Gathered around the water cooler chatting about the latest oo-ah moment on Reality TV? Or which antidepressant doesn’t impact libido?
Arguing on your cell over the term “cougar” – now part of popular culture – whereas “lech” seems to have disappeared from contemporary usage?
What do you think – really – of a 45-year old woman who is involved sexually with a 33-year old man?
What if they both are three years past divorce, have 5-year olds in the same class, and share a love of NBA basketball and blueberry scones? Does that change your opinion?
Switching it up
Now reverse the scenario. 45-year old man, 33-year old woman. Do you even raise an eyebrow, or ask if there is any basis for a relationship – sexual or otherwise? Do you even notice?
Let’s change the numbers. 50-something woman, 40-something man. Still a 10 or 12-year spread. Maybe even 15 years, like several well-known Hollywood couples. Do you raise an eyebrow now? Do you expect it’s only a temporary sexual adventure?
Quicksand, prejudice and preference
Let’s go one step deeper into the quagmire, shall we?
And quicksand it will become, as we take that hypothetical 50-something woman, toss her into the universe of Internet profiles, coffee dates, hook-ups, family fix-ups, and even strolling the aisle of the local Home Depot in the hopes of encountering a heterosexual male possessing a baritone voice and the power of verbal communication.
And I don’t mean chatting with a 20-year old in an orange apron, asking where to find halogen bulbs.
Any hope for her, unless she’s particularly hot for her age? Or nipped, tucked, and in a nip-tuck-acceptable region, where she has a snowball’s chance in hell of dating someone her own age?
After all, who – in this culture – will consider dating a 50-something woman, generally? A 60-something man? 70-something? And what of the man who shares activities, stage of life, energy and sexual activity level? Will he even approach her, or dismiss her as soon as he gets wind of the year of her birth?
Elsewhere, in land of Internet dialogue
In a conversation on older men and younger women, in fact – an amusing story and written without any malice – this particular issue raised the ire of several typically amiable women. A remark was made about a preference for women who “work out and are fit” – the assumption – athletic bodies are the result of taking care of oneself – something more prevalent in a younger woman. (Subtext: older women are no longer fit, the result of not taking care of themselves.)
A few women spoke up, vociferously. And I was one of them. My response? Many of us who have had children are healthy, fit, work out, but don’t have the bodies we had before pregnancies, in other words, the bodies of 20 and 30-somethings who haven’t yet had children. For that matter, some women have athletic bodies regardless of child-bearing status. They are fortunate, and I think, the exception.
Body memory, body reality
Body type is in part inherited. And then there are the aftereffects of pregnancy and childbirth, and life events we cannot control – like illness and injury.
Are those women who are less than perfect physical specimens – usually after bearing children – to be tossed aside as no longer viable sexually, or worthy of being loved? And what about accidents or illness, that also take a toll on the body?
In a land of commodity relationships, do we assume there’s always another bus (woman) coming along, with exactly what we want, or even better? The newer, younger, sleeker model – only to eventually repeat the cycle?
I’ve been chased by men 50 years my senior (when I was in my 20s), by men 20 years older (in my 20s and 30s), and now, at the half century mark, many men in their sixties (if they know my age) pass me by for women in their 30s or 40s. Why?
Because they can.
Ridiculous? I think so.
Wonder why women lie about their age? This is exactly why. If we still enjoy the company of men – energetic, life affirming, sexually-active men with whom we’d like to be energetic, life affirming, sexually-active women, we lie. You (gentlemen) leave us few options.
Am I pissed at this peculiarly American reality? You bet. I’d rather be honest, enjoy sharing what I’ve learned, the comforts and openness that come with age in all realms – as part of the celebration of real connection.
Doesn’t that sound like a better plan?