Someone who’s 19 does not have to have daddy issues to sleep with a 39 year old man. I feel uncomfortable just seeing that blanket statement being made so casually. The 19 year old might just see a hot guy like Dan and think, “okay, that looks like fun, let’s go for it.” It might gross you out and that is 100% fair, but something doesn’t need to be wrong emotionally with a legal woman for her to decide she wants to sleep with an older man.
I knew I was going to get push back from someone on this. In fact, I specifically avoided using the phrase ‘Daddy issues’ to try and ward this off, because the issue is not with the 19 year old’s behaviour, but the 39 (and a half) year old.
Okay, so anon, up to a point, I agree with you. It is absolutely possible for a 19 year old woman to be sincerely attracted to a 39 and a half year old man, and sleep with him on that basis.
While it is possible, it is also unlikely. Now, unlikely things happen every single day, but there is reason why the half your age plus seven rule exists as a concept. And that is because it is absolutely the case that with large age gaps come gulfs in experience that can leave the younger partner extremely vulnerable to manipulation and coercion – and as age increases, those gulfs in experience lessen.
Moreover, irrespective of the feelings of the 19 year old involved, the 39 and a half year old damn well should know that they are dealing with someone who is potentially vulnerable, and should allow that knowledge to guide their actions. In other words, no decent man of forty pursues a woman of nineteen.
And given the way the “young woman and much older man” is propogated by all of popular culture – including pornography – and is used by predatory men to justify their abuse of vulnerable young women – I absolutely think this is a specific male fantasy that has to be pushed back against, forcefully and often.
Being attracted to a celebrity is not at all the same thing as being attracted to someone in real life. In real life, people are, in the main, attracted to their peers (now I’d have a fairly wide definition of peer, but that’s another matter). If that weren’t the case – if relationships with substantial age gaps didn’t tend to come with a serious power imbalance – we would see both the pop culture fantasy and the reality of those relationships spread pretty equally between the sexes. And we don’t – it’s an imbalance that almost always favours men, because statistically speaking they are more likely to have the power to make their fantasies realities – and the older you are, the better you’re going to be at spotting young people who are more vulnerable to manipulation.
Besides, we’re dealing with Dan Egan here – I see absolutely no reason to give him, as a character, the benefit of any doubt.
Now, I would be far more disturbed if he was pursuing an actual relationship with this woman, rather than a one and done – Amy can barely handle him, I don’t know how a 19 year old would – but he’s a wealthy, connected, famous and up to a point powerful man, trying it on with a teenager working as a waitress. It might be legal (barely) but that doesn’t make it less disgusting behaviour on his part.
So while, yes, it is possible that a relationship with such an age gap could be totally fine, ninety-five times out of a hundred, someone is being taken advantage of. And we all know who.