Monday, 4 July 2011

Cradle Snatching and the Kiwi Swimmer

Curious story in The Times today (apologies, it's behind the paywall) about the New Zealand swimmer Justin Wright. Justin is 17 and in a relationship with his girlfriend, and fellow swimmer, the 24-year-old Rhi Jeffrey, much to the disgust of Wright's parents. The Times reports:

'Mr and Mrs Wright were reportedly not happy about the pair’s relationship because of the age difference, and sent e-mails to club members demanding the club coach intervene. The correspondence became so abusive that David Wright hired a lawyer to put a stop to them.
The Wrights later withdrew their consent for Justin to compete at Swimming New Zealand events, destroying his chances of qualifying for the Swimming World Cup in November and potentially thwarting his Olympic ambitions.

'In what is believed to be a legal first in New Zealand, Justin — who turns 18 in three months — this week won court permission to be a member of Swimming New Zealand against his parents’ wishes.

'The high school student said he was “annoyed” his parents had tried to prevent him from competing, and now the court had ruled in his favour he planned to try and qualify for World Cup events in Asia.

'Justin, who has moved out of the family home and now lives with Ms Jeffrey, said he was not sure if he could mend his relationship with his parents but he would not give up his girlfriend.

“I couldn’t believe they had done that,” he said. “But now that we have been through the court and I can swim I am pretty happy.”'

I find myself wondering whether the same relaxed tone with flow through the article if the genders had been reversed, or (shock horror) we were talking about a same-sex couple (especially a male one). What do you think?

The story is also reported in The Metro.

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Elly said...

I don't know but older woman/younger man situation tends to be treated as more transgressive than older man/younger woman.

As for same sex couples/gay men. There are so few out gay men in sport there is no precedent.

But I do notice people involved in 'gay rights' often compare their situation in a kind of 'oppression olympics' with other minority groups. What if they were black? What if they were disabled? They wouldn't get treated like this!

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