When are we going to collectively stop using the age old “girls mature faster than boys” as an excuse for dismissing behavior from the men/boys? When will be the time where we place proper blame and/or accountability where it should be?
Can we acknowledge (regardless of how true it may be scientifically) when we use this excuse to explain away male behavior we are not only setting up our daughters to be tolerant of things they shouldn’t but we are also clearing the path for predatory men who KNOW that we have been taught this and use the “older man interested in a younger girl” play from the book to manipulate our daughters into becoming their next victims?
I've heard it my entire life. I've seen it and I have been a victim of the consequences of society not placing proper accountability where it should be. From my earliest memory, I can recall being told that it was my responsibility to be the "bigger, more mature" person because as a woman I have a duty to "guide" and "nurture". It was somehow my responsibility at the age of 7 to be the more "mature" child and not lash out at the 10 year old boy up the street who kept pushing me off my roller blades.
"He just likes you and doesn't know how to tell you."
"That's what boys do. Just ignore it."
"All boys are immature. That's why we have to be the mature ones."
BS like this is why so many girls, including myself, grew up thinking that if a man wasn't treating you like crap then he didn't really like you. I wasted years of my life in bad relationships, fighting for the attention and affection of men who weren't even worthy of being able to breathe in my presence in hopes that someday they will "grow up" and realize the delicate flower standing in their presence. Years of my life gone, never to be relieved again.
It is from this "conditioning" that we arrive at the concept of "older men" being the ideal go-tos for young girls seeking relationships. After so many times of being told that boys your age are less mature than you are and after so many times of being tired of taking the blame and/or having to take the high road because of "maturity differences", a light bulb goes off. If it takes longer for boys to mature and I am "scientifically proven" to be at least 5 to 6 years more advanced than boys my age, would it not make sense to simply skip ahead and date someone who is already "on my level" of maturity? If a 15 year old has the maturity levels of a "23 year old woman", why not just date a 23 year old man? Sounds foolish when you say it out loud, doesn't it? You can see the ill logic in the above interpretation but this is exactly what it sounds like bouncing off the brains of a 15 year old girl. And it doesn't just stop there.
Boys grow up hearing the same nonsense being taught to girls all around them. They hear this being said to classmates, sisters, Aunts, mothers and the list continues on. From a very early age, boys are taught that they are not responsible and will never be held responsible for anything they do. Grown men run around using this very excuse as tribute to why they should be allowed time to continue on with their childish antics without consequence. They even use this ideology to manipulate and coerce young teenage girls into one-sided relationships where they prey on these girls innocence and naivety.
We tell children to be responsible and own their mistakes.
We teach children about accountability.
We force young girls to be "mindful" of how they dress, how they talk, where they walk and what "vibes" they give off.
I honestly feel as though a lot of the problems we have between Black men and Black women has to do with the lack of responsibility and accountability. It starts at a young(er) age and just gets worse as we get older.
As a young male grows into manhood, we stop teaching him responsibility and accountability. We start making excuses for him whilst continuously teaching young girls that "this is just what men do". NO IT IS NOT! We stop telling young boys to own their mistakes and start feeding their minds with foolishness that ultimately cripples them and stunts their growth.
No one asks the young Black boy why he was at a disclosed location by himself at night...but we damn sure ask the young girl. Nobody asks the man why he lied, but we for damn sure ask the young Black girl "why did you even believe him?".
You don’t get a pass.
At 13, I learned that the attention of an older man was an indicator that I was “mature” for my age, thus better than the other girls my age because only “mature” girls had older boyfriends. I was ‘conditioned’ to believe that boys MY age were disgusting and older boys (with cars and no curfew) were the ideal choice. And the rougher/edgier they are, the more I wanted them. Even on TV, watching shows like Boy Meets Girl, Family Matters, Step by Step (shut up – that was my joint), etc… you were guaranteed to see one of the girls chasing after the older guy. Some of us didn’t have to look too far for inspiration as many of our own mothers were married to, living with and/or dating men many years their senior too.
It's a fact that for most teenage girls (at least when I was in high school), dating the boys you sat next to in class was cool but it wasn't going to make you popular. The older the guy is that pays attention to you, the more "popular" and desirable you become. Mainly and usually with the boys. It's not until you are well out of high school and have had a few "uh oh" moments of your own that you realize that your popularity as a result of your "older" boyfriend had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that you were "maturer" than the rest but instead a direct result of the confirmation others received that you were "putting out". Because everyone knows when you date an older boy, you are more than likely having sex with him.
To the other girls that made you a "ho" but to the boys that made you an easy target and often times led to disrespectful and inappropriate propositions.
Receiving the attention of an older man/boy was a badge of honor and was a clear indicator of how “hot” you were. All of these girls/women his age and he chose ME? You couldn’t tell me a thing.
My first “public” boyfriend was 17. I was 13. I lost my virginity to him. He made me feel special. Out of all the 8th graders I hung around he was interested in me. Conned me right up out my drawls.
My next “boyfriend” after that was 20. I was 15. He had me ditching school and taking joyrides to the Hoover neighborhoods in LA.
My next “boyfriend” after that was 23 (and in the Marines). I started dating him when I was 16. My grandmothers longtime boyfriend LOVED him because he had a car and bribed him with pizzas to let me stay out late. I remember I spent an entire weekend with him in San Diego. I even attended his Military Ball. Of course, no one knew my age. But no one asked either.
After that I was 19. He was 34. Met him at work. He was a security guard at my job. Told me as long as I did was I was told, he would take care of me. Tried to trick me into a threesome with his significantly older male friend. Found out he was married with three kids after 3 months. Blocked him, and he showed up at my moms house at 6:45 on Thanksgiving morning demanding that I speak to him.
There were more, but I digress.
Through all of these “dealings” I never stopped to ask myself what was it about “me” that these men loved about me. What have “I” done to warrant this kind of attention and attraction from men so much older than me.
Looking back I know why:
I was quiet. I was easy to manipulate. I was impressionable. I was willing. I was able. I was naive. I lacked confidence. I lacked structure. I lacked a backbone. I hadn’t been taught to vet. I was looking for love I felt I was missing. I was easy prey. I did what I was told. My biggest fear was hearing “It’s over.” Because I believed “If you love me you would…” I got my heart broke so much this way. My self-worth and confidence was non-existent and solely dependent on the amount of attention I received from older men. Because older men only wanted “young women” who were “mature”, right?
Older men are not the better option contrary to popular belief. It is not a prize to receive attention from an older man. You should feel uncomfortable having older men chase after you. It's not a compliment. It's a strategic process known as "grooming". It's intentional.
These men are predators. Tell your girls the truth.
Owner of Love My Black, LLC + Eighty5OH8 -Award Winning Blogger/Author | Viral Troublemaker | Mother of One | Brand and PR strategist