Ed Sheeran, with his ginger-headed good looks and angelic voice, doesn’t have any problems with getting ladies to crush on him.
But good thing he’s got some brains in that musically inclined head of his after one mother’s slightly inappropriate request. During an awkward exchange while meeting fans in San Francisco, Sheeran got propositioned by a young girl’s mother to be her first kiss.
The mom said, “Well, Carrie Underwood did it for this 11-year-old boy last week.” The little girl is 9 years old. Sheeran is 24 years old.
Sheeran shut it down immediately, opting instead to chat with the young fan.
What’s wrong with this, you ask? Well, on the surface, nothing. But it is the underlying reason why Sheeran chose not to kiss her that is the problem and shines a spotlight on a rampant double standard, the way young women are sexualized and perpetuation of the “boys will be boys” attitude.
The “Thinking Out Loud” artist said during an interview with Entertainment Weekly that, “If Carrie Underwood kisses an 11-year-old, he goes to school the next day and they go, ‘Oh, you absolute lad!’ If a nine-year-old girl goes into school and goes, ‘I got kissed by a 24-year-old yesterday,’ police are being called, you know?”
I’ll first say that I don’t disagree with Sheeran’s decision. But if our society didn’t sexualize girls at such a young age, that thought wouldn’t have even popped into his head. There would be no “this peck on the cheek is going to be seen the same way as if I were forcing this young girl to make out with me” dialogue running in the back of his mind.
There is something wrong with a society that sees an innocent smooch as something sexual, but alas, it does and would.
Second, the fact that it is OK for Carrie Underwood, who is 32 years old by the way, to kiss a young boy and it be seen as a “you lucky dog” moment instead of the predatory way we view older men kissing younger girls is obscene, too. The same way our society vilifies male teachers preying on female students more than female teachers preying on male students, for example. It shouldn’t be considered any different, but it is.
I guarantee Underwood didn’t have that second thought about how she would be seen the way Sheeran did. And it is troubling that he should have to think about things like that. Until our society changes the way we think about the roles of men and women and boys and girls in relationships, we will continue to have thought processes that follow this narrative.