How old is too old?

A lot of things came up while we were talking about Diary of a Teenage Girl, but one of the questions that was at the forefront was: What is an “appropriate” age gap between partners?

Minnie and Monroe’s relationship was odd for two reasons: the age gap, and their societal relation to each other (with Monroe being Minnie’s father figure). As long as a relationship is not incestuous, and large age gaps are not put in perspective, they appear to be “normal”. For instance, if you talk about a 27-year-old dating a 38-year-old, it sounds “normal” until you realize that there is an 11-year age gap between them.

The class also pointed out the sexist nature of this concept, where although men being much older than female partners is generally accepted, women being older than male partners is strange. This leads me to think about queer/non-heteronormative relationships, and I wonder what people would think of two men or two women being together with a large age gap. Where do you draw the line if the boundaries of gender are blurred beyond societal comfort levels?

During the discussion, I pointed out the normalized habit of infantilizing your partner through language. Common “pet names” are “babe” or “baby”, and nowadays more and more people call older attractive men “dad” or “daddy”. This is demonstrated by the recent “dad-bod” trend that surfaced in which people became increasingly vocal about their attraction to men with “dad bodies”.

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