Some 4,830 of the books Amazon has categorized as erotic reads have the word “teacher” in the title or the plot description. The “Everything Store” also sells 50-plus different revealing Halloween costumes — all of which look very flammable — designed to sex up the profession in time for the first round of parent-teacher conferences. The sexy teacher, or the sexualized teacher, is a cultural mainstay, a masturbatory blue-chip stock. Americans, in particular, seem enamored of the archetype, but most men likely couldn’t explain the attraction. Fortunately, a small community of researchers and data scientists are looking into it.
It is worth acknowledging out of the gate that men can sexualize women with any job (Amazon sells multiple sexy plumber costumes). But the teacher stands alone. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), more than 75 percent of public school teachers are female. Though there is not a firm agreement on how many of these teachers are attractive, researchers do know how much time they spend in the classroom: As of 2014, that number was hanging around 1,000 hours per year. That’s certainly enough time to imprint on a pubescent or even pre-pubescent boy, a task that is typically accomplished by accident in a matter of seconds.
“I’m sure there have been many young boys who fantasized about their female teachers,” says sex therapist and author Michael Aaron. “Your teacher is a grown woman. She’s an important part of your life. She gives you attention. She tells you what to do. You want to please her. All of that is a stew that can play out as this sexy teacher theme for people as adults.”
Curiously, it’s not just guys who are into getting schooled. According to the analytics team for the porn site RedTube, women are actually 17 percent more likely to search for X-rated content focusing on teachers than men. Though when guys do perform a search, they tend to be more specific about the discipline. “Milf teacher” for example, is one of the genre’s most commonly searched terms among men aged 18-24, with “Japanese teacher” coming in close behind.
While the RedTube team hasn’t noticed any seasonal spikes involving searches for the term “teacher,” the folks over at PornHub have. When the students at the Southeastern Conference universities went back to school last year, regional searches for the term “teacher” spiked by 26 percent.
As Aaron notes in his book Modern Sexuality, a lot of our fantasies and fetishes surface sometime during childhood. But, as researchers have long observed, sexuality is fluid. As we age, we may start feeling more detached from the fantasies that got us off years ago. Both RedTube and PornHub report that millennials are much more likely to conduct searches involving the term “teacher” than older demographics. In fact, RedTube finds that men aged 18-24 are upwards of 80 percent more likely than their foreboners to search for porn starring a sexy teacher.
That’s not to say teachers have fallen entirely out of favor among all older guys – they haven’t. Those aged 35- to 44-years-old seem to carry a particular penchant for “teachers of magic.” Those in the 45-54 cohort are into educators who wear pantyhose. And, apparently, guys 55 and older are really into lady teachers who like other ladies. “Lesbian teacher seduce” is one of the genre’s most popular searches among guys just shy of senior citizen status.
Despite these findings, there are some circles where fantasies revolving around student-teacher rendezvous remain largely taboo. American attitudes towards sex have always been a little literal, and that doesn’t give us much room to nurture the erotic imagination. In the rare event we do see these kinds of fantasies bleed into reality, many of us will make it a point to put out that we have nothing in common with the perpetrators, not even in our fantasies. After all, no one wants to go down in the court of public opinion.
The media is, at least a little bit, guilty of encouraging the fetish. Ever heard of Jaclyn McLaren, the eastern Ontario woman who spent two years in prison for sending nudes to her students? How about Amy Caudle, the special education teacher who was arrested for having performed oral sex on two underage boys? And, of course, there’s the famous case of Mary Kay Letourneau, the American schoolteacher who developed a sexual relationship with her 12-year-old student, Vili Fualauu. She served 6-months for the offense but was re-sentenced for violating her parole, after police found her and Fualauu in a car together. The pair married shortly after she was released from prison the second time around. Today, they have two daughters together.
To be clear, those incidents are not typical (and also not funny or acceptable), but they were highly publicized. Most teachers aren’t sexy, but sexy teachers get ink. That ink fuels a cycle. Teachers are sexualized by a mainstream story. More teacher characters show up in pornography. More men think sexually about teachers. Teachers are sexualized by the media. Naturally, this is all heightened by the intimate but, ultimately, extremely not intimate, relationship fathers have with the teachers who take care of their children. It’s weird but ultimately, Aaron says, kinda fine.
“A lot of people think their thoughts and fantasies are somehow indicative of real life. They aren’t,” explains Aaron. “As long as you aren’t doing something that is harming others or harming yourself, I think fantasies are very healthy. I think rather than try to stamp them out, people should be more curious about what it means.”
Aaron also has some bad news for dads looking to flirt or for some mild frisson.
“Those teachers have nothing to do with your fantasy,” he laughs. “I think people just need to chill out and put things in their proper context.”
That is to say, even if you have a thing for teachers, PTA meetings will remain fairly dull. The way you feel about teachers has nothing whatsoever to do with the way teachers feel about you.