I wrote a short story “Good Times” a couple of months ago about a woman in her forties who has a relationship with Daniel, a seventeen year old boy. I wanted to write it as an exploration of the things that shock and disgust people now, because everyone is so eager to be appalled these days. Sure enough when I told people about my story, much of the response was an automatic screwing up of the mouth into the “cat’s bottom” look, accompanied by a shake of the head, like I was a sorry pervert.
To soothe things, I was going to modify the story, make my older woman younger, and narrow the age gap but I was stopped my inner editor, my nagging conscience. Sod it. Your randy protagonist is staying forty four, she said.
I’m glad of her for giving me a talking to. What a massive contradiction and hypocrisy it is, that people might be repelled, and not to mention odd because the objectification of young men is an acceptable pastime now. It’s snaked its way in to the psyche, an accepted mindset. A well known male swimmer was the cover star of a newspaper supplement at age 15, wearing swim wear and smiling boldly into the camera as athletes have every right to do. The “wearing nothing but skimpies and a smile” was the repeated mantra response about this fifteen year old, a boy child two years younger than my fictional Daniel. The actor who plays Bruce Wayne on the new Gotham series (an imagined account of Batman’s younger days, it’s very good – I recommend it) has been the recipient of cat calls from adults too. That’s just pervy; he is thirteen years old. My Daniel would think him a kid, and he’d be right too.
I found this article about the objectification of the young male very interesting indeed (excuse it being the Telegraph, but it’s a good piece on the subject): http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/thinking-man/11214587/Teenage-boys-are-just-as-vulnerable-as-girls.html
“Good Times” is published in December in No Love Lost (Pankhearst Publishing, edited by Kate Garrett), a collection of short stories and poetry on the theme of romance. Not the conventional hearts and roses kind of romance; that, after all, would be dull. Dullness? I’d be appalled at that, for sure.