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Long before she is 16 and thus, in the eyes of the law, “legal”, she’ll be leered at on the bus and chatted up by men five, 10, perhaps even 15 years her senior.
Post-puberty, her school uniform will prompt heckling from louts in vans.
As I have come to learn, most of those who grow up in a dysfunctional relationship are condemned to seek them out forevermore. In adulthood, I had become a rather complicated girlfriend, each relationship beginning well, but then growing fractured and ending badly.
Those where the days when few were familiar with the word paedophilia, and when the repercussions on a young girl of sleeping with an older man were not much considered, because the welfare of young girls wasn’t considered at all.
This is why the responsibility lies with the older party: the man looking at the luminous flesh of a teenager and wondering if he or she is worth the risk.
It clearly seemed worth it to the 28-year-old England footballer Adam Johnson, who has pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual abuse of a 15-year-old girl. But what about the old days, when David Bowie was deflowering Lori Maddox, one of the so-called “baby groupies” of the era? Since Bowie’s death last month, commentators have asked whether we should be celebrating a man known to have had sex with a minor, and whether it’s possible to separate the art from the artist. Iggy Pop, Jimmy Page, Steven Tyler, Jerry Lee Lewis – they were all at it.
I was more preoccupied with what I saw: worldliness, sophistication, a gateway to adulthood.
None of these interactions became physical, which, looking back, was probably because I liked the idea rather than the reality. My interest in older men started to wane when one of my parents’ friends tried to grope me behind a door at a party. I look at my daughter now and I know what lies ahead.