*Editor’s note: disagree with this Op-Ed or opinion? Join the conversation by commenting below or sharing your own view here.
*Warning: well-deserved cursing ahead!
The man-woman relationship has never been equal.
I’m not saying anything here that most of us already don’t know. From pay disparity, unequal workplace opportunities, violence, religious oppression, and so much more, misogyny is still an intrinsic part of a woman’s life.
Yet another scenario where there is inherent misogyny against women is when it comes to “age-inappropriate” relationships.
Princess Diana’s niece got married a few weeks back. The thing is, Lady Kitty is 30. And, Michael Lewis, her husband, is 60. Lady Kitty’s husband is older than her father. Her husband’s children from his first marriage are older than Lady Kitty. This is just an FYI. I have no issues one way or the other about anyone marrying anyone else as long as the folks getting married are okay with it.
What I am not okay with is how these so-called age-inappropriate relationships are reported in the news media. I did a quick Google search this morning with the following words “Lady Kitty Michael Lewis age difference,” and almost none of the headlines made any reference to the vast age difference between the couple.
I then Google searched “Priyanka Chopra Nick Jonas age difference.”
Unsurprisingly, almost every story on page one of the search results showed that Priyanka Chopra is 10 years older than Nick Jonas.
Oh, what horror has befallen upon the world when a woman is older than her male partner!
I also want to clarify that underage marriage (kids marrying adults) is never okay.
So, back to when Priyanka Chopra married Nick Jonas. Predictably, the comments came by furiously.
New York Magazine had a woman writer of color who tore apart Chopra’s marriage to Jonas (on the day of her wedding) and called it a scam. Since the original story was deleted after a global hue and cry, The Guardian quotes the writer Mariah Smith as saying the following in her original story:
“Nicholas Jonas married into a fraudulent relationship against his will this past Saturday.”
“All Nick wanted was a possible fling with Hollywood’s latest It Woman, but instead, he wound up staring straight at a life sentence with a global scam artist,” the piece added.
The piece ended:
“Nick, if you’re reading this, find that horse and gallop away as fast as you can!”
The implication being that unless Chopra did some voodoo magical shit on Jonas or paid him to marry her, Chopra couldn’t attract a man 10 years her junior. That Chopra—a Hollywood newbie at the time—was a global superstar was not a factor. That she was/is stunningly beautiful, smart AF, ambitious, and hard-working didn’t matter.
That this was written—not by a man but by a woman and a woman of color—just shows how pervasive slut-shaming is and how dismissively these so-called age-inappropriate relationships are talked about when the woman is older.
The writer eventually backtracked and apologized for her extremely sexist story.
Circa 2021, this trend continues unabated. The casual misogyny toward these so-called age-inappropriate relationships is still thriving in our world.
A few years back, Amy Poehler and Tina Fey said this in their opening monologue as hosts of the Golden Globes in 2014:
“Gravity is the story of how George Clooney would rather float away into space and die than spend one more minute with a woman his own age.”
It was obviously a joke but one that not just makes you “hahahaha” laugh out loud. It is also a commentary on the man-woman relationship.
Clooney’s previous three girlfriends were Stacy Keibler, Elisabetta Canalis, and Sarah Lawson when the joke came out. (The age difference between Clooney and his girlfriends was more than 20 years.) Even when he married Amal Clooney, the age difference between them was 17 years.
No one even batted an eyelid when Clooney did his own “hahaha” with these young women. Sure, there were cute quips about his age-inappropriate relationships, but there were never any scathing snarky comments that typically accompany stories when it’s the other way around.
And this respect is given not just to Clooney but also to other top-list A-list megastars and the not-so-famous stars.
Look at Leonardo Di Caprio: his ammo is quite simple. It’s a two-pronged attack on how he scores his girlfriends. They have to be models. Not even a stunningly beautiful, just-an-actress type like Blake Lively would do for him. Oh, no. They have to be Victoria’s Secret or Sports Illustrated models. And every new model should be younger than her predecessor.
As Di Caprio gets older, his girlfriends get younger.
His newest model girlfriend, Camilla Morrone, is 23 years younger than him. For once, he went against his normal type and hooked himself a brunette. At 46 and a girlfriend who is 23, Di Caprio is perilously close to bypassing women young enough to be his daughter to reaching a stage where he will soon be their grandfather’s age. I can totally see him at 70 years old with multiple homes all over the world, still getting the best roles in Hollywood—and still consorting with 20-year-olds.
And he will get a pass for his behavior.
Not that he shouldn’t get a pass. It’s his life. It’s his money. And he can and should do whatever he wants. What bothers me is how sexist the stories about Di Caprio’s relationships are.
The compliments abound when it’s a man with a younger woman:
“He is such a player! I wish I was as lucky as him. Dawg!”
Take a look at more of these celebrity relationships where the dude is much older than his partner:
>> Dennis Quaid and Laura Savoie: 39 years (his previous girlfriend, Santa Auzina, 32 years)
>> Jason Statham and his wife Rosie-Huntington Whitely: 20 years
>> Jeff Goldblum and Emilie Livingston: 30 Years
>> Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones? 25 years
>> Prince Albert and Princess Charlene: 20 Years
>> Eddie Murphy and Paige Butcher: 17 Years
I, personally, don’t give a rat’s ass about who marries whom and how old they are. If the people in question are happy with each other, who the fuck are we to say anything? What does, however, piss me off is the narrative that surrounds older men with much younger women (“Rah, rah! Player, dawg!”) but how it all shifts and changes, and there is so much venom spewed when it’s the other way around.
Like the stories that came out when Prince Albert married Princess Charlene, the narrative was clear: Prince Albert? Two enthusiastic thumbs up for “getting” a hottie like Charlene.
But Princess Charlene? Let’s face it, a woman as gorgeous as Princess Charlene would never ever give Prince Albert even a second look if he did not come with a kingdom behind him.
So, even while commenting on Albert’s innate inability to “get a hottie,” the more scathing opinions were reserved for the woman who only married him because she was a gold-digging tramp.
Remember the hue and cry that was made when Demi Moore married Ashton Kutcher? I remember the comments that came by fast and furious when the two of them got hitched.
“Dude had her poster on his wall growing up and wanted to do her. Dude…you didn’t need to marry the grandma!”
There was such a: “How dare she marry someone so much younger?”
And: “Does she not know that their marriage will never last?”
And the whole: “There will be a time when the guy will fall out of love and marry someone younger?”
That may all well be true, but so what? Even marriages that start with the best of intentions and are the most age-appropriate, income-appropriate, religion-appropriate don’t work out. There is no guarantee that any relationship will work out. So why not spend your energy sending good wishes to the couple in question instead of either being snarky about them or predicting doomsday scenarios for their future? Which, BTW, is something that never ever factors in when the guy is older than the woman. At the very least, wish them the best on their happiest day.
And in the event that an older woman and younger man relationship actually works and stands the test of time—Hugh Jackman and Deborah Furness (she is 13 years older)—then there has to be a more nefarious reason why it survived, right?
Me: Uhh…they’re actually in love?
Them: What? Are you fucking crazy? There’s something between them (cue “hahaha” laughter here), but love ain’t it. She’s with him because—duh—he’s Hugh Jackman. But why is he with her?
Me: Fact is that when they first met, it was Furness who was a much bigger star. Jackman was more of an upstart. She did him a solid by marrying him and putting her career on hold.
Them: (one-second pause and then) HAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA!
The fact that the two of them are visibly in love with one another seems to not matter much to these truth-seekers and truth-tellers.
That a well-respected actress like Furness is also witty and smart and gorgeous does not matter. What mattered is that she was older than Jackman and did not “look” the way a woman is supposed to if she was to hook a man like Jackman. You know, the skinny, drop-dead, traffic-stopping, gorgeous woman?
Like…uhh…I don’t know? Someone like Priyanka Chopra?
But, hey, they didn’t leave her either. Priyanka Chopra “looks” exactly the way a hottie like Nick Jonas would fall for. But even that did not satisfy the viciousness dealt toward her.
It feels like there’s no winning for us women, and it’s so fucking depressing.
But we, women, don’t just give up. Like, Heidi Klum: after saying for years that she would never ever remarry, when she finally did it, it was with Tom Kaulitz—he is 31 to Klum’s 47.
A big, fat fuck you to the systemic patriarchal misogyny of the world!