I Was 15 When I Seduced an Older Guy
Why Milo Yiannopoulos made me reevaluate a past relationship
I feel sorry for Milo Yiannopoulos. After reading about his scandal, I felt even sorrier for him. I see him as a human version of a cartoon villain. He says and does ignorant, hurtful things because hurt people hurt people. However, nobody deserves to go through the abuses he experienced. Still, a few things he said made me think about my own experiences and what I think of them now that I’m wiser. First, the details…
Getting ready to join the military upon graduation from high school meant I was no stranger to the recruiters in my neighborhood. I seriously considered all of the branches. I’d managed to form some cordial relationships with the recruiters I talked to.
The recruiters preyed on my best friend and me in a way — and I say this even though I think of them fondly. You kind of have to prey on kids to go to their high schools to conscript them to fight for rich, wanton scoundrels. We basked in their status and the shiny, pretty baubles on their uniforms; enchanted by the modicum of respect they had for us for enthusiastically wanting to join the military. One of the Marine Corps recruiters had one of my other classmates at his house for an entire weekend. I know because he lived a few doors down from me and I saw them.
So, as you can see, things were a bit messy.
One recruiter I was “cool” with was in the Navy. I’d gotten to know him from seeing him at our local high school, and from passing by his office on our way to the Army’s recruiting station. Both my best friend and I were in the Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (redundant, no?). Seeing as how the Marines are under the Department of the Navy — much to their chagrin — this Navy recruiter was no stranger to the MCJROTC at my high school.
He was always flirtatious with us. He was single, living in a time of peace — for Americans, anyway — and most likely making a shit ton of money. Add two highly impressionable teen girls trying to impress him with their bravado, toughness, and their individual budding sexuality. The conditions were somewhat fertile for what happened next.
I’m not sure when he decided that I was the one he wanted. He was just old enough to be endearingly clueless as to what was cool at the time. He was young enough to not scare me away. We had a few tastes and interests in common. Apparently, they were enough for him to stop seeing me as a child, and as something of a peer… Or at least a child who thought she was old enough to handle a grown man.
He had light blonde hair and bluish-green eyes. He filled out his dress whites and dress blues enticingly, every bit of fabric seemed to cling to his body. He was self-deprecating and funny. I wanted to impress him. I honestly thought I was grown; some kind of peer. I was just two years from joining the military (I joined four days after my 17th birthday with my family’s blessing — and approval). I figured age ain’t nothin’ but a number, just like my teen idol Aaliyah crooned on her debut album. (Sidenote: Aaliyah was married for a short time to singer R. Kelly. She was 15 when they tied the knot. The marriage was later annulled.)
Like most 15-year-olds, my hormones were raging. I developed early, so by the time I was that age, I was built less like a little girl and more like a young woman. This was also the age that I started to explore my sexuality more. My desires became less nebulous, frightening, and foreign, and intensified into rawer, more genitive cravings. I was sexually attracted to him and it showed, but I also wasn’t trying to hide it. I was hoping he would notice my body signals. He noticed… I shouldn’t have been surprised. I almost ensured that he would.
It was the day I wore a simple white football jersey a guy friend loaned me in exchange for my t-shirt from The Gap. Don’t judge… It was all the rage in the Nineties. I had a habit of wearing my baggy jeans a bit lower on my waist (Ugh!) and a tight fitting crop tank top underneath the mesh jersey.. I will never understand why it drove guys crazy back then, but it did.
The look he gave me when my best friend and I walked in said it all. I felt naked the longer we stayed there chatting and flirting with him. It was his turn to be licentious, so I was cognizant of the intensity of his gaze. By the time I left, we had agreed to talk privately when we both were at home.
He called when I was at home alone. I didn’t have my own personal line and my mother had a habit of listening into the few calls that I was allowed. I also shared a room with my little brother. Not optimal for dirty talk…
With the house to myself, our conversation took a turn in a cruder direction.
I’ll spare you the seedy details and not intimate what was said. Despite our conversation and plans to go further, nothing physical happened. A few days later he told me he had a fiancee via email — the first time I’d heard anything about her — and that he wanted to be faithful. We avoided each other after that. There’s no way it wouldn’t have been awkward to see each other after what we said to each other over the phone.
It was for the best.
According to the law in my state, had our dalliance turned into something physical, it would have been considered third-degree statutory rape. His career would have been in shambles had he been discovered. Luckily, he had the wherewithal to step back when he did. For my part, I don’t have any regrets.
I was very disappointed I didn’t get to the next level. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t. It’s been 20 years and I’m still not sure what came over me. It wasn’t that I didn’t know what sexual desire felt like, I’d had crushes and boyfriends. I risked a lot by seducing that recruiter. I didn’t know enough about him to trust him, yet it didn’t stop me. That’s a problem for me, especially as a mother of a daughter.
It took reading about Yiannopoulos’ own experience with statutory rape and sexual abuse for me to reevaluate what happened with me. This is because after the disappointment subsided, a feeling of empowerment set in. I know that he was wrong because he had a moral obligation to decline my libidinous intentions by setting boundaries. It should never have gotten as far as it did, even if he did correct himself. Even knowing what I know now I have a hard time seeing him as anything but a teenage crush.
I can’t bring myself to blame him. I still hold myself more responsible than I do him. I don’t regret the feelings I had. I also don’t regret acting on them. The problem is that I know better. I know teenage girls will have crushes on older men or women. The adults should know better than to entertain those awkward, ultra ravenous feelings. Why I can’t seem to apply the proper logic to my experience eludes me.
Am I supposed to see him as a villain? And if I don’t, what does that make me?