Saturday, 10 December 2011

"You're Not a Teenager, Are You?"

Darlingses. Sometimes I get an email that makes my head explode. It's not the writer who makes it explode--usually the writer is wonderfully sweet with a vulnerability that goes straight to my auntish heart. No--it is always the man she is writing about.

If you are a teenager, and you find yourself in a car with or across the table from an OLD MAN (and if you are a teenager every man over 21 is an old man) who is talking about his love life, and he says, with a bit of a smirk, "You're not a teenager, are you?", I want you to take a big breath, sit up straight and say "YES. Yes, I AM a teenager. And I have to call my mom now."

I cannot express how serious I am about this. There is nothing wrong or shameful about being a teenager. But there is something wrong and shameful about an OLD MAN saying "You're not a teenager, are you?" to an obviously much younger woman. He should feel ashamed, not you. And if I could, I would come right over there and kick his butt.


Juventutem London said...

I don't get it. Why did he say it to begin with? Why would anyone say it? Is this a common problem? Confused!

Lauren said...

JL, to answer your question...I'm guessing that "you're not a teenager, are you?" is usually a preclude to "which means you're old/mature/wordly enough to be comfortable with [various immoral acts]." I haven't heard this particular statement, but I have heard it's close cousin, "are you really as sheltered as you seem? don't you want to live life and do [x, y, z]?" I had a friend who was lead astray by a guy who basically dared her into things that she was uncomfortable with -- "you're such a goody two-shoes, I bet you'd never [x, y, z]"

(btw, both real-life examples I mentioned were very short-term relationships and happened a long time ago, so no need to worry about me or my friend now!)

Meredith said...

Any man who would utter that phrase is likely conversant with the word "jailbait," and may reasonably be assumed to be a reprehensible human being.

Seraphic said...

Indeed. And I can't write a fully coherent blogpost with an exploded head.

Sarah said...

I'd like to hear more about your take on young women dating much older men. Or young men pursuing much younger women. I'm 20, and, while still 19, was briefly involved with a man 20 years older than me. The funny thing is, it was at least mutually initiated and I was certainly attracted to him.

I'd be lying if the age difference didn't contribute to my decision to break things off, but it wasn't an "Oh my gosh, this is weird and creepy," just, "Eh, I don't think this is for me." He always treated me very well. But obviously, at 19 I was not ready to be married, or really exclusive with anyone. He, nearing 40, felt ready to start a family.

That could be reason enough for older men not to chase younger girls; there can just be such a huge disconnect in expectations and experience. He'd had a lifetime of girlfriends, while I had very little to go on. But in the wake of an ended relationship, I find myself analyzing it (What went wrong, what I could have done better, what he could have done better, what I think of relationships now and how to approach them in the future.) I'm just curious about how others perceive such relationships.

Juventutem London said...


I'm so sheltered!

Catherine said...

I'd like to hear more related to what Sarah has said, too.

Anonymous said...

Most teenagers don't want to be thought of as teenagers. Most predators know this. He is setting the stage for the day when he gets caught: he will be able to truthfully say "well, she said she was 21." With a good lawyer, right back on the street.

Spot on advice.

I so much hope this isn't based on RL. If you need help kicking his butt, I'm on the right side of the ocean.

Worst case, call the police or text a friend to call for you. "OLD MEN" are used to teenagers texting all the time anyway. They think it's cute. It will be very embarrassing, but you will get over it faster than the alternative.

isabella of the north

Anonymous said...

I am always confused by the focus on age. Predators are still predators when they're preying on a young, innocent, sheltered woman in her 20s - who is often more vulnerable than a teenager, because she doesn't have the social permission to call her mom. And there is nothing wrong, really, with a 25yo man making honorable intentions known to a girl older than say 17. In our culture, it is skeevy, but we are going against nature here.

I think conservative religious people in the English-speaking world for a variety of reasons are very, very uncomfortable with the latter situation, but it's completely different in, say, Latin America. It's not gross. It's how people get married. And there's nothing wrong with getting married at 18. I get that this blog exists to provide support to women who aren't married at 28 or 38 or even older, but you can go too far with convincing people that their situation is normal, and when you say that anyone over 21 is an "old man" to a teenager, then you've crossed over the line that separates reassuring older women that they can still find love from claims that normal sexual attraction is deviant.

I'm not saying that the specific situation in the email wasn't gross, but the extrapolation from it to all over-21 men to all teenagers is going too far. And conversely, all women deserve protection from icky men in cars trying to give us TMI; that protection shouldn't evanesce on our twentieth birthdays. - Karen, from Miss White's place