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Playing With / Old Man Marrying a Child

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Basic Trope: The young girl is legally married to the older man.

  • Straight: Alice is 12, and she's married off to Bob, who is 50.
  • Exaggerated:
    • Alice hasn't even reached puberty yet, and she's already being married to Bob.
    • Alice Really Was Born Yesterday with a body of a prepubescent girl, while Bob is Really 700 Years Old.
    • A 100-year-old Bob gets married to Alice while she is still a fetus in her mother's womb. (No word on how Bob knows the fetus is a girl.)
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  • Downplayed: Alice is 15 and married to a 27-year-old man.
  • Justified:
    • Alice and Bob come from a time and/or place where young girls are married off as soon as they reached puberty, to older men who could provide for them (and pay a nice bride price to the girls' families).
    • An Arranged Marriage is necessary in a hurry to seal The Alliance and Alice and Bob are the only ones available.
    • In this setting, a high value is placed on reproduction, and average life expectancies (and reproductive lifespans) are much shorter than a modern, Western audience is used to. Thus, they have no concept of "adolescence"; a person is either a child or an adult, and considered to be an adult as soon as they reach puberty.
    • Tropestan is in the midst of some kind of humanitarian crisis (e.g. a war, a plague, a natural disaster). Alice's parents see marrying her off to Bob as a way to ensure that her needs will be met (as they can no longer afford to care for her), and to protect her from losing her virginity out of wedlock and becoming Defiled Forever. If a bride price is involved, her parents may see that as a valuable resource to help them rebuild their lives.
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    • In their culture, marriages often involve an exchange of money or material goods between the parents. If it's a bride-price, a younger and prettier (and more-likely-to-be-a-virgin) bride is worth more. If it's a dowry, Alice's parents don't have to pay Bob's parents as much money if Alice is younger and less educated...or Bob's parents can charge more, to cover the cost of taking care of her.
    • Their culture believes that All Women Are Lustful, and that it's therefore best to marry girls off ASAP, so that they don't succumb to their sexual urges before marriage and bring shame to their families.
  • Inverted: Bob is 12 and being married off to 50-year-old Alice.
  • Subverted:
    • Bob is engaged to marry Alice, but they are going to wait until she's old enough.
    • Alice only looks like a young girl; in actuality, she's Really 700 Years Old.
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    • Although Bob is engaged to Alice, it's a political move and nothing more, and he is only doing it to seal an alliance while he can.
  • Double Subverted:
    • Which in their culture means as soon as Alice has her first period.
    • But her youthful appearance makes her more desirable to Bob.
    • Alice is Really 700 Years Old, but Bob is a Time Abyss and was engaged to Alice almost as soon as she was born.
  • Parodied: Alice chooses to marry Bob, despite their age difference.
  • Zig Zagged: ???
  • Averted:
    • Alice is not being married off to Bob.
    • Alice and Bob are both consenting adults.
  • Enforced: The setting is (and/or the writer is from) a place where this is the norm. (See "Justified")
  • Lampshaded: "I hear Alice and Bob got married." "[[Squick But she's still just a little girl]]!"
  • Invoked: Bob comes to the home of Alice's father and offers him the customary bride price (and maybe some more) for the privilege of Alice's hand (and presumably the rest of her).
  • Exploited:
    • In Alice's culture, daughters are considered commodities, and the younger and prettier they are, the more valuable. So Alice's parents marry her off to someone wealthy, who will pay them nice sums of money/livestock/land/etc. in exchange for Alice's hand.
    • Or, conversely, if rather than exchanging a bride-price, it's customary to exchange a dowry, marrying off a young and less educated girl who still needs to be taken care of (i.e. one who is less economically-valuable) means Alice's parents don't have to pay Bob's parents as much...or that Bob's parents can ask for more, to cover the cost of having another mouth to feed.
    • In a place where there's a war going on, or where there's some kind of natural disaster or plague, sexual violence towards young girls is on the increase. Since a girl who isn't a virgin at the time of marriage is considered in this society to be Defiled Forever, Alice's parents want to marry her off ASAP, with the (erroneous) idea that if she's married, she can't be (or is less likely to be) raped.
    • In a society where it's assumed that All Women Are Lustful, and where virginity is particularly valued in a new bride, Alice's parents want to marry her off ASAP, so she won't act on her urges and shame the family.
    • Bob wants to ensure that his wife is a virgin, and feels that the younger she is, the more likely she is to actually be one.
    • Alice's parents are poor. Marrying Alice off means one less mouth for them to feed.
  • Defied:
    • Bob doesn't want to marry a little girl, no matter how innocent and pure she may be.
    • Alice's parents turn Bob away.
    • It's illegal in the setting to marry before age 18, and that law is enforced with the help of birth certificates.
  • Discussed: ???
  • Conversed: "Can you imagine living in a place like that, where a little girl could be married off to a middle-aged man?"
  • Deconstructed: This can lead to problems; Alice's reproductive system may not be ready to handle Bob's full-sized penis yet (which can lead to injury and infertility), and younger mothers have a hard time giving birth, which could result in Death by Childbirth. Not to mention, Alice may not be given a say in whom she marries (especially if this is a cultural thing).
  • Reconstructed:
    • Alice is betrothed to Bob, but they will wait until she's old enough before actually getting married or consummating the marriage. And either one of them can break off the engagement at any time, without being shamed, ostracized, killed, etc. for it.
    • Bob is a kind man who goes along with the marriage only to ensure Alice won't end up with someone predatory, to the point he is willing to lose much standing by pretending to be sterile without ever consummating the marriage.

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