This weekend brought us yet another addition to the (seemingly) vast pantheon of relatively young women who feel it necessary to bone young teenage boys. Because 25-year-old Kelsey Peterson was shagging a 13-year-old boy — and they ran off together. And my mind (as it always does after it gets done thinking "ewww") immediately started to wonder when we would hear the inevitable story of her chidlhood abuse/ teenage rape/ distant father whatever and I realized that I, like lots of people who read these stories, was immediately making the connection between the power dynamic/interest of the predatory one in a way that a lot of people don't when it's about an older man and a girl.
Because, let's face it, when we're thinking about a teenage boy and an older woman, we do view her as a predator, yes (or we should), but a predator with serious power and sex issues that compel her to seek out sex and companionship with someone so much younger and sexually immature. On the other hand, I think when the genders are reversed, we view the man as pursuing sex (not power) with the young woman, right? And that's certainly a double standard.
But, really, if one watches enough episodes of To Catch a Predator (once you get done yelling at the TV and laughing in uncomfortable horror, that is), you can't help but realize what complete and utter immature pushovers 75 percent of those guys are. Yes, they're creepy, creepy dudes (who can forget the cat-fucker?) and some of them are really sick predators who need to be locked away forever, but I'll be damned if nearly every single one of them doesn't sit down on command for Chris Hansen and answer questions. That part of it strikes me every time I watch — it's almost like they're pursuing sexual relationships with minors online for the power (and the power differential) that they obviously don't have in any other situation in their lives. That doesn't make it right, but it also doesn't make it so much different than the women who seemingly can't keep their hands off the not-even-close-to-legal boys in their proximity, even if the women do cast their actions as "love."
So, in the end, I don't think male and female predators are really that far apart in terms of their motivations (although I think the violent, coercive ones take "power" to a more sickening depth than the ones seeking consensual relationships with the inappropriately young). But, please, people, hand's off the kiddies, ok? If you need to work through your power issues, I guarantee there are plenty of consenting adults in your area who will help you out with that in a completely legal setting, even if they wear more leather than the average 13-year-old.