There are many ways the feminist dream can turn into a nightmare. Most of them involve flawed assumptions that men won’t ever adjust to women changing the rules. The Telegraph has a new article out describing one way this is happening: Love in the time of austerity.
As the cost of living escalates, so it seems, has the cost of loving, at least for the more mature woman. While older men remain willing to prise open their chequebooks for a 25-year-old whose alabaster complexion would grace the yacht of any concupiscent billionaire, an increasing number are ignoring the traditional etiquette of courting when it comes to women over the age of 35.
While it would seem inevitable that men would eventually figure out that women are extending the age of courtship beyond all reason, the tone of the article is shock that it could ever come to this. Suddenly these very untraditional women are all about tradition:
Gallantry is in retreat, buckling under the forces of recession, spurious excuses of equality – and the assumption that such women are in no position to protest…
The article is full of quotes from both men and women anecdotally confirming the trend. The only statistic offered in the article is that the number of women between 35 and 50 who are currently single has increased 7% in two years. While it is light on hard data, at the very least it points to the risk of becoming committed to the trail. Actually the trail is likely the only thing these women have any commitment to, which is why they are bemoaning their fate. Otherwise, why do they find themselves looking for romance and the next stepping stone on the path of serial monogamy as they enter middle age? Statistically we know very few of them are in this position through no fault of their own. There may be the odd widow or exception to the rule regarding excuse #6, but these are going to be few and far between. The vast majority of these women have hopped from stone to stone on the path of serial monogamy until the path disappeared in front of them.
We learn about 39 year old Jennifer Ames, who lost her accounting job last year and as a result was forced to give up the expensive gym membership, beauty treatments, and shopping sprees she used to stave off the effects of age. Her boyfriend noticed the difference and broke up with her. He now has a new 25 year old girlfriend, and why shouldn’t he? He had made no commitment to Ms. Ames, and she hadn’t made a commitment to him. If you are playing the boyfriend/girlfriend game there is no commitment there, only one or both people keeping their options open.
The author also quotes a male friend of hers on the topic:
I’d be prepared to invest a lot of money on a woman under 30. There’s more mileage there and you feel good having her on your arm. Why would I spend money to have a 40-year-old middle-ranking executive on my arm instead? And if she is on my arm, she’d better pull her weight financially.
Again, why not? Both the under 30 and the 40 year old women in question are out to get the best deal they can without becoming tied down. If he is going to forgo the moral path of marriage just as the women are doing, why shouldn’t he act in his best interest?
Another man in the article makes a similar point:
While I would happily spend money on a real babe, over whom other men are competing, I don’t feel the need to do the same with an older woman who is probably desperate…
The entire article is worth a read, but it closes with a particularly entertaining bit of rationalization. It turns out that middle aged women are going to punish men their age for preferring young sexy women, and will take their no longer sexy selves off the market! You go aging girls! Hit them where it hurts! The author explains:
Once, wining and dining grown-up members of my sex were willing to overlook men’s imperfections in search of a committed relationship. This gave men a certain sexual power, even if it came tinged with gratitude. No longer.
Looking for commitment? I respectfully suggest that she doesn’t understand the meaning of the word. There is a very small likelihood that a woman finds herself in her late 30s or 40s unmarried after seriously looking for commitment. But it isn’t just her who is punishing men for no longer being willing to foot the bill for her serial monogamous lifestyle. She tells us about another middle aged woman who is closing up man-hopping shop! 42 year old Eliza Budsworth is staging her own form of man strike at the injustice of being asked to split the cost of a romantic getaway. How dare he! What kind of a woman does he think she is?
I had the chance of a romantic weekend in Venice last month but the man who asked me wanted half the hotel bill up front, and so that was that. In any case, that sort of attitude doesn’t really sweep you off your feet. I know I’m not this year’s top model, but if men who aren’t exactly George Clooney are only willing to be generous with 23-year-old sexpots, they’re also the long-term losers.