by Stella Ramsaroop
(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 25 May 2006)
I have always thought is a funny thing to watch an older man ogle a young girl who could easily be his daughter – and sometimes even his granddaughter. It is not like that grandpa has a chance in hell with that young beauty, but that does not stop him from falling all over himself to stop and watch her for as long as possible.
Why do we find such a sight funny? Well, basically because we expect an older gentleman to have learned how to display a bit more restraint in areas such as these. What is even worse is when these men make such a display of themselves right in front of their wives.
I simply love to point out the irony of the double standards of obvious socially acceptable behaviour that exists between the two genders. For example, how many times have you ever seen a woman walking with her guy and nearly fall over a complete stranger while trying to catch a look at another man?
I can guarantee you that this is not something that occurs on a regular basis. Women just have too much respect for their men to act so unseemly. It is not as if women just don't see the good-looking guys. They most certainly do see them and would love to stop and take in the scenery, but would not lower themselves to such a tasteless situation.
Yet it seems the older a guy gets, the more prone he is to openly eyeball a full bosom attached to a young face. What about his wife? You know, the woman who lost her own youthful figure when she bore his children? What about the woman who fixes his food everyday and cleans his home?
Surely this lady deserves enough of his respect to be able to walk next to him without the insolence of having him ogle another woman. Don't tell me a man cannot control himself long enough to give his wife the respect she deserves for the 30 seconds it takes to pass a beautiful woman. That is just nonsense. He is not an animal without reason; all men have the capacity to consider another person's feelings before he acts.
I don't think a woman should ever be subjected to such atrocious behaviour no matter what her age, but there is a point in her life when she is rightfully due an elevated amount of respect – which should of course include being able to take a walk with her husband without his eyes straying to every pretty young girl who walks by.
This brings me to another double standard - or rather, because of the aforementioned male behaviour there has developed another set of standards that applies to women. It seems like a natural development that if even older men who have been married to the same woman for 20 or 30 years have to ogle young women – then his wife will oft times try to look younger so he will ogle her instead.
She should never be put in this position in the first place, but this double standard in society has women doing everything possible to try and look as young as possible for as long as possible. It is simply absurd for a woman of 50 to be expected to look like a fresh 20 year-old girl. There is something seriously wrong with society.
Society considers a man distinguished if he is in his 50s, balding, getting grey hair and wrinkling. Society allows men to grow old with respect. However, a woman in her 50s who is greying and getting wrinkles is considered old. Why are women not afforded the same respect?
Instead, she is expected to colour her hair, fix the wrinkles and even get surgery if necessary – or she deserves nothing more than to be traded in for a newer model. Women are subjected to any number of unreasonable expectations and as a result her insecurity grows exponentially as she ages instead of being able to rest in the monumental achievements of her life.
ABC News Nightline aired an interview with the beautiful Isabella Rossellini in which she talked about being nigh onto 54 years old and the way that society handles a famed beauty as she gets older. She said that when people say, "Ah, you don't look your age," they think of it as a compliment, but it is the exact opposite.
I completely understand what she is talking about. I have people tell me I don't look 37 all the time – as if there is something wrong with being 37. I am proud to be 37 and wouldn't want to be 25 again for anything in the world. The older I get the more grounded I feel with the world and have no desire to return to the precarious position of being a younger woman again.
Isabella put it like this, "Isn't it a bit like telling a gay guy you don't look gay or a black person you don't look black – your skin is not dark enough?" Why is it so difficult for society to accept that women who are in their 30s, 40s and 50s are still beautiful? Gloria Steinem once told someone who told her she didn't look 40, "This is what 40 looks like."
My mother-in-law, who is well past her 50s, is just as beautiful now as she was in her younger years. She is absolutely stunning, yet she still hates to let others know her age. What a pity that she has to pretend to be younger when she should be able to rest in the fact that she is beautiful no matter what her age.
This discrimination against women forces us to seek to become an unreachable idea and reduces us once again to nothing more than a pretty face to be admired. The longer women play along with these hypocritical double standards, the longer we will be expected to be naïve 20 year-olds instead of the wise and intelligent women we really are. Ladies, we have so much more to offer the world than just a full bosom.