Saturday, December 17, 2011

Scandalous Romance - Caroline Flack & Harry Styles

All of London has been abuzz over the news that Xtra-Factor presenter Caroline Flack, 32, is dating Harry Styles, 17, member of the boy band One Direction.  Opinion has been divided with some people giving Caroline the high-five, and others who want to stone her the market place.  The big issues, the 15 year age gap, and the fact that Styles is 17 (which is legal in Great Britain).  The couple met a year ago when Styles appeared on the X-Factor but the relationship apparently didn't start until this past October when the couple were caught kissing on camera.

You have to wonder if people would be so icked out if Styles were 18 or even 21.  Since he can't legally drink or vote, the idea that he's dating a woman in her thirties boggles people's minds. Caroline is quoted as saying, "What is hard for me to get my head around is people saying its disgusting. I don't think it is.  I shouldn't have to worry about what I do. But people aren't accepting of big age gaps."  Well Caroline, actually they are, if the roles were reversed.  If Caroline were 17 or 18, and Harry were 32, no body would probably blink an eye.  It doesn't help, that like Justin Bieber, Harry looks like he's just barely hit puberty. (Another older woman, director Sam Taylor Wood has been involved with actor Aaron Johnson since he was 18, and she was 41.  Perhaps the fact that they are now engaged and have 1 child, and another on the way, makes them a little less salacious).

Before you go thinking that Flack is some kind of 21st Century Mrs. Robinson, apparently Styles pursued her, which is pretty cheeky if you think about it. At first, she apparently didn't take him seriously, thinking he was just being flirty, but eventually she just decided that she liked him so, so what? Of course people are wondering what a 17 year old and a 32 year old could possibly have in common. Well, for one thing, both are in the entertainment business.  She's not likely to get upset at the fact that he's constantly off touring and promoting his band's CD, when she's equally as busy with her career. And since she's been in the business for awhile, no doubt she has some sage advice, but it could just be that they have fun together.

One has to wonder what Style's mother feels about all this? Is she outraged or is she perhaps happy that her son is dating someone who isn't using him for fame? Most of the girls his own age that he meets are all fans (who have issued death threats against Flack).  Chances are this relationship will run it's course but Flack has taken a huge risk by being in this relationship.  Her people have already told her that it could cost her a great deal of work. In the end, the bad publicity may be the very thing that kills the romance as both discover that it's not worth all the derision.

In 1920, the French writer Colette published her story of Cheri, a young man who has a relationship with a courtesan who is 25 years older.  Despite both their contention that the relationship is casual, they fall in love,  although they know they can't be together.  Things haven't changed very much since then have they? While George Clooney continues to date even younger and younger women, and nobody blinks an eye that Warren Beatty and Michael Douglas are 25 years older than their wives, for a woman to date a younger man brings up all kinds of issues for people.

So what do you think? Is Caroline Flack brave or foolhardy for dating a guy who is not only 15 years younger but still a teenager? Is there still a stigma against women dating much younger men?

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