If you bother to read Joanna Weiss' column in today's Boston Globe, expect to get a sense of déjà . . . lu. Like untold polemics that have preceded it, "Hollywood’s burden on aging women" stamps its feet over the unequal treatment of aging in men and women.
You know: male stars are allowed to age gracefully, but women must struggle ever-harder to conform to a youthful stereotype of sex-appeal. Unfair!
The feminist response is to blame the culture, in this case embodied by Hollywood, for promoting shallow, sexist values. But the fault, dear Joanna, is not in our stars but in ourselves, or more precisely, our DNA.
Hollywood—need we point out—is a business. If saggy female stars put male tushes in theater seats, that's what we'd get. But over the eons, the men who focused their attention on menopausal women didn't get to pass on their genes. And so we are stuck with guys who find fertile women of greater interest. And smooth skin and curvaceous figures are nature's flashing neon signs of a woman capable of conception. In contrast, nature doesn't drive women to be so age-selective. An older man can still do his part in conception, and indeed might better able, in a modern world in which success correlates with experience more than with youthful brawn, to provide for children.
Weiss gives away the game herself when she writes: "What smart woman doesn’t prefer the bitter, comic, self-aware Alec Baldwin 2.0 to the callow, skinny 1.0 version?" But the biological imperative says men would be foolish to be more attracted to version 2.0 of a formerly nubile star. [See, e.g., Versions 1.0 and 2.0 of Brigitte Bardot, above.]
All of which is not to say that some men will not prefer the company of women who, by reason of having lived more years, are wiser, and more interesting and compassionate than their younger, shallower sisters. But by blaming culture for men's general preference for younger women, feminism attempts to sweep back the tide of DNA with its broom, condemning itself to eternal frustration.