Thursday, August 23, 2001

 
David Klinghoffer from National Review has an interesting take on the phenomenon epitomized by Mary Kay Letourneau, the Seattle 6th grade teacher who was romantically involved with and had two children by one of her students. He cites a half dozen other cases of adult female teachers becoming sexually involved with their students, and then suggests that this is the front end of what may be a wider cultural trend of adult women falling for considerably younger men. I think he oversimplifies and overstates both the actual rise of such incidents and the reason for the increase. He claims that when men act like boys and refuse to grow up, women don't have much choice -- they can go for old boys or young boys. Whether or not he correctly pins down the reason for this awful trend, he does hit on a significant point -- men ain't what they used to be. He does not say this looking down his nose, self-righteously transcending this tumble into perpetual adolescence, but rather pleads guilty in a way that I wish didn't resonate with me as much as it does:

I say this as a 35-year-old who shows up at the office every day in clothes that, 40 years ago, no 35-year-old would have considered wearing in public except maybe to the beach. Jeans, flip-flops, t-shirts. I'm not alone. Men who ought to be going to work in suits are to be seen on the streets of American cities in all kinds of ridiculously youthful getups, often with the word "Abercrombie" plastered on them. And the clothes are just the outward indication of an inward devolution.

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