When you think of sex offenders, the first image that's probably called to mind is of some creepy too skinny or obese guy. With a van and bad clothes. Maybe a comb-over. The last thing you think of is a woman who looks like she could be a really attractive second grade teacher. Nonetheless, these sex offenders do exist! Need proof? The Houston Press has released the “10 Hottest Women on the Texas Sex Offenders List."
Next to each mugshot, the woman's name, city, crime, and victim information is listed. If you scan through, you'll see the various "hotties" have assaulted boys and girls, from 2-16 years old ... crimes that are nothing short of horrific. But because the Houston Press dared present this information packaged in the way they did -- by calling these criminals physically attractive -- there's been a lot of uproar.
Your knee-jerk reaction might be that the list glamorizes or trivializes child rape ...
You might say it's also just plain sexist to categorize female criminals as "hotties." (Just because they're criminals doesn't mean it's wrong to exploit them as sex objects, right?) All in all, it's clearly inflammatory.
But if you get hung up on all of that, then you're missing the point.
Richard Connelly, the blogger who compiled the list, wrote a follow-up, explaining his rationale:
... child predators don't fit any category -- the people they prosecuted included successful lawyers and doctors, as well as unemployed losers ... [I wanted] to show that "normal-looking" people, people you could pass any day on the street -- or who you might think are "hot" -- are capable of monstrous things.
And yes, Connelly even chose a headline "in an attempt to catch attention," opting for "Hottest" because "it's a Web-headline staple for such listicles." (There's your blogging industry insider secret of the day.) It was a ploy, but a wisely constructed one.
This seems like a perfect lesson in learning that first impressions can be false. This list, at first glance, seems like an exploitative attempt just to piss people off, stir the pot, nab a bunch of traffic for something downright skeevy and salacious. But in reality, it's a campaign to open our eyes to reality ... to change our skewed perspectives.
I'd usually be the first to defend womankind and try to argue that these women are likely in the minority when it comes to sex offenders in general. Because it's actually difficult for me personally to imagine women committing heinous, violent, reprehensible acts like child rape or murder. Honestly, part of me believes we're above that, that men are simply more inclined to it. But this list proves that knee-jerk reaction of mine wrong. There are women who are just as capable as men. Criminals don't fit into neat Hollywood stereotypes. And a list like this one that opens our eyes to that fact can only serve to bring us one step closer to protecting our kids.
How do you feel about the "10 Hottest Women on the Texas Sex Offenders List"?
Image via Texas Department of Public Safety