Age Differences

Mary Ann Dimand amaebi at iwon.com
Fri Jul 7 11:22:17 EDT 2000


I was in graduate school (economics) in New Haven, Connecticut and Sheeyun
was in graduate school (electrical engineering) in Syracuse, New York, and
we both stumbled into a computer newsgroup about the same time-- neither of
us posted in it for any length of time, so we feel lucky. We both liked each
other immensely right away. I found myself checking my email specifically to
see whether I'd gotten anything from Sheeyun, and feared Inundating him with
email. (A few years later I learned that he had done the same. Reciprocity
rules-- except amongst the deranged. :D ) I wondered whether this was
terribly Unwholesome of me, but I thought it was all right to like someone,
and that anything else was irrelevant, so what difference did it make?

Sheeyun and I then met fortuitously on irc (internet relay chat), and also
liked each other in real time. We continued to like each other more and
more, and this continued after we had met physically, about 9 months after
meeting electronically.

About 14 months after I first met Sheeyun I realized suddenly that I was in
love with him. I managed to realize this at a most fortuitous time. My
friend Roberta, who is a Friend to Love, was to be over for dinner. My
friend Lisa, who had met Sheeyun and who has a fine streak of ironic
practicality, was staying with me for a month or so. So I went home and
blathered to them. :D Roberta in particular was quite pleased, as she tends
to think me a Monster of Rationality. To my enormous surprise, I seemed
quite reasonable to Lisa. This was particularly comforting, as realizing I
was in love with Sheeyun deprived me of all my previous knowledge that he
found me attractive as well as a good friend.

Sheeyun and I began trying out beyond-friendly partnership, and continued to
like each other more and more. There was a lot of back-and-forth between
Albion, Michigan and Syracuse, New York. We're good partners. After close to
three years, Sheeyun was far enough on his dissertation to look for a job,
received a job offer, and we became engaged. A year later I moved to
California and we got married, and we've been married for a year now.

We both wondered whether we were round the twist in fancying each other so
much, but it seemed and seems not. His parents have been exceedingly
unhappy, and have largely estranged themselves from Sheeyun. Their stated
objections are that I am not ethnically Korean, that Sheeyun is the eldest
son (and thus bearer of the family lineage), and that I am so senescent. I
think their objections are pretty flexible, though, and that they're willing
to come up with lots at any time.

The role of a daughter-in-law in traditional Korean culture is that of
unfree labour and family whipping-boy. This is a reason why a woman older
than a husband seems unnatural in that culture-- that role just works better
with a younger woman, who is typically less knowledgeable and may well hold
less property.

I think that traditions of this sort (which are quite common, worldwide)
form people's expectations about appropriate partnerships, and are a reason
for the relative rarity of older woman / younger man partnerships. (I speak
as a woman whose father was bald, and used experience quite a frisson from
the notion of a father with hair-- it seemed so Licentious, somehow.)
Where women are fundamentally property, it is easier (less embarassing) to
continue to treat them that way if they haven't an advantage in (desired)
knowledge.

Philip's explanations are popular with a number of social Darwinists, and
may also be relevant-- that I think other social factors are relevant
doesn't mean that I'm trying to deny any validity to Philip's. After all,
Aristotle came up with a number of meanings for "cause", and they aren't
mutually exclusive.

As to why this sort of partnership is rare in romances, my guess is that
it's a matter of expectation, whatever the source of that expectation.

I don't recall Tepper implying that [all] males who choose partnership with
a woman are looking for substitute mothers, though I definitely think that A
Plague of Angels is about the destructiveness of defining people by social
roles. Do you think that the soldier-machines of Plague of Angels are the
same as those in Raising the Stones, by the way, as I do?

> BTW, I am 33 - is this right in the middle of the danger
> zone?  Would you recommend a woman to refuse to have anything
> to do with me?

Personally, no. But then, social stereotyping tends to make me itch.

Mary Ann


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