Part 2—Mothers of convention: Long ago and far away, Elizabeth Taylor delivered a speech to Spencer Tracy in a semi-iconic film.
She delivered it in the 1950 film, Father of the Bride. She was 18 years old at the time.
It was in this year that Taylor made her wildly successful transition to adult film roles. This is what she said to Tracy, who had been cast as her father:
"Now listen, Pops. I'm 20 and Buckley's 26, and we're grown people."
Again, the year was 1950. Taylor, 18 in real life, was playing 20 in the film. Her character was going to marry 26-year-old Buckley Dunstan, who she said was "a wonderful businessman."
She was going to marry at 20. She was telling her fretful father that there'd be no turning back. Along the way, she told him his concern about age was hopelessly old-fashioned:
TRACY: I didn't marry your mother till I was 25.To peruse the script, click here.
TAYLOR: I know, but that was millions of years ago.
Did we mention the fact that the year was 1950? In that year, the average age of first marriage for American women was 20.3 years of age.
That average age is much higher today—it seems to have been 27 as of 2013—but that was the state of American culture in the postwar years. Indeed, by 1970, the average age of first marriage for a women had only risen to 20.8 years of age.
According to our analysts, that means that roughly half of American women were even younger than that when they first got married! Several may have been as young as 19!
We mention these facts for a reason. Recently, our intellectually moribund upper-end "press corps" has been mired its latest moral panic. Sadly, the parochialism of these people has long been an existential threat to people all over the world.
Our journalists rarely bring a sense of historical context to their panics, or to their resulting stampedes. It seems to us that this latest panic helps us consider the way these upper-end "thought leaders" work.
Many have gone to the finest schools. Routinely, though, their work is dumbfoundingly poor. In what follows, we attempt to assess our American press corps, not the people about whom they write, including Alabama's Roy Moore.
Concerning Moore, a moral panic is currently underway among our American pundits. The panic has routinely led to work like that shown below. It comes from a front page report in today's Washington Post.
In today's report, Elise Viebeck is reporting on the calls for Al Franken to resign from the Senate. Along the way, she discusses the accusations against Roy Moore.
Incredibly, Viebeck wrote the passage shown below, or maybe her editor did it. Whoever actually typed it out, this is the fruit of a panic:
VIEBECK (12/7/17): The drive to purge Franken, coming a day after Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) resigned under pressure in the House, was a dramatic indication of the political toxicity that has grown around the issue of sexual harassment in recent months.Say what? Is Moore accused of "pursuing" women when they were teenagers? In fact, he stands accused of assaulting two teenagers, in ways which would presumably be criminal.
It also stood as a stark—and deliberate—contrast with how the Republicans are handling a parallel situation in Alabama, where Roy Moore, their candidate for U.S. Senate in next week’s special election, is accused by women of pursuing them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s.
Roy Moore stands accused of assaulting two teenagers. That said, at the Washington Post, it seems to be the dating which has the scribes upset.
On Tuesday night, it was associate editor David Swerdlick who complained about the dating, speaking weirdly to CNN's Don Lemon. This morning, it's Viebeck who skips past the alleged assaults. According to future anthropologists in the years after Mr. Trump's War, this is what happens within our species when we go on our moral stampedes.
This is what happens when our species stages its moral panics! We can no longer see the forest for the scraggly ground cover. We lose all sense of moral perspective. We become unable to think.
Within our floundering upper-end press corps, even scribes from the finest schools fail to consider the cultural context of the conduct they condemn. In this report, and in the several reports to follow, we examine this highly parochial conduct by our upper-end press.
(Viebeck graduated from Claremont McKenna, class of 2009. Swerdlick graduated from Cal in 1992, with a later law degree from Chapel Hill. Despite their degrees, they can't seem to grasp the type of misconduct of which Moore stands accused.)
Today, we begin by considering a fact which our scribes have disappeared. This fact was spelled out, loud and clear, in the initial Washington Post report on this topic. But because it undercuts the stampede, the fact has been disappeared.
The fact in question has been disappeared. Returned from the dead, here it is:
When Moore dated several teenagers way back then, their mothers cheered him on!Their mothers loved Roy Moore! According to that initial Post report, Gloria Thacker Deason dated Moore for several months in 1979. He was 32 years old. She turned 19 during this period.
Deason's mother urged her on. “My mom was really, really strict and my curfew was 10:30 but she would let me stay out later with Roy,” Deason told the Washington Post. "She thought he was good husband material.”
Deason's mother hoped the dating might lead to a first marriage! That said, Debbie Wesson Gibson's mother may have felt the same way.
Gibson dated Moore for several months in 1981, when she was 17 and he was 34. “I’d say you were the luckiest girl in the world," she quoted her mother saying with respect to Ol' Roy's attentions.
In a recent report in the Washington Post, Gibson described the high esteem in which she held Moore for years after their dating ended—years in which she and her family exchanged Christmas cards with Moore. But according to Swerdlick, Moore stands accused of this outrageous dating, not of the alleged assaults!
These basic facts were sitting right there in that first Post report. In part for that reason, we'd say the Post displayed peculiar journalistic judgment in linking these accounts of dating to the allegation that Moore molested a 14-year-old girl during this same time period.
Did the fact that he dated someone 19 support the claim that he molested someone five years younger? The pathway to panic was already there as the Post decided to float this highly tendentious connection.
From that day forward, the fact that the mothers cheered Moore on has been completely disappeared. Indeed, in the thousands of hours of thrilling discussion we've watched on cable and broadcast TV, we've never seen a single pundit mention this basic fact.
You haven't seen anyone mention that basic either! But then, our "press corps" always invents or disappears facts when a stampede is on.
Why were those mothers in love with Roy Moore? In part, we'll guess the answer might start with Elizabeth Taylor telling her father, in that film, that he was old-fashioned to think that 20 might be too young to marry.
Moore's teenage dates were born around 1960. Their mothers would have been born even earlier than that, perhaps around 1940.
Their values and outlooks would have been formed during that cultural era. Women married very young—and Hollywood kept suggesting, in its private conduct and up on the screen, that these very young women should maybe perhaps and possibly hook up with older men.
This history is highly amusing, and it's sadly instructive. This history is also interesting, something we can't say for the panics our "journalists" frequently stage.
Before we close today, we should probably mention this:
In that very same year, 1950, Elizabeth Taylor married for the first time. She was 18 years old. Her husband, Conrad Hilton, Jr., was 24.
Two years later, she married again. This time, she was 20 years old. Her new husband, actor Michael Wilding, was already 40.
This was the prevailing culture. As we'll see in future reports, this sort of thing wasn't hugely unusual as the mothers who loved Ol' Roy were themselves coming of age.
Back to the present! Our deeply unimpressive corporate pundits have staged many panics in the past thirty years. Some of their most disgraceful panics have led to death all over the world.
The current panic is stupid and sad. The history, though, is highly amusing—also, sadly instructive.
In closing, let's restate that basic fact. Roy Moore stands accused of two criminal assaults. Except in the prehuman upper-end press corps, where he's accused of dating!
Future anthropologists weep as they see how we came to Trump's War.
Coming, though we may have jury duty tomorrow: Frank and Mia; Jack and Jackie, and Hitchcock's films; the fellow Judy married first, after Artie Shaw married Lana when she was 18; also, "the best love story, ever."
Also much, much more! Unlike the work of our upper-end press, the history here is highly instructive, and it's sadly amusing.
"Future anthropologists weep as they see how we came to Trump's War"ReplyDelete
Sounds like they already weep, in your paranoid fantasies.
Meanwhile, thanks to Mr Trump's reversal of the long-standing policy of arming and supporting ISIS, we've just ended one of the Obama's Wars. Is this what makes you mad and bitter?
'Mao' trying to earn some extra rubles today.Delete
Which long-standing policy of arming and supporting ISIS?Delete
Obama admin's policy.Delete
It's a commonly known fact (outside the lib-zomby community, obviously). See here for example.
And it makes perfect sense too; fits the pattern of what they did to Libya in 2011.
Nice. Now that Trump has given the establishment elites everything on their economic wish list to the point that the bots can't defend it, it's time to make believe tossing hand grenades into a centuries old conflict is an anti-war move.Delete
Mao, I read the item from the anti-Globalist website. You shouldn't be so sophistical if you want to persuade anyone. 'The item says (and I don't take it as gospel truth) that Toyota vehicles shipped to the anti-Assad rebels were commandeered by ISIS. It wasn't a policy intended to arm ISDIS. ISIS got most of its weapons from the Iraqi armed forces, which the US had supplied - there are grounds to criticize the policies toward Iraz, Syria, Libya etc, though hindsight is great. I would note that the same self-styled anti-Globalist site talks today about Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital - characterizing it as "disgraceful" and Trump peace process a hoax. In your obsessive and disingenuous Trump sycophancy, you lose credibility.Delete
I have to point this out, an average (presumedly mean) age of 20 says nothing whatsoever about what percent of people younger than 20 got married. A median age of 20, would indeed say that but not a mean age of 20.ReplyDelete
Somerby makes this mistake all the time.Delete
Somerby thinks that because Elizabeth Taylor married someone at age 18, it is OK for Moore to stalk young teens who are below age 18 and assault a few of them, because the moms of those over 18 were OK with him dating their daughters.ReplyDelete
Who knew Somerby had it in him? But I suppose that is the tragedy of his life -- he has never married because the girls he really is attracted to are never old enough for him to "date." Poor old man.
We should be calling for Somerby to resign.
Half my high school class was married within a year of graduation. Note the word graduation here. They finished school first. Only the girls who got pregnant married before they finished school. Note that none of them were 14 or 16 years old. Those extra several years make a big difference in the life of a child.
Girls who look older physically are still young in terms of intellectual and emotional development. Teen pregnancies have greater risks or mother and infant mortality. Teen marriages have higher divorce rates. The stunting of education has permanent career consequences. This is not a good thing when young teens marry. You can't even say it worked out well for Elizabeth Taylor, who married at 18 and married again at 20.
Moore's attraction to 18 year olds would be unremarkable if he weren't using them as surrogates for the younger girls he was actually attracted to. Look at the photos of the girls. They are young looking for their ages. This is a man who wanted to "date" children but had to settle for their older sisters. Poor guy.
No one said it was Ok for Moore to engage in such behavior, you pious little moron.Delete
And exactly what is "stalking" anyway? Asking women out on dates who accept?
People are just so stupid. What a total and complete disaster we have in store for us. Most of you frigging deserve what's going to happen.
"Moore's attraction to 18 year olds would be unremarkable if he weren't using them as surrogates for the younger girls he was actually attracted to. Look at the photos of the girls. They are young looking for their ages. This is a man who wanted to "date" children but had to settle for their older sisters. Poor guy."Delete
Nice psychologizing going on there.You know nothing. But this is typical of the delusions that are now among us.
Most of those girls btw did NOT look their age. They looked much older.
Somerby has disappeared the women who have come forward who DID NOT accept Moore's advances. They had to tell their bosses to ask him to leave them alone, they hid from him at their workplaces.Delete
When you follow a girl from the mall where she works to her high school and have the office call her out of class so that you can once again ask her out, after having been previously refused, that is certainly stalking.
Somerby has been writing columns excusing Moore for the past several weeks. He seems to think that if there were ever a false accusation against anyone in the past, regardless of the circumstances, that means Moore should be considered innocent, because bitches they be lyin', or some such.
You crawled over here from some Men's Rights group and you can crawl right back again.
That story obviously never happened that way. Schools don't just do that.Delete
Use your heads, people. The guy is a clown enough. There's no need to add to it.
And why does (seemingly) everyone want to?
Magical thinking again. “I don’t believe this and I don’t want it to be true, so it is false.” It doesn’t work this way.Delete
This is why women complain about not being believed and why they think it is futile to report. Guys pull this shit.
So which statistic do you want? Length of marriage with a nineteen year old male marrying a seventeen year old female or a nineteen year old female marrying a thirty three old male? I am that male, thirteen years with the first and thirty two years and counting with the second.Delete
Maybe a thirty three year old man might be a better judge of women. Not just me but my brother and two of our friends when we were teens had similar experiences. Their marriages when nineteen or twenty lasted about twelve years but their marriages when over thirty are still ongoing. Maybe men should not be issued marriage licenses until they are over thirty.
We have those stats. 90% of teen marriages end in divorce.Delete
If I remember correctly, Kay Banks meets Buckley Dunstan at school -- he is a professor or teaching assistant. Today, a romantic relationship between a teacher or graduate assistant and a student would be off limits because of the power differential.ReplyDelete
I'm not sure Elizabeth Taylor is the best example of whatever Somerby is trying to argue.
Exactly what is a "power differential"?Delete
What does that mean? Are all such relationships now illegitimate?
Is power always vested in the men? Since when?
"Are all such relationships now illegitimate?"Delete
When you take a job they now require you to undergo mandatory training so that you will understand that it is unacceptable to use the leverage of your job to extort sex. Perhaps you have never held a job where you had such training. That explains a lot.
Power is always vested in the powerful, asshole.
What if the women instigate it?Delete
Oh of course - that never happens. Women never go after "power" in either the workplace or elsewhere.
If all such relationships are indeed illegitimate ("yes"), then we've got a lot of annulments to get busy with.Delete
If a woman instigates, the man says no and if she persists he reports it to HR, just like women are supposed to do.Delete
There are lots of thieves who get away with stealing stuff. Does that mean robbery is A-OK? Lack of consent is grounds for annulment.
None of this has anything to do with why Roy Moore will be Alabama's next Senator. Moore voters don't care about Moore's sexual past, nor do they care about how it's being reported. They care about Moore making it plain that he does not support black people having voting rights.ReplyDelete
"Did we mention the fact that the year was 1950? In that year, the average age of first marriage for American women was 20.3 years of age."ReplyDelete
There is no such statistic. The US Census Bureau gives the MEDIAN age of first marriage, which indeed is 20.3 for females in 1950. The median age for men in 1950? 22.8
What percentage of those marriages of 20.3 year old women were with 34 or 40 year old men? We have no idea. The data doesn't tell us that. Somerby has only shown (if you correct his error) what the median age for women was/is, not how common it was for 34 year olds to marry 16 year olds. His anecdotes coupled with mislabeled statistics don't prove anything.
I hope Somerby didn't teach statistics to those Baltimore students. Or logic.
In 1950, those women who had taken jobs during WWII were forced out of them to make way for returning soldiers. The main way for an adult woman to support herself was via marriage. The media began heavily promoting the idea of woman as homemaker in order to encourage this economic transition.Delete
During earlier time periods, and currently in other places around the world, women have been considered a financial drag on a family. Marrying them off was a way to get rid of the extra mouth to feed. The poorer the family, the younger the brides.
Nobel prize winning economist Amartya Sen showed globally that educating women and encouraging their participation in work was a pathway to economic improvement for those countries where women were undereducated and confined to home and early marriage. Economic prosperity is strongly linked to women's rights worldwide and there is no reason for the US to be an exception to that.
That means selfish jerks who do not wish to compete for age-appropriate dates need to keep their hands off young girls until the girls are out of high school.
There were many, many old-young marriages back then.Delete
Many of us came from them.
The horror, yes. The horror!
No one is complaining about May December weddings. It is the Feb- Aug ones. Marriage is for adults.Delete
If Somerby wants to bring in statistics, you know, science, then maybe he should do some actual research on the average ages of first time married couples. That would be convincing, if he took the time to show it. There's a feeling that much older men married teenagers more frequently in the past, but Somerby's stats don't prove that. It would be interesting to find out. But it won't be Somerby who does the leg work on that one. He'll just assert it's true, because he's so smart!Delete
I'm not saying there's anything wrong with a 34 year old marrying a teenager. I do kind of have a problem when the 34 year old stalks teenagers.
Exactly what connection is there between education and dating older men?ReplyDelete
If anything, older men might be more inspirational in that department than some high school kid. I've seen it happn!
Another clueless guy.Delete
Best Love Stories Nice Written...ReplyDelete