Katie Glass is a “thirty something” columnist for The Times who judging by her photos, (and don’t we just love to), her best years are most certainly somewhere behind her in the far distance.
In an article a few weeks ago she gushed at the joys of dating younger men, much younger men. Apparently everyone’s doing it! By everyone she means regular women like Madonna, Heidi Klum, Kate Moss, you know the score. Apparently these sorts of women are her besties and besties do the same things, and the big thing now is to get engaged to a guy who ten years earlier if the world was still sane they would have been telling to go clean up their rooms.
Once, women who dated younger men were called “cougars”. The word makes me cringe: it sounds as patronising as “toyboys” and as outdated. The c and t-words fetishise age and suggest novelty flings. Neither does justice to the reality of modern age-gap relationships, which I think rather wonderfully reflect how notions of gender and age have changed. Women today don’t need relationships to give us status or security. We’ve become the men we wanted to marry, so we can marry the boys we fancy instead.
The term toyboys might indeed be patronising but that didn’t stop Glass from sprinkling it through her screed at any opportunity, (the headline was chosen by her copy editor so I can’t blame her for that.)
But what is more illuminating from this little passage is the clear revelation that women have indeed become the men in today’s world; manly women who epitomize the negative traits of masculinity without the corresponding positive traits to balance things out. They don’t need relationships for status or security or, heaven help us, to actually have a family. They need them for, I’m not sure what. Sex?
But if they don’t need these relationships for status then why are they filling their social media feeds with it?
All my favourite women – Madonna, Moss, Joan Collins, the Wife of Bath – know the fun of having a younger beau. They feed you great music, take you to cool parties and explain how TicToc works.
The term boys seems most apt in these cases if this is the hidden depth in these relationships. It goes without saying that the reversal of the roles here would lead to immediate outrage as well as accusations of the young women being used.
But where are the young women? Why are these twenty something men turning to women who could be their mothers, or even their grandmothers in Macron’s case? The answer is that young women in their twenties are busily engaged in the process of turning themselves into female versions of men. They are chasing the power careers while casually freezing their eggs in the hopes that a younger man will turn up in the future and “invigorate” them.
But last year a study by Harvard Medical School found that older women who wanted families fared better with younger partners, whose sperm appeared to “invigorate” their eggs, making the women more likely to conceive than with someone their own age or older.
More prudent men might balk at the idea of dating an older woman, rightly concerned at the inevitable unwelcome consequences that such an age gap provides further down the line. But that is simply old square thinking! Nobody enters a relationship in these modern and enlightened times to actually commit long term to the relationship.
The psychotherapist Julia Cole suggests the increase in age-gap relationships reflects how “the whole notion of who you can be in love with has opened up and become freer”. She relates this to the rise of the LGBT movement, which has helped to dissolve barriers around love. “The idea that you can love someone across a boundary has altered in one generation,” she notes.
You can love anyone you want with no tacky societal disapproval to weigh you down. And you don’t have to think of the children because the way we’re going there won’t be any.