Welcome to Trope Tuesdays, a meme/series created by yours truly. Every Tuesday, the goal is to discuss, define, and explain one trope that you feel any range of emotion for, and then give your verdict on the trope. The trope can be one you dislike, love, feel indifference or annoyance towards, ones you think are problematic, or those tropes that just make you want to throw them out the moon door à la Petyr Baelish. You can learn more about Trope Tuesday here.
It’s my meme I’ll post it late if I want to #abovereproach
You say age gap. I say power imbalance.
Everyone knows what Age Gaps are, so I’ll keep the description brief. Age Gaps are when two characters entering a romantic relationship have a difference of age that is more than just a couple of years. It can be anywhere from 7 to 40 years. For the large age gaps, you’ve probably heard the relationship referred to as a May-December Romance or Mayfly-December Romance.
Oh, Age Gaps. Even the mere MENTION of you makes me want to disappear into the void…. To say I’m not a fan of Age Gaps would be an understatement. I have numerous reasons for hating this trope. I truly could write a thesis on all the problems I have with the trope itself and the nasty things that come along with it.
I don’t understand the appeal of Age Gaps, nor will I ever. I don’t find them “cute”. Any time someone says “Age Gaps 😍😍” my brain automatically translates it to “Power Imbalances 😍😍”.
That’s the crux of most age gaps and why I never buy into it. With age gaps come a lot of other gaps including: “experience” gaps, “value” gaps, “educational” gaps, and “monetary” gaps. All of those go back to power. Every time. It’s unavoidable. I have yet to come across a romance that I think does an Age Gap well without the power imbalance that comes along with it or in a way that still makes the couple equals. There will always be one person who holds all the cards.
The Power imbalances that Age Gaps create are especially damning (and popular. Go figure!) when it’s between a younger woman and an older man. Romance has this particular obsession with the young, inept girl falling for the powerful, wealthy older man. He is more powerful than her in every way. He has connections, he has knowledge, and he has experience. It happens time after time. And it’s what I associate age gaps with. It’s the romanticization of power imbalances. It’s dangerous. It’s toxic. And it needs to go.
I’ve seen the aftermath of so many relationships with large age differences in real life that I could never come to a place where I would think it’s cute to see in fiction. I don’t think that Age Gap stories do enough to dismantle the imbalance of power between couples. I think there could be some great conversations about how androcentrism plays into the idealization of age gaps between men and women. But, I don’t expect that much from Age Gap stories when most of what I’ve seen is the ‘brooding old man thinks he isn’t good enough for the heroine who still loves him after him being outright rude to her and dismissing her for years’ trope.
You can check out examples of Age Gaps in Romance here on my Goodreads shelf for the Age Gaps (it’s called Age Difference though).
My Verdict: Age Gaps can choke lolz.
What do you think of Age Gaps? Are you a fan? Do you know of any good romances with Age Gaps?