Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Tao Lin’s RICHARD YATES: A Teen Age-Gap Sexual Affair | Illegal in NY Yet Legal In NJ

Here’s Amazon’s synopsis of Tao Lin’s Richard Yates:

[...] cult favorite Tao Lin presents a dark and brooding tale of illicit love that is his most sophisticated and mesmerizing writing yet.

Richard Yates is named after real-life writer Richard Yates, but it has nothing to do with him. Instead, it tracks the rise and fall of an illicit affair between a very young writer and his even younger--in fact, under-aged--lover. As he seeks to balance work and love, she becomes more and more self-destructive in a play for his undivided attention. His guilt and anger builds in response until they find themselves hurtling out of control and afraid to let go.

In the novel, to assure her mother that 22-year-old Haley Joel Osment (HJO) wasn’t a “creep” and that he wasn’t going to rape her, 16-year-old Dakota Fanning (DF) informed her mother that HJO was a New York University graduate and that he was an “autistic vegan”. Interestingly, DF’s mother assumed that HJO was: “[...] like 35 or something.”

Subsequently, to arrange their first encounter, DF informed HJO, via Gmail chat, that she was going on a field trip to a museum in Manhattan where he: “[...] could find her and sit by her and they could eat together.”

To visit DF, HJO had to take a 10 minute train ride from Penn Station to Secaucus. Then a two hour train ride from Secaucus to DF’s town where the age-of-consent was 16.

With fifty minutes to go before HJO’s return train was scheduled to depart, DF suggested that, instead of going back to Manhattan,: “[...] he could hide in her room. “Your mom,” said Haley Joel Osmet. Dakota Fanning said her mom wouldn’t know.”

HJP was reassured after he remembered that: “Dakota said she sleeps naked and her mother is afraid of seeing her naked and so never opens her door at night.” And DF had previous age-gap relationships (e.g., “[...] with a 26-year-old and a 28-year-old.”). She even ran away to Philly to be with a man.

They didn’t have sex that first night, but they kissed:

“Around 2:00 a.m. their heads and bodies were under blankets with their lips touching but not kissing. Haley Joel Osment stared at Dakota Fanning’s face. After a few minutes she kissed him with dry lips. He licked her lips and kissed her[...]”

Unsurprisingly, HJO returned a week later where, on her mother’s king size bed, DF performed oral sex on HJO. 

For their next age-gap rendezvous, DF skipped school and traveled to Manhattan where: “[...] they walked to Union Square and went to bookstores and ate at Whole Foods.” But on DF’s subsequent visit, she stayed the night at HJP’s three-person apartment on Wall Street where they had sex after DF suggested that HJP “Just pull out,” because “[...] she could only get pregnant at certain times.”

Interestingly, in a scene that feminists would consider counterintuitive, DF informed HJO, “I’m going to rape you” and sat on him and began to rape him and then they had sex.”

And that’s the essence of the novel, HJO and DF watched independent films like at the Angelika Film Center, they stole books from Barnes & Noble, they stole clothes from American Apparel, they ate porridge at restaurants on the LES, and they had sex in Manhattan, where it was illegal, and they had sex in New Jersey, where it was legal - sometimes outdoors and (eventually) with the consent of DF’s mother. 

Tao Lin (≈ 23) and Ellen Kennedy (≈ 17) | Circa 2006

Lastly, Tao Lin’s Richard Yates (2010) is an autobiographical novel. Consequently, per Jezebel, in 2014 and approximately nine years after their age-gap affair, DF (Ellen Kennedy) accused Lin of statutory rape and verbal abuse.

Wait, it turns out that Ellen's a writer too. Here's an excerpt from "i like every time we have sex". The piece was posted on 3:AM Magazine (March 27th, 2007) and it appears that Ellen wrote "i like every time we have sex" when she was approximately 18.

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