Won’t Someone Please Think of the Children?

EmiliePerspectives10 Comments

By now, chances are pretty good you’ve heard of Courtney Stodden, who, though she has several singles and videos that you can watch/listen to on her YouTube page and has apparently been working diligently on becoming famous for some time now, entered the public eye when she married actor Doug Hutchinson in May.

Obviously people get married every day, so what makes this union so special? Hutchinson is 51. Stodden, at the time of the wedding, was 16 (she has since turned 17). Creepy, right? The worst part: Stodden’s parents consented to the marriage, making the whole thing legal. If you’re not already familiar with this story, and want more than this very brief overview, you can read more about it here.

Since the marriage, there’s been a lot of focus on Courtney–how young she is, how overtly sexual her appearance and behavior are, whether or not she’s had plastic surgery, whether or not she was a virgin when she got married. Admittedly, Courtney’s good-girl-gone-bad routine puts Britney Spears’ to shame. Remember when Britney was on the cover of Rolling Stone in her underwear and a TeleTubby doll? Yeah, that’s child’s play in comparison to Courtney. But I digress. The general attitude, from what I’ve heard, toward Courtney is pretty much summed up in a Ridiculist segment Anderson Cooper did about her. And it’s true, she’s pretty ridiculous. But I don’t really understand why so much of the focus is on her (okay, yes I do–I mean, a young woman dresses and behaves provocatively, therefore we can all rag on her, right?)–shouldn’t someone be asking what possessed her parents to consent to this marriage? Shouldn’t someone be wondering what a 51-year-old is doing hanging around a 16-year-old?

I know that teenagers are having sex at a young age, and I also know that when you’re 16 you think  you’ve got the world figured out. But as anyone who has survived their teenage years and moved on into adulthood can attest, you haven’t. You’re actually still very young, very inexperienced, and very much dependent on your parents to guide you through the world and step in when things really start going wrong. I mean, when I was 16, I wanted to marry Roger Daltrey, and seriously thought that a 37-year difference was nothing. And that it would be totally normal for him to want to marry me. 16-year-olds are not exactly known for their sound judgment. I imagine, that if Roger Daltrey had met me and we’d had a relationship when I was 16, my parents would not have been pleased. And I highly doubt they would have agreed to allow me to marry him. And since that would have been the decision made by my legal guardians, that’s how things would end up. At the age of 16, I would have resented my parents for it. But sitting here at the age of 30 and thinking about what it would have been like to be in a sexual relationship with someone 37 years older than me when I was 16, I can honestly say that my parents would have been absolutely right to have the whole thing called off.

You can’t predict how the things you do at the age of 16 are going to affect you when you’re 17, let alone five, 10, or 15 years later. A relationship with a 51-year-old at the age of 16 could end up being a serious source of trauma and regret later in life. Regardless of what anyone says, when you’re 16, you really are still a kid in a lot of ways.

I can’t help but see Courtney Stodden’s parents’ failure to intervene in this situation as a serious failure on their behalf. A parent’s first priority should be protecting his or her child from any and all harm, at least to the extent that that’s possible. And in this case, it would have been possible for the Stoddens to prevent their daughter’s marriage, or at least postpone it until she turned 18 and (maybe) had a teeny bit more perspective. So why didn’t they? Courtney Stodden may feel lucky and in love now, but it’s impossible to say how she’ll feel years from now. It saddens me to think about how this story could end, and about the fact that her parents acted with the same kind of judgment that one would expect from a 16-year-old.

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Emilie

Runner, yogini, knitter, Manhattanite in spite of myself. Also blogging at http://www.icametorun.com.
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EmilieWon’t Someone Please Think of the Children?

10 Comments on “Won’t Someone Please Think of the Children?”

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  1. Profile photo of jen*
    jen*

    I have not been impressed with Courtney as far as her maturity level, but I am also not impressed with her taste level.  The awful dude she’s married to creeps me out to the nth degree.  She seems to think he’s a hottie, but I suppose there’s no accounting for taste.

    I am disappointed in her parents approval, mostly because I view Doug Hutchison as a complete creep.  I’m not sure where the adult/child line should be drawn sometimes, but I think that if a 51 yr old is interested in a 16 yr old, there is something wrong with that 51 yr old.  They should not be on the same level.  They should not be in the same place in life.  They should not have the same goals and ideas about how to move forward.

    This is all my own opinion, but I am very disgusted by this Hutchison fellow.  I don’t think Courtney is acting all that differently from some other 16 yr olds I have seen.  She’s done what she could get away with, and apparently, her parents let her get away with dressing the way she does, acting the way she does, and marrying a creeper.

    Sure, there are cases here and there of things working out in “May-December” relationships while there are many cases of divorce between more similarly aged couples.  But anecdotal evidence is not proof.  And I am not amused by this union.

  2. Profile photo of Juniper
    Juniper

    16-year-olds are not exactly known for their sound judgment.

    To be fair, neither are a lot of adults.

    Courtney Stodden may feel lucky and in love now, but it’s impossible to say how she’ll feel years from now.

    Again, something that could be said of many twenty-somethings, thirty-somethings, forty-somethings and so on.

    To a degree, i can sit here and question her parents’ judgement but then i’m reminded that i live in Scotland, where sixteen-year-olds can get married without parental consent. There’s also the feeling, for me at least, where it’s thought of as ridiculouss when teenagers get married, but sixteen-year-olds are also capable (and rightly so) of making medical decisions and other legal decisions for themselves, there is a degree of competency that can’t be denied.

    The last point, that i feel is worth mentioning is that i have a friend who, at seventeen met a guy who was in his late forties. They are still happily together years later, unlike another couple who are months apart in age and are beginning a divorce after a shorter time that than the previous couple have been together.

      1. Profile photo of Juniper
        Juniper

        The village of Gretna Green owes its fame to being able to marry at 16 in Scotland. These days? I don’t have statistics to hand. Anecdotally though, i do know of it still happening and not being considered particularly strange (same for England, though 16 and 17 year olds would require parental consent there). As for age difference, i honestly can’t say because again, i don’t know the stats, but from the occasions where i’ve been aware of it happening there’s usually not been a significant age gap.

  3. Profile photo of Alice Nevada
    Alice Nevada

    I am one of the (I believe) dying breed of people who embrace more traditional personal morality.  There are somethings (behaviors, dress, attitudes, language etc.) that, while appropriate for conscientious adults, are simply not appropriate for a child.  And I do consider those at 16 and 17 years old a child.  At 16, Stodden could not have had the emotional maturity or depth of life experience to really understand the impact of the behavior and demeanor she displayed on YouTube, which was demeaning, objectifying, and – dare I say – licentious.  While I do believe Winter/Spring relationships can be viable, Stodden’s public behavior leads me to question the strength of her partnership with Hutchinson.  More importantly, the permissiveness and lack of judgement Stodden’s parents exercise leads me to question her parents’ decision to allow the marriage.  Indeed  – won’t someone think of the child?  It doesn’t seem like anyone really did in this case.

  4. Profile photo of freckle [M]
    freckle [M]

    And could we maybe share a thought on the 51-year old man who married this sixteen year old? I know that love can concur a lot, but how did they even ever meet up?

    1. Profile photo of Honeybadger
      Honeybadger

      Exactly. I don’t take much issue, if any, with 16 year-olds doing the dirty with each other or even getting married but this age gap disturbs me.

  5. Profile photo of soitgoes
    soitgoes

    Courtney and Doug have already secured a deal for a reality TV show.

    While this whole situation doesn’t sit right with me, I do wonder where we should draw the line when it comes to teenagers and their sexual autonomy.  On one hand we’ll say that teens deserve the right to get the Gardasil vaccine without their parents’ knowledge (check CA news!) and on the other we think Courtney’s parents should have to approve of her sex life (isn’t 16 the CA age of consent?).  The marriage aside, I don’t think you can have it both ways when it comes to teens/sex/their parents.

    1. Profile photo of Emily
      Emily

      Well, Gardisil (like birth control and STD treatments) is covered by patient privacy laws, so I see that as a separate issue.

      I think the issue with Courtney’s parents is their appallingly bad judgment. As far as I know, 16 is the age of consent in CA, and basically teens and young adults have to start making their own choices at some point. Most will start making their own choices and forming their own opinions regardless of legality – it’s not like laws flip some switch and at 16 people go “Oh hey time to consider sex!” then at 21 “I can drink alcohol! I’d never considered the pros or cons of drinking before, better look into that”.

      So, no, I don’t think parents should have legal control of her sex life (beyond the obvious level of control that comes with her living within their home and with their rules), but there are world of difference between not having legal control over her sex life and actively encouraging a relationship with a man over 50yo. Also the age of consent is not the same as being legally an adult and the parents should (and did) have to agree for a marriage to take place. Actually according to the article Courtney’s mother first brought up the idea of them getting married, which is pretty disturbing.

  6. Profile photo of [E]Coco Papy
    [E]Coco Papy

    I feel like a lot of the negativity directed at Stodden is due to the “OH god, look at her choice, my choices are so much better” mentality. Shes a seventeen year old girl who has been botoxed -implanted-bleached-blonded-and dried to oblivion. That can come from her own individual requests, but it also seems like her parents (where the fuck are y’all,come get your daughter) have preened her to be this caricature of female sexuality and set her on the path to fame. It isn’t shocking that no one really looks at Hutchinson as this guy who is making a mistake and frankly, I do hold out glimmers of hope in wide gaps of age relationships. But lets face it – its cool for older guys to shack up with hot young things and more importantly, its legal.

    I read Stoddens tweets often – it all reads like a vanity profile for playboy magazine. She epitomizes hetero-normative extreme beauty and attractiveness in a way that she thinks men think is attractive. Kinda childlike and playing coy, all sexual and cute. It gets her attention, which I think most teens want, but if anything, its also harder to see the consequences when you have probably never had to deal with any real life ones.

     

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