Older women: Sexy or scary?

According to a British tabloid, "record numbers" of single women are dating younger men. Be afraid, be very afraid!

By Amy Benfer
May 29, 2008 9:01PM (UTC)
main article image

As you may have heard, there’s a little movie coming out this week that concerns the dating rituals of a certain class of Manhattan women who spend more on footwear than some of us do on rent. But while I've never counted myself as a fan, and will not be whipping out my charge card to celebrate with my girls, the pre-"SATC" backlash is still pretty creepy. Case in point, this article in the Metro U.K. that dares to ask the question: "Are Older Women Sexy or Scary?"

The author -- Lisa Scott, whom I presume to be a woman -- starts off by asserting that "Sarah Jessica Parker and co. have been criticized for being too middle-aged to be tottering around in their Manolos" (by whom, in this sloppy journalese, remains unclear). As evidence that the stars themselves are "just as concerned" with putting their presumably deteriorating flesh on display, she points out that "only" Cynthia Nixon agreed to do a nude scene, while Kristin Davis was "horrified" when asked to do one of her own. Because, you know, if a successful actress declines to flash her tits on camera the only plausible explanation is that she must be hiding stretch marks and unsightly bulges.


But wait! There’s more. Scott's main concern is identifying a new social phenomenon: "record numbers" of single women in their late 30s, 40s and 50s, some of whom seem to be seeking out -- gasp! -- younger men.

Yes, the C-word is back. Can someone please explain to me why, when middle-aged guys pick up girls who could be their daughter's age, they are high-fived and congratulated for, you know, following some essential evolutionary drive toward procreation, whereas women who do the same thing get slapped with a cutesy feline nickname that implies both a feral instinct for the hunt and a possible fondness for wearing tacky animal print clothing?

Scott doesn't bother to ask any of the so-called cougars what they might find interesting in younger partners (or if, perhaps, it's a reaction to men their age going after younger women). Instead, she rounds up a bunch of guys in their late 20s and early 30s. To be fair, few of the guys actually say that they find older women "scary." (In fact Lorian Payne, 29, says he was pleasantly surprised to discover that the women at a 30-plus cocktail mixer were not "middle-aged, slightly bitter divorcees who were destined to end up keeping cats.")


But c'mon, Lisa. These women are not, say, Harrison Ford, who had a blockbuster movie this week at an age when he is actually qualified for membership in AARP. The youngest, Cynthia Nixon, is 42; the oldest, Kim Cattrall, is 51. That puts them right in the same age range as Brad Pitt (44) and George Clooney (47). But come to think of it, Chris Noth, who plays that dude whose name always reminds me of a penis, is now 53, 10 years older than his on-screen paramour, Sarah Jessica Parker. Girl, what are you doing with that creepy old guy?

Amy Benfer

Amy Benfer is a freelance writer in Brooklyn, N.Y.

MORE FROM Amy Benfer

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Broadsheet Love And Sex Sex And The City