Sunday, 13 December 2015

Christmas - and other ridiculous myths

On this day, in certain parts of The Church, they celebrate the myth of the Virgin Mary. In the ancient Christmas Carol, The Cherry Tree Carol it states from the outset that...

Joseph was an old man

And a very old man was he

When he married Mary

In the land of Galilee.

Questions may be asked as to why this old man was marrying someone who was, it is suggested, very, very young. It seemed his arm was somewhat forced, since she’d become pregnant through some mysterious encounter about which Old Joseph was in the dark. But let’s get one thing absolutely straight: she was no virgin. This was just a silly idea, a cover-up, and a theological sleight-of-hand to explain the yet-invented Holy Spirit.

The Bible’s pretty hot on mystery pregnancies, and doesn’t rule out rape or incest, so the age-gap thing was less of a problem for young Mary explaining herself to Joseph. What’s more, it paved the way for the modern paradox, that it’s okay for young women to go for older men, whereas older men fancying younger women is troublesome. For some.

And this is how it happens in the Bible.

The women-folk are all so desperate
to be ‘with child,’ a patriarchal God
performs a winning hand of magic tricks
to help them out. In the beginning, He
creates a snake and, with a piece of fruit,
imbues creation (or sex) with original guilt.
The Lord, of course, abhors homosexuality,
but after turning Lot’s Wife into a pillar
persuades his daughters to date-rape their father.
To other women, too haggard or barren,
He introduces spite and jealousy
and then opens their wombs to fertility.
Some women are less-keen to get knocked-up;
but Rachel, like Rapunzel who was locked up
in her tower, ended up with twins
who in her womb quarrel like Cain and Abel.
It’s a bitter battle no woman wins.
And Abram, finding his elderly wife unable
to bear a son and heir, abused his servant-
girl, Hagar. Some call this canny; others, deviant.
In years to come, the same capricious Deity                 
by-passes conception immaculately –
although just how this ‘virgin’ explains
it to her aged husband-to-be remains,
in retrospect, the bigger mystery.
He must have been an understanding man.
Or did the Lord endow him with the Wisdom
of King Solomon? The man agreed,
at risk of losing face, to raise a son
conceived not of his own but of another’s seed.
After all, what was this man to do?
He couldn’t exactly chop the child in two.


Lately there was a piece on a crappy website shared on Facebook which, for some reason, I clicked on – and read with horror. In these days of Thatcherite post-feminism, when women get what they want at any (or, if they’re canny, at no) cost, these fifteen reasons for dating an older man were so devoid of love – surely the bedrock of a relationship – that I found myself extremely riled. This was the premise of the piece:


Are you interested in dating an older man, but unsure about making the leap?  Then we suggest you take a look at some of our reasons why you should snatch yourself a silver fox, because let’s face it: older men just do everything better!  *Wink-wink*

Perhaps *Wank-wank* sums it up better. This was not the most intellectual set of suggestions, nor was it based on a particularly robust understanding of psychology. The user-responses were hardly academic either (nor are mine, especially) but they ranged from describing women as ‘gold-diggers,’ to expressions of seemingly genuine love of older men. A general denial of pot-bellies and little blue pills was evident. There was a wide range of age-differences from the women who spoke of their older partners, and this, I guess, is the most significant factor.

It is said (by god-knows who) that a good age-gap calculator is to half a person’s age then add seven: this gives a socially acceptable age-difference. So, generally speaking, teenagers date their own age-band; it’s not unusual for a woman of, say, 22, to be with another person in their twenties, or for a man of 35 to have a partner in her mid-twenties. It would be less-normative for a 25 year-old woman to be married to a man well into his fifties. But behavioural psychology does not presume to question love; nor does it offer any answers.

In psychology – and love – nothing is ever quite what is seems. Ultimately, the age-gap calculation is only a rule-of-thumb, and can be used as judicially as terms such as cougar, panther, silver fox, or manther. Who are we to judge? Yet questions remain. Some people turn to the Bible for answers; some to other ancient sources, or to art, or literature, or music. Some go to the incalculable idiocy of the Internet. And this is how it is in Modern Life…

(I have quoted, in full, the statements but not included the stomach-churning pictures. My response follows each)


For the most part, older men don't live with their parents or share their living space with roommates. Hell. Yes.

So a Younger Woman can free-load off a man who has his own living-space, subtly impose her stamp on his lifestyle, but keep her own cheap shared-flat in case of needing a quick-and-easy get-out. Sure, it’s good if a single, Older Man lives in a nice wee flat, or – better still – mansion but that won’t guarantee they’ll be free of the fortnightly visit of offspring from a former relationship. Unless they are so significantly older their kids have grown up. In which case, you’ll get to meet someone your own age at Christmas, lucky Younger Woman! Hell? Yes.


They typically know exactly what they want out of a relationship. That means no games.

The implication here is that younger women don’t know what they want, and therefore game-playing is on their agenda and will be one-sided. Which is insulting to both genders. Games, quarrelling and bargaining are important aspects of any relationship. That said, if a relationship is simply a game, or if either is playing off the other, this is not a stable basis. It’s more of a gamble. You’d better keep your ‘poker-face,’ Younger Woman, if he’s gonna ‘put a ring on it.’ (Don’t worry about him not getting the contemporary cultural references: just keep singing ‘The Winner Takes it All’ – he knows that one. Or soon will.)


Older men won’t try to change you because, like we said, they know what they want out of a relationship.

Do they really know what they want? If they do, then they are perhaps more controlling and conniving than is comfortable in a new relationship. If they want equality and shared experience, they’re onto a loser anyway. But feel free to try and change them because, as these statements seem to be saying, Younger Woman does not know what she wants. Older Man will be humming ‘Just the way you are,’ while Younger Woman drunkenly hollers, karaoke-style, ‘I am what I am’ – fully intent on changing according to her whim (or developing maturity.)


Older men typically have good manners. And who doesn't love a polite gentlemen?

And younger women have none? Courtesy, politeness, good manners, etiquette: the definition of all these is pretty fluid, and dependent on so many factors, not least age and upbringing. The word ‘typically’ seems to floating on thin ice here. Out-dated manners are insulting to many women. The indication that men should be ‘gents’ and woman, ‘ladies’ applies only to the signs on lavatory doors these days. If bedside-manners are not equal, then neither is the relationship. Put away your Debrett’s, Older Man, or hang on to your regrets.


Oh, and did we mention older men are just plain hot? Two words: Silver fox!

Does it not concern the reader that ‘hot’ is not a sensible or pleasing description? Neither is ‘plain.’


They are more experienced in and out of the bedroom. You know what they say: practice makes perfect!

If you’re expecting ‘perfect’ sex (the ‘out of the bedroom’ bit is unqualified) then you may well be disappointed. The idea of sexual ‘performance’ seems to be the tone here. If Younger Woman yearns for something a little less vanilla, she will go and find it (out of Older Man’s bedroom.) Conversely, if his experience leads him to want something a little more ‘exciting,’ the chances of this being grounded on equality seem dubious, given that Older Man has the upper hand of experience, so we’re told. Of course, he might not be so experienced or willing to experiment; in which case: good luck, pal. She’ll be taking you for a ride, either way.


With age comes wisdom and intelligence. Not to mention, older studs usually shell out great advice.

Do you want an aged counsellor to whom you are peculiarly attracted, who exudes fake wisdom and may not be as clever as he seems just because he has had a few more years’ life experience? Go on then, Younger Woman. But be prepared to agree with everything he says, if that is your perception of him. Until you find you’re wrong. Let’s shell out one more piece of advice while we’re at it (whatever ‘it’ is.) If your ‘older stud’ calls you a ‘fine young filly,’ feel free to kick him in the knackers. That’s where – if he’s an older stud – he’ll be heading anyway.


Older men make you feel young(er) because, well duh, they're older than you. That's definitely a plus!

No: younger women make older men think they are younger when, in fact, the age-gap will become even more contentious as it diminishes. Down the line, should children appear in the arrangement (and they might already factor, if he’s seen a bit of life) it will be clear to the Young(ish) Woman that a retired man may not have the necessary income to raise her child(ren.) He may die before seeing the child(ren) into adulthood. Furthermore, he may be a grand-parent to his first flush of child-bearing sexual encounters. Younger Woman, you married a Granddad. Ew.


Older men are generally more well off. Even though that's not a be-all, end-all, it's still a nice perk.

Let’s face it; if they’re not well-off, then the tenor of this statement suggests there is little point in dating them. If money is a ‘nice perk’ then you might as well forget about the sex. As for love… I was coming to that. But, nah!


Maturity is key in a relationship, and who wants an immature man?

And why would a mature man want an immature woman? Then again, age and maturity are different things. It’s perhaps likely that Older Man will want Younger Woman because he has ‘immaturity issues’ (too many to begin to contemplate here) that will be revealed as the relationship develops while he no longer does so. To keep this idea simple:  there are two ‘key’ elements to a good relationship: maintenance and reparation. These are what help a relationship develop and mature. The idea of a pre-packaged maturity seems, paradoxically, rather na├»ve.


Older men are usually easy-going and much more relaxed than their younger counterparts.

If only that were true: this is a stereotype that the younger woman will soon see through if he is emotionally unstable. Which he may well be if he is being seduced by womanly youth. And the ‘younger counterparts’ – what the hell does that imply? Perhaps, ‘Potential Suitors’ is the term we’re looking for. The potential for jealousy seems to be simmering under the surface. Well, Older man, you’d better stay relaxed while your Younger Woman is out with those naughty counterparts. Let’s hope that ‘easy-coming’ isn’t ‘easy-going’ as far as she’s concerned.


They can also be more grounded.

Such a meaningless statement, there are no grounds for any response.


Older men are more able to help you get through tough times, both emotionally and mentally.

Do older men really have more emotional or mental stability? Tough times: what does that mean? The tough times will be when you’re having to care for them in old age when physical and mental attributes diminish. You’d better fit that stair-lift, Younger Woman. Or save up for those Nursing-Home fees. Or just get out while you can.


They know how to have an intellectual conversation and keep you interested.

Unless they turn out to be intellectual frauds whose conversation runs quickly out as your shared life-experience turns out to be limited and exclusive. People in their 50s have chest-freezers and quote lyrics from Rod Stewart or Carole King. They drive slightly embarrassing cars, like Peugeot Estates, and wear jumpers. They have a penchant for reminiscing on children’s TV-shows and quoting adverts from the 1970s. Hardly intellectual, but if you don’t know what brand of beer “stays sharp to the bottom of the glass” your relationship will soon lose its fizz.


Young men like to score as often as they can, but older men like to take things slow. That being said, they are usually also more loyal.

These three statements do not make syllogistic sense. Older Man will see Younger Woman as a ‘trophy.’ Given his (implied) inability to “go fast,” Older Man will be reluctant to lose Younger Woman. This said, it is no wonder he is likely to be loyal – even if his ‘trophy’ has the tendency of her male counterparts (by which I mean age, just to clarify my use of ‘counterpart’ here) to score often. Older Man may not get another chance, and will (if he is as wise as his years suggest) forgive Younger Woman for even the most horrific infidelity.

He may resort to bringing up a child that was possibly conceived while his ‘trophy’ played – and scored – elsewhere, even in the knowledge that this child might not be his. And all the time, Younger Woman has Older Man exactly where she wants him – domestically, financially – tied around her finger. If she is really canny, she will have got him to put a ring on it, binding him, while biding her time ’til Older Man is, frankly, far too old to be of use. And then she will spit him out and pick on someone her own age.

Which is what Older Man should have done in the first place.


I will post more of my “And this is how it is…” poems in the coming months, and plenty more over the year. Meanwhile, I’m off to sing Christmas carols about Virgins, Angels and Wise Men - and other things that don’t exist.