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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A question for men

Is It OK to Be This Annoyed About Older Men Who Date Much Younger Women?

How’s this for kismet: One fateful day in 1966, singer Tony Bennett met and took a photo with a couple after one of his shows. Little did Bennett know at the time, his future wife was there, too: She was the baby growing inside the belly of the female fan.

Bennett, 90, recounts this meet-ick between him and his third wife, Susan Benedetto, 50, in his new book, as the all-seeing, no-casting-shade-here eye of People magazine recently reported. It’s hard to be rational about how skin-crawly this is: Fine, maybe they love each other, but he was 40 and she was negative several weeks when they met. It’s the punchline to a Saturday Night Live skit come to life, as the Cut was quick to note; it’s Twilight’s Jacob imprinting on Bella’s vampire baby; it’s that guy on Game of Thrones who marries his daughters. It captures everything that’s wrong with our sexist, youth-worshipping, male-privilege-run-amok society.

Bennett and Benedetto may make for a particularly striking example (“Lovely fetus you’ve got there, ma’am, here’s my number, have it call it me in 18 years or so”), but older men getting romantically involved with younger women is hardly a rare phenomenon. Every day, there seems to be another outrageous new celebrity coupling announced via pictures of some May-December frolicking: Jennifer Lawrence sharing a lollipop with Darren Aronofsky; Sean Penn dating Vincent D’Onofrio’s daughter; Mel Gibson having his ninth child with his 26-year-old girlfriend; Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen double-dating with their 47-year-old and 58-year-old respective beaus; Leonardo DiCaprio’s sending another lady-love packing upon her reaching the ripe old age of 25. Online dating stats bare out that average joes are just as enamored with younger women as their famous counterparts.

Each example disgusts me anew in a way that’s probably not entirely defensible: I think I might be angrier about these couples than I am about a good many important political issues. I know, I know: Why care that two consenting adults are canoodling when a demagogue is about to take the White House? (Donald Trump, for the record, is 24 years older than his wife Melania, and each time he’s gotten married, it’s been to a younger woman. But anyway.) It’s just so transparent, watching one of these paragons of fragile masculinity take his male privilege out for a spin and realize he can date someone so young she won’t know how inappropriate it is. High five! Why not father a child you’ll be too old to raise properly while you’re at it? The exact ages and differentials vary, but each one reinforces one important point: Women get less valuable as they age, while men just get to enjoy the ride .......

I have a question. Why do men rate women as consumables instead of as fellow people? I'd ask too if this is the world men want their daughters to inhabit, but then I'm reminded of guys like Woody Allen and Trump.


Blogger Susan said...

I'm going easy on Tony Bennett--maybe because he was such a nice guy when he performed at Lincoln Center when I worked there, but also because when he married his present wife she was 41 and it was a joint decision. Heck, it's always a joint decision (I hope), but he didn't marry her when she was 20 and discard her when she was 40.

I get your point, though, and it's a valid one. My feelings about the situation depend so much on the man. Fred Astaire and Tony Randall married much younger women, and stayed married.

My parents were 11 years apart, and so were my husband's parents. I was 13 years younger than he. I'm probably not qualified to comment. LOL

8:49 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Susan :) I think this started bothering me when I was in high school and I saw all my friends parents divorcing, with the men marrying younger women and the women growing old alone, including my mom. I was married to someone who was 7 years younger than me and he ditched me for a younger woman when I was 32. His parting words were "I don't think you're too old to find someone else" but he didn't sound convinced ;)

11:19 AM  

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