A recent Saturday Night Live sketch has Amy Poehler and Tina Fey hosting a game show called Meet Your Second Wife. It’s billed as the show in which happily married men, as Amy says, “Get a chance to meet the person that will one day become their second wife.” A bizarre situation, considering their present wives are in the audience.
The first contestant is skeptical when a young teenager, currently in eighth grade, is announced as his future second wife. The wary second contestant’s future second bride is even younger at five years old, who will one day intern at his office upon the recommendation of her college roommate, who happens to be his daughter. And the terrified final contestant is relieved when a young woman emerges, who turns out to be a sophomore in college. But she’s not his second wife-to-be—it’s the child she is currently pregnant with. An ultrasound image appears with his yet-to-be-born bride.
It’s cradle-snatching taken to the extreme, chilling and savagely funny. Yet it’s not that far-fetched a scenario. Men have been marrying women decades their junior since, well, forever.
Just last weekend, a 61-year old man married a 27-year old woman. So far, so legal, if somewhat creepy, when you realize that the groom met his bride on his own noontime variety show 20 years before as a mere child of seven, dressed in a frothy flower girl’s gown, missing her front teeth and competing for the dubious honor of being crowned Little Miss Philippines.
Like all children herded into local schools and trained to learn by rote, the bride named Pauleen as a child is cute and perky and dutifully recites a phrase in the vernacular which translates to “The child who is good goes to heaven,” while the host named Vic looks at his future wife with amusement. Later, during the talent portion, disturbingly, Little Miss Philippines becomes Little Miss Sunshine, getting her freak on and gyrating in a midriff-baring outfit to thumping club music.
I haven’t been able to verify via YouTube if the host had asked the child who would become his bride to give him a kiss like he did with another contestant, saying to a just-barely-out-of-nappies Aiza Seguerra in 1987, “Di mo pa ako kini-kiss kanina!” (You didn’t kiss me earlier!) And Aiza, not missing a beat, grabs his face with both hands and smothers it with a big kiss.
Yeah, seen in the light of recent circumstances, what once appeared innocent and twee today seems gross and creepy.
Ah, but love is not so much mysterious as it is fucked up, and the child grows up to become a co-host in the very same show, and falls in love with the man with a penchant for becoming involved with his co-hosts. Ah, the conveniences of dating in the workplace. Why seek romance elsewhere when there is a steady stream of candidates right in front of you, day in and day out?
The host’s dating patterns and previous marriage history, not to mention the number of offspring he has sired with different women (doesn’t anyone use contraceptives, for heaven’s sake? Oops, I forgot his brother is that senator who tried to railroad the RH Bill) should have raised red flags all along the length of Roxas Boulevard.
But, let’s shed our cynicism for a moment and wish the newlyweds well. After all, it’s not as if she’s a minor being coerced into marriage. At 27, she should be a mature, consenting adult. Long may it last, though I do hope she is not foolish enough to believe she can “reform” her husband. But then again, you never know. She might be a step-great-grandmother, however, before she becomes a mother.
Older men and younger women… From Howard Marshall and Anna Nicole Smith to Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, from Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart to Woody Allen and Soon-Yi Previn, from Rupert Murdoch and Jerry Hall to Alec Baldwin and Hilaria Thomas, they’re a match made in caregiver heaven and lawsuit hell.
It’s easy to understand the appeal of the older man to the younger woman. Being older often translates to more mature, more established, more secure, and more moneyed. Grumblings of gold-digging aside, he brings her instant status and substance. The older man seems more sophisticated to the younger woman, and more experienced, and therefore in a position to spoil her and shield her from the more unpleasant realities of life because he’s been there before and knows the drill.
He also wishes he could still drill his young lady with the same vigor, not to mention staying power, as when he was in his prime, but fortunately he can always get a little help from his little blue friend Viagra. There’s no denying that a young woman by an older man’s side is a public affirmation of his enduring virility, whatever his performance in the bedroom may be.
But, as Samantha Jones once discovered in an episode of Sex and the City, all the money in the world can give you all the five-star meals, and all the jewelery, and all the Park Avenue townhouses you may desire, but after a certain age, it can’t quite lift the sagging buttocks of a sexagenarian lover in the cold light of day. Or their drooping balls.
There are two ways of looking at the situation, of course. Either you never see your ageing lover naked, except in the dark, or you live with what flaps in front of you but make sure the will is in your favor.
There is, however, one aspect of the older-younger dynamic that is absolutely and unequivocally unacceptable no matter the circumstances. So to the brutal, barbaric idiot from Yemen who at 40 years of age took a child bride of eight years old, fuck you.
I don’t care how desperate you are to get laid, or how desperate her family may have been to be ease their poverty by selling off a child—you do not try to fuck a child of any age, wedding night or not, until she bleeds to death from you rupturing her uterus. Your dick, you savage piece of shit, should be nowhere near the body of any female under the age of 18, and even then you shouldn’t attempt any kind of sexual contact with her without her consent. Is that so fucking hard to understand?
Children are children. They have no business being anyone’s bride or anyone’s sex toy (see: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini) so keep the fuck away from them.
(Note: Fact-checking that news report has been inconclusive, as conflicting accounts have emerged from the village that the child, allegedly named Rawan, is Yemeni.
Authorities claim it never happened, but some villagers believe the child’s death is being downplayed or covered up. However, the deplorable practice of men taking child brides and deflowering them way before they have even reached puberty, leading to their death by internal bleeding, continues in countries like Yemen and Afghanistan.)
B. Wiser is the author of Making Love in Spanish, a novel published earlier this year by Anvil Publishing and available in National Book Store and Powerbooks, as well as online.When not assuming her Sasha Fierce alter-ego, she takes on the role of serious journalist and media consultant.
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Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Preen.ph, or any other entity of the Inquirer Group of Companies.
Art by Dorothy Guya