I’m a very firm believer in people doing what they want with their lives and in their bedrooms, it is absolutely no one else’s business. Of course, that they must be consenting adults who are not harming anyone or anything else, goes without saying. Which is precisely why I was firmly on the fence about the Milind Soman drama.
In the wake of the Weinstein storm, I have been forced to take down a lot of my favorites from their pedestals because, if they’ve committed what they’ve been accused of, then they are truly abominable human beings. No matter how accomplished they have been in their fields, no matter how else they’ve contributed to the world, being rotten on the inside makes you a slime of a human, wrapped in a shiny package.
[I’m also glad that someone found the courage somewhere to start all of this off, and for the entire issue having snowballed this far. Otherwise, we were a happy lot, weren’t we? Sweep the bodies under the carpet and pretend nothing ever happened even when the blood is leaking through the ceiling. Nothing has changed, I’m not sure much will, even less so in India. But at least SOMEONE IS TALKING.]
Having lost a lot of my heroes, it has been even more difficult for me to take a stand on the Soman issue: for the uninitiated, the 52-year-old's crime, so to speak, is being in a relationship with an alleged 23-year-old. This is so much closer to home and the someone in question is a person I admire for far more reasons than just aesthetics. Normally, I'd ignore something like this, who cares who is dating who and what they did with them, really? We have far bigger everyday struggles to deal with. But take a stand I must, because of the social implications it has brought up and also, so that I never become the kind of person who will support people they like even when they have made unquestionably despicable choices.
Now, according to my policy, I don’t get a say in this, right? If there is non-coerced consent and both parties know what they’re getting into, they could date, or have babies, or fly around the solar system, for all I care.
How many young adults do you know who are mature enough to date people who decades older than then? Scratch that, how many young adults do you know who know how to be in a regular relationship with someone they fancy without emotionally scarring themselves or the other person? Not many, not any. (I say young adults because teenagers dating people older than 30-35 is gross and wrong and there IS no grey area).
When Annie pointed me in the direction of skewed relationship balances, I found myself nodding along. So true, I thought, one person will be able to anticipate your every move (because: EXPERIENCE) and manipulate you, albeit gently, sweetly, to get what they want, every single time. And you’ll be too stupid to resist, not because it is your fault but because you do not have that experience. The partner has usually seen that much and more of life. While this is scary enough to ignite talks of predatory behavior, what about all those small things in relationships like where we eat and what we wear and who we meet without the partner being present? The older person will ALWAYS have the upper hand. Have we crept over right to the borders of abuse?
Not like we will get to know about any power imbalances in the relationship, will we? They will cover up their bruises, physical or otherwise, reason with themselves that the partner really, truly loves them to the moon and back and post another picture to prove that they’re fine, that they’re happy. Really. Then they’ll walk back into their arms and continue doing exactly what the partners want from them, because they don’t know what the world looks like without their partner and are too scared to find out. Even the best of us have trouble letting go of toxic relationships because we fear being lonely. Can you really blame someone young and vulnerable for making the same bad choices?
Also, precedent. One case of a (much) older person having fallen for someone significantly younger could be true love and all of us can shut our faces and get on with our lives.
This man has a consistent track record of dating (and marrying) women who are more than a decade and a half younger than him. He might truly be in love with these girls, for all we know, but isn’t this trend a little concern-worthy, even if you take into account only the aforementioned (very) skewed power dynamics (and not the possible pedophilia)?
Lolita has been lauded as one of the finest works in literature but, in essence, it is the blatant romanticizing of a pedophile lusting after his “nymphet”, all of thirteen years, All this, wrapped up in beautiful language. Look past that veneer and you will shudder at the creepiness of it all. If you don’t, then, I’m sorry, you need to see someone about it. What is so different about that story and this relationship, then? Not much except the very flimsy legal line and quite possibly, real love (no, I’m not discounting that, despite everything).
Having said all this, the trolls who have come crawling out of the woodworks should really, really recheck their own skeletons; half the people commenting on the couple’s Instagram photos are the types (take my word for it, I have done my groundwork) who have posted pictures with their wives and children on their own accounts captioned “my life, reason for existence”, left “hey bebe, sexy thighs, give me a hug”(what even?!?!) comments on other people’s posts, and then, when called out, justified themselves saying “I will not apologize for being a man.”
No, seriously. If you really do give a shit, talk about it on public platforms, state your opinion, back it up with background, discuss the issues, and establish why it is wrong or right. Calling him “tauji” and making snide remarks about “father-daughter looking great” only proves that you have absolutely nothing better to do. And that is truly sad. For you.
For me and hopefully for whoever is being trolled, it is just entertainment at your expense.