September 15, 2013

"I am as troubled by the use of the word 'woman' to describe the 18-year-old object, briefly, of a 53-year-old’s affections..."

"... as I am by the use of the word 'lover' to describe my 18-year-old self, in the context of that relationship."

Writes the 59-year-old Joyce Maynard on the occasion of a documentary movie about the now-dead J.D. Salinger.

IN THE COMMENTS: T J Sawyer said:
"His was a seduction played out with words and ideas..."

Sounds like Maynard is making a strong case for withdrawing the voting privilege from 18-year-olds. Or at least the distaff portion.

(Do I need to explicitly mention 2008 and 2012?)

24 comments:

Meade said...

A true feminist would be outraged at such unfair self-serving victim-posing. But it gets her opinion - bashing a dead man - published in the NYT, which seems to be her entire aim.

Paddy O said...

I wonder what her 18 year old self would have said to her 59 year old self. Probably something like being old enough to make her own choices about what to do with her body or some such like that.

John Lynch said...

Salinger brings out the narcissist in everyone.

prairie wind said...

Yeah, Joyce, a lot of people are embarrassed later by what they did when they were young.

T J Sawyer said...

"His was a seduction played out with words and ideas..."

Sounds like Maynard is making a strong case for withdrawing the voting privilege from 18-year-olds. Or at least the distaff portion.

(Do I need to explicitly mention 2008 and 2012?)

Gabriel Hanna said...

Edward the Black Prince was 16 years old when he fought, and commanded one wing, at the Battle of Crecy. When informed that the Black Prince was under attack, Edward III did not send aid, saying "Let the boy win his spurs." And he did.

The infantilization of adults has to stop. I have heard it argued that the brain does not fully develop until 25--people are vague on this--as though some maturity switch flips from "off" to "on".

If young people are not expected to behave as adults when they are young, their childishness will persist far into adulthood, regardless of what their brain development is doing. Just like an athlete who doesn't take up sports until he's 25 won't be able to perform like those who started as children, no matter how talented he is. We don't wait until they're 25 to start training athletes.

Oso Negro said...

Attractive young women have been an object of unusual attention since pretty well forever. How old was Helen of Troy? I seem to recall a Classics professor asserting that she was ten. Decent societies have typically waited until the girls pass puberty, but historical standards vary on this. It is a modern conceit to declare that women can't responsibly use their vaginas until they pass the age of 18. Frankly it is a conceit to presume that women responsibly use their vaginas AFTER the age of 18.

As for men, well, unless there is some uncommonly intrusive state intervention - think tiny penis cams to monitor for unauthorized penetrations - they will go on lusting after pretty girls forever and ever and ever.

Tank said...

Sounds like the groupie got to bang the rock star, and even live with him for awhile.

Robert Cook said...

18 year old males and females are legally adults at 18--although, oddly, they may not drink until age 21 (in (all?--many?--states). But they may marry without parental consent, and news reports typically refer to "the 18 year old man" (or woman) in stories that involve persons of that age.

We have so infantilized ourselves that many of us, even at 25--35--45--or older are not truly "adult." At least among the middle class and above, our children are so coddled and protected and kept close under parental management that many or most 18 years are NOT close to being "adult" in a self-sustaining way.

I can't speak to Ms. Maynard's own 18-year old self, but her generation, as a whole, seemed to grab for the independence and prerogatives of adulthood as soon as they could, and many teenagers of that era had left home to become part of the hippie hegira to San Francisco and other gathering places of the counter-culture. They made themselves adults in their willful casting off of the protections (and bonds) of home and parents.

David said...

Perfect Salinger character. Never grew up.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

To Die For, was a good movie.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Gavriel Hanna,

The infantilization of adults has to stop. I have heard it argued that the brain does not fully develop until 25--people are vague on this--as though some maturity switch flips from "off" to "on".

Yeah, and now you can officially, under the PPACA, be dependent on your parents' health insurance until age 26. You don't have to go back very far even in our own history to find generations of young people who would've found that plain insulting.

Props to Robert Cook for "hippie hegira." That's a keeper.

cubanbob said...

Sounds like Maynard is making a strong case for withdrawing the voting privilege from 18-year-olds. Or at least the distaff portion. "

Now that Obamacare has effectively raised the age of majority to 27 the voting age should be adjusted accordingly.

MadisonMan said...

Okay, I'm cynical, but does she have a novel out that she is trying to shill?

Maybe someday I will read a Salinger novel. I somehow escaped that in High School.

carrie said...

Tank said it well. It's the ssame old story--a celebrity taking advantage of his celebrity and a groupie hoping to achieve status by her association with a celebrity. It never turns out well for the groupie--think Monica Lewinsky to name one. If Joe the Plumber had written the same words to this woman, she never would have responded much less been seduced because the status wasn't there.

traditionalguy said...

I certainly find it disturbing when a predatory 19 year old seduces a middle aged writer in hopes of getting an award from her peers for bagging him.

But that is one of the risks of loving a seductive woman.

Larry J said...

Not pertaining to the Salinger groupie but to the discussions of prolonged childhood:

At 18, I was a paratrooper in the Army. I was old enough to sign a contract including the phrase "to jump from an aircraft while in flight and descend to the ground by means of parachute" and "to train with explosives" but not old enough to buy a beer. This was in 1975 when the drinking age here was 19. That didn't stop me. I drank when I felt like it.

The same situation exists today. This generation's best have volunteered to serve in the military during wartime and yet those under 21 can't legally buy alcohol. Something is wrong with this picture.

To paraphrase Forest Gump's mother, adult is as adult does. It isn't defined by one's age but by one's actions and acceptance of individual responsibility.

surfed said...

One word - hypergamy. Emotional, sexual, financial or any combination of the above is hardwired into the DNA of women since humans roamed the savannas of Afrika. Other than Salinger was a manipulating asshole what's the uproar about?

William said...

If the same scenario had been acted out with John Updike would anyone give a damn....This affair certainly does not make Salinger look good, but there's more pathos than evil to the man. Ditto with Joyce Maynard. She was never going to get married and live happily ever after.

Sigivald said...

She's troubled by an 18 year old woman being called a woman?

Would she be troubled if we called every woman under 21 "missy" and disenfranchised them?

You don't get it both ways.

Waily.

Tarrou said...

Adult enough to make an informed decision on who should run the country, but not enough to choose a bedmate?

Look on your works, ye feminists, and weep. Pick a side, are women the poor weak-minded dears incapable of thought, decision or self defense, or are they powerful creatures who scorn help as beneath them? Personally, I don't care which one you pick, but I'm sick of people trying to have it both ways.

kentuckyliz said...

So he liked it barely legal and she liked it gray and saggy. To each his/her own.

Mark Trade said...

Well, the voting age was changed because young men were being drafted into war, right? But young "women" were not being drafted.

So maybe the voting age should be 18 for men and 21 for women.

SOJO said...

Why? Plenty of 18-yr-old "men" later regret driving drunk, going to war, abandoning their illegitimate kid, etc. and see their former selves as "dumb kids".

No one says they are making a case for their vote to be withdrawn. They are simply expressing regrets and an older perspective.

On a superficial note, Salinger sounds as creepy as he looks.