MEN HAVE been at it for quite some time. So much so, they even coined a phrase for it: the midlife crisis.
Granted, when Elliott Jaques devised the term back in the ’60s, it was in reference to all adults of a certain age who are suddenly acutely tuned in to the relentless ticking of Father Time. It’s an awareness that very often leads them to make drastic life changes in the hopes of still realising their long-forgotten dreams. Or some such drivel.
Over the decades, however, the concept of a midlife crisis has come to epitomise the 50-shifting-into-60-something-year-old man who somehow believes that by dyeing his hair, donning gaudy Don Juan-like attire, buying a flashy sports car he’s barely able to squeeze his girth into, and trading in the longstanding wife/partner/girlfriend who’s been with him through the proverbial fires, for a “Shrek meets Hello Kitty” pubescent floosie (whose only real devotion is to his wallet and the exposure he affords her), all his worries will miraculously dissipate and his every fantasy will be fulfilled.
Johnny Depp and Amber Rose. Bradley Cooper and Suki Waterhouse. Leonardo DiCaprio and any woman in her early 20s with the preface “model” to her name. Woody Allen and Soon Yi (which virtually bordered on paedophilia when they first hooked up). These are just a handful of the male celebrities who’ve bowed to the trend.
Since the Noughties rolled in, however, the female members of the fame pack have been muscling their way onto the “I’m dating someone who’s nappy I could have changed” scene. With Madonna, Demi Moore and Jennifer Lopez seemingly pulling out all their “mutton dressed as lamb” tricks to secure the title as leader of that pack.
Following her split from Casper Smart, J-Lo has momentarily fallen to the back of the queue, but given her penchant for (much) younger backup dancers, it’s only a matter of months before she snares another toy to play with. Meanwhile, Madonna and Demi continue to hop-scotch from one perfectly sculpted, and equally dull, under-aged arm piece to another, in some woeful attempt to prove they’ve still got it.
Yet, while the world looks on the likes of Leo and Johnny with a glint of admiration in their eye and their hands poised in a “thumbs-up” for having snared a younger specimen, their female counterparts are deemed desperate, pathetic, pitiful.
The social descriptive terminology says it all: an older man parading a younger woman is revered as a stud, while his female equivalent is termed a cougar; an animal pouncing on its prey.
It’s a classic case of sexism meets double standards, with a large helping of hypocrisy thrown in for added measure. Nevertheless, even bra-burning feminists can’t help but shift uncomfortably in their seats at the sight of a macho-muscled Madge in PVC hotpants and grill-covered teeth cavorting with a man “old” enough to be dating her 17-year-old daughter!
Or Demi’s continual posting of semi-nude pics (in all her plastic surgeried glory) on Instagram, along with cringe-worthy shots of her partying like it’s 1999 with her prince, who actually is the same age as her daughter!
Perhaps we regard the mature-woman-youthful-man set up with such scorn because, modern social norms notwithstanding, at some primary biological level we’re wired to observe the laws laid down my Mother Nature. Namely, that of male as hunter-cum-protector, female as nurturer-cum-comforter.
So while, on an unspoken subconscious level, we’re still willing to accept a grandfather figure parading around with a zygote, the “sugar mommy with her all-expenses-paid son in tow” comes off as, well, unnatural. And little more than a sad circus spectacle where the main act doesn’t even realise her own ridiculousness.
LARA DE MATOS