Older Dudes “Dating” Much Younger Females – Gross
Paul Walker was a 40 year old movie star who was killed in a car accident a few weeks ago. I figure men like this are either very pervy, taking advantage of a teen’s lack of life experience and gullibility, or are deeply insecure and scared to death at even the idea of dating a woman their own age.
- by Alexis Rhiannon
…I’ve been getting a lot of heat from commenters lately who are upset that I pointed out the widely-reported seventeen year age difference between Paul Walker and his longtime girlfriend Jasmine Pilchard-Gosnell.
His death was undeniably tragic, and no one is bringing that into question, but in reading posts about the loved ones who survived him, I was coming across some disturbing information.
I kept seeing Jasmine’s age listed as twenty-three right next to information that said they’d been dating for seven years. Given that Paul was forty at the time of his death, that meant that when they started dating, Paul was thirty-three and Jasmine was…sixteen.
I thought that was a thing we could all agree on as unacceptable, given that Paul was a parent by the time Jasmine was eight years old and started dating her when she was still a sophomore in high school, but some readers of our readers disagree.
Particularly in light of Paul’s sudden and tragic death in a car accident this past weekend, they aren’t ready to hear anything about him that isn’t a glowing review of his admirable accomplishments. And understandably so. In the days after someone dies, especially someone famous, the last thing people want to be reminded of is not only the fact that he was a human being who makes mistakes, but that they never knew him at all.
To that end, I’ve been getting a lot of really hateful commentary from people who are upset with me for suggesting that there’s anything wrong with a thirty-three year old man dating a sixteen-year old girl.
I’ve heard things like ‘you can’t put a number on love’ and ‘the age of consent is 16 in California’ and ‘who are you to judge’? That’s a good question — who am I to judge? Well, not that it matters, since we have a lot of laws specifically designed to do that judging for us, but I’m someone who was in a very similar situation.
Since you ask.
When I was sixteen, I had occasion to meet the twenty-four year old man who in a few short months would take my virginity. (On New Years Eve. With his socks on.)
He wasn’t famous and he wasn’t Paul Walker, but he was an older male who showed me inappropriate sexual attention, and that was enough. He was only eight years older than me instead of the seventeen that Paul had on Jasmine, but I was really impressed with myself for being able to attract someone that much older and, in my mind, more mature.
I had very few friends at school and wasn’t a good enough communicator to express my interest to those I had a crush on, so it was almost a relief to me that someone outside my high school was being so transparent about their feelings for me. Finally, someone who really ‘got it’, who didn’t want to play games. Who would pursue me even if I wasn’t pursuing them. Who would lean down and kiss me in the foyer of a building even when I didn’t realize I’d been putting off those vibes. Finally someone who understood my true worth, someone who I could easily talk myself into being interested in, especially if he was so interested in me. Ours would be a love story for the ages, and damn society and its prudishness for trying to get in our way! He told me he loved me, and I told him the same thing back.
Because here’s the thing — I believed it. I believed that love was about secrets and being wanted, and more importantly, that the reason this guy wanted me was because I was so charming and witty and enchanting. Finally someone who thought I was magnetic! Who realized I was irresistible! I’d often thought those things about myself when I was sixteen, in between feeling worthless and out of control and utterly confused. Maybe you did too.
In fact, I suspect you did, because the teenaged brain is a marvelous thing. It’s still growing and maturing, with scientific studies showing that teens are lacking in a whole range of cognitive skills, but specifically judgement and self-preservation instincts. It’s why they aren’t allowed to do things like drive cars full of their friends around, or vote, or smoke, or drink, and why they struggle with things like waking up early, avoiding high-risk behaviors, and being polite to their parents. They want to fit in and please the people around them, and above all, they desperately desperately want to be wanted. It’s not an excuse, but it is a fact — teenage brains are different, and mine told me that it was okay (nay, wonderful! nay, fantastic!) that a twenty-four year old adult was pursuing me for sex. I was proud of it. If I recall correctly, I bragged about it.
But I’m not sixteen anymore (thank god), so I’m able to look back on my situation with a lot of clarity I wish I’d had at the time, or that I was able to will into my teenage brain in retrospect. An adult is never interested in a child because the child is special, no matter how desperately that child wants to believe it; they’re interested because they, as the adult, are special. Special in that they aren’t able to muster an interest in people their own age. Special in that they’re aroused by innocence or naivety. Special in that they flout the law to engage in the kind of high-risk behavior they look for in their victims. Special in that they want something from someone who doesn’t know any better than to give it away. Special in that they don’t mind taking it.
… To this day, I’m still not comfortable with ‘sexual predator’ as a label for the man I was involved with, but by definition, that’s what he was, and that’s what any man is who pursues a relationship with a minor. I felt at the time of my own experience that I was in control of both myself and the situation and that I had enough information and wisdom to proceed, but that was incorrect. The things I thought and felt at the time caused me to take an extremely active role in my own mistakes, and while I can take responsibility for my own choices, I won’t take responsibility for his.
If he approached me now, I’d be able to write him off as what he was — an unemployed dude living at home while he struggled to get through his sixth year of community college, borrowing his friend’s condo to have sex with a high schooler in the middle of the day in between offering her bong rips and glasses of cheap wine and who would go on to have a physical relationship with her off-and-on for almost two years. (Still my longest ‘relationship’, which I’m sure would say something if I cared to read into it.) But I didn’t have that perspective on him at the time, or any perspective, because nobody does. Nobody can be objective about what’s happening while it’s still happening, least of all teenagers.
I was a member of a demographic that’s notoriously shaky on the decision-making front, and he took advantage of that. Preyed on it, even. Prey — as in predator, and what happened between us was statutory rape as defined by in the law in my state. I never pursued it because I hold myself accountable for my actions and because I was encouraged by multiple adults close to me not to get him in trouble, and even to lie about it when asked by a school counselor who heard rumors of what had happened. I acted that way because I had (and maybe still have) poor judgement, and because I was convinced that it wasn’t a big deal.