Wendy

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GM-37 - From: Taking up a position: Discourses of femininity and adolescence in the context of man/girl relationships in Gender & Society, Vol 8, No 1, 48-72; March 1994, by Terry Leahy, pp. 57-8. Leahy presents the following testimony.

Leahy states:

In her account,Wendy describes Paul's behavior in these terms:

"I mean he did want to. He wanted to be sexual, he wanted to be physically close and I felt that. I remember rubbing up against him when he had a hard on and things like that but most of the time it felt like he just wanted to be really close and warm.... 

We used to cuddle a lot and kiss and things. It got vaguely sexual for a while. Tongue kissing ... a great wet beard. He was really really really gentle. More gentle than I think anyone else I've known as far as that goes. He was obviously being really careful. That was Paul too, because he was that sort of person anyway, it wasn't just because I was young."

There are instances in the interview where she characterizes her relationship with Paul in accordance with Green's definition of the romantic hero as a paternal, guiding, and protective figure. At one point she comments on the feeling of protection she felt when Paul carried her in his arms.

We can see that Wendy validated and understood her experiences in ways
that do not depart from an established and conservative discourse of romance. However, she also distanced her experience from this model of romance in important ways. The most central of these is that Wendy does not describe herself as having been in love. She points out that Paul often declared his love for her but that she rarely reciprocated:

"I felt like ... I don't know. It's really hard to tell how I felt then because I guess I've thought about it so much since. But I guess I felt like he was giving more than I was and he was being really really nice to me and I really liked him. I really really did. I thought he was just wonderful but I didn't feel like it was that head-over-heels, you know, all time love affair."

In statements on this topic Wendy explains her position in terms of popular ideas about the status of adolescence as a transition to adulthood. She was happy to try out a romantic relationship with Paul but her youth provided her with a reason for not taking it too seriously:

"I just think he wanted something more than I had to offer at the time and I think that was really unfair of me but I just didn't know, you know. I just didn't have enough experience to realize that that's what he wanted ... 

In fact I used to flirt with him all the time sort of giving him the come on but stopping when it got a little bit too passionate but that was all part of the game too. I could get very poetic and say he was showing me my blossoming womanhood or something. 

Just the fact that I could attract somebody and how to actually do it and have someone respond without them just diving on me which is what would happen if it was somebody my own age if I did some of the things that I did to Paul. But in fact, I don't know, perhaps they just wouldn't even notice because the communication was much more subtle. He was much more responsive and much more concerned about me than the boys of my own age."

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