I wrote a flash fiction GOOD TIMES last year about a woman in her forties who has a relationship with Daniel a seventeen year old boy, an exploration of what things shock and disgust people. Everyone is eager to be appalled these days, kicking off over any slight, real or imagined, intended barbs or careless words falling from loose lips. 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.
I was going to modify the story, make my protagonist younger to soothe things, make the age gap narrower but I was stopped my inner editor. Sod it, I thought. My protagonist is staying forty four. What a massive contradiction or hypocrisy it is, for people might be repelled; the objectification of young men is now an acceptable past time.
A well known swimmer was the cover star of a newspaper supplement at age 15, wearing swimming trunks and smiling boldly into the camera. This fifteen year old, this boy, garnered “wearing nothing but skimpies and a smile” responses. He was 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 on social media. The actor is thirteen. Daniel would think him a kid, and he’d be right too.
I found this article on the increased objectification of boys and young men here. I also found these 1970s albums in a charity shop at the weekend. Objectification of girls/boys/men/women; what larks, eh?