(Article changed on October 21, 2012 at 09:03)
An overwhelming majority of first sexual contacts between the teenagers are in fact rapes even if those are never reported as such.
There, I said it. I had just watched the movie "Notes On The Scandal' in which a woman- teacher has an affair with a teenage boy somewhere in England. The woman is played by Kate Blanchett. Judy Dench co -- stars as an old spinster- teacher with lesbian tendencies. The affair was discovered, the woman went to jail, life went on. That's in a nutshell. Before going deeper I would like to recruit a powerful ally- Bill Shakespeare himself or rather his protagonists Romeo and Juliet. They will help me as always.
As Juliet's age is defined in a play explicitly (her father says that she is not less than 14 years old), our dear Western theatrical folks in an attempt to avoid Romeo being charged for a statutory rape usually rise her age and lower his. They make those two a pair of horny teenagers with raging hormones, candidates either for Prozac or for a Twilight Zone. As a result we watch an American Pie story happening in Verona, Italy. The spectators from the Elizabethan times would have thrown rotten apples at such a nonsense. They knew their time and Bill S. knew that too.
Yes, Virginia , Juliette was about 13.5 years old. Her mother gave birth to her at even more tender age. In those times it was quite a normal thing; people matured earlier as personalities and died earlier too. They could not afford sex education classes and waiting for the prom night to lose their virginity. A man was to assume the men's responsibilities at 18, the age when he could handle a sword and a woman- she should be able to bear children. Mind you, old Capulet, Juliette's father (a man of about 35- 40) was progressive- he considered that 16 would be an ideal age for his daughter to become a wife.
It is that very Capulet who gives us some clues about Romeo. For some strange reason he, the mortal enemy of Montagues, the Romeo's family, pays tribute to a young man, calls him wise and righteous, mentions that Romeo was respected in Verona for his politeness and good deeds and adamantly rebukes his nephew Tybalt when that one wants to expose Romeo who covertly joined to the Capulet's annual ball. That tells us two things: that Romeo was considered a mature adult- that places him at the age 18 or more and- that Capulet maybe would not mind deep in his heart if somehow that obviously honorable youngster would become a part of his family and thus stop the stupid feud which led to so many deaths. Then we find out from Romeo's friends that he already had passions and that he (inadvertently) was considered among the young men as an unofficial leader: they were a daring bunch but they all respected him more than a friend; they respected him as an older and wiser person. His friend Mercutio deliberately and very respectfully makes sure he is protected from possible immediate risks, sort of presuming that Romeo is there for something outstanding. Romeo himself, from the moment when he appears on the stage presents himself as a man of a powerful confidence, honorable but not violent, protective but not pig- headed, educated, very caring about his friends and possessing some kind of authority which comes only with experience and personality. Romeo is a true good man of his time and that puts him in the age of about 21 or so. Then it all falls into place: a young, but fully mature man woes a woman of the childbearing age to become his wife. That simple.
One particular idea shines through the whole play: Romeo, Juliet and ALL personalities are absolutely and unequivocally fearless. They have no fear in their hearts; their behavior is utterly natural. Juliet appears to be up to the challenge to fall in love and defend the feeling. Her intentions are honorable from the beginning to the end: she pursues love, marries a man she loves, then rejects the idea of deceiving God in a second marriage, joins willingly the plot to reunite with her true husband and when finding out about the tragic mistake -- kills herself. Not only that set of events is entirely honest and honorable- she is courageous beyond belief. Juliet rises in her last moments to the heights of Biblical heroines.
Romeo is definitely her true pair. He demonstrates all the good qualities of a real man. In hope to unite with Juliet peacefully he restrains his friends from fighting with the Capulets, even offers Tybalt his friendship. When Mercutio decides to provoke Tybalt, so that once and for all to get rid of the dangerous man who was an obstacle on the Romeo's way to happiness, Romeo tries to interfere and becomes an unwilling cause of his friend's mortal wound. At that moment he does his man's duty- he absolutely calmly and precisely lures Tybalt into the fight with a clear intention to kill him. Romeo knew that he was a better swordsman than Tybalt; he was avenging his dear friend and in his mind that was enough reason. He never stopped loving Juliet but in the matters of honor he listened only to the voice of his conscience. And Juliet, BTW, never held a grudge on him for that.
Romeo then is exiled and in a tragic mishap they both die at the doors of happiness. The feud stops forever but the prize is enormous.
Through the whole story the truth of love shines brightly and honestly; the real, human love between the two consenting and fully mature personalities who lived, loved, fought and died honorably with full feeling of their time. There is not even a drop of hypocrisy in the story.
And now we return to that dreary English school of our times. And the first thing you notice is an atmosphere of molecular fear- everyone is afraid of everyone, whether individually or collectively. Teachers are afraid of students, student are afraid of teachers. The Principal is afraid of some mysterious bureaucracy and everyone talks as if on the edge. The kids look like savages and savages they are. It is obvious that the teachers don't care for them; it even more obvious that their parents don't' care for them either. They ramble about the school like a pack of wild dogs- always hungry, totally disconnected, low- level personalities with primitive instincts who cannot even talk properly (I am not talking about an accent- the vocabulary of those kids is about 1/100000s of the one of Juliet), and those kids are our future?
Teachers don't talk to each other, they do not know anything about each other and even about themselves. The old dame teaches History but she doesn't give a damn about any other subject and for her it does not matter if the students could have any interests at all. She likes her cat more than those kids; she is in fact terrified of them. Sheba, the protagonist teaches art of sculpture. Obviously she is not vey good at it if she does not know that no one can become a good or even minuscule sculptor without reading books and not only on the subject but on history, math, painting and music. Through the whole movie we never see the teaching process- it is as if we are witnessing some kind of freak show. BTW, in Romeo and Juliet we can find out a lot about everyday life of that time.
The atmosphere in the movie is so dreary you can hang an axe in the room. Sheba lives with a man who is so full of himself that he treats his family as a pack of dogs for his amusement. They have a Down Syndrome child and that is a tragedy but they desperately play a game of a funny family which results only in them becoming a bunch of loonies. In fact, what old spinster writes in her diary about the family is absolutely true; Sheba is the only alive person in that conundrum.
That affair was not some flick- both the boy and Sheba wanted it. He was alone in his rather simple-minded working -- class family where he surely did not see much of a loving relationship (when his mother attacks Sheba after she finds out we see that woman in all her insignificance). He wanted it to be nice, he wanted goodness in that first contact and Sheba felt it in her world of desperation. She was willing to make love with him right there, on the ground between the rail carriages because that was his territory- she respected his grounds and wanted to make him comfortable. There was no malice in both of them- it was a result of a desperate search for goodness, obviously misled but understandable. He cherished her, he defended her honor, he brought her presents and she felt true gratitude and true loyalty.
Both Sheba and the boy are perfectly normal (just very unhappy); it is that old spinster who is mad. She had been sick for a long time. She is like a vulture preying on other people's misfortunes to secure an abnormal, possessive connection, to become a truly emotional parasite. She betrays Sheba in a blink of eye as soon as her scheme starts to crumble and with an instinct of a real predator she chooses the perfect weapon for that malice- a male teacher who came to her to discuss his feelings towards Sheba.