Saturday, July 19, 2014

The coming cougarocracy

I actually dislike the term "cougar" for women dating younger men, since the term for a man dating younger women is "man" - cougar merely highlights the male entitlement that humanity has lived with for millenia.

But I think the age of extreme male entitlement is winding down, which has men's rights activists (MRAs) freaking out.

You do have to kind of feel sorry for Tom Junod in his cluelessness. I'm sure he felt he was delivering a compliment to the ladies - and even feminists - when he wrote in Esquire:
A few generations ago, a woman turning forty-two was expected to voluntarily accept the shackles of biology and convention; now it seems there is no one in our society quite so determined to be free. Conservatives still attack feminism with the absurd notion that it makes its adherents less attractive to men; in truth, it is feminism that has made forty-two-year-old women so desirable.
For his troubles he was mercilessly mocked by Tom Scocca (whose work I have admired here in the past), as well as others.

Scocca:
Tom Junod is willing to entertain the thought of intimate relations with women all the way up to 75 percent of his own age. Tom Junod, age 21, cruises into the high school parking lot to tell the 15-year-olds they're still OK. (He shakes his head at Sweet Sixteen parties, though.) Tom Junod, age 30, is ready to consider dating a summer intern in his office, even if she has already finished college. Tom Junod, age 85, tells a 63-year-old woman not to worry, she's still got a little something going on, in his eyes.
Junod didn't help his cause by regally declaring that women under 43 are fuckable when he himself is 56, and a worse-for-wear looking 56 at that. 

The subtext, as the mockers rightly understood, was not a celebration that male privileged had ended, but rather, according to Tom Junod, male privilege had lessened slightly. For Tom Junod your sell-by date is a full 14 years earlier than his (probably more.)

Fun fact: back in the 1980s a Japanese woman's sell-by date was 25, which is why unmarried women over that age were called "Christmas cakes."

This is the very essence of male entitlement - the right for any man, no matter how old he is or what he looks like, to sit in judgment of the sexual value of any woman, and to express that judgment publicly. It's such an in-grained state of affairs that I'm sure it didn't even occur to Junod that he would be called on it. I expect he's thinking: "why didn't they give me any points for that?"

One of my favorite comments in the Gawker thread under the article was this:
Oh, Tom Junod, women didn't need to read your article to learn that men - even ones who seemingly bring little to a relationship other than a nasty sense of entitlement - expect to date women who are 10 or 15 years younger and consider themselves rather saintly for passing on the opportunity to creep out teenage girls. We have OkCupid for that, and it comes with some nifty quizzes too. Your article could do with some nifty quizzes.
That's been my experience too, with online dating sites. And the men my age presented to me by dating sites are as a rule extremely ugly. Which may be indicative of the site's algorithm's opinion of my own appearance, but it doesn't matter any way - men my age, no matter how ugly, think they're too good for me. They want, and fully expect to get, a younger and very attractive woman to marry them. Their entitlement is sickening and as common as dirt.

But the joke's on them. Many women writing into the Scocca Gawker thread had comments that very much reflect my experience too:
That is exactly what happened to me when I hit 40. Young men coming out of the woodwork, and the older men that I just didn't find attractive at all. Impossible to find someone in their late 30s. I'm 52 now, and it is still true. There is an endless supply of young men out there who appreciate older women.
***  
56 yr old lady here, and i had a FWB thing with a guy a year older than my daughters. Bragging? Indeed!
***
yup. can't find a guy my own age, but anyone way older or way young is game. sexism at work.

***
Like many women my age, I could be banging a different 20-something-year-old guy every week if I wanted one. My problem is that I have to get to know somebody a little bit before I can bang them, and I have to like them at least a little too, and many 20-something-year-old guys are in a big hurry to get right to the sex. They have zero savoir-faire.

For example: a couple of years ago I met the 24-year-old son of a movie star (you would recognize his name immediately) at my friend Renee's Halloween party. He immediately started hitting on me, which was not only unexpected but a little embarrassing, he was so blatant about it. He didn't try to have a conversation with me, just kept saying suggestive things at me. So eventually I decided to get out of there -  I had drunk two glasses of red wine and had a huge headache coming on already and I wasn't comfortable with the guy's attention.

So I get home and there's a phone call - it's him. Renee gave him my number. And here is a paraphrase of the conversation:

   HIM
Hey what up? What are you doing?

   ME
Going to bed.

   HIM
How about if I come over?

   ME
Now? It's 3AM.

   HIM
I like you.

   ME
OK thanks. I'm old enough to be your mother.

   HIM
I don't care about that.

   ME
Well OK, I think that's very progressive of you. But I have a huge headache now. Listen, how about if I buy you brunch tomorrow and we can get to know each other a little?

   HIM
I don't have time for that.

   ME
You don't have time for brunch?

   HIM
I'm not interested in brunch.

   ME
Listen, I have a show coming up - maybe you would be interested in being in it. We could talk about it over brunch. 
(Of course having the son of a movie star in my show would be a huge draw.)  
   HIM
No, that's OK.

   ME
Look, of course I'll pay you. We can talk about your fee to be in my show. It's a good play - you'll like it.

   HIM
I'm not interested in talking about your show.

  ME
Oh, well OK. Look, I'm really tired.

  HIM
What if I just come over now?

   ME
Really, look, I'm flattered. It's been a while for me, if you know what I mean, so your offer is very tempting. But I'm just not feeling that good right now.

HIM
Well that's a shame.

   ME
Yeah. Well give me a call if you feel like brunch OK?

   HIM
Yeah right.
(I hang up.)

What a creep. If he had exhibited even an ounce of charm - or really, just plain human decency instead of treating me like some middle-aged blow-up doll something could have happened.

I guess he isn't used to being turned down - or even being asked to have brunch first before the sex.

I guess that's what the kids refer to as a "booty call."

Sigh.

My point is, if that is going to be the choice of women my age - men the same age, who don't even want us, or old men, or twenty-something guys, clearly we're going for the twenty-something guys.

Which means that before long there will be a whole cultural phenomenon of young men making their way in the world by bedding older women, and using those connections to get ahead - or at least be supported. Young women have done it for eons, and the only reason that young men haven't had the opportunity to do it much (unless they were gay) is because women didn't have any money. And we still don't have as much as men. But that is changing. And that is why male entitlement is eroding. 



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