Jueves 15 de Agosto de 2002, Ip nº 22

Women prefer them young
Julia Roberts, Susan Sarandon and other Hollywood starts are making a tendency of moder women evident: they want their couple to be much younger and less successful than them.

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The latest statistics in British and American censuses confirm that a new sexual revolution is on its way: medium class, economically and sexually independent women, prefer younger men.

Between the years 1990 and 2000, the number of women who live with younger men duplicated in the UK from 12% to 25%. Some sociologists believe it could reach a 50% during the next two decades, with 40 and 50 year old women living with men who have just graduated from college. The change is even deeper in the United States, where 31% of women about 30 (a number three times higher than in 1980) live with younger men.

What is the origin of this tendency? Many say it reflects women's gain of power. "These kind of relationship flourishes in big cities, which offer more well-paid jobs to women, who can therefore choose their lifestyle in their 30s," declared an American sociologist.

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A third factor is that modern women, who were raised with Jane Fonda's videos and the gym culture, grow old slowlier than their mothers. Besides, they are not in such a rush to have children anymore. "There are many opportunities to be grabbed, and the old rules are no longer valid," said Fay Weldon, one of the most popular British writers, who has lived with an 18 years younger men for the last decade. "Babies used to be an essential issue for couples, but now women control their money and their fertility as well, and this has done away with the old priorities," she added before concluding: "For instance, if something serious happened, such as a war or an economic collapse, the old order could be restored. But I think we will see many of these relationships in the near future".

Sociologists believe the tendency to have first appeared in Hollywood, where a series of unions gave women a new model. Susan Sarandon, 55, with Tim Robbins, 43; Courtney Cox, 38, with David Arquette, 30. Sarandon and Cox, on the other hand, followed Cher, Roseanne, Raquel Welch and Elizabeth Taylor; or Madonna, married to Guy Ritchie, 10 years younger than her.

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Petruska Clarkson, a psychology professor at the University of Surrey, says that sex is still the main source of attraction for men. "Masculine sexual impulse has its higher point between the ages of 17 and 26; women start gaining intensity much later, although their impulse never stops growing. In purely biological terms, the best couple is that in which the woman is older". Marco Francesconi, from the Social and Economical Research Institute of London, resorts to a more pragmatic approach: he says that 50 years ago, men would "choose younger, less educated women with less working power, who compensated this difference in other aspects, such as physical attributes. Now, men look up to more successful women who earn more and have more experience than them, without letting this make them feel less men".

Translation by Carolina Friszman


  12/08/2002. La Nación (Argentina).