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Written by Barb JA
(10/4/2009 1:19 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Does the distinction matter..., penned by Barbara
So I've been thinking about this a bit. These days, when predators are talked of, people usually mean child molesters and rapists. But, in current times, if a 25 year old Willoughby has sex (with her consent) with a 15yr old(16? can't remember) Eliza, he would be guilty of statutory rape and put in jail. The idea is that a girl under 18 is not mature enough to give informed consent.
I don't subscribe to the idea 15/16 yr old girls were more mature in those days. Sure, sometimes they were married off that young. But perhaps that's partially due to the lack of rights for women, and that over time, laws have been created to protect women. Statutory rape laws are a deterrent to Willoughby types.
I was thinking too, that in Austen's novels, more often the foolish girls who are compromised, are the young ones like Lydia and Eliza. While they are not compromised, Marianne and Georgiana behave foolishly in their different ways. Maria Bertram was older I think, and I can't remember how old Isabella Thorpe was.
I don't have any problem with Willoughby being called a predator. He was an opportunist who took at advantage of naivete of young girls.
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