having to ensure not only that men do not take advantage of their authority to spank girls but also, by the same reasoning, "that no homosexual teachers would be allowed to spank boys, and no lesbian teachers in case of girls": Ascertaining the sexual orientation of all teachers and restricting which teachers can spank which students on that basis would indeed be a thorny matter. PTAVE's recommendation would be to bypass this sensitive dilemma by banning corporal punishment outright.
Finally, you remark, "It's a sign of the times that people would even think such things." What you may not realize is that such things have been thought--and done--for centuries. The difference nowadays is that people are starting to become wise to it.
I hope this explanation leads you to reconsider the value of our appeal to feminists in combatting school corporal punishment. If you have any further comments or questions, please feel free to write back.