There I was, just minding my own business with the windows down and the music up when an unfamiliar song starts playing on the classic rock radio station. Normally I don’t listen too closely to the lyrics, but this time something was different. My ears were ringing as the words poured out:
She’s only seventeen (seventeen)
I used to give her love, like I’ve never seen
She’s only seventeen (seventeen)
Daddy says she’s too young, but she’s old enough for me (seventeen)
I immediately pulled over to the side of the road and SoundHounded the song. Seventeen by Winger. Now, I know very little about the band Winger, but I do know that they were an 80s metal band that was once referenced on Beavis and Butthead. That’s it. I had to know more before I crucified this would-be pedophile. So I did a little research and found out that the song was released in November 1988 and was written by Kip Winger, who was born in 1961…
…when he was 27! What in the good goddamn?! I think old ass Kip Winger probably should have listened to his daddy on this one. According to a Wikipedia post on the matter, “he wasn’t aware that it was illegal to (sic) for an adult to have sexual relations with a seventeen-year-old. Winger promises he never actually had sex with one.” Oh, does he promise? Well, that settles that.
Obviously this is an issue that we’re dealing with as a society right now. Not just the legalities and moralities of one’s age and one’s ability to make proper and informed decisions, but also the power dynamic of men over women, ESPECIALLY when the women are significantly younger. In fact, not just women, but young men as well.
I was recently watching Aziz Ansari’s latest Netflix special, Right Now, and he discussed this very issue. Before we go on: yes, I am aware of the allegations made against Ansari. He addressed them in the show. Anyway, he talked about how many people are involved in his professional life, and if he were to show up to work one day with a young boy, people would ask questions. This is not to absolve the actions of the adult and put the responsibility on others around him, but rather to say that this sort of thing should never happen, and oftentimes there are people who are complicit in the abuse.
In the late 1500s, Shakespeare wrote a story where a 20-something was romantically involved with a 13-year-old, and the biggest issue was that they were from feuding families. A lot of people are surprisingly unaware of that fact and are disgusted when they learn it. Mostly they’re disgusted because of their own moral idea of what age is appropriate, and it’s probably not fair to place 2019 moral standards on The Bard. However, we know a tad more about brain development these days, and without getting too sciency, young people make dumb decisions that are not entirely their fault.
It is the responsibility of an adult not to take advantage of those poor decision-making skills. It is also the responsibility of other adults to step in and do something if they see this happening.
It’s pretty obvious that not everybody is equipped with that little angel on their shoulder that tells them not to do something morally corrupt. I think it’s also the responsibility of society to stop glorifying such behavior.
Ansari’s commentary was in reference to the Michael Jackson documentary, and while I’m not entirely sure of its veracity, there were definitely some weird things going on that should have been stopped. There are plenty of other high-profile people being accused of (at very least) bizarre behavior right now, and I’m glad there is a light being shined on these atrocities.
So the next time you hear Winger, turn them off. The next time someone mentions Romeo, inform them that Juliette was 13, and the next time you see a crusty-old perv barging in on young girls changing at a beauty pageant, rip off his wig, call him a pedophile, and toss him out on his ass.