Here, read the yuckiest wedding article in recent memory.

Photo of first wedding dance
17-year-old high school student meets 29-year-old McCain campaign staffer. He asks her out, because that is totally appropriate. They date, because why wouldn’t a 30-year-old man have tons in common with a high school senior? He proposes in front of the high school where they met, where she was a high school student and he was almost 30. She swoons that her father “wouldn’t have given me up to anyone else.” They have a 700-person wedding. There is a big dress and bigger hair and a pink ballroom. Somehow, I do not wake up screaming at the end of this nightmare.

178 comments for “Here, read the yuckiest wedding article in recent memory.

  1. June 21, 2011 at 8:44 am

    *shrug*

    Meh, good for them. That said, the dress is atrocious.

  2. igglanova
    June 21, 2011 at 8:50 am

    Jesus christ.

  3. FashionablyEvil
    June 21, 2011 at 8:55 am

    I think the gist of the article seemed to be, “Well, this would be creepy, but they’re both ridiculously wealthy/politically very well connected, so yay! NYT Style section!”

    (Although, to be fair, my parents met when they were 16 and 25, engaged at 17/26, married at 21/30 and have been married for 34 years, so…)

  4. Anna
    June 21, 2011 at 8:55 am

    ditto Nahida.

    Wedding details aside, I feel like you’re only reporting this as barf-worthy because of their political views.

    • June 21, 2011 at 8:58 am

      Wedding details aside, I feel like you’re only reporting this as barf-worthy because of their political views.

      I’m reporting it as barf-worthy because 30-year-old men who ask 17-year-old girls on dates are barf-worthy.

  5. mo
    June 21, 2011 at 8:59 am

    Almost 30 and dating a 17 year old then? Good thing mummy and daddy approved, or they’d have been after him for statutory. CREEPY.

  6. art project
    June 21, 2011 at 9:00 am

    I see nothing wrong with this little wedding only the posters big arrogance…lol….postd from my ye olde cell phone….growup!…lol…lol…lol

  7. Florence
    June 21, 2011 at 9:03 am

    Jill: I’m reporting it as barf-worthy because 30-year-old men who ask 17-year-old girls on dates are barf-worthy.

    Word. But it’s no big deal because they’re upper class, hyper-gender-normative, and well-connected.

  8. art project
    June 21, 2011 at 9:03 am

    the age difference is right out of JANE Austen.s EMMA….Myob….u damn ageist!

  9. June 21, 2011 at 9:05 am

    As squicked as I get when I think about the possibility that one of my daughters could end up in a similar situation, the ‘ickyness’ seems kind of arbitrary when you consider that if they had met a mere two or three years later it’d be totally acceptable, if maybe a bit eyebrow-raising.

    Something about the reaction here bothers me.. maybe it’s because it assumes that either A) the dude Must be some kind of creepy creeper or B) that a seventeen year old has no agency to decide whether to enter into a relationship with someone older (even quite a bit) than she.

    So at what point should someone be able to make such a decision.. what’s the cut off age?

    I’m with Nahida.. good for them. (at least it’s not like the Green Mile dude)

    • June 21, 2011 at 9:25 am

      As squicked as I get when I think about the possibility that one of my daughters could end up in a similar situation, the ‘ickyness’ seems kind of arbitrary when you consider that if they had met a mere two or three years later it’d be totally acceptable, if maybe a bit eyebrow-raising.

      Again, I think it’s a maturity issue and a place-in-life thing. I’m more squicked out by a 30-year-old man who thinks he has a lot in common with an 18-year-old who just finished high school. That, to me, says that someone doesn’t want to deal with a partner who is in any way his equal. I’d also be squicked out by a 14-year-old dating a 26-year-old, and it’s not because I assume 14-year-olds don’t have agency. It’s because there are very real issues with life experience, maturity and actual brain development that make 18 and 30, or 14 and 26, very different worlds in a way that even 30 and 42 are not.

  10. L
    June 21, 2011 at 9:08 am

    How about the 51 year old movie star who just married a 16 year old? Now I hope everyone can agree that THAT is barf worthy.

    But, like, it’s totally fine because lol she’s the oldest looking 16 year old ever!!!!1!

    http://ca.eonline.com/uberblog/b248227_green_mile_actor_51_marries_16-year-old.html

  11. June 21, 2011 at 9:12 am

    It is indeed barf-worthy.

    But I’d feel bad about being horrified because… would it all be suddenly totally okay if she had been 18, which she was 5 days away from? That number is really random. And maybe he waited 5 days before asking her out? I don’t know I bored reading the article and stopped.

    • June 21, 2011 at 9:22 am

      But I’d feel bad about being horrified because… would it all be suddenly totally okay if she had been 18, which she was 5 days away from? That number is really random. And maybe he waited 5 days before asking her out? I don’t know I bored reading the article and stopped.

      It’s not just the under-18 thing. I still think it would be barf-worthy if she was 18 and he was 30. And it’s not purely an age difference issue, it’s also a place-in-life issue. There are HUGE differences in maturity and experience between and 18-year-old and a 30-year-old that make the relationship very close to predatory. Those same differences, and the power that comes with them, aren’t quite the same between a 50-year-old and a 62-year-old.

  12. tinfoil hattie
    June 21, 2011 at 9:15 am

    It’s creepy for a 30-year old man to date a high school senior. I would argue that’s not dating, that’s predation. Gross.

  13. raya
    June 21, 2011 at 9:16 am

    My girlfriend and I started dating when I was a 17 year old student and she was 29 and a teacher. That was in 2003 and we’re still pretty happy. Anyway… I feel kind of offended when someone puts relationships between people with a great difference of age down as creepy, barf-worthy per sé or whatever.

  14. debbie
    June 21, 2011 at 9:19 am

    Yes, it would still be gross if she had been eighteen.

  15. Julia
    June 21, 2011 at 9:25 am

    I definitely go by the “divide by 2, add 7 rule” to see how young a person can date. 30 year old can date a 22 year old.

    (Note, obviously the point a couple of people are making is that there shouldn’t be hard and fast rules, but I’ve found this rule is at least a good guideline of where to draw the “creepy” line, when no other information is present.)

  16. June 21, 2011 at 9:27 am

    I think it’s totally inappropriate. In my personal opinion, a 30 year old man dating anyone less than 21 is cringe worthy.

  17. sphynx
    June 21, 2011 at 9:35 am

    Glad I’m not the only one who smelled something funky here. A 30-year-old who dates an 18-year-old most likely doesn’t want an equal partner; and an 18-year-old who marries a 30-year-old doesn’t seem too interested in carving out her own identity.

  18. June 21, 2011 at 9:37 am

    I think this reads as a creepy story, indeed: Being 30, working for a presidential candidate, then being attracted to a high school student and then having your first kiss when you walk her back to her dorm. Her dorm, for crying out loud… Wrong on so many levels.

  19. Irene
    June 21, 2011 at 9:38 am

    I found the name dropping and casual insertion of their family trees rather more grating than the age difference… I have family members 10 years older than their spouses (or more!). Of course, it’s different when it’s ones grandparents and they’re 70 and 80, right?

  20. Elle Be Me
    June 21, 2011 at 9:41 am

    Oh well….this isn’t the first time something like this happened and it won’t be the last. And as to their age differences, time shall tell if it really was fate. There IS a big gap in development, maturity and experience between a 30 and 18 y/o. She may be in love right now….but come age 25, 27…..she may look back with regret. Who knows. She may realize that the big wedding was just ONE day and the reality of him being out on political fundraisers and campaigns may not be so much fun. Then again he might realize that he should have married someone with a little more life experience… ONe can speculate all the way to the moon and back.

    I wish them luck and happiness, but would not be surprised if in a few years they divorced.

  21. Ellie
    June 21, 2011 at 9:45 am

    Andie:
    As squicked as I get when I think about the possibility that one of my daughters could end up in a similar situation, the ‘ickyness’ seems kind of arbitrary when you consider that if they had met a mere two or three years later it’d be totally acceptable, if maybe a bit eyebrow-raising.

    I agree. Most people I have encountered who would consider dating a 17-year-old girl at a much older age just squick me out as people, not based solely on this fact… but it seems silly to get too bent out of shape about these people’s decision when 19 and 32 would be so much more socially acceptable. Desirable to me? Heck no. But “acceptable”? Kind of.

    On the other hand, proposing in front of the high school…. um

  22. Meph
    June 21, 2011 at 9:48 am

    Their relationship wasn’t handled with tact, it seems (proposing in front of her high school is NOT a good idea), but I really can’t condemn them. I was attracted to older men when I was 17, and they were attracted to me. It’s only “creepy” because people look at it and see a wolfish, predatory male, and because they automatically assume that all young women in that situation are invariably unprepared or being preyed upon. What about women like me, women who reciprocate these feelings, or even initiate? What does that make me–a slut?

    Not all 17 year-olds should be in relationships with “older” people, though, and I hate the idea of someone getting married at 17 years old. That’s the only regrettable thing about this story, aside from their political affiliations. I hope that their relationship goes well, and that she finishes her education!

  23. Emolee
    June 21, 2011 at 9:56 am

    The part that made me barf was: She swoons that her father “wouldn’t have given me up to anyone else.”

    Patriarchy. Women as property. Ich.

  24. June 21, 2011 at 9:58 am

    Ok, I totally agree that the circumstances at the start of their relationship are concerning. I don’t think that adults should be scoping out children (as she was in the eyes of the law!) for dates. However, at the point of their marriage she was 21. They at least dating for a good while until she was much more capable of making her own decision.

    That said, as someone linked above, the marriage of 16 year old Courtney Alexis Stodden to 51 year old Doug Hutichson is *actually* the yuckiest wedding article in recent memory. Because, she IS legally a child… and her mom, in a statement, made sure to clarify her virginity and real boobs.

    …COME. ON.

    Now there are definite issues of power/maturity going on there.

  25. Sheelzebub
    June 21, 2011 at 9:58 am

    Honestly, if a 30-year-old tried to ask me out when I was 17, my parents would not have been okay with it. I’ve dated men much older and much younger than me, but they were men, not high school students.

  26. Jennifer
    June 21, 2011 at 10:00 am

    It’s not always creepy, but often it seems that older men looking for younger women are looking for someone subservient. One cringe-inducing example, Woody Allen on his marriage to Soon-Yi Previn: “I don’t ever feel that I’m with a hostile or threatening person. It’s got a more paternal feeling to it.”

    http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/9880716/ns/today-entertainment/t/woody-allen-feels-lucky-have-wife-soon-yi/

  27. Florence
    June 21, 2011 at 10:04 am

    Meph: It’s only “creepy” because people look at it and see a wolfish, predatory male, and because they automatically assume that all young women in that situation are invariably unprepared or being preyed upon. What about women like me, women who reciprocate these feelings, or even initiate? What does that make me–a slut?

    In my experience: Because it’s typically a bad idea, mostly for the younger party who is more vulnerable on a variety of levels. I don’ t know, I fucked a lot of older guys when I was a teenager, and looking back I see that despite my agency it actually was quite risky for me mental- and physical-health-wise and grossly predatory on their parts. Also, they were all losers. So yeah, I got to exercise my agency, but all I got was laid.

    More broadly: Personal Choices don’t get made in a vacuum, nor are they immune to social criticism.

  28. dreadnought
    June 21, 2011 at 10:05 am

    I would consider manipulative any 30 year old who’s monopolizing a 18 year old into a committed relationship before they’ve had the potential to live for themselves. A 50 year old and a 38 year old would generally be on the same level of major life experiences (living on your own, handling your finances, cohabitation, marriage, divorce), whereas a 30 and 18 year old normally wouldn’t be on the same level of emotional maturity.

    I’ll admit to being biased — my mom was naive and 19 when she married my 43 year old father, and it wasn’t one of those happily ever after exceptions to the rule. It’s really sad that this young woman thinks her princess wedding is the hallmark of her life, instead of pursuing some healthier and realistic goals for herself before joining her life with someone else.

  29. raya
    June 21, 2011 at 10:07 am

    Meph:
    Their relationship wasn’t handled with tact, it seems (proposing in front of her high school is NOT a good idea), but I really can’t condemn them.I was attracted to older men when I was 17, and they were attracted to me.It’s only “creepy” because people look at it and see a wolfish, predatory male, and because they automatically assume that all young women in that situation are invariably unprepared or being preyed upon.What about women like me, women who reciprocate these feelings, or even initiate?What does that make me–a slut?

    I, too, have often been attracted to women and men who are older than me. I’ve noticed that it’s seen as less creepy to date an older woman (as a female-bodied person myself) because people don’t automatically assume I’m being coerced into something I don’t want to – because only men can be predatory assholes, obviously.

  30. Lance
    June 21, 2011 at 10:08 am

    First thought… I imagine the producers of the Real Housewives franchise are looking at this and are feeling relieved that they’ll have people to cover in the coming decades.

    Snark aside, though, good luck to them. The wedding may not have been the best decision in the world, but situations are different for everyone and we can’t really judge based on the limited perspective we get in the article. It would be interesting to see a follow-up piece in a decade or so, saying how things turned out (especially if the follow-up aired on Bravo and involved people throwing wine at each other).

  31. ACG
    June 21, 2011 at 10:17 am

    Jill: Again, I think it’s a maturity issue and a place-in-life thing. … It’s because there are very real issues with life experience, maturity and actual brain development that make 18 and 30, or 14 and 26, very different worlds in a way that even 30 and 42 are not.

    I tend to go by Julia’s “age / 2 + 7” rule–kind of arbitrary, yes, but a reasonable guideline. Maybe this is just self-serving of me, because I’m currently a 30-year-old dating a 44-year-old, but even now we occasionally run into minor speed bumps due to the fact that he was in high school when I was in diapers. There are some life experiences that we just can’t identify with because the world changed 14 years’ worth in the meantime. Yes, a 17-year-old absolutely has agency, but she also lacks the life experience and exposure to the world that would put her on a level with someone who’s been living what society considers an “adult life” for 12 years.

  32. ACG
    June 21, 2011 at 10:21 am

    Also, those 12 extra years of life experience would help her understand that fuchsia lighting flatters no one.

  33. Li
    June 21, 2011 at 10:23 am

    So I read the article, and like, actually not creeped out by their age difference so much as:

    1. “As a child, Christopher Cox would go to sleep listening to tapes of President Nixon reading books. ” (WHAT IS THIS I DON’T EVEN.)

    2. “That October, shortly after Ms. Catsimatidis started at New York University, Mr. Cox asked her out to lunch — to thank her, he said, for donating to the McCain campaign.” (Surprise dates are the. worst.)

    3. They met at Blue Ribbon Bakery in the West Village, and Mr. Cox suggested they share bread pudding. (Bread pudding is just morally wrong.)

    Though maybe that’s cos I find the whole normative heterosexual monogamy thing creepy enough that the age difference doesn’t meaningfully add to it.

  34. Ellie
    June 21, 2011 at 10:26 am

    Well at any rate, I’m really, really glad I’m not married to the person I was dating at 17. I certainly can’t speak for all 17 year olds or all relationships, but I’m pretty glad mine didn’t work out and don’t think I’d have grown nearly so much as a person if I’d stayed with him.

  35. June 21, 2011 at 10:32 am

    What I find troubling is less the age difference (like other commenters and Jill have said, age gets pretty arbitrary as we get older) and more the fact that she was in high school. That is just a whole other, separate world from the adult world and I can’t imagine why a 30 year old man would want to date a high school student.

  36. June 21, 2011 at 10:38 am

    I’m a little surprised at how many people find their marriage/age difference acceptable. What if she were 16, 15? I suppose it’s possible she could be one of the few teenager girls who might actually be as mature as a 30 year old man, and that their marriage could actually work, but this is so few and far between. I have changed a great deal since I was 17. Hell I have changed a lot since 21, and I’m only 26. At 17, I thought I was mature too, but I wasn’t now that I look back. There are certain emotional changes that come with time and experience and yes, I think it can mean the difference between a good or bad match with an older man. Most 17 year old girls are naive, and of course most don’t realize it until they grow up. But I guess that’s just my opinion and I understand others disagree.

  37. Sheelzebub
    June 21, 2011 at 10:40 am

    Look. An adult dating someone who’s 12 years older than them doesn’t squick me in the least. Hell, two grown ass adults with a 25 or 30 year age difference being romantically and/or sexually involved doesn’t make me raise my eyebrows.

    I look askance that this because she was a fucking high school student. When I was 21, age 30, and now at 42, I thought/think of people aged 17 and still in high school as “kids,” no matter how mature they seemed. A 17-year-old is in a far different place developmentally than a 29 or a 30 year old.

    Then again, I’m a mean old evil prudish bitch because I think it’s a good and just thing when female teachers in their mid- to late twenties are prosecuted for statutory rape when they fuck high school students. I’m noticing that some folks don’t seem to think it’s a big deal when it’s an older man who’s doing it, though.

  38. Rare Vos
    June 21, 2011 at 10:42 am

    That is just a whole other, separate world from the adult world and I can’t imagine why a 30 year old man would want to date a high school student.

    As was said above, power and control. He can’t handle an equal partner, so he gets one that hasn’t had the privilege of living her own life, and therefore would be much less likely to push back against bad treatment, abuse, manipulation, coercion etc.

    Or, he’s intensely immature and hopes to regain his glory days with a way-too-young wife.

  39. scrumby
    June 21, 2011 at 10:43 am

    In the grand scheme of things 18 is an arbitrary age for bestowing Adulthood. As several posters have mentioned before the maturity and sense that the ideal adult has can come to a person at almost any age; at 16 some people are ready to make the awesome life choice that is marriage and at 56 some people still aren’t. But the law puts adulthood at 18 and I can’t help but think a person should get a little credit for respecting that. Acknowledging that barrier and delaying desire shows maturity on the older-person’s part. The person who can wait six months (or in the case of an old classmate, 4 years) because they don’t want to break the law and/or don’t want to come off as a super-creeper seems like the better catch in the long run.

  40. Rare Vos
    June 21, 2011 at 10:45 am

    I’m noticing that some folks don’t seem to think it’s a big deal when it’s an older man who’s doing it, though.

    I wouldn’t be surprised by that reaction at Daily Kos, or something. Here, I’m more than surprised.

  41. Clara
    June 21, 2011 at 10:45 am

    It icks me out, but she was 18 and in college when they went on their first date, which I don’t find to be morally objectionable. I just doubt it will last.

  42. Kathleen
    June 21, 2011 at 10:51 am

    I am trying to imagine what the reaction of my parents (or, honestly, most parents) would have been upon learning a 29 year old was creeping around after their just-graduated-from-high-school / starting college daughter. I’m thinking, Costco sized containers of grape drink, artisanally trampled for extra wrathy flavor.

    Prolly not a wedding.

  43. June 21, 2011 at 11:03 am

    I can relate to what Florence said. I dated a man in his mid-twenties when I was in high school. I was very defensive about it at the time, because I felt I was old enough to make my own choices. And I guess I was…but I now realize that that choice was based on a lot of problematic issues and circumstances. My ex and I both had some boundary issues, among other things. I don’t feel the relationship was appropriate and will try to discourage such situations if they come up with my kid(s) in the future.

  44. Li
    June 21, 2011 at 11:12 am

    Sheezlebub, there is a meaningful difference between a teacher having sex with their student, regardless of age or gender, and a non-teacher and a 17 year old having sex when they have no professional relationship.

    As an additional note, I am writing in Australia, where the age of consent is 16. I’m also entirely suspicious that relationships can ever actually be “equal”. Like, many of my relationships have been with people who have not shared my disabilities, or people who have experience living as people of colour under white supremacy, which I have not, or people of different economic status, or indeed people who have been older or younger than me. Inequality happens in relationships, and I think having some kind of blanket age-differences-are-creepy position kind of erases the possibility of actually tackling those differences as lovers/partners. Now, I suspect that the couple in the story don’t really have a radical relationship politic, but also I think it’s presumptuous to think that they haven’t actually thought about their differences and similarities and resolved some way of addressing them.

    I’d also like to note that it is factually incorrect to say that he asked out a high school student. By the time he asked her out (on A CREEPY SURPRISE DATE) she was a uni student and they had known each other for 4 months.

  45. debbie
    June 21, 2011 at 11:16 am

    I can also relate to what Florence said. I dated and slept with a bunch of older guys when I was a teenager, and at the time, I thought it was fine. In retrospect, it wasn’t appropriate at all.

  46. June 21, 2011 at 11:37 am

    I’m 20.

    I guess everyone’s implying that that’s why I don’t see why this is such a big deal. But seriously, if I imagined myself in her situation, and knew you all were here jumping to conclusions and judging the guy I just married who I think is wonderful and who you don’t even know… I’d think you were all douches.

  47. June 21, 2011 at 11:39 am

    Like, if this weren’t Feministe, I’d be waiting for “that bitch is obviously after his money.”

  48. Sheelzebub
    June 21, 2011 at 11:42 am

    As an additional note, I am writing in Australia, where the age of consent is 16.

    In many states here in the US, the age of consent is also 16–but there are still legal ramifications if a 30 year old fucks a 16 or 17 year old. They’ll differentiate between a 20-year-old dating a 17-year-old and a 30-year-old doing so.

    And yes, he was not breaking any laws in dating an 18 year old–I stand corrected on that as I thought he had started dating her when she was 17.

    Inequality happens in relationships, and I think having some kind of blanket age-differences-are-creepy position kind of erases the possibility of actually tackling those differences as lovers/partners.

    Good thing I never said that! Here’s what I said: An adult dating someone who’s 12 years older than them doesn’t squick me in the least. Hell, two grown ass adults with a 25 or 30 year age difference being romantically and/or sexually involved doesn’t make me raise my eyebrows.

    Bold added for clarification.

    My point was that a 29 or 30 year old dating a high school student was creepy because the student is still a child. Turns out I misunderstood the original news item, so it’s moot, but really–I don’t think that saying “It’s not okay for someone who’s pushing 30 to fuck a 17 year old” is leveling a blanket age difference as creepy position. Nor is it some effort to make all relationships completely equal.

  49. June 21, 2011 at 11:43 am

    It’s… kinda weird, but not that weird to me, to be honest. If she’s happy and he’s happy – then whatever. I would be interested to see if that relationship works out, though.

    Lots of men genuinely can’t handle a woman with a similar level of life experience (whether subconsciously or otherwise) – but a funny thing often happens when they marry someone who is pretty inexperienced: the woman in question will begin to mature very quickly. Some dudes, the true loser types, are stunned by this and see it as a loss of control. But for others, it’s just another level in their relationship – a more mutually satisfying one.

  50. Lori
    June 21, 2011 at 11:46 am

    I am so glad you posted this Jill. I was practically shrieking when I read it on Sunday, asking my husband whether I was overreacting. He had a similar reaction – “gross, just gross.” I can imagine Cox checking her out in her Hewitt uniform in April 2008 and thinking “a few more weeks and I can try to hook up with her.” Yuck yuck yuck.

  51. Elisabeth
    June 21, 2011 at 11:48 am

    I think it’s important to emphasize what Clara said, in fairness to these people (whatever you think of the gender roles in this marriage). They first MET when she was in high school, but they didn’t date till later, after having met many times in between after she graduated high school in non-school settings. Also, it sounds like neither of them saw the other as date material after the first meeting, since she was in high school and he was older. It wasn’t like at 17 he took her out to his car to have sex in the car parking lot. Finally, if you read carefully, you will notice even after they started dating, there was no sexual or physical contact for the several dates, and from the article, it appears she initiated it. I agree that given the age difference this doesn’t eliminate all the weirdness, but it appears that this guy was taking it slow and respecting her boundaries. Also, even at 18 I’m not sure 11 years of age difference (she is now 21 and he is 32) is all that out of the ordinary. Probably most importantly, chances are this girl’s upbringing was such where traditional gender roles were pounded into her head from a very young age, and I’m not sure that even at 25 she’d be more likely to enter into a more equitable marriage given her upbringing and the climate she lives in.

  52. annalouise
    June 21, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    I think it’s barf worthy for 30 year olds to date 18 year olds. Or a 32 year old to date a 20 year old and I judge as predatory and pathetic anyone who does that.

    But, I know that if these people weren’t NYT style section republicans, the general internet feminist response to this creep would be some variation on ykinmk.

    I think the predation by older men upon younger women is one of those important feminist issues that gets dismissed for a lot of reasons beginning with a inaccurate interpretations of “sex positive” and the prevalence in online spaces of people who aren’t very far out of their teens and who may not necessarily have the maturity or the distance to realize that these men manipulated them.

    Plus, these guys are crafty. The things they say fit very well into any bright teenagers sense of how she wants to be. They say, “you’re so mature”. Or in Andrea Catsimatidis, he’s been able to get her to frame it as her pursuing him, even though even from the NYT article it’s clear that he pursued a relationship with her early on.

  53. Ismone
    June 21, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    Oh, age differences.

    My first boyfriend was a 26-year-old I started pursuing when I was 16. Granted, when I first became attracted to him I thought he was a hot senior I just hadn’t seen around before, and also, I didn’t start really dating him until I was 20. But all the same, although there were differences in experience, in a lot of ways I was more grounded than he was (not a slam, he was a very mature adult, but I was a preternaturally old young woman, in a number of ways.)

    Also, by the time we started dating, I was ex-military, and he was just someone who had gone straight through school. So, I had seen and been through some things that really in some ways, aged me. He had more experience in relationships, but I had more experience with happy marriages, as my parents’ was happy and I do not believe that his parents was.

    There are always differences in power and experience, but that is true of any couple. Now, I would be a little worried if someone routinely sought out partners of a different age. That’s a flag. But I think that sometimes it is very possible for two people who have a pretty significant age gap to do just fine.

    Also–my grandparents–she was 16, he was 21 or 22 when they first met. They married when she was 17, and it turned out fine.

  54. Florence
    June 21, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    Sheelzebub: I look askance that this because she was a fucking high school student. When I was 21, age 30, and now at 42, I thought/think of people aged 17 and still in high school as “kids,” no matter how mature they seemed. A 17-year-old is in a far different place developmentally than a 29 or a 30 year old.

    Also, the preponderance of the “barely legal” and “teen fantasy” fantasies in our culture make me extremely suspicious of adult men pursuing teenagers.

  55. Rare Vos
    June 21, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    I am waay WAY more squicked out by the Green Mile actor and his child bride.

    Gross. Way way gross.

  56. June 21, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    I’m squicked by the fact that it’s Tooms! Freakings Tooms!

  57. Nimue
    June 21, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    Emolee:
    The part that made me barf was: She swoons that her father “wouldn’t have given me up to anyone else.”

    Patriarchy.Women as property.Ich.

    Me too. EW EW EW.

  58. Florence
    June 21, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    Natalia: I’m squicked by the fact that it’s Tooms! Freakings Tooms!

    He’s not 51 except in human years. He’s actually been hibernating in his newspaper and bile nest for three decades after consuming five human livers back in 1981. So technically he’s only 20, right?

  59. Elle Be Me
    June 21, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    Rare Vos: I am waay WAY more squicked out by the Green Mile actor and his child bride. Gross. Way way gross.

    Yeah, I just read that on CNN…makes the posted article above seem downright wholesome.

    http://marquee.blogs.cnn.com/2011/06/21/lost-actor-marries-16-year-old-girlfriend/?iref=NS1

    So he married his 16 y/o girlfriend…and they met when???? When she was selling girl scout cookies???? Nausea sets in deeply…..

    It is pretty sad that this kind of crap is going on and getting some promotional press. An older woman gets called a cougar for just DATING a younger man. That horrible “May-December” moniker to describe older female younger male relationships…and there is no matching counterpart for men who do the same.

  60. LC
    June 21, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    I know too many couples with too much diversity of age to make a blanket condemnation. I do agree with Julia above about the “half your age plus 7” as a rule of thumb to looking askance, but not a hard guideline. Pretending age difference doesn’t matter is silly, but we humans are more than complex enough for it not to be the only thing.

    Still, I’m going to look suspect at it, because I am pretty sure the number of times it is squicky outweighs the number of times it isn’t. (Especially if it is clearly the pattern of “I keep getting older, my dates keep staying the same age”) Also, the “still in high-school” thing is a big deal because it really is a separate world from adulthood.

  61. LC
    June 21, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    Elle Be Me – I always thought “May-December” applied to older man, younger woman as well. In fact, I think I’ve heard it used that way more often.

  62. Elle Be Me
    June 21, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    LC: Elle Be Me – I always thought “May-December” applied to older man, younger woman as well. In fact, I think I’ve heard it used that way more often.

    Not so sure I can say the same. I remember when Demi Moore and Ashton Kutscher were getting married and I heard it A LOT… Nonetheless, is there a derogatory word for the male counterpart to cougar?

  63. Florence
    June 21, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    Natalia:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bnlv1wd13fY

    I was thinking the same thing. Get out of my head.

    • Jill
      June 21, 2011 at 1:51 pm

      I definitely thought that YouTube link was going to a clip of My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding.

  64. Hannah
    June 21, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    Elle Be Me: Not so sure I can say the same. I remember when Demi Moore and Ashton Kutscher were getting married and I heard it A LOT… Nonetheless, is there a derogatory word for the male counterpart to cougar?

    Sugar Daddy?

  65. Henry
    June 21, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    @Elle

    There’s lots of them – predator, creep, etc.

  66. Tony
    June 21, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    I think people are too judgemental when it comes to relationships. You can’t just take a numerical age difference and say that’s the end of it, without knowing anything about them.

    • Jill
      June 21, 2011 at 2:08 pm

      I think people are too judgemental when it comes to relationships. You can’t just take a numerical age difference and say that’s the end of it, without knowing anything about them.

      Sure you can. You think it’s impossible to say that a 12-year-old dating a 24-year-old is wrong?

  67. james
    June 21, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    “There are HUGE differences in maturity and experience between and 18-year-old and a 30-year-old that make the relationship very close to predatory. Those same differences, and the power that comes with them, aren’t quite the same between a 50-year-old and a 62-year-old.”

    What power differences, care to spell them out? I ask because when I was at school, loads of people were basically bullied by their peers into dating people in their age group. But I don’t think anyone was bullied into dating someone in their 30s in fact, as almost everyone has noted, there’s a stigma against it and the social pressure is the other way. And if this is about him having money – I’m sure it is a pressure for some teens – but certainly not for a woman in her social class.

  68. StayHomeDad
    June 21, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    When I was 17 I dated a 28yo guy for a couple of months. He had his own apartment, car and money. He was gorgeous and the sex was spectacular. Even at the time we broke up, I knew I was thoroughly enjoying the drama of having my heart broken for the first time.

    In the twenty years since I’ve never once regretted it or thought of him as “creepy.” And I still can’t smell Obsession cologne without getting a little misty.

    So I don’t think we can assume we know either of their feelings, motivations or experiences, and my honest response is Mazel Tov.

  69. Tony
    June 21, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    Jill: Sure you can. You think it’s impossible to say that a 12-year-old dating a 24-year-old is wrong?

    Yes, that’s a technical objection to what I wrote, but at the same time it’s kind of a strawman argument. So you’re basically saying the age of consent should be 18. *shrug*

    • Jill
      June 21, 2011 at 2:53 pm

      Well no. I’m not talking about legality or age of consent. I don’t think all of my personal opinions should be legislated. I do think that large age differences are problematic in certain contexts — particularly when you’re talking about two people who have widely different experiences and maturity levels because of their ages.

  70. Tony
    June 21, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    In certain contexts, yes. But there are also a lot of healthy relationships that fit the general characteristics of wide age differences and experience levels. Some people have mentioned it above. Also as mentioned above, they met when she was five days short of 18, at that time there was nothing romantic. She is now 21. Apparently she grew up around politics, so it’s not like they have totally different worlds. I know someone who is basically the same situation and the guy is definitely not a creep, the woman is very independent and if anything has the more successful budding career, even though she is very young.

  71. Li
    June 21, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    Sheelzebub: Good thing I never said that! Here’s what I said: An adult dating someone who’s 12 years older than them doesn’t squick me in the least. Hell, two grown ass adults with a 25 or 30 year age difference being romantically and/or sexually involved doesn’t make me raise my eyebrows.

    Yeah, the second part of what I said there wasn’t aimed directly at you. I should have been explicit about that. Though I disagree with you that a 17 year old is a child. And when I say age of consent I mean age of consent, not age of kind-of-a-bit consent.

  72. June 21, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    It’s not so much that I automatically find all age disparity in relationships to be creepy – put simply, you love who you love. It’s possible that a 17-year-old can fall in love with a 30-year-old and have a healthy, egalitarian relationship.

    That said, I’ll find an age disparity creepy in one of two situations, though.:

    1. An older person who exclusively or primarily goes after much younger people. (e.g. middle-aged men on OKCupid who’re willing to date 18-year-olds, but curiously reluctant to expand their dating pool to women just a few years older than they are. I’m not opposed to going on a date with an older guy; but it seriously grosses me out when a man old enough to be my dad messages me, and I see on his profile that he’s only interested in women aged 18-35 or something.)

    2. There’s some power imbalance in the relationship that’s directly related to the age disparity. (e.g. an older person who’s the primary financial decision-maker in the relationship.)

    The above two conditions do apply to plenty of age-disparate romances I’ve personally seen; and I’ve noticed the first to be particularly common amongst men.
    (I feel as though some people will read that^ and think, “Oh, it’s just a preference! A middle-aged man’s preference for 19-year-olds is just as innocent as preferring people with small hands over people with large ones!”; so let me just preemptively say: No. It is not the same.)

    Henry: There’s lots of them – predator, creep, etc.

    Not really – the words ‘predator’ and ‘creep’ are catch-all terms that refer to sexually invasive or gross behavior (usually from men; I don’t often hear women described as ‘creeps’) in general. They don’t specifically refer to older men who date young women at all.

    The closest word would be ‘sugar daddy’; but even then, that only refers to older men who shower their younger partners with gifts in exchange for sex/submission/nude peanut butter wrestling/whatever.

  73. Florence
    June 21, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    Nahida: Like, if this weren’t Feministe, I’d be waiting for “that bitch is obviously after his money.”

    More like (to be crude), “dude wants some teenage poon.” Which is kind of what we’re all squicked out about, to be real. It’s not so much about her as it is about these dudes and their giant, flashing neon-sign declaration of personal ISSUES on display here.

    And actually, I think there is a lot that can be extracted from news stories like this (and the following measured defenses of extremely large age gaps in relationships), such as the idealization of children and adolescent bodies as the beauty ideal, the cultural devaluation of grown women’s sexuality and life experiences, and the over-valuation of inequality in “traditional” heterosexual partnerships. It’s interesting to me, too, that a lot of folks who had sexual relationships with older people on the thread are admitting to the taboo and finding it somewhere on their personal scale of gross-in-retrospect-to-AOK.

    Personally: The research shows that young women are frequently targeted by older men *because* of their vulnerability. Take, for example, the number of teen mothers who are impregnated and later dumped by guys who were 5+ years older than they (if I remember correctly, a majority). Or the relative level of inequality in sexual and relationship experience that inevitably sets the relationship forth on uneven playing grounds? These things were true for me — so I guess it’s untrue to say “all I got was laid”. My reality is that I got laid, pregnant, had a couple of abortions, scored an STI, dumped, and made a single parent by these guys. Sure, I had agency and I exercised it. I would have thought all the naysayers here were prudish nags. In retrospect, and in hanging out with my young nieces today, it’s pretty clear what was wrong with the guys that pursued me, and why my personal boundaries weren’t in place to know that this level of inequality was dangerous for me.

  74. Shelley
    June 21, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    “Ms. Catsimatidis was Mr. Cox’s constant companion, and baked cookies and made lemonade for his political appearances.”

    I can’t believe no one has mentioned this yet! Um, is she his mother? His caretaker? His chef? Martha Stewart? I know some people enjoy this role, but others find it extremely trivializing and condescending, especially as it is implied that she has political aspirations of her own. Let this girl live her poor, rich, sheltered life. She’s 21 now. Isn’t the fun just beginning?

  75. Sheelzebub
    June 21, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    Oh, God, I just have to try and stop the invasion of italics!

  76. June 21, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    jamayla: An older person who exclusively or primarily goes after much younger people.

    That’s kind of where my line is for this sort of thing too. It is possible to have a good healthy relationship with a large age difference, even if one of the partners starts as a teenager. But it’s rare, and someone who consistently going after young’ens more than likely isn’t one you’ll have a good healthy relationship with.

  77. June 21, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    Here, maybe this will work

  78. June 21, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    But we don’t know if he’s exclusively or primarily going after younger people. We’ve got baseless presumptions.

    Maybe I’m just the “don’t talk shit about people I love while pretending you care about me” type. If he’d clearly shown signs of being predatory or abusive or if she had actual complaints it would be a whole different story.

    But now? This is all just smack talk.

    I’m sure she’s an actual, whole person who’s capable of knowing her situation and making decisions. She doesn’t need to be rescued.

  79. Yonmei
    June 21, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    Sheelzebub: Honestly, if a 30-year-old tried to ask me out when I was 17, my parents would not have been okay with it. I’ve dated men much older and much younger than me, but they were men, not high school students.

    My sister knew our parents wouldn’t be okay with her dating a man aged 32 when she was 18. So she didn’t tell them.

    I was pretty sure my parents wouldn’t be keen on me dating a 35-year-old woman when I was 24. So I didn’t tell them.

    My brother felt vaguely that our parents wouldn’t quite be as happy as he was over his dating a 22-year-old woman when he was 43, but he wasn’t quite as savvy as his sisters over Just Not Telling and our parents found out and were indeed not happy. (Nor was he, when she ditched him.)

    Natalia: It’s… kinda weird, but not that weird to me, to be honest. If she’s happy and he’s happy – then whatever. I would be interested to see if that relationship works out, though.

    Yeah, ditto, ditto.

    I see no reason to suppose that the version of their relationship as described in a very public article, which all four parents are going to read, is actually the accurate version of events, down to the “Gosh I’ve never kissed a boy before”…

    If everyone’s a consenting adult and there’s no ethical lines being crossed (ie, not your teacher or your therapist or your pastor or whatever…) well, if they’re both happy, that’s fine: if they get divorced in a few years, well, that’s taught them both valuable life lessons about not having big splashy weddings too early in the relationship.

  80. tinfoil hattie
    June 21, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    I think the predation by older men upon younger women is one of those important feminist issues that gets dismissed for a lot of reasons beginning with a inaccurate interpretations of “sex positive” and the prevalence in online spaces of people who aren’t very far out of their teens and who may not necessarily have the maturity or the distance to realize that these men manipulated them.

    This says it. It’s not “ageist” to acknowledge that a 17-year-old girl does not have the life experience and even the completely developed brain that a 30-year-old has. And a 17-year-old is definitely a child.

  81. Shaun
    June 21, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    The closest word would be ‘sugar daddy’; but even then, that only refers to older men who shower their younger partners with gifts in exchange for sex/submission/nude peanut butter wrestling/whatever.

    O_O Peanut butter wrestling sounds like a form of torture.

  82. Archie
    June 21, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    Who knows the depths of anyone’s heart, or can say with authority what anyone else feels. That said, this Cox Catsamatides affair is decadent and gross in so many ways. This opulence and vanity would be almost as sick if the couple were the same age. Hearing these plutocrats talk about their nuptials only serves to confirm it. It may seem like love, but it is a class based match between people who want to take what little you have away from you. Just yuck.

  83. karak
    June 21, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    There are issues about power, control, and life experiences. I’ve had serious talks with friends of mine who were college seniors dating college freshmen because I had concerns about the senior running roughshod over the freshmen’s existence and agency. It’s so easy to listen to someone older tell you what you should do, what you won’t like, and how you should behave.

    Yeah, sure, I know some couples that dated when she was 20 and he was 52, and there wasn’t a problem at all. I’ve also known couples where she was 18 and he was 24 and a college graduate, and it was a SERIOUS fucking problem.

    The key seems to be whether or not the younger person has had a lot of life experiences and is self-aware (the 20 year old already had a child, an associates, worked full-time, and been living on her own for two years, the 18 year old had never spent more than a night away from her parents or had a date).

  84. DanaR
    June 21, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    Yeah, sure, I know some couples that dated when she was 20 and he was 52, and there wasn’t a problem at all. I’ve also known couples where she was 18 and he was 24 and a college graduate, and it was a SERIOUS fucking problem.

    Yup. This whole article makes me uncomfortable, because of the politics, and her baking cookies! and a huge expensive wedding, and yeah the age difference slots nicely into the extreme gender roles being played out here.

    But yeah, she was at uni, and frankly I know a lot of 30 year olds I wouldn’t consider too mature to date 18yos. So maybe it’s creepy, maybe it’s not, hard to know what the dynamic is like in their relationship.

    I have to comment only because there are naturally a few people being all “this age difference is never acceptable!” I was 18 when I got together with my 36yo partner. I am a cis woman and he is a cis man.

    We met training to fight (kickboxing), we had a lot in common, I found him hot and we started sleeping together (I was very much the initiator, don’t worry). I was sexually experienced (if not as much as I’d like to be :D) and have more in common with people in their 30s-40s+ than people in their 20s. He was pretty freaked out by the gap but we ended up falling in love and the age has never been an issue in the last 8 years.

    He makes good money and I make shit money. I have depression and a complete lack of habits cleaning around the house. His “friends” dumped him because the centre of his social circle was jealous of me. These things have been issues, but the age… not so much.

    /end sample of one :D

  85. ad
    June 21, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    The age difference squicks me out far less than the opulent wedding with the super powerful people and all the name dropping of former presidents going on. The elitism is disgusting.

  86. Cactus Wren
    June 21, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    It’s entertaining (for certain very specific and rather sour values of “entertaining”) to speculate on how the news media would be dealing with it if a 30-year-old male campaign staffer — for whichever party — had asked a seventeen-year-old high-school guy out.

  87. Sheelzebub
    June 21, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    I was pretty sure my parents wouldn’t be keen on me dating a 35-year-old woman when I was 24. So I didn’t tell them.

    By the time I was 24, I was an adult and my parents wouldn’t have cared. In fact, I dated someone about 12 years older than me for a while at 24 and they didn’t care because I was 24–I wasn’t a minor.

    Likewise, they didn’t care when I dated someone significantly younger than me because we were both adults.

    At 17? Not so much. Because I was still a minor, and they were still responsible for my well-being.

  88. Athenia
    June 21, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    I’m just upset that the patriarchy doesn’t work this way in my favor—a 27 year old women dating an 18 year old guy?

    Maybe if that guy was Taylor Launter.

  89. David
    June 21, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    Age honestly doesn’t mean shit.

    I am also somewhat bemused seeing the predator and prey trope trotted out in a supposedly feminist venue. Did y’all stare so long into the MRA abyss on the internet that you started adopting their ideas?

  90. June 21, 2011 at 10:08 pm

    I met my husband when I was 17 and he was 29. We have a fantastic, healthy relationship, and it’s offensive to see the amount of people calling this guy a predator or a creep, just because of the age difference.

    Everyone getting their knickers in a knot needs to take a couple of deep breaths and chill out. Heaven forbid we start making judgements about people based on a couple of numbers.

  91. June 22, 2011 at 12:25 am

    And yes, he was not breaking any laws in dating an 18 year old–I stand corrected on that as I thought he had started dating her when she was 17.

    My point was that a 29 or 30 year old dating a high school student was creepy because the student is still a child.Turns out I misunderstood the original news item, so it’s moot,

    You know, I thought exactly the same thing, that he was dating a high school student. Gee, I wonder where we got that idea?

    17-year-old high school student meets 29-year-old McCain campaign staffer. He asks her out, because that is totally appropriate. They date, because why wouldn’t a 30-year-old man have tons in common with a high school senior?

    Chances are we won’t see this significant mis-representation corrected in the article.

  92. June 22, 2011 at 12:32 am

    An older woman gets called a cougar for just DATING a younger man. That horrible “May-December” moniker to describe older female younger male relationships…and there is no matching counterpart for men who do the same.

    Yeah. Cause “ewww”, “gross”, “sick”, “criminal”, “predator” are not matching counterparts to cougar.

  93. June 22, 2011 at 2:54 am

    I agree with Nahida – not all healthy relationships are necessarily based on a certain model. And a lot of such relationships also start out very well and then run their course. That’s not necessarily a horrible thing either – not in all cases, anyway.

    I also believe that people do what feels right at the time. Years later, a lot of us look back and say, “Wow, WHAT was I doing?” but it really doesn’t matter, because were you to travel back in time and try to convince your teenage self to “not go out with that guy” or something similar, your teenage self would tell you to fuck off and go to hell. That’s the nature of the game.

  94. Blacky
    June 22, 2011 at 6:08 am

    Jill: I’m reporting it as barf-worthy because 30-year-old men who ask 17-year-old girls on dates are barf-worthy.

    And here is little naive me who thought feminism was about letting women make their own choices.
    Obviously that excludes 17 year old girls who don’t do as Jill wishes.

    • Jill
      June 22, 2011 at 8:25 am

      And here is little naive me who thought feminism was about letting women make their own choices.

      Feminism means women should have the right to make their own choices within the bounds of the law, just like men. It doesn’t mean that every single choice a woman makes is immune from critique or exploration.

  95. Florence
    June 22, 2011 at 6:58 am

    Blacky: And here is little naive me who thought feminism was about letting women make their own choices.

    Ah yes, “let’s not be judgmental” is a central tenet of feminism. Right.

  96. Rare Vos
    June 22, 2011 at 7:59 am

    And here is little naive me who thought feminism was about letting women make their own choices.

    Oh, absolutely. And, obviously the implied rest of that sentence is : “and those choices are completely and totaly exempt from any and all deconstruction, criticism or even passing notice.”

    cuz what feminism is about is unquestionly supporting whatever any woman does for any reason, and absolutley never dissecting social pressures and conditions that might color those choices.

    Nope. No thinking, no criticising and definitely no disagreeing.

    Yep, totally sounds like feminism to me.

  97. Roxy
    June 22, 2011 at 8:28 am

    Hm, Jill, I normally agree with your posts, but I don’t agree with this one. If we can trust this reporter, it says she was “5 days shy of her 18th birthday” when she met her husband. She was practically 18.

    So, I don’t agree with their political views or like the elitism of the article, but I don’t think this sort of age difference is barf worthy.

    Anyway, my parents are 10 years apart and while they agree their age difference was really weird when my mom was technically a minor (they didn’t start dating until she was nearly 18 though), and they wouldn’t encourage it, they have been happily married when 25 years.

  98. Yonmei
    June 22, 2011 at 9:03 am

    Sheelzebub: At 17? Not so much. Because I was still a minor, and they were still responsible for my well-being.

    Ah well, when I was 17 I told my parents literally nothing about my personal life, because yes, they regarded themselves as “responsible for my well-being”, but I regarded myself as more responsible for my well-being, and my well-being was not served by opening up my personal life to their unremitting disapproval while I was still living with them and couldn’t get away. It only became a question whether to tell them about who I was dating, or if I was dating anyone, after I left home: before I left home, while they still had some legal and considerable financial power over me, it would have been just plain a bad idea.

    Whatevs. Agree with Dinosaurs in tutus I am glad I am not famous enough for major feminist blogs to go over my dating choices though the initial problem starts with them being rich enough to show up in the Style section of a paper read by a major feminist blogger, so I’ll waive sympathy on that one.

  99. Florence
    June 22, 2011 at 9:52 am

    when I was 17 I told my parents literally nothing about my personal life, because yes, they regarded themselves as “responsible for my well-being”, but I regarded myself as more responsible for my well-being, and my well-being was not served by opening up my personal life to their unremitting disapproval while I was still living with them and couldn’t get away.

    Funny. This was the same for me, but after growing up a hair I realized they were right about quite a few things even if their parenting methods of dealing with it sucked (and man, did they suck). I don’t think I would have done much differently in hindsight, but still.

    I don’t think accepting a culture that uses young women who are barely out of puberty as sexual targets precisely because of their inexperience and vulnerability is something feminism should aspire to.

  100. alawyer
    June 22, 2011 at 10:06 am

    I agree that there’s a huge gap in maturity and life experience between 17 and 29. But why the rush to judgment when all the information we have comes from a two-page article in the New York Times Style section? This relationship could very well be problematic, but the claims that this guy is “predatory,” “manipulative,” and after “power and control” are completely without foundation.

    I feel like I shouldn’t need to point this out, but the modern American taboo on intergenerational dating is not exactly a cultural universal. In lots of other times and places 18 and 30 would be completely normative. Are we sure we’re acting on the basis of good reasons when we criticize these relationships? Or are we just rationalizing our cultural prejudices?

    mo:
    Almost 30 and dating a 17 year old then?Good thing mummy and daddy approved, or they’d have been after him for statutory.CREEPY.

    Age of consent in New York is 17.

  101. bhuesca
    June 22, 2011 at 10:15 am

    So a 17 year old can be trusted to make her own decision with her own intentions to have an abortion on demand (regardless of the input of family or friends or anyone with those ‘extra years of discretion that come from life experience’ etc.), but a 17 year old who meets a guy who she LATER STARTS DATING WHILE IN COLLEGE cannot be trusted with her decision or intentions (even when she has loving family and friends who help ‘vet’ her date and inform her decision with their additional years of life experience’)?????

  102. Yonmei
    June 22, 2011 at 10:40 am

    Florence: This was the same for me

    You came out to your parents as a lesbian when you were just past your 17th birthday, too?

    but after growing up a hair I realized they were right about quite a few things even if their parenting methods of dealing with it sucked (and man, did they suck). I don’t think I would have done much differently in hindsight, but still.

    Mmm, my parents were completely wrong about pretty much everything to do with my personal life the first two years or so they were aware I had one, because what they thought (and said) was “You’ll grow out of it.” – “Don’t you think you should TRY to grow out of it?” – “Shouldn’t you stop hanging around with people who ENDORSE your personal life and think it’s a good thing you have one?” – “Why is your ENTIRE SOCIAL LIFE fixed on people and organisations that endorse you having a personal life and respect your sexual orientation? Aren’t you becoming a bit obsessed with this? When ARE you going to grow out of it?”

    Their parenting methods did not suck, though. They stuck to wishing I would grow out of it, saying so, and unremitting disapproval of any aspect of it they found out about. Other lesbian and gay teenagers living with their parents experienced much worse parenting methods than simple unremitting disapproval.

    I don’t think accepting a culture that uses young women who are barely out of puberty as sexual targets precisely because of their inexperience and vulnerability is something feminism should aspire to.

    I don’t think that accepting a culture that says a 17-year-old woman is vulnerable and can only be a sexual target, without agency or decision, is something feminism should aspire to.

    Teenagers are inexperienced, pretty much by definition. They acquire experience by, well, getting experiences. Automatically condemning an 18-year-old for having a relationship with a 29-year-old is not something I’m happy with: neither am I happy with assuming she has to be a vulnerable sexual target and he a predator.

    FWIW, one of the most successful relationships I know is a woman who’s been with her partner now for 16 years: they met when she was 19 and her partner was about 50, they celebrated their civil partnership sometime after their 10th anniversary, and together they have four children (two step, two bio). It’s true that everyone who knew them both when they met assumed the relationship would never last, but we were wrong. (It’s also true that the 19-year-old was the instigator and pursuer: I know the older partner, and going out with someone so much younger was completely uncharacteristic for her.)

  103. Anna
    June 22, 2011 at 10:58 am

    Sheelzebub:
    I look askance that this because she was a fucking high school student.When I was 21, age 30, and now at 42, I thought/think of people aged 17 and still in high school as “kids,” no matter how mature they seemed.A 17-year-old is in a far different place developmentally than a 29 or a 30 year old.

    Agree.

    Agree. Agree. Can’t stress enough.

    I considered teens kids when I was 25. It’s just much worse now that I am 33 and have a kid of my own. My brain defaults to “all teens need guidance and don’t know what they want.” Misguided as *that* has, at times, proven to be, my brain still defaults to it. I don’t know if I’d ever outgrow it.

    What’s also gross about this entire affair? That it was mentioned at all that her father wouldn’t have given her away to anyone else.

    Like property, she’s given away.

  104. Florence
    June 22, 2011 at 11:28 am

    Florence: This was the same for me

    You came out to your parents as a lesbian when you were just past your 17th birthday, too?

    No. That part that I quoted from you verbatim was the same for me. Jesus Christ.

  105. Manju
    June 22, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    I’m dead-set against this if its 17/30. But 18/29 is ok. 19/28 would’ve been great, but 15/17 is still wrong. 16/17 is ok, though.

    22/48 is so good you can lie about it under oath. 69/69 sounds better, but I digress.

  106. Brandon
    June 22, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    I think the only thing that hasn’t been discussed ad nauseam is the girls attractiveness. Most hetero men are visual in nature. You can say we are shallow because we are often attracted to how a woman looks as opposed to other factors that the readers of Feministe might say (education, achievements, etc…) but most peoples limbic system dont run on ideology. A lot of men dont have pages of prerequisites that a woman must complete before they have a relationship.

    Personally, I dont really care about anything besides answering these two questions:
    “Am I attracted to her?” and
    “Are we having fun together?”

    If either of those is “no”…then I save both of us time and energy so we can go find someone else that can satify those requirements.

    My point of all this is that I dont have a lot of “rules” to determine if she is a person I want to spend time with…and A LOT of men feel this way.

    Attraction isnt a choice. So if two adults care about one another…then so be it. Personally, I would have waited till she turned 18 just to avoid this whole thing of seening it as “creepy” (whatever creepy means). Otherwise, why cant we wish them well and not criticize their relationship when they and their family is not up and arms about. (kinda a why get mad at Bill…when Hillary doesnt care?)

  107. Florence
    June 22, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    Brandon, that was paradoxically creepy and yet also so boring.

  108. Ismone
    June 22, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    I’m still irritated by people’s attitudes here.

    If you weren’t capable of making choices under the age of 18, fine. If you were in relationships where an age-based power dynamic screwed stuff up for you, also fine.

    That does not mean that I was incapable of making intelligent decisions about who to date and who I was attracted to at 16. Sure, everyone can benefit from guidance, but we also benefit more from being in actual relationships and making up my own mind. At sixteen, I was already more mature than one of my uncles is now, and he is in his late 40’s.

    And I am really glad that my first bf was older, because in his case, it meant he was sensitive and secure and never pressured me at all–which is not something my peers could necessarily say about their first boyfriends.

    • June 22, 2011 at 4:45 pm

      I’ll say again that I think 18-year-olds (or 16-year-olds) are perfectly capable of making decisions about who to date (I don’t know about “intelligent” decisions — people of all ages seem to be bad at that). My problem is with the 30-year-old men who date 18-year-old girls. I do think there’s something super-creepy about those dudes.

      Also, there are actual major brain changes that happen through your teens and early 20s, which impact decision-making and risk-taking. So I don’t think it’s totally out there to say that large age differences are more concerning when one party is under the age of 21.

  109. Kathleen
    June 22, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    Florence — too right. When someone starts pontificating about the “limbic system” in a conversation about sex or religion, it’s time to start yawning meaningfully and edging away.

  110. Ismone
    June 22, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    Jill,

    If that is true, though, we shouldn’t be dating anyone until we’re 26. Yes, there can be power dynamics created by age, but there can also be power dynamics created by gender inequality, popularity, confidence, any number of things.

  111. Brandon
    June 22, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    @Florence: I am terribly sorry…I will try and be more dramatic. OH LORDY…*Flails arms around wildly*

    @Kathleen: I was being slightly tongue and cheek. That doesn’t change the fact that attraction is not really based on logic…but emotions. You can continue to believe that attraction is controlled by a persons achievements, job or that your favorite movies are exactly your partners favorite movies….but it doesn’t work that way. In fact, if human’s chose their partners based on logic…you would be right. Because those things would be more important than what people look like. Plus if we based things on logic, the relationships would probably be more stable but boring as all hell.

    As a general rule (there are always exceptions), hetero men look for physically attractive women. All you have to do is walk by a news stand and look at the cover of any male-oriented magazine…they have Megan Fox in a bikini not Hillary Clinton. And their is a reason for it. You can talk about media bias and other constructs, but those ideas are based in the foundation that men like attractive, youthful women.

    You don’t have to like my writing style, my dry sense of humor or me personally…but that still doesn’t invalidate what I am saying. At the end of it all…this guy married her because she was young and attractive. I would like to see you prove me wrong without making things personal by saying my writing is boring or that I misspelled a word.

    @Jill: Why are you so concerned with 30 year old men dating 18 year old women? Brain changes? Yup! We all get horny and like to sleep with people. Unless this man is abusing her, why can’t you just wish them good luck and not worry about THEIR relationship. I would be on your side more if he was actually hurting her…but judging from that picture she seems like she wants to be there and is happy. Why rain on that…if there is a time to be happy, this would be at the top of the list.

  112. Ismone
    June 22, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    Brandon,

    Just because people are initially attracted to looks in photos doesn’t mean that is what they are attracted to in relationships.

    I learned this the hard way by going out with a number of men who were objectively attractive, based on their photos, but with whom there was no sparkiness in person.

    So, I would disagree with you that attraction is solely looks-based, I think a lot of it is personality-based and biochemical.

  113. David
    June 22, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    Jill:
    I’ll say again that I think 18-year-olds (or 16-year-olds) are perfectly capable of making decisions about who to date (I don’t know about “intelligent” decisions — people of all ages seem to be bad at that). My problem is with the 30-year-old men who date 18-year-old girls. I do think there’s something super-creepy about those dudes.

    Also, there are actual major brain changes that happen through your teens and early 20s, which impact decision-making and risk-taking. So I don’t think it’s totally out there to say that large age differences are more concerning when one party is under the age of 21.

    “18 year olds shouldn’t date 30 year olds because biology. Also, older people are suuuper-creepy.”

    Wow, you know. I couldn’t have said it more eloquently myself. That is an incredibly intellligent, reasoned, well-balanced and feminist argument that you are making there Jill.

    • June 22, 2011 at 9:09 pm

      Older people who seek out much-younger people are, in my experience, often very creepy. They do often bank on the power imbalances and differences in life experience.

  114. Florence
    June 22, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    Brandon: @Florence: I am terribly sorry…I will try and be more dramatic. OH LORDY…*Flails arms around wildly*

    Brandon, while I appreciate the attempt at dramatizing your creepiness, it would probably be more beneficial to just be less creepy and pedantic overall. We don’t need a lesson in attractiveness. As sexual agents, we are all quite aware of what attracts ourselves to others and what makes us attractive. Don’t need the mansplanation, thanks.

    As Jill and others have said repeatedly, older people who pursue younger lovers often bank on — depend on — count on — the power imbalances and differences in life experience inherent to the relationship. But the bodies and minds of youth are not appropriate playgrounds for older people’s fucked up arrested sexual and emotional development.

    “Old enough to bleed” is actually not a tenet of feminism.

  115. Kathleen
    June 22, 2011 at 10:23 pm

    Brandon:
    I would like to see you prove me wrong without making things personal by saying my writing is boring or that I misspelled a word.

    I am guessing you have to parry that misspelling / grammar thing a lot. Good thing that your number one science facts are so reliable by contrast.

  116. Brandon
    June 22, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    @Jill: Well your free to have that opinion but in the end it really doesn’t matter. For one, an 18 and 30 year old are adults and can make their own choices good or bad. Second, it’s not going to get outlawed…since they are adults.

    Power Imbalances? Ya…she’s pretty and could get any man she wants…and he is rich so that acts as a magnet to attract pretty girls. They could both break up right now and find someone else in a week (or less).

    Different life experiences? That’s the main point in having a relationship. If I dated someone basically like me in every way, I would get bored out of my mind. Sometimes when people are so very different…it makes them better people because they can see other perspectives and POV’s. Personally, I like dating active, positive girls…helps keep me active and positive. (which probably explains men dating younger girls to feel young again)

    Again, your opinion isn’t going to change biology. Men will want to be with women younger than them and a lot of women like older men. Biology doesn’t care about feminism, men’s rights, capitalism or Obama…it only cares about making sure we reproduce to keep the species alive (which is probably why sex is so damn awesome. if it felt bad, I bet we would all die)

    I want it to rain money but it’s not going to happen. So it’s pointless for me to get all bothered by the fact that it wont happen…it’s wasted energy that can be put to more productive uses. Let’s see…more articles advocating to save women from the disgusting practice of FGM (and men and circumcision!)…that I can get on board with.

    • June 22, 2011 at 10:37 pm

      Luckily I am not suggesting it be outlawed, I am just expressing my personal opinion. Which is basically 98% of what this blog is (shockingly, I don’t want to outlaw dating vegans, either).

      Also I think your understanding of biology is… skewed. “I like it” is not the same as “it’s biological.”

  117. David
    June 22, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    Florence: Brandon, while I appreciate the attempt at dramatizing your creepiness, it would probably be more beneficial to just be less creepy and pedantic overall. We don’t need a lesson in attractiveness.As sexual agents, we are all quite aware of what attracts ourselves to others and what makes us attractive. Don’t need the mansplanation, thanks.

    As Jill and others have said repeatedly, older people who pursue younger lovers often bank on — depend on — count on — the power imbalances and differences in life experience inherent to the relationship.But the bodies and minds of youth are not appropriate playgrounds for older people’s fucked up arrested sexual and emotional development.

    “Old enough to bleed” is actually not a tenet of feminism.

    Hey, I have a penis too. I guess that means I’m also creepy.

    Good to know that when I turn thirty, I’m going to become the “predator” overnight. I’ll get myself a predator shirt and start rattling off arnold quotes.

    GET TO DA CHOPPPPA!!!!

    • June 22, 2011 at 10:48 pm

      You’re not a predator because you’re 30. You’re a predator if you try to bone high-schoolers. Sorry if that makes your penis sad.

  118. Brandon
    June 22, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    @Florence: Mansplanation…hahaha.

    “As sexual agents, we are all quite aware of what attracts ourselves to others and what makes us attractive.”

    What the hell does that even mean? It’s pure psychobabble.

    As a man, I don’t go around claiming that I know what women find attractive…do you know why? Because I am not a woman and am not privy to that information.

    I can tell you what I am attracted to and a lot my male friends and their friends and so on and so on…. Looks are pretty much 80% of it. The other 20% is personality, common ground, etc…

    @Kathleen: Everyone makes spelling errors. It does not make someones arguments moot or irrelevant. I actually don’t have to parry them all that often. I only brought it up because I was trying to proactively prevent you from mentioning it as argument against what I said….apparently I failed….oh well.

    I mentioned no scientific facts, just my personal opinion and observations. If you would like one than I wonder if there is any correlation between male to female attractiveness to the number of copies of Maxim/Stuff/FHM sold. We can use Hillary Clinton on the cover of next months Maxim as the control and see what gets sold more.

    Without getting into hurt feelings, I am merely saying that MORE men would find Olivia Munn more attractive than say…Ann Coulter (personally every woman is more attractive than her…but that’s besides the point).

  119. Kathleen
    June 22, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    YES I would like one scientific fact! Do I send in a coupon or a stamped self-addressed postcard? Gosh everyone is going to be so jealous when I dress it in a beanie and take it to school with me. Do I need to buy an aquarium? A terrarium?

  120. June 22, 2011 at 11:53 pm

    Without getting into hurt feelings, I am merely saying that MORE men would find Olivia Munn more attractive than say…Ann Coulter

    NO. WAY.

  121. evil fizz
    June 23, 2011 at 12:05 am

    I mentioned no scientific facts, just my personal opinion and observations. If you would like one than I wonder if there is any correlation between male to female attractiveness to the number of copies of Maxim/Stuff/FHM sold. We can use Hillary Clinton on the cover of next months Maxim as the control and see what gets sold more.

    We could also see your name in the Next Top Troll competition, but you’re going to bore the readers to sleep. Moving on now.

  122. evil fizz
    June 23, 2011 at 12:07 am

    Also, the NYT wedding article about the couple who left their respective spouses to marry each other, publicly screwed up their kids lives and then bragged about it in a major newspaper were yuckier.

  123. Brandon
    June 23, 2011 at 7:58 am

    @Kathleen: I am not digging around the internet to prove to you that men are attracted to young beautiful women…you shouldn’t need “conclusive scientific proof” to understand something as common and basic as “Men like young, attractive girls”

    @Natalia: Yes way!

    @Evil Fizz: So I have a different point of view than others and somehow I am trolling. Well, Evil….you might want to lock yourself up away from people because not everyone thinks like you and has your values…I wouldn’t want you to get offended.

    Thanks…I got a kick out of all everyone’s snarky comebacks. But debating this with everyone is an effort in futility. No rational debate…just personal attacks. I have better things to do than talk to a wall.

  124. Sheelzebub
    June 23, 2011 at 8:05 am

    Brandon, you haven’t actually used scientifically verifiable evidence, you used your own opinion and labeled them facts. (I mean really, Olivia Munn vs. Ann Coulter in an attractiveness contest? That’s your idea of intellectual debate?)

    I think it’s rich that you’re complaining about irrationality and snark.

  125. June 23, 2011 at 8:13 am

    @Natalia: Yes way!

    I get that Dictionary.com is frowned upon in some enlightened circles, but still:

    sar·casm   
    [sahr-kaz-uhm]
    –noun
    1.
    harsh or bitter derision or irony.
    2.
    a sharply ironical taunt; sneering or cutting remark:

    etc.

  126. evil fizz
    June 23, 2011 at 9:12 am

    @Evil Fizz: So I have a different point of view than others and somehow I am trolling. Well, Evil….you might want to lock yourself up away from people because not everyone thinks like you and has your values…I wouldn’t want you to get offended.

    Oh, sugar plum, you have no idea what offends me. Really, I just said you were boring and wasting people’s time. Although keeping myself away from you does seem prudent, so thanks for that suggestion! Cheerio!

  127. Brandon
    June 23, 2011 at 9:22 am

    @Sheelzebub:I never said my opinion was scientific or facts…just tough to deny observations. If a scientist comes out telling saying men are equally attracted to older women compared to younger women and has proof, than I will coincide and would will have won.

    My idea was a social experiment about what draws men to women. I am sorry that you don’t like the hard truth of male to female attraction. I know it’s objectifying, but men objectify women’s looks while women objectify men in other ways (status, family provider, money, etc…).

    Again, irrational things like attraction don’t need double-blind studies to prove a point. All you have to do is be observant in the world.

    If I am wrong in that belief than why is it that Maxim, Playboy, Lingerie Football League, Porn and the concept of “sex sells” do so well in the world? Because when it comes to young vs old women in dating….young women win.

    @Natalia: REALLY? I Would have never guessed with my man-brain. I know what sarcasm is…but apparently you don’t because you didn’t get it when I threw your joke back at you.

    Once again, no one has said anything that could disprove this (or even relate to it in anyway). You just want me to intellectualize something as basic as human attraction. I have been alive for 29 years (and I am seeing a 22 year old…she makes me happy ;)) and I have rarely (if ever) heard any man, friend or in passing, say anything like “I find older women sexier and more attractive than women my age or younger”. This cuts across every other bias in society: race, status, income, etc… Most men (again…always exceptions) for the most part like younger women.

    So I feel like I am just talking in circles trying to explain something that you will probably never understand because your just not a man. It’s OK…I don’t know what it feels like to have a period…so our pain is mutual.

  128. Kathleen
    June 23, 2011 at 9:27 am

    Brandon:
    than I will coincide and would will have won.

    Brandon, you have already won ALL OF THE PRIZES.

  129. Florence
    June 23, 2011 at 9:49 am

    I have been alive for 29 years (and I am seeing a 22 year old…she makes me happy ;))

    Of course she does! Because you’re emotionally immature. ;)

  130. Sheelzebub
    June 23, 2011 at 9:55 am

    I am sorry that you don’t like the hard truth of male to female attraction.

    You can say that you were only citing your own observations and then make snotty comments about how I don’t like the “hard truth” of male to female attraction based on this. Your observation /= hard truth.

    So I feel like I am just talking in circles trying to explain something that you will probably never understand because your just not a man.

    Yet you felt free to tell us what women were attracted to–something you don’t know about firsthand, despite all of your supposed observation, since you’re not a woman.

    I find it amusing that you flounce off and then come back for more. And by “amusing” I mean “predictable.”

  131. June 23, 2011 at 10:38 am

    Brandon: I know it’s objectifying, but men objectify women’s looks while women objectify men in other ways (status, family provider, money, etc…).

    Really? I objectify the fuck out of men’s looks and I’m not the only one here who does either. But a pretty face or body isn’t enough to make me wet past the first date… same as with the men I hang out with who are attracted to women.

  132. June 23, 2011 at 10:39 am

    … and women attracted to women and men attracted to men ;)

  133. Brandon
    June 23, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    @Kathleen: I know…prizes are just part of the gig.

    @Florence: Now on to flat out insults huh? I found someone that makes me happy, I make her happy and you want to be the kill joy and claim that I am emotionally immature. Talking to you is officially pointless. Seeing people in happy relationships must really get under your skin…or at least the ones you disapprove of. Which I will assume is a lot.

    @Sheelzebub: Ok “hard truth” is stretching it. But even still. Living in the world should be enough evidence to prove part (if not all) of what I am saying. You are just taking a hard stance because you don’t like what I have to say on the subject. You asking me for evidence is like asking me for a study to see if humans can walk…when all I have to do is look outside and see people walking. I don’t need a group of scientists and double blind studies to come to a reasonable conclusion.

    Fine. I don’t know in the depths of a woman’s heart and loins what attracts her to anything…but I can certainly take notice when certain types of women are attracted to nothing but a man’s wallet. (e.g Anna Nicole Smith)

    @groggette: So are you saying that objectifying someone solely on looks is acceptable…because I thought the feminist mantra was “we aren’t objects”. Or are you claiming that women can objectify men but not the other way around? Feminist dogma tends to contradict itself i have noticed.

    You also just strengthened my point. It seems (seems!!!) that women judge a man on more than just looks. I am just saying that percentage is higher with men…say 80-90%. Have you ever thought that your male friends are lying to you to prevent an argument or maybe they said it…because they want to sleep with you and they don’t want to piss you off. I won’t deny that men do a lot of crazy things to get laid…cause we do.

    Also, not gay so I can’t comment on what attracts gay men and women or trans…or anything that’s not heterosexual.

    Well, time for dinner. Later.

    • June 23, 2011 at 3:59 pm

      “or anything that’s not heterosexual.”

  134. Florence
    June 23, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    Coming from a guy who thinks women having periods is his trump card?

  135. June 23, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    @Natalia: REALLY? I Would have never guessed with my man-brain. I know what sarcasm is…but apparently you don’t because you didn’t get it when I threw your joke back at you.

    Brandon, you must try harder with your jokes. In general, try harder. Because you’re not actually talking *to* anyone on this thread – you’re talking to the strawmen in your head.

    Marriage and attraction are influenced by all sorts of factors – from biological to sociological. Even this marriage is a classic example of this: She’s cute, and so is he. They hold similar values. Politics are important to both of them. They both come from privileged families. He’s older, but she appears to be fairly accomplished and poised for her age. Hell, even their fashion sense if similar. End result? They get married. Will it last? I don’t know – but they probably have more of a chance than couples whose relationships are based purely on “she could be on the cover of Maxim”/”he’s totally rich, you guys.” If anything, there are reasons why society often takes a complicated stand on such arrangements (and it does so throughout different times in history, in different countries – remember the Wife of Bath and her relationships with her older husbands? That shit dates back to the 14th century). Meanwhile, your desire to avoid a potentially interesting topic with an argument that essentially boils down to “you guys just don’t like me because I’m pointing out that younger women are hot” is kind of comical, all things considered. I don’t know if your “man-brain” is to blame, in fact, I’m pretty sure that it’s not. Most likely, you’re just a douche.

    Signed,
    Happily Married to an Older Guy

  136. June 23, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    Scott Adams, is that you?

  137. Brandon
    June 23, 2011 at 5:44 pm

    @Natalia: Attraction and marriage are not the same thing. All of those things that you mentioned DO come up with marriage. Attraction (at least for a lot of men) is:

    See’s girl: “Man…I want to fuck her!”
    See’s another girl: “eh…”

    Attraction can happen before any words are even spoken. So if I’m attracted to someone without even saying something to her, where does politics (or anything else) happen in that brief time frame (practically instantly)? The point is…in that scenario, it doesn’t. Politics, family values, morals…all that stuff comes after the initial attraction. Which could then lead to marriage.

    See, I merely stated my points without attacking you personally or calling you names. Let’s see if you can reciprocate the respect.

  138. June 23, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    Brandon, you continue to fail to make sense:

    “At the end of it all…this guy married her because she was young and attractive.” – You.

    But now apparently you’ve decided that attraction is a whole separate discussion? I.E., you want more attention?

    I could argue that personal preferences that go beyond the physical do regularly enter into the initial attraction process – such as a person’s clothes, for example, and how they may immediately identify them as someone of a certain background which makes them acceptable to date, or, by contrast, someone hot but not really dressed how you’d want your partner to dress, if you know what I mean (so potentially good for a fuck, but not quite dating material – which is how I view guys in cowboy hats who aren’t actual cowboys, for example) – but you would just shift goalposts again.

    Shifting goalposts is not a show of respect. So why don’t you talk some more about periods? I’d love to hear some of your deep thoughts about “anything that’s not heterosexual” as well. You seem to be a real expert in the field of human sexuality, you must be more generous with dispensing your ageless wisdom.

  139. martinipie
    June 23, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    guys…DON’T FEED THE TROLL.

  140. June 23, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    Oh, and on a sidenote – my initial attraction to the guy I married was purely physical. I had no idea who he was, I didn’t know why I should care, and I don’t even believe I actually checked out his clothes – my initial thoughts at the time were, “God DAMN. I want THAT.” But that’s not relevant to this discussion. Which is about a fucking wedding.

  141. Sheelzebub
    June 23, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    Fine. I don’t know in the depths of a woman’s heart and loins what attracts her to anything…but I can certainly take notice when certain types of women are attracted to nothing but a man’s wallet. (e.g Anna Nicole Smith)

    Yes, but she’s not all women. You notice certain women, making certain decisions about who to marry that fit in with your worldview, and you decide that it’s rational and objective reality for everyone. I notice my friends, women I know, etc. who prefer men they find physically attractive–and no, money has nothing to do with it. Now that we are more economically independent than any time in history in this culture, we don’t have to take a man’s wealth into consideration, and most of us don’t. Well, in one way a lot of women do–if they have wealth and they decide to get married, they initiate the discussion/process for a pre-nup as they have significant assets to protect. So. . .really. . .I could look at this and decide that men are more attracted to wealth than looks, as I doubt every one of these women are supermodels, but they likely have more wealth than their fiances. Yet that would be faulty as well.

    As far as my “hard stance,” look–I don’t have one, believe it or not. (Other than people prefer to fuck other people they find attractive. Oddly enough, women are counted as people and we are driven by attraction. Amazing! I know!) I just pointed out the disconnect between your accusations that everyone here is irrational and your own rather irrational and not particularly strong arguments. I mean, don’t go off on how irrational we supposedly are when the best argument you can make is, “I see this with my own eyes therefore it’s true!” without any critical thinking about the broader picture or context.

  142. PrettyAmiable
    June 23, 2011 at 7:28 pm

    groggette:
    Scott Adams, is that you?

    hahahahahahaha

  143. June 23, 2011 at 8:03 pm

    Oh, FFS. Brandon is not Scott Adams. He’s John Derbyshire.

  144. Brandon
    June 23, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    @Sheelzebub: Certainly. You can’t lump every single person into one category. The minute someone says “All women” or “All men”, you have basically lost the argument. So I agree with that point.

    People have all sorts of attractive “switches”: Money, looks, personality, status, job, etc… And they all come into play at some point of the relationship (maybe not one night stands)…but the very first thing that draws most men’s eyes is appearance. Without that, most relationships wont go any deeper than that.

    Men are attracted to wealth and power because a lot of women are attracted to status and power.Wealth = status = power = men have more women fawning over him. Which is most likely their goal.

    I don’t believe I called anyone irrational, just that you weren’t understanding my point and I wasn’t understanding theirs.

    I would like to thank you for being civil about all of this. Personal attacks, name calling and snide remarks wont help men and women better communicate (Which is the real problem). All that does is foster hostility and anger on both sides. The person attacking shows other party that they don’t really care about your point or you as a person….they just want someone to attack. It’s schadenfreude.

    So, thank you.

  145. Sheelzebub
    June 23, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    Brandon, you said this: No rational debate… I mean, come on.

    but the very first thing that draws most men’s eyes is appearance.

    Trust me, that’s what draws the eyes of women.

    Men are attracted to wealth and power because a lot of women are attracted to status and power.Wealth = status = power = men have more women fawning over him. Which is most likely their goal.

    But then a woman who marries a wealthy man because he’s wealthy could be doing so to get more men to fawn over her, as men are attracted to wealth and power. Do you see where this is going? Basically, it’s that men and women aren’t that different when it comes to attraction and materialsim.

  146. Florence
    June 23, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    Brandon: The person attacking shows other party that they don’t really care about your point or you as a person….they just want someone to attack.

    I was really into your argument, but then I started my period.

  147. Li
    June 23, 2011 at 9:43 pm

    Brandon: Men are attracted to wealth and power because a lot of women are attracted to status and power.Wealth = status = power = men have more women fawning over him. Which is most likely their goal.

    Cos no one could possibly want to have wealth and power for the material benefits of wealth and power…

    Brandon: Personal attacks, name calling and snide remarks wont help men and women better communicate (Which is the real problem). All that does is foster hostility and anger on both sides.

    Wait, men and women are “sides” now? Fuck, and there I thought the sides here were “Brandon” and “People with analyses that aren’t entirely arbitrary and binary”.

  148. evil fizz
    June 23, 2011 at 11:05 pm

    Personal attacks, name calling and snide remarks wont help men and women better communicate (Which is the real problem). All that does is foster hostility and anger on both sides. The person attacking shows other party that they don’t really care about your point or you as a person….they just want someone to attack. It’s schadenfreude.

    I love this. We, the commentariat, are now Class Women, and Brandon is Class Man.

    Guys, I think we need to take a break for the Waltz of the Gender Essentialists.

  149. Lisa A.
    June 24, 2011 at 1:31 am

    Brandon:
    I would like to thank you for being civil about all of this. Personal attacks, name calling and snide remarks wont help men and women better communicate (Which is the real problem). All that does is foster hostility and anger on both sides. The person attacking shows other party that they don’t really care about your point or you as a person….they just want someone to attack. It’s schadenfreude.

    So, thank you.

    You Are Damaging Your Cause By Being Angry

  150. chava
    June 24, 2011 at 4:18 am

    That word, I do not think it means what you think it means.

    As far as the wedding–it depends on the 21 year old? It is most likely skeevy, but there’s a chance she’s strikingly mature for her age and knows what she wants (pink ballroom to the contrary).

    I have plenty of Southern friends who got married at her age, although usually to other 21-22 year olds…I’m not sure it was a great idea, but not yucky, either.

    Brandon:

    The person attacking shows other party that they don’t really care about your point or you as a person….they just want someone to attack. It’s schadenfreude.

  151. PrettyAmiable
    June 24, 2011 at 5:39 am

    Sheelzebub: but the very first thing that draws most men’s eyes is appearance.

    Trust me, that’s what draws the eyes of women.

    Speak for yourself: I aim my x-ray vision at a guy’s wallet, then cock. If all systems are go, I ask for three references verifying his social and work status.

  152. NM
    June 24, 2011 at 11:38 am

    My boyfriend was 53 when I started dating him at age 26. He had already had children, been through 20 years of marriage, he owned a home, built a business, built a name for himself his career and was only 2 years younger than my father. That’s a ton more life experience than I have, and so what? Who said people have to be the same in order to be in a relationship? Can a rich person not date a poor person? Can an educated person not date an uneducated person? Can a person with depression and addictions not date someone who is mentally healthy? What exactly is wrong with loving someone with a different level of life experience?

    Your complaint has nothing to do with social justice or feminism. It has only something to do with personal bias.

  153. Brian
    June 25, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    Jill: Sure you can. You think it’s impossible to say that a 12-year-old dating a 24-year-old is wrong?

    No, but it’s wrong entirely because of the 12-year-old alone. The 24-year-old has nothing to do with it.

    So, my opinion to the original article: calm down. She’s old enough to legally do this, we shouldn’t second guess her. Presumably she knows what she’s doing better than a bunch of commenter on the internet.

  154. Brian
    June 25, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    Ach, *commenters, sorry.

  155. catfood
    June 26, 2011 at 10:13 am

    I’m a 45 year old man in a relationship with a woman aged 30.

    Quite honestly, it often does feel like a stretch–I have a kid in college already, we’re at the edge of the “half plus seven” rule, and I don’t think of my partner as exceptionally “mature for her age” or anything. Sometimes I’m amused and slightly weirded out by the 70s and 80s cultural references that are automatically unfamiliar to her.

    But my partner does have a very strong sense of who she is, and in several ways she’s way ahead of me in life experiences. I’ve never stopped learning new things, so it doesn’t feel like a senior/junior or mentor/student relationship. And in class terms, she’s definitely the one coming from a state of privilege compared to me, which may tend to even out some of the power issues.

    Long story short, if you asked me ahead of time I would have said this might look like a really bad idea. But my partner says it’s by far the least patriarchal relationship she’s ever had. Maybe it’s because we have to examine privilege all the time. I don’t know. At any rate, it’s working for us now.

    I definitely want to be with someone who brings a strong and deep personality, not someone insubstantial and emotionally dependent. In the past I’ve usually dated women two to five years older than myself. So maybe in my case there’s something to the comments suggesting that the bad cases are men whose pattern is only being interested in much younger women.

    Another data point: my best (gay male) friend in high school started dating a much older man while in college. I was skeptical–but here we are 25 years later, those guys are still together, and my friend still talks about his partner like he’s the sweetest man who ever lived. And seriously, this started when my friend was 20 or perhaps even 19.

    So that’s two more positive stories about age-disparate relationships anyway.

  156. Rachel
    June 27, 2011 at 10:53 am

    Emolee: The part that made me barf was: She swoons that her father “wouldn’t have given me up to anyone else.” Patriarchy. Women as property. Ich.

    That was really the part that got me too. Those age differences can work out really well, depending on the people. But the fact that a (seemingly) educated young woman is embracing the idea that anybody can “give her away” really disturbs me.

  157. Becca
    June 27, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    No, what really made me queasy was that this guy was the first guy she ever kissed! This girl, at 21, has no experience with men, with relationships, or, for that matter, with serious adulthood. The fact that her now-husband and her father were 100% OK with this is beyond revolting.

  158. Amy
    June 27, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    So when I was 16 I dated and lost my virginity to a 24 year old. We dated for four years. Looking back on it now I don’t think it was appropriate. I was mature for my age but I can’t understand, even having been there, why anyone that age would be interested in someone so young. Part of me regrets it because I feel like I missed out on so much. The other part of me accepts that it helped me become who I am. All of me knows that making a lifelong commitment at that age would have been disastrous because the person I am was just beginning to form. What bothers me about this story is why someone at 30 who knows how much you change between 17 and 30 would be interested in robbing her of the self discovery that comes with exploring her young life. She will now feel, as I did, that changing is bad because it will alter the dynamics of the marriage. She will be afraid of losing him and will struggle to stay the person he married at time of life where changing yourself is the essence of growth. It’s truly selfish of him to try and tie her down when he has already had the opportunity to become the person he wanted. When I talk to my niece and her friends all I want for them is to enjoy this time, why would you want to take that away from someone you love. It reeks of insecurity to me. Try and keep her as she is so that she doesn’t grow up and leave him. Perhaps she is his possession, untouched by any of life’s experiences and in her he see’s the reflection of himself as the knight and shining. She has none of the scars of love, none of the damage. She still thinks he is perfect and he is desperate to see himself that way too. Life will teach her otherwise but unfortunately she will struggle with becoming her own person who isn’t anyone’s possession. Right from daddy to hubby.

  159. David
    June 28, 2011 at 10:41 pm

    Rachel: That was really the part that got me too.Those age differences can work out really well, depending on the people.But the fact that a (seemingly) educatedyoung woman is embracing the idea that anybody can “give her away” really disturbs me.

    To me that is the most unnerving part of the piece. It is slightly weird however that the thing that people are taking umbrage to is the age issue and not the language about “giving away”.

  160. July 2, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    More slimy than this?

    ‘Lost’ actor marries 16-year-old girlfriend.

    I think this story is a close second to the 51 year old and his 16 year old bride. But a very close second.

  161. Matt
    July 3, 2011 at 10:23 am

    Jill: Again, I think it’s a maturity issue and a place-in-life thing. I’m more squicked out by a 30-year-old man who thinks he has a lot in common with an 18-year-old who just finished high school. That, to me, says that someone doesn’t want to deal with a partner who is in any way his equal. I’d also be squicked out by a 14-year-old dating a 26-year-old, and it’s not because I assume 14-year-olds don’t have agency. It’s because there are very real issues with life experience, maturity and actual brain development that make 18 and 30, or 14 and 26, very different worlds in a way that even 30 and 42 are not.

    I know several high school seniors who date guys in their 30s. I don’t really understand what your problem is. Btw, the life experience difference is a product of long term youth education and not inherent issues between ages. But life experience has less to do with maturity than you might imagine. I would be really interested in how you reconcile her agency with calling the relationship predatory. It seems wildly contradictory to me.

  162. Matt
    July 3, 2011 at 10:45 am

    David: To me that is the most unnerving part of the piece. It is slightly weird however that the thing that people are taking umbrage to is the age issue and not the language about “giving away”.

    It may shock you that there are many fields of education and that they don’t inform other fields of education automatically when you are well versed in them. Being “educated” in anything not feminism has fuck-all to do with embracing feminist ideas. For people who are so obsessed with deconstructing and criticizing another culture, some of you show a distinct lack of understanding about how culture develops and perpetuates itself. I am very educated in social sciences, but I am a layman in regards to quantum physics. Why? Because I didn’t study quantum physics. This girl didn’t study “how to reject your birth culture” so its not shock that she maintains similar or identical ideas about certain things that she learned in her birth culture.

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