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Some even take out their judgment verbally, like with Mary-Kate Olsen, 27, whose 44-year-old fiancé is dismissed as “gross,” “creepy,” “ick,” and “bizarre.” Or Joaquin Phoenix, 39, whose relationship with his 19-year-old girlfriend makes for something “disgusting,” “crazy,” and “sick.” Whether she’s 19 or 27, if a girl dates a substantially older man, most people will assume there’s something wrong, weird, or disturbing going on.
He’s a creepy “cradle robber,” and she must have “daddy issues.” Or, he just wants sex, and she just wants his money.
Today, the average age gap between married couples in America is around two years, and a recent survey found that people believe the ideal age gap is around four years.
Here’s the problem—for a young woman like me, the socially acceptable, “ideal” mate is a man in his mid to late twenties.
And a lot of young women I know just don’t have the patience for these twenty-something “bros.” I’m not blaming the boys for this.
It’s a pretty dark view of something most of us know nothing about. For most of human history, it was normal and even expected for a younger woman to wind up with an older man. .) In fact, most of us probably need not look much further than our grandparents to see age gaps that would be considered scandalous today.
There are more examples of this than one could possibly count in history, art, poetry, music, and literature. Granted, this was often because a woman desired the financial security of an established husband, and in turn, men desired a youthful, fertile bride who could bear and rear his children.
For the last few decades, our culture has seemed hyper-focused on women’s empowerment, the feminist movement, breaking the glass ceiling, and gender equality.
And in a lot of ways, it’s paid off for us women—we now get more degrees than men, we are CEOs of companies, we run for office, compete in the Olympics, and do just about anything we want. But I can’t help but wonder if our focus on girl power has left today’s young men a bit displaced and in the dark, especially when it comes to their role with women.