This is my first blog post for my writing web site. I decided I wanted to address an issue that effects my writing but also me as a person. I’ve been ranting to this to my friends for the last 10 years and everyone just shakes their heads and walks away. I think its a mystery like the Loch Ness monster and why the Kardashian’s are famous.
As a fledgling romance writer of a certain age, let’s just say over 40. I am burnt out on the stories of 23 year-old virgins falling in love with 30 year-old billionaires. Don’t get me wrong I’ll go see 50 Shades of Gray and I can’t wait for the next Gideon Cross book. Of course there’s other stories out there that are interesting and fun but most of them always involve an older guy and younger woman no matter the age gap.
For example, the film Silver Linings Playbook featuring the lovely Bradley Cooper who was 37 year-old when he made that film and Jennifer Lawrence was 22 year-old. The two were in a romantic relationship in the film but their age difference was never addressed. Even if they were playing younger and old characters there was still a considerable age gap. Don’t get me wrong I loved the story with its focus on mental illness and grief however, if the story had featured and older women and a younger man I can tell you that the age difference would have been a BIG part of the story. Why is that? Why is it fine for Bradley Cooper to date someone so much younger? In today’s society it’s perfectly acceptable for men to date younger women without a comment or a sidewise look. Why is that?
Look at leading men like Kevin Costner (59); Bruce Willis (59) and Alec Baldwin (56) they are all in their late 50’s (pushing 60) with wives in their late 20’s or early 30’s when they got married. Why aren’t they labeled dirty old men? Why isn’t there a term like ‘cougar’ for men? You call a woman a ‘cougar’ and people laugh, it’s not a compliment. I guarantee you that no one gives Alec, Kevin or Bruce any more than a slap on the back about who they are married to. However, when Demi Moore married Ashton Kutcher the media tried to break them up before the couple left the church.
I googled the term younger men and older women and nothing came up in the pre-populated field. Normally you’d get five to en choices of pre-populated google suggestions. This wasn’t a good indication what I was going to find. When the images came up of younger men and older women here’s who came up Demi and Ashton, Halle B and Aubrey, Madonna and Guy Ritchie and Mariah and Chris that’s it. All but one of those relationship are divorced, the only person who came up with Sam Taylor Johnson (early 40’s when they married) who is coincidentally directing 50 Shades of Gray and Andrew Taylor Johnson was in early 20’s when they married. The majority of articles that are written about the couple address the age difference however it’s not the same for the people like Alec, Kevin or Bruce. All the rest of the images were stock photographs and creepy photos of really old woman and young guys. I find this truly sad for us women over 40 that we are now just invisible to the majority of society.
One of my favorite romance novels the Education of Sebastian and Caroline by Jane Harvey-Berrick it’s an amazing love story set over a ten-year period. Caroline is ten years older than Sebastian and when they first meet he’s almost 18 and she’s 28. When I begin to tell people about this story many of my friends are turned off before they even understand the entire story. They have an affair but are broken up by his family and are banned from seeing each other but ten years later they then run into each other and rekindle their relationship. This is never a Mrs. Robinson love story this is real love story despite an age difference these two souls were meant to be. If the age difference was an older man and younger women it would never be mentioned however, it wouldn’t be taboo. Don’t let the age difference be an issue, love is love and if there’s a connection you should go for it. You should read this book.
My stories feature older women 35-38 with younger guys 23-25 because I felt there was a gap in the market for these types of stories. This is a common demographic for romance characters if the leads are male and female. Societies opinions on this topic aren’t going to change until people start to understand it better. My first book Instant Connection Vol. 1 features Lorelei a 35-year veterinarian who falls for Holden at a 25 year-old British photographer set in San Francisco. I questioned whether I should put the age difference in the description in Amazon to avoid putting people off before they try it. Like Education of Sebastian, once people get into the story they don’t care about the age difference they are into the love story.
I am not sure of the solution other than to demand content from your favorite authors and media to stop catering to this bias. This issue for me is like gender equality in the work place, if we as woman don’t ask for more pay then we aren’t going to get it. So if we want to see this type of stories we have to ask for it and we have to support them. As women I believe we are programmed, not to ask for what we want, we’d like to be rewarded for our work and having to ask for it seems less of a reward. Asking for what we want we often get labeled a bitch or a ball buster but when men do it they are assertive and commanding. If there’s a demand there will be supply.
Support people like Kirsten Ashley who at least writes books that have 40 year-old real men and woman in them. Her stories don’t have an age gap but at least they feature older women and men who are usually looking for a second chance at love. Check out the Education of Caroline and Sebastian or her other book which also deals with an May December romance, At Your Beck and Call by Jane Harvey-Berrick.
If you have any recommendations of books or movies to check out. Post them here in the comments section, I’d love to see more.