The purpose of this article is not to excuse or justify any illegal sexual behavior or blame those who have been victims of these situations. The purpose is to explain why these experiences occur and come up with solutions to prevent them from happening. The first thing we need to do is properly describe what we are discussing in this article. The activity we are referring to is properly called ephebophilia which is defined as being attracted to people who have just entered puberty typically ages 15-19.
This needs to be differentiated from pedophilia which is being attracted to undeveloped people under the age of 14. Pedophilia is a rampant problem but that is not the focus of this article. Using pedophilia as a blanket term to describe any sexual activity between an older person and any underage person doesn’t properly recognize the different drivers behind this activity. I also will primarily focus on younger women with older men in this particular article even though older women with younger men is also rampant in our society.
Why are men attracted to Younger Women
Biased Media Depictions of Women
Everyday in the media we are bombarded with nonstop images of half-naked women most of which are very young and have body types that are impossible to maintain without being young or having plastic surgery. So all day we are seeing women on T.V. or social media with flat stomachs, perky breast, no body fat whatsoever and in real life only very young women have these body types. It is very rare to see women outside of their 20s being depicted as beautiful and its very easy for a girls as young as 15 to make themselves look like they are in their early 20s. So because of societal biases in our media men are programed to be attracted women in this age range.
Men have grown up seeing older guys dating their female classmates. For most guys their first experience with this is in high school but some happen as early as middle school. Basically as soon as a girl starts to develop she will immediately begin to get hit on by older guys and many will entertain it. Many dudes will see some the most attractive girls they grew up with dating dudes in college or even older while they are in high school. This creates the perception that this is normal and ok. In addition to this, in many states the age of consent is 16. In some states it is permissible for someone as old as 29 to be sexually active with a 16 year old. A 16 year old is typically a sophomore in high school to put that in perspective. Even in states where the age of consent is 18 there are exceptions that can allow someone in their early to mid-twenties to sleep with someone as young as 15 or 16. This further fuels the idea that this is normal behavior, and although accepted by general society, is 100% illegal under the age of 16 in various states and countries across the world.
Personality, Expectations & Experience
The carefree nature of youth and lack of baggage from years of bad dating experiences is another factor that draws men to be attracted to young women. The teenage years tend to be rebellious ones where girls want to do things that their parents always told them not to. Older guys provide them with that outlet because they typically have a car, own place, some funds and access to drugs and alcohol. Because girls in high school typically live with their parents it is very inexpensive to deal with them because typically all they want are materialistic things that aren’t very costly. For instance a girl who is 21 may have an apartment to pay for, groceries, or college tuition cost. Whereas a 16 year old may only want money for clothes, nails or for drugs and alcohol. Also at that age they are in their sexually experimental phase and will be willing to try lots of things and haven’t considered the potentially damaging psychological impact of this activity.
It would be a major mistake to underestimate how many sexual interactions occur because of it being deemed innapropriate or illegal. Many people get a rush from engaging in dangerous or risky situations. It is addictive and can lead to irrational decision making and a perception of this euphoric experience that is derived from the situation and not that particular person. This is dangerous because once you are outside of that particular scenario the connection is no longer there. It also can drive you to seek this same feeling over and over with multiple underage women.
So in any given situation there could be various factors that motivate a man to be “attracted” to a younger woman. There are a significant amount of men who are attracted to girls as young as 15 or 16 but the overwhelming majority will never act on it. There are three main reasons why. First they are afraid of legal implications or feel that it is morally wrong, second they are afraid the feeling is not mutual and third there isn’t an opportunity.
There is no set type of person who will engage in these sorts of activities so you have to assume that anyone will. Also a person who would normally never do something like that can have a lapse of judgment and make a mistake. Then there are people who are pros at doing these type of activities and it has to be recognized. They will exploit any possible vulnerability and have done this over and over.
How to Prevent It
Avoiding these scenarios is a very complex issue but I will address a few key factors. I will begin first with the men. The key factor for men is being able to admit that you are attracted to someone significantly younger than you. It is key to admit it so you can talk about it and get help before a poor decision is made. Tell trusted, responsible friends about the situation and make attempts to stay away from the person you are attracted to. Understand that you making attempts to distance yourself from that person can trigger them to become more aggressive in pursuing you. Understand that as the older party in the scenario you ultimately have control of what will and won’t happen. You also will ultimately be liable for any potential negative fall out from the situation.
The question you should ask yourself is “can I wait until this person is old enough?” If the answer to that question is no you can’t wait or you feel like you can’t then you could be more attracted to the scenario than the person. Now an argument that will come up is “if I don’t fuck them someone else my age or older will,” or “she’s already into older guys,” or “she’s that type of girl,” or “she’s been throwing it at me for weeks now.” While these things can possibly be true it will never make it right for you to do it while they are outside of the legal age of consent. If there is a genuine attraction you can wait until it becomes legal.
Parents should openly discuss sex with their children at an early age. Don’t wait until you notice your daughter developing its too late then. You must address this topic before they begin to develop and all the hormones and emotions that come along with it. Let them know that its ok to come and tell you when they feel uncomfortable and that you won’t judge them or punish them.
The number one mistake made by parents is blaming the girl and being excessively judgmental. Saying things like if you stop wearing revealing clothes, partying etc these things won’t happen. The fact is that isn’t true. Older men will try to make advances at your teenage daughters no matter what they do. Teenagers just need to know they have your support if that happens and they tell you. They are in a very vulnerable stage of their life so you have to make an extra effort to be considerate of what is happening to them. You also have to try to prevent them from these situations by being very active in their lives. You have to monitor what they are doing, who they are with etc. At this age in life they are still unable to make good decisions and will aggressively seek out the very negative situations you are trying to keep from them. As a parent it is your responsibility to do everything you can to prevent them from being abused.
I am very conscious and aware of the implications of victim blaming. It is never a victims fault when a crime is committed against them. There are steps that can be taken to increase your safety and decrease the probability of these things occurring. The number one factor is an open and honest relationship with your parents or guardians. If you are constantly lying or sneaking around doing things you are putting yourself in danger. If you are hanging out with people you know your family wouldn’t approve of you are putting yourself in danger. If you are experimenting with drugs and alcohol you are clouding your ability to make good decisions. The combination of lying to parents, hanging with questionable people and experimenting with drugs make it highly likely you will be placed in many very questionable situations.
Not all of these scenarios stem from deviant behavior. Most people are victimized by “trusted” people who society thinks would not do such a thing. Trust your instinct in every scenario if you feel like someone is being inapropriate try to avoid them or be sure to have someone else with you when you are around them. Don’t be afraid to tell people they are making you uncomfortable with their actions and be firm. Men are not passive communicators, they will not sense your discomfort and dislike unless you clearly state it. If they persist report it to the appropriate authorities. No job, promotion, spot on a team, money, fame etc. is worth the psychological damage that will occur from engaging in unwanted sexual activity. Stick to your principles and avoid giving in at all cost. Most importantly if something does occur find a supportive understanding person to talk to about it. Don’t hold it in and let it destroy you. Go to counseling get it behind you and move on with your life.
Lastly you can be genuinely attracted to an older man. Our society constantly votes older men such as Idris Elba, David Beckham, Brad Pitt etc as the world’s most handsome men. Also women are taught to value men for their money and power and older men have the most of this. Despite this, it is still wrong to act on this if you are underage. So if you have these feeling don’t be ashamed to tell trusted people and attempt to avoid that person. If it is meant to be you will cross paths when you are of age.
In closing, Ephebophilia is a serious issue in our society but one that can be addressed by talking about it, recognizing the motivation behind it and taking preventative measures to stop it. My hope is that this article will start a targeted holistic discussion on the topic and affect real change.