Warning: Opinionated ranting ahead :)
I was reading a book earlier this week and I came across something that hit my ick button. The hero, whilst in the midst of making love to the heroine, was thinking back to his first sexual experience which was when he was 14yrs old. Then he goes on to state the sex was with one of his mother’s friends who had initiated the encounter.
W. T. F?
Imagine the genders were reversed in this scenario. You have a heroine thinking back on her first sexual encounter and she blithely remembers that it took place when she was 14, with one of her father’s male friends who seduced her. We’d be pretty disturbed, right? That’s rape after all, even if she consented. It’s a violation. So why in romance novels do we so often see heroes whose first sexual encounters were at some abnormally young age—and with a much older woman? Why is it okay for an older woman to seduce a teenage boy if when the genders are reversed we’re horrified? The answer at least from my perspective is that it’s not okay. Where’s the equality? I know there’s a perception that teenage boys are all dying to do it with an experienced woman (and yeah I laughed pretty loud when Finch finally landed Stiffler’s Mom), but at 14? Nope. Too young. Too gross. At least Finch was in his last year of high school and presumably 18 or near to it. A woman in her thirties seducing a 14 yr old is just wrong.
I don’t think it makes a hero seem more virile or skilful if I learn he was seduced by a much older woman when he was a teen. I think it makes him seem like a victim whose opinion of women in general might well have been warped by his experience. Just as you’d expect a heroine who had been molested as a teenager to have serious issues to work through. What do you think? Am I being too sensitive? Are there any similar double standards in romance novels that steam you up?