First off, I know I’m going to get flack for writing this, but let’s get it out of the way: I am deeply saddened by the tragic, untimely death of Paul Walker, as much as a person who’s never met the deceased can be saddened by that person’s passing. I am in no way trying to say his death was any less tragic than it obviously was, and I wish nothing but the best for his family and friends who have lost a beloved loved one.
According to the Daily Mail, Paul Walker’s longtime girlfriend, Jasmine Pilchard-Gosnell, was underage when they started dating. While Pilchard-Gosnell is currently 23–making her relationship with 40-year-old Walker perfectly legal–the pair had reportedly been dating since 2006, meaning she was just 16 when their relationship began. Now, call me old-fashioned, but the thought of a 16-year-old dating a 33-year-old makes me really uncomfortable. And while the Daily Mail says that “the 17-year age gap has been no barrier to them both finding love,” I’m pretty sure it should have been–at least, while she was still underage.
Seriously, think of where you were at 16: in 10th or 11th grade, awkwardly losing your virginity or perhaps barely making out with people, hanging out at the mall because you were too young to do much else (if you lived in suburbia like myself, at least). Are some high schoolers “more mature” than others? Sure, but we have age of consent laws in the United States for a reason.
There’s a reason the phrases “child bride” and “Courtney Stodden” weird us the F out. I’m only 24 and I wouldn’t dream of having a relationship with a high schooler because it’s uncomfortable, creepy and–obviously–illegal. Couple that with the fact that Walker’s daughter Meadow is only 8 years younger than Pilchard-Gosnell (while Walker was 17 years older than the latter) and this is just all sorts of strange to me. How does an underage high school girl even meet an adult man, then start dating him? And why was he okay with flirting with a high schooler?
Like I said, Walker’s death is nonetheless a huge tragedy–surely for Pilchard-Gosnell, as well as the rest of his loved ones. But it’s hard not to find this update in the story troubling, and, of course, surprising that this wasn’t a bigger deal prior to now. Is now the time to talk about this? I’m not sure, but I think it’s important to discuss it regardless.