Older Women/Younger Men
Welcome to March! Brynn's coming in like a lion this March morning...or at least trying. I'm having a little trouble booting up my brain, let me tell you. Bring on the coffee!!! This morning, I'm writing about Older Women/Younger Men relationships. Enjoy!
Since I was young, the relationship of older women to younger man has always intrigued me. As a member of the dating pool, I regularly dated younger men. As a writer, it’s one of my favorite relationships to write. Why I’ve been intrigued and why I like to write those relationships comes down to the same reason. There’s always been a slight taboo, a naughtiness, to a woman dating or marrying a younger man—at least that’s perception prevalent in society. Things are changing. But the eyebrow raising remains…for now. Whether there’s a difference of three weeks or three years or thirty years, women often gets teased or sometimes criticized for robbing the cradle or having a boy toy. Not always, but it happens.
Did you know that Catherine II of Russia created the role of Queen’s Consort during her reign? The position was always filled by young twenty-somethings who went through a rigorous screening, including testing in bed by her appointed test-woman, in order to get the…um…position. The role was filled on a rotating basis until she was sixty-seven.
Well-known Cleopatra had a temple built where she kept young male lovers. Of course, she kept them drugged—not with snake venom—to increase their lust.
Oooh…a whole temple full of young lovers? Sign me up! But then there’s Empress Theodora. This lusty older woman was well-known for taking ten young men to her bed in an evening. Did they have a number system do you think? Traffic lights?
Queen Zingua of Angola had young warriors fight to the death for her. And they got the prize of bedding her. She had them killed in the morning, but that’s another story.
These were all short-term (very short in some cases) relationships. What about the long haul? In romantic fiction, the older woman/younger man scenario has grown in popularity over the years. As I mentioned, I’ve always enjoyed it—three of the books on my keeper shelf are early Harlequin Temptations which covered that relationship and the neurotic reactions to it. Woman were afraid they’d be shunned and looked down upon.
Do we still have those same fears? In the past, when I dated someone younger, I’ll admit I downplayed my own “older” status as much as possible. It was never more than a few years age difference, but I always got ribbed. It takes a lot of strength to brave a plethora of robbing the cradle jokes. It takes a lot of willpower not to get peeved, too. Who’s right is it to say who we can and can’t fall in love with?
There’s some sort of unspoken mainstream rule that has always said the man must be older. Why? Who knows? Well, actually, it has to do with the whole care and provision precept.
Societally, this is just what we’ve been taught. It might stem back to the middle ages (or earlier) when progeny was imperative. A young woman who could bear lots of kids was the ticket. It’s about time to kick that bucket. Or later in history, the older man was more settles, wise, mature, financially stable, and he could guide, protect and provide for the younger, naïve girl he’s picked. (insert Brynn’s eye roll. It is what it is, but still…ugh). That leads to:
Psychologically speaking, the man being older stems from instinct. Woman have instinctively sought a protector. It goes back to the whole hunt and gather thing. Men provided. Women bore the young. A younger woman was better equipped. Yadda yadda yadda… You are so young and nubile. Bear my young. I chose you.
I make fun, but in most of my stories, the man (or men) are a little older than the heroine. I have no problem with that dynamic. I have a problem with ageist thinking though. Why are men distinguished, finely aged, etc, and women are old, need some work, past their prime? These are some examples of thought behaviors in our society. You don’t have to look hard to find them and see the inequality. For example: put a sexy older man on a cover of a book and people comment about the silver fox. Put a sexy older women on a cover of a book and hear crickets. Or comments about why the author has a grandma on their cover.
Okay, moving on:
Physically, the older man/much younger woman set-up makes little sense. While female fertility drops in their thirties, male fertility drops then, as well. Women tend to have about a seven-year longer life expectancy, too. Excuse me, but wouldn’t a man with good swimmers who can accompany you into your later years seem a good choice. Well, you know…if that kid thing is important to you. Today, in many cases it’s not. It doesn’t necessarily play a role in our mating game.
As women, we are free to choose who we want as mates. More and more, we’re exercising that right. Books about these relationships are helping change traditional mindsets. So is Hollywood. It’s not uncommon to see older female stars with younger counterparts.
In truth, today’s woman isn’t necessarily looking for a younger man—if she’s looking for a man at all, but that’s a different post. We demand what we want and don’t necessarily sit back and let society tell us how things should be. More and more we’re busting out of the patriarchally imposed mold, thank goodness! We have options we were never “allowed” to consider before our modern age. Good options. Men who might just end up being the love of our lives. We’re looking for fun, interesting, exciting and yes, just a little taboo. A guy who feels…great. A guy we feel great being with. A partner. A mate. And when it comes down to that, age doesn’t really matter. In real life or on the pages of a book.