Lust and Dignity -- by Laura Houston
I understand it’s all in fun. I understand it makes you feel young. It’s probably titillating to gossip with your friends about whose team you’re on: Edward or Jacob. But if you are a woman over the age of 18, and you choose to publicly lust after a male, high school-aged, blood sucking character by posting it on Facebook or tittle-tattling about it on the playground while your kids eat sand out of the sandbox – well – you’re not cool. You’re creepy.
Several of the mothers of my son’s playgroup group thought it would be a great idea to round up the ladies, have a girl’s night out, and go see the latest movie in the Twilight saga. Brett, the mother who organized the outing, is 43 but looks like she’s 30. She’s fun, beautiful, educated and wealthy. Her daughters are 13, nine and three. Her eldest daughter loves the Twilight books and movies, and the two of them share a crush on Jacob. They each have a T-shirt announcing their loyalty to his team, and they have both read the books three times each.
Half of the women in our group were twitterpated at the idea of going. Half of us were not interested at all. When one of the Twilight fans asked me if I would join them, I asked her what was the big draw to the movies.
“The romance! The boys are beautiful,” she said. “They’ll make you swoon.”
“Aren’t they in high school?” I asked.
“Well, yes,” she said. “The characters are in high school, but the actors are over 18.”
There is nothing remotely appealing to me about watching high school boys in a lascivious manner. In fact, I find it to be very weird. Very strange. And among women who are married to men they even halfway like, it’s inconsiderate behavior.
“OK,” I said. “So tell me this: If your husband were lusting after girls who were high-school age characters in a movie, wouldn’t you be offended?”
“It’s not the same thing,” said Theresa the mother of an 11-year old girl and a one-year old boy.
“Why?” I asked. “How is this different?”
“Because we’re not having sex with them. This is just for fun.”
The Twilight mothers all nodded in agreement.
“So by that rationale,” I said. “It would be OK for your husbands to post pictures of teen girls on their Facebook page and wear T-shirts sporting “Team Brittney” or “ Team Miley” because they were never going to have sex with them. Because it’s all in fun.”
No one said anything for a bit.
“You wrote about sex in your blog last week,” Theresa said. “I didn’t think you were such a prude.”
“There’s a difference between writing about trying to have sex with a man who is of a legal age and whom you have spent ten years of your life with as opposed to lusting after men less than half your age.”
Theresa bit her lip. Another mother rolled her eyes. Brett shrugged.
I don’t like to be confrontational, but this issue really bothers me. It’s at least worth a discussion. When you hear about female teachers having sex with their 15-year old students, you have to take a look at the mind-set of those women. They all thought it was OK because the boys were willing. It was exciting for the perpetrators. Those women felt seductive, powerful, and still sexy after passing into their 20s and 30s. For the teachers, it was validation of their prowess, but it’s still pedophilia according to the laws of this country. And if the laws are not enough to thwart women like this, then perhaps the moral reasons are. Perhaps a little shame needs to be introduced into our culture when it comes to exploiting sexuality where there seems to be a double standard for men and women.
“Look,” I said. “I’m sure you weren’t thinking about it in any other way than having fun, but if it were a bunch of men standing around wanting to go see a movie and lusting after the same girls that their teenage sons were lusting after, well, it would be creepy. Really creepy.”
Brett took the breaks off her stroller.
“Well I’m going to go see the movie,” she said. “It’s a bonding experience for me and my daughter.”
The group broke up. Celia, one of the mothers not on Team Jacob or Team Edward, followed me out of the playground.
“Fantasies are fine,” she said. “We all have them. And we all need them sometimes just to get us through the day, but I try to focus my fantasies on men who are a little closer to my age.”
“Well, that’s probably more healthy,” I said.
“Oh, it has nothing to do with health,” Celia said. “It has to do with dignity.”
“If I so much as dream of getting naked in front of the gorgeous UPS guy who is all of 25-years old, he takes one look at my post baby body starts laughing,” she said. “He puts his pants back on when his natural drive to reproduce recognizes it could have a younger model. Who wants to endure that kind of humiliation? Besides, older men are more tolerant. More patient. Better lovers. A safer bet all the way around”
“Huh,” I said. “Wanna past the retirement home on our way to the coffee shop?”
“Not funny,” she said. “Not funny.”
Last night I received an email from Theresa, and she said it was OK if I used her words in this blog. She wrote: “I asked my husband last night if he thought it was weird that I liked the Twilight movies. He said it was no more strange than if he were to watch Bring it On over and over again.” (Bring It On is a movie about high school cheerleaders.)
Good. So she actually thought about it. And I hope she changes her behavior. And good for her husband for being honest with her. That’s what a good marriage is about. We’re all at our best when we are trying to be better people.
My position is this: There is nothing wrong with having sexual fantasies about men. It’s perfectly natural. But take a moment to remember what’s appropriate. And what’s dignified. And then if you must lust over high-school aged boy, go ahead and lust ladies. But do try to be quiet about it. Don’t share a crush with your teenage daughter on boys closer to her age than yours. Don’t treat high school boys as objects of your sexual desire. But if you must, be dignified. Be quiet. Be dignified. Otherwise you’re being creepy.