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Dept. of Scattershot

These Things Occur to Me

It's bound to be a ... day ... when you start off by forgetting to put the top on the blender in which you are making your breakfast smoothie.


I understand the new awareness of how romantic and sexual relationships with large age differences can be of concern, especially if the younger person (usually female in these considerations, but realistically not always) is in a social/physical/emotional position in which there is a notable power imbalance. I understand that such power imbalances largely (not always; note what I say) suggest relationships based on some form of conscious or unconscious coercion on the part of the older partner.  And I understand that those types of relationships are bad.

But damn it, sometimes that isn't the case! I'm fed up to my eyeteeth with seeing people online automatically assume that a relationship in which there is an age difference of 10 years or more is a) problematic b) skeevy, and (this one really pisses me off) c) automatically not a relationship that is based on love, friendship or respect; in short, not a valid relationship.

Please, for the love of all that's holy - including relationships - why not try to default to giving the relationship a chance unless you can immediately (or pretty immediately) spot coercion, lying, and/or pressure on the part of the partner with more power? Why not try to approach relationships with age gaps with some sense of context?

God knows, what is significant if the relationship is between a 15-year-old and a 30-year-old is potentially insignificant between an emotionally stable 19-year-old and a 34-year-old. Yes. Stop clutching your pearls and consider that humans come in infinitely-varied emotional forms. There are immature 40-year-olds and magnificently mature 14-to-16-year olds.

Back to context: What is fine between a 29-year-old and a 39-year-old is probably going to be wrong - and generally illegal - between a 15-year-old and a 25-year-old. But even then, there are statistically going to be relationships in that age bracket that Work. Just. Fine.

tl;dr: I understand power imbalances, but I question whether there is an unbreakable inappropriateness inherent in relationships with big age gaps. For me, the problem is not in the age gap; the problem is the power imbalance that age gaps all too often bring.

This rant brought to you by one too many online discussions about "inappropriate relationships" that read just fine to me. Gah.


My editor, let me praise her. She's a good editor. I really like her.

The first MCU fic is edging toward 3,000 words. I wish I could wrap it up faster than I'm going to be able to.

Have I mentioned lately that I love The Expanse? Have I mentioned how it manages to be as close to realistic hard science fiction as one can get, while still telling a multi-pronged and gripping story filled with real three-dee characters, a complicated and fascinating political plot, and thoughtful social extrapolations? I have? Well, you'll probably hear me gush over the series again. We've just watched the sixth episode in the first 10-episode season, and I am very glad that it got renewed by SyFy.

I am grateful that today I saw a cardinal (male, in all his red glory) on the greensward across the street from my window.







This entry was originally posted at http://kaffyr.dreamwidth.org/407251.html?mode=reply, where there are currently comment count unavailable comments. You can comment there or here; I watch both.

Comments

( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
whitesheetdawn
Apr. 19th, 2016 11:05 pm (UTC)
(I'm just a stranger who happened upon this post)
I would definitely agree that the age difference alone does not an inappropriate relationship make.
kaffyr
Apr. 20th, 2016 01:36 am (UTC)
Re: (I'm just a stranger who happened upon this post)
Indeed. I understand that power imbalance often comes with age differences, but I don't want to assume that that is an inescapable fact.
eve11
Apr. 19th, 2016 11:46 pm (UTC)
Oh yes, I mainlined all of series 1 of the Expanse months after I decided to DVR it after someone said it was good. Forgot all about it until I had a weekend free and checked my DVR and 13 hours later emerged delirious enough to order the first three books at any rate and see if I could get a leg up on what was going to happen next.
kaffyr
Apr. 20th, 2016 01:34 am (UTC)
It's a glorious show. I hear that the books are somewhat different, but after I've mainlined the first season, I may look to see if I can borrow the books from the local library.
wendymr
Apr. 20th, 2016 01:54 am (UTC)
A good friend of mine in the UK was - when I first met her - in her early forties. Her partner (of four years when I first met her; now of close to 20 years) is 12 years younger than her. I have not seen many stronger relationships among partners of closer ages.

So, yes, I join with your rant and echo it.
kaffyr
Apr. 20th, 2016 02:24 am (UTC)
I'm glad I'm not the only person out there who feels this way. For awhile I was wondering if I was weird, and I gradually figured that I wasn't.
scripsi
Apr. 20th, 2016 07:05 am (UTC)

This. My kid’s father is 16 years older than me and we met when I was 22. I never felt we had an unequal relationship due to the age difference and we were together for 13 years. I never felt it was the age difference that caused the split. It did cause some eyebrows when we first met, though. My husband is 14 years older than me, but as I was in my late 30’s when we became a couple, no one has ever said anything.


To contrast my sister is eight years senior to her husband and they met when he was 20. She was initially very resistant due to that, but they have been together for ten years now and though their relationship has been through severe hardship caused by problems having children and then having a child dying, their relationship is very close and loving. And I have a friend who met his wife when he was 20 and she was 56 and they were married until she died 30 years later.

So I think age difference and problems related to it may exist, but that it’s due to personality more than anything else. It’s not like dysfunctional relationships with a skewered power balance doesn’t happen between couples who are agemates.
kaffyr
Apr. 20th, 2016 01:38 pm (UTC)
I agree with all of this - ultimately power imbalances come down to personality and, secondarily, to position (say, a teacher and student, in which case I'd say they should wait til one of them isn't a student, or an officer and an enlisted person - they should wait until someone either leaves the military or their positions become more equal.)
scripsi
Apr. 21st, 2016 02:56 pm (UTC)
Absolutely! A friend of mine met a man ten years older when she was 20 and he was constantly belittling her for her imaturity (she wasn't) and of her lacking intelligence. I think he would have been mentally abusive regardless of her age, but he also used the age difference as a way to keep her whwere he wanted her.
lost_spook
Apr. 20th, 2016 08:28 am (UTC)
*nods a lot*

(Which is my shorter version of the overlong comment I left earlier, sorry.)

Edited at 2016-04-20 11:52 am (UTC)
kaffyr
May. 15th, 2016 06:02 pm (UTC)
I meant to tell you back quite awhile ago now that I completely agree with what you said in your original comment!
lost_spook
May. 15th, 2016 07:56 pm (UTC)
:lol: If I could only remember what my original comment was!

(Well, I vaguely recall, but thanks. :-D)
supergee
Apr. 20th, 2016 09:33 am (UTC)
I’m 14 years older than nellorat. There is a popularly accepted equation that says our relationship could not have worked.
kaffyr
Apr. 20th, 2016 01:35 pm (UTC)
Indeed. And I can only hope that many of the people who automatically assume the worst in these situations will remember the word "context" - which, as they get more mature, would, I hope, be the case.
plicease
Apr. 20th, 2016 01:51 pm (UTC)
The age thing can be a red flag for most people. I agree, you have to take the relationship in as a whole, and the truth is (assuming everyone is old enough to consent) it is really up to the couple and not those judging them anyway.

I liked The Expanse, and started reading the book that it was based on but it was so boring after watching the series since it is close enough to the same story. The series might even be a bit better, though I only read about a quarter of it.
kaffyr
Apr. 21st, 2016 12:09 am (UTC)
it is really up to the couple and not those judging them anyway.

I agree. It's not anyone else's business, but an awful lot of younger people I run into online are so knee-jerk appalled by what they consider "problematic" ... I hadn't noticed being fed up about it until yesterday, when I wrote the rant. Probably ranting got the "fed-up" out of my bloodstream. And I can always hope that people who are appalled for no reason may rethink their attitudes as they grow and mature.
liadtbunny
Apr. 20th, 2016 02:21 pm (UTC)
I think, as you say, it does depend on the people and the situation. But I think people are more hyperaware of age difference currently. I like watching naff dating shows with young adults and a person will be happy with how things are going and then they find out the other person is a couple of years older/younger and they are like 'Nope'. Seriously! Also in films it does tend to be old goat and young babe, which can be seen as sexist, but that's fantasy not real life.
kaffyr
Apr. 21st, 2016 12:14 am (UTC)
There are so many things that go into the anti-age gap attitude, and you've just put your finger on one of the things I'd failed to comment on: the attitude that "old" people don't have any business being in relationships at all, much less with anyone *gasp* younger than they are.

The Hollywood emphasis on old goat and young babe does reflect a societal assumption that it's OK for an older man to date a younger woman (think Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas, who have quite an age gap, I'm told, although I hadn't noticed it.) And perhaps that sort of thing is one more thing that plays into why so many young people react by being hyper-aware of, and judgmental about, age gaps.
liadtbunny
Apr. 21st, 2016 03:28 pm (UTC)
It's 30 years I think. All the Catherine Zeta Jones/Michael Douglas jokes are basically "Eww, how could she do it with an old person!"
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )

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