There’s a Desperate Housewives storyline where bored, neglected housewife Gabrielle Solis has an affair with her much younger gardener. From memory, there’s a couple of references to John being only seventeen; last time I checked, the age of consent in the US was eighteen, which makes what Gabrielle is doing a little felony called statutory rape. I believe the legal definition of paedophilia is where the victim is underage and the perpetrator is twelve years or more older, so Gabrielle may be guilty of that, too.
But is it ever portrayed as a crime? No. Are we ever shown John traumatised by the affair? Apart from his reckless determination to win Gabrielle from her husband, no. If the situation were reversed – a married man in his late twenties/early thirties in a sexual relationship with a teenage girl – would he get such accepting treatment?
Absolutely not. Unless you count Amy Fisher, but that’s for another post.
We live in a society where it’s far more acceptable for older women to be in sexual relationships with teenage boys than the other way around. When older men do it, they’re sexual predators and paedophiles, their teenage victims given all the support they could ask for. But when older women do it, it’s OK, because their “˜victims’ are lucky to be getting laid, and getting laid by such experienced, worldly women. Thanks to American Pie, just about every young man in the Western World wants to lose their virginity to some hot older woman on a pool table. I shudder to think how many teenage boys have been chastised for admitting to feeling violated after such a relationship.
I think part of the reason is that if a guy can get it up, then how can it be unpleasurable? Admittedly, I have trouble with this one myself. I guess it’s on the same level as a woman orgasming during rape – in both cases, that the victim someone derived pleasure from the experience should not detract from the fact that it was rape (even statutory/paedophilia). But it often does. In fact, it almost always does.
As those of who who’ve read my previous posts know, I’m a big believer in the idea that by repressing one element of society, you repress all of society, just people who benefit most obviously from the repression – in this case, white, straight men – suffer their repression in more covert – and often more destructive – ways. By portraying sex as a man’s entitlement, the media – as wielded by the patriarchy – has informed men they have no reason to feel violated by sex (with a woman) – and by no reason they mean no right.
Would we dream of telling a teenage girl that she has no right to feel violated because she enjoyed sex with a man old enough to be her father? Hell no. Then we do we, for all intends and purposes, tell our young men that?