Sunday, November 16, 2014

On Invisibility

The received wisdom is that women over 40 become "invisible" to men. But this wisdom seems to be contradicted all the time. For example, there seems to be a pretty healthy appetite for porn featuring older women out there. In fact, I first remember reading about it in the NYTimes and when I went back to find the article I was amazed to find the article is from 2006, already eight years ago:
WHO watches this stuff? By far the most avid consumers of older-woman pornography, producers say, are young men fulfilling boyhood fantasies of teacher lust or yearning for the attractive mothers of their friends. Some, it has been suggested, may be tired of what one producer, Oren Cohen, has called, in a recent AVN article, “the young, helpless teen thing.” 
David Joseph, 38, De’Bella’s boss and the president of Platinum X, said: “It’s totally an erotic thing people are attracted to. There’s a huge market out there for older women. I’m trying to understand it myself.”
But the older-woman fantasy is nothing new, even if the video pornography industry is scarcely more than three decades old. It may be that the revival of young men’s teenage fantasies, along with the sexual confidence of older women, is fueling the supply side as well as the demand.
The genre has been credited as the idea of Bonnie Kail, 48, the national sales manager of Wicked Pictures. A few years ago Ms. Kail was working for a small company, Heatwave Entertainment, which specialized in fetish sex, including so-called granny porn, which feature old women. She thought there was room for less freakish fantasy. 
“I had said from my personal experience that, being divorced, I’m lucky if I can meet someone my age,” Ms. Kail recalled. “Most guys who want to date me are in their late 20s. So I thought, let’s get some hot-looking, 40-ish women and make that the theme.”
And this was right before everybody was online all the time. Now you can easily see porn on Youtube, and here's just one sample of what's out there.

And Kail's experience has been the same as mine - it's almost impossible to meet a man around my age, but there are plenty of 20-somethings. Although I haven't found there are a lot of hot 20-somethings out there, at least in online dating. And then there is the problem of 20-somethings with zero social skills and always wanting no-strings-attached sex. 

It's really sick, this need to dehumanize sex partners the way so many men do. And it's even worse for women my age, since there's awful misogynist propaganda like this out there - "The Cougar Method":
My name is Ken Paxlon and I have cracked the code to having a steady stream of women coming to your bed, any time you want it.
It doesn't require you to be good-looking.
It doesn't require you to be in good shape or have lots of money.
All it requires is that you be young, or at least under age 32.
I had to laugh at that. Really? It doesn't matter what you look like? Uh, no. Try telling that to the balding 29-year-old that I just could not warm up to, although he made it clear he wanted me. I just have an aversion to baldness - I really can't help it. I'd love if I didn't have that hang-up, and if the guy had a better personality maybe I could have gotten past it. But I certainly am not going to hook up with a guy only because he's young.

But the real reason for wanting an older woman according to Ken Paxlon, is spelled out clearly in his method:
Cougars are also the easiest women to close the deal and sleep with on the first date. Ok, maybe humongously overweight chicks could be a little easier…but fat chicks will expect a relationship while cougars will not! This is a very important distinction!
It's like somebody wanting a relationship with you is a fate worse than death. Oh no - a relationship! Why ruin all that sex with treating someone like a person? And it's propaganda like this that helps make seemingly all younger men expect instant, impersonal sex with every older woman he meets online. It just really wears you down, to be exposed to the constant assumption that you're a disposable collection of holes.

But strangely enough, in the past couple of months I've found myself being checked out by young guys off-line - maybe now because I've lost weight thanks to all the running. The server at the restaurant across from work, and some very cute guy on the subway who was seriously staring me down, are two recent incidents. And then there is the super-hot 30-something actor (although older than 32 so he doesn't count as cougar bait according to Paxlon) who told me he wanted to take me home with him after I squeezed his bicep (alcohol was involved.) The only problem is, I don't know what to do with that. I have so many self-doubts, I have to question whether I'm just imagining there's actual interest, as opposed to innocent flirtation. And when it comes to strangers, I've never approached a stranger to ask for a date - I've barely asked people I've known for a date - not because I think women shouldn't do that, far from it - just a combination of insecurity and lack of necessity - I've been in relationships more than I've been out of relationships most of my adult life. 

But in any case I seem to be visible, for a woman my age. 

Perhaps it helps that I've never been beautiful, so I've never been the object of constant attention the way really beautiful women are, which must make it much harder for them to suddenly lose their power as they get into middle age. Once they show a few signs of age, not getting lots of attention must make them feel invisible by comparison.

And then of course it must be said that the more extreme effects of the patriarchy have moderated, even since 2006, now that Hillary Clinton is considered a serious possible contender for the presidency. So now older women can be "distinguished" almost as much as older men.