Age Not Just a Number

by May 15, 2012
filed under Activism

Studies show that the average age gap between couples is one to two years. Not the case with Courtney Stodden, an aspiring vocal artist, and Doug Hutchinson, a character actor best known for his depiction of the sadistic prison guard in The Green Mile. Seventeen year-old Courtney and fifty-one year-old Doug are nearing the one-year anniversary of their marriage.

How did the unlikely couple meet? It began when Courtney signed up for an acting workshop with Doug. A bit of emailing blossomed into a four month courtship online. The two never met in person. Doug said it was a “beautiful and unique way to get to know someone. We didn’t have the distraction of the physical.”

Doug claims that he was unaware of Courtney’s age, at first believing her to be in her twenties. When he discovered that Courtney was actually sixteen at the time, Doug said his “world turned upside down… it was definitely a struggle inside my heart… because I had already started falling for her.”

How exactly did Courtney’s mom feel about this? Just fine. Krista Stodden had been monitoring her daughter’s relationship with Doug online, fully aware of the fact that he is thirty-five years older than Courtney. Knowing the precarious position that he was in, Doug promised Krista that he would step back if she, or Courtney’s father, had any misgivings.

Krista had anything but misgivings. Instead of telling Doug, who is four years older than her husband, to get away from her teenage daughter, Krista suggested that they get married. She provided parental consent in order for Courtney to be able to wed her beau in Las Vegas.

Yes, by getting married, Courtney and Doug circumvented statutory rape laws, while keeping Courtney a virgin before marriage. Which seems to be a huge deal for Courtney and her family. All of them have said in various interviews, “she was a virgin,” and “she’s mature for her age.”

In regards to being a virgin before marriage, Courtney said, “I knew if I kept that I would really be blessed with a beautiful gift. And God did. He blessed me with my soul-mate.” This comment has left a few interviewers with polite, “umm, okay,” looks on their faces.

Added to the ‘nobody asked you category’ are the state of Courtney’s breasts. Totally not fake guys – you can all breathe easier now. Or, as Courtney puts it, “It’s real, head to toe. R-I-double L.” Apparently, spelling is not one of Courtney’s strong suits.

Self-promotion may be, however. The unlikeliness of this entire marriage has some wondering if this isn’t just another publicity stunt à la Kim Kardashian.

To be sure, Courtney has released more singles now than ever. She has also landed an acting job for an online commercial at and has her own YouTube channel featuring close-ups of cleavage and discussions of “sexy veggies,” among other things (you might wonder how veggies are sexy. Courtney is quick to point out the phallic shape of cucumbers. Freud would have a field day).

Is all of this new work due to Courtney’s marriage? Courtney avoided giving a straight answer on this, saying that if her marriage did help her career, it would be, “just another beautiful blessing that God hands to me.”

But their marriage hasn’t been all blessings. Soon after marrying Courtney, Doug’s agent and manager dropped him. His mother wanted nothing to do with him. Courtney’s parents have received death threats, while Courtney herself dropped out of high school due to bullying about her appearance.

It is appearance that plays such a key role in this story. It all looks so questionable: A (much) older man who marries a teenage girl with the approval of her family; her career takes off, he’s besotted with his young bride. It all seems so medieval – more of an economic exchange than any sort of relationship. The constant reaffirmation of, “she was a virgin before we married,” “she’s mature for her age” and of course, “my breasts are real,” makes it seem as though Courtney and her parents are trying to sell her as a product. It has an old school marriage vibe: He gets a virgin bride, the family gets rich. It’s a mutually beneficial trade.

Which makes it extremely creepy. Legal, maybe, but still predatory. In this marriage, age is not just a number.

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