herald

Wednesday 7 December 2016

Why is it suddenly OK for a grown woman to leer over a 16-year-old boy?

Brooklyn
Brooklyn

These are the words used in latest edition of Tatler in the UK to describe Brooklyn Beckham (right), who's just turned 16.

"He's suddenly legal. Which means there are options that three months ago there would not have been. So that's diverting. Hot. Ready. Legal."

This was written by a 36-year-old woman and obviously refers to the fact that the 16-year-old Beckham can now consent to sex under British law.

Now invert that statement. Say it was written by a man in his 30s about a girl who was turning 16. 'She's suddenly legal. Which means there are options that three months ago there would not have been..."

Most male journalists I know would have the cop-on never to write something like that, to publicly fantasise about someone who, just a few days ago, was technically a child in the eyes of the law.

Had a male journalist written those words it could tip his career into the dump.

Happily, I don't think there's a male journalist stupid enough to write something like that.

The Tatler quote also implies that Beckham was being eyed up as 'potential' when he 15, under the legal age of consent.

Brooklyn Beckham arrives at the MTV Video Music Awards at the Microsoft Theater on Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015, in Los Angeles.
Brooklyn Beckham arrives at the MTV Video Music Awards at the Microsoft Theater on Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015, in Los Angeles.

It's clear some women are just as capable of 'pervy' behaviour - the type that's denounced in men all the time.

Why then, is it deemed okay for a woman to say these things about a boy/man? Seems to me this isn't just reverse sexism. It's sexism plain and simple. Double standards - sort of 'you go, girl.'

It represents anti-male bias and gender stereotyping in our society. It's the sort of thing we believe a man's friends shouldn't say about his friend's teenage daughter. Therefore it shouldn't be said about a friend's son.

The key element at play in this is age. If a person of a similar age group were to express attraction to Brooklyn then no one would bat an eye.

Also, we kind of expect younger people to express attraction to older celebrities. What we generally find questionable is when the person expressing attraction is much older.

Though technically Brooklyn Beckham is "legal", whether any 16-year-old boy or girl is "ready", is debatable.

The law may state that 16-year-olds are ready but really doesn't it depend on the 16-year-old in question?

What's also objectionable is the pouting, preening and posing of Brooklyn Beckham himself.

He comes across utterly self-aware and self-regarding, traits most people find deeply unattractive, no matter what their age.

But that's another issue.

Tatler is probably trying to boost circulation and doesn't care about whether or not it's acceptable for an older person to infatuate about someone just days over the legal line.

Generally ethical standards come a poor second to what's really hot and diverting - profits.

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