Is this the dawn­ing of a new age?

Older women re­joice, the French pres­i­dent has made you de­sir­able in the eyes of younger men

Life & Style Weekend - - YOU - with He­len Hawkes

Ground­break­ers like Madonna have been parad­ing younger lovers around for­ever.

HELLO toy boy! Yes, the time for older women to ap­pre­ci­ate the younger man is here. Thank you Brigitte Trogneux. The wife of French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron is, at 64, 25 years his se­nior. I smell change com­ing on, even if it does come with a whiff of pain au cho­co­lat or coq au vin.

Of course ground­break­ers like Madonna have been parad­ing younger lovers around for­ever. But there’s a cu­ri­ous dou­ble stan­dard that still sur­rounds the older woman-younger man li­ai­son. (Ac­tu­ally, Madonna is a Macron fan, writ­ing on In­sta­gram af­ter his elec­tion that “no one seems to care about their age dif­fer­ence or in­sisted that Brigitte ‘act her age’.’’)

Cul­tural prej­u­dices, where we tra­di­tion­ally team older men with young women but not the re­verse, are prop­a­gated by and re­flected on so­cial me­dia. On screen, for ex­am­ple, we ac­cept a pair­ing of Sean Con­nery with Catherine Zeta Jones. Less ac­cept­able would be Sally Field with Ryan Gosling. No­tably the words “age ap­pro­pri­ate” are usu­ally ap­plied to women too, not to men, es­pe­cially those older ladies who like to show off a bit of cleav­age and sport fab­u­lous de­signer clothes. Mut­ton dressed as lamb, the chau­vin­ists mut­ter, and some women too.

Per­haps sin­gle, older women are meant to hang up their high heels at a cer­tain age and ac­cept that they are “mid­dle-aged” and should not fish in fer­tile ponds. Or is it the idea that women may ap­pre­ci­ate young flesh in the same way that men ap­pre­ci­ate a beauty con­test, the Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret pa­rade or mod­els in a mag­a­zine that seems a bit un­seemly?

Of course I’m not say­ing that all women want a younger man, that older men aren’t great, or that a man who is the same age as you is not a suit­able part­ner. I am say­ing what’s age got to do with it, if you both click and if younger ap­peals?

That said, not all women want to run around af­ter a man 20 years their ju­nior, or run around af­ter a man full stop. But as we broaden our hori­zons about re­la­tion­ships, let’s make sure that the prej­u­dice we have about the older woman is just an­other one to bite the dust. Vive la dif­fer­ence.

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