Pathologizing Desire: Current contempt for age gap relationships serves to strip both men and women of their agency

Jessa Crispin in the Boston Review:

The older man coupled with the younger woman is Hollywood tradition, from a young Audrey Hepburn pursued by Cary Grant (Charade), Fred Astaire (Funny Face), or Humphrey Bogart (Sabrina) (all of the men looking overripe and easily bruised at the time of filming), to Catherine Zeta-Jones writhing in front of Sean Connery in Entrapment, or marrying her real life partner Michael Douglas, twenty-five years her elder. This age gap coupling is also a reality; around 30 percent of American heterosexual marriages consist of men at least four years older than their partners.

Yet conversations around film—from the unfairness of the way women “age out” of roles, disappearing from our screens once they hit middle age, to the new belief that film should provide moral instruction and depict life as it should be rather than how it is—have problematized the age gap in heterosexual couples. Owing to this new taboo, both real couples and fictional couples that display these age gaps are roundly lambasted on social media.

More here.