Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Biology of Sexual Attraction

By all accounts the biology of sexual attraction is not a social construct. It is not even being dictated by Hollywood.

The life-follows-art crowd believes that men find older women less attractive because Hollywood always portrays younger women in romantic encounters. Those who believe that they can  change the world and modify human nature by producing new movies where older women are locked in fiery passionate love affairs have every right to try to impose their views of the rest of us. Of course, they have to answer to the box office.

And they have to answer to an immutable fact that every woman knows, but that no women, until now, have been willing to discuss. Think about it, what with the public display of every intimate secret about female psychology and female anatomy, the purveyors of this splendid, near-pornographic exposure have ignored one simple fact. Namely, that a certain time in her life, generally when she crosses the threshold of fortydom, a woman will become invisible the male gaze. When she walks down the street she will not turn heads. It will not much matter what she is wearing, the male gaze will rest dormant in her presence.

We have heard so much chatter—and it does not deserve the name of thought—about the dread male gaze and how it objectifies women that we ignore the fact that many women appreciate an admiring look, even they do not appreciate leers and gawks. And those women who like being admired for their appearance can tell you, once they reach a certain age, that they recall vividly the moment when they became invisible.

However much today’s advanced reproductive endocrinologists can extend the zone of a woman’s fertility, they cannot extend the time when she turns heads. True enough, we have a cosmetic surgery industry to make women, and some men, look younger than their age, but the truth remains, and it seems to be an objective fact, that raw fertility, in the biological sense, explains, in the most simple and direct way, why women of a certain age no longer attract the male gaze. For those of a more theoretical bent, it surpasses even the fetishization of the female body.

One would like to add that it has something to do with pheromones, but that would make it more difficult to explain why the same reaction occurs when men see an older actress on the movie screen. We might consider it a new challenge for the movie industry: how well can they disguise a woman’s age so that an older woman receives the same longing looks as a younger woman does.

Now, we are happy to report, Pamela Druckerman has ripped away the veil and has written a book about the issue. The book is called There Are No Grown Ups, and it recounts her personal experience of aging gracefully, and at times, not so gracefully. The book received a favorable review in The New York Times, by Allison Pearson.

Naturally, Pearson says that it’s all about ageism, yet another in the litany of bigotries we are supposed to be alert to. In truth, if you ignore reality you will never run out of things to protest.

She explains:

Ageism may well be the last taboo, but keeping it in place is not just male prejudice but the female’s secret dread of losing her youth. Rossellini says that LancĂ´me told her women dream of looking young. How does it feel to have your sexual currency depreciate that abruptly — and what stock, if any, can replace it? There has been remarkably little good writing about this thorny topic but here, with excellent timing, comes Pamela Druckerman’s pitch-perfect and brutally frank “There Are No Grown-Ups.”

It happens when Druckerman is around forty. Since she lives in Paris, the experience is rendered in French. Pearson explains:

Around her 40th birthday, there is “a collective code switch” as waiters start calling her “madame” instead of “mademoiselle.” Logically, Druckerman knows she is entering middle age — she observes it in the lines on the faces of her peers — but “I just didn’t expect ‘madame’ to happen to me, or at least not without my consent.”

Shocked, she realizes she has been counting on her own preternaturally youthful appearance to not only endure, but to gain an advantage. “In my 40s, I expect to finally reap the average-looking girl’s revenge. I’ve entered the stage of life where you don’t need to be beautiful; simply by being well-preserved and not obese, I would now pass for pretty.”

But, it is not all lost. At forty Druckerman can still attract a male gaze, but it is not quite the same gaze as she had been attracting before.

Many women calculate in this competitive way; most are too tactful to say so. Not Druckerman. She has a reckless candor that can make you laugh and gasp at the same time. Men, she says, appraise her in the street now only if she is in full hair and makeup, and the message in their gaze is, “I would sleep with her, but only if doing so required no effort whatsoever.” Ouch.

Speaking of her sex life, Druckerman already wrote a magazine piece about her husband’s fortieth birthday gift. You see, the man asked his compliant wife for an experience, not a gift. The experience was a threesome... with another woman, of course. I cannot say whether it made her feel as though her husband’s libido was tiring of her… but, we can always speculate. As you can read in the above-linked piece, Druckerman complied with the request.

Pearson closes her review on a cautionary note:

Oh, and one final point for Pamela Druckerman. You think your 40s are a challenge? Wait till menopause, honey.


Sam L. said...

I like older women, but then I'm older, too.

Sam L. said...

IIRC, I remember reading yearrrrrrrrrrs ago that Ben Franklin recommended younger men go with older women, because they're so much more appreciative of the attention. And the risk of pregnancy was lower.

Anonymous said...

Its all in the hands. We so often miss the visual clues that are there and which our subconscious mind sees. Think about it. After a certain age women have to be trained to use their hands in dance. Why is that?

Anonymous said...

Ridiculous. I am a 55yo post-menopausal female and I am getting more attention than ever from men of all ages!