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Age Activated Attention Deficit Disorder

December/May Romance

When I was in my twenties, I came to know for awhile a couple in which the wife was 18 or 20 years older than her husband who was about my age.

Although I enjoyed meals, day trips and other get-togethers with them, I was still young enough to feel some discomfort hanging out with a woman who was closer in age to my mother than to me.

My failing, but I was young then without much experience with people a good deal older than I was who by definition were intimidating: parents, teachers and employers.

Many years later, I dated for a year or so, a man who was 14 or 15 years younger than I was. He was 27 when we met and I was in my early 40s. Most of my friends thought there were far fewer years between us than there were because, I suspect, we were in our middle years – 30-ish and 50-ish - when it is often easy to be way off when guessing a person's age.

While it lasted, it was a lovely romance and our breakup had nothing to do with age.

Undoubtedly you have heard by now that the new French president, Emmanuel Macron, age 39, has been married to Brigitte Macron (nee Trogneaux) since 2007, and that she is 64 years old.

That age difference has made for fascinating reading in newspapers and magazines. First, here is a short backgrounder:

This December/May marriage has generated a large amount of commentary in France and abroad, and unlike the same age difference – 24 years - between U.S. President Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, some of it has been quite mean.

Town and Country magazine reports that
”News outlets snidely pointed to her deep tan, thin frame, and honey blonde hair, calling her a 'menopausal Barbie.' Some said he was 'hot for teacher,' or had mommy issues, and rumors flew that he was gay and theirs was a marriage of convenience.”

Others portrayed President Macron “as a 'mummy’s boy' who needs Mme Macron to wipe his mouth or give him 'a smack' for misbehaving.”

Glamour magazine reports that Macron has no patience with what he sees as the sexism and homophobia behind the attacks and has criticized the double standard

”... that allows men to marry much younger women while treating older women who do the same thing as deviants—or as covers for homosexuality. 'If I had been 20 years older than my wife, nobody would have thought for a single second that I couldn't be [an intimate partner],' he said.

"'It's because she is 20 years older than me that lots of people say, 'This relationship can't be tenable.'"

On Sunday, Brigitte Macron's youngest daughter from her first marriage, Tiphaine Auzière who is an attorney, defended her mother from those sexist and ageist remarks:

”'I find it totally outrageous in France in the 21st century to make such attacks...These are attacks that we wouldn’t direct at male politicians or at a man who would accompany a female politician. So I think there’s a lot of jealousy, and that this is very inappropriate.'”

No kidding.

The Telegraph in the U.K. saw the December/May romance in a lovelier light:

”The French want their women to be chic, witty, have charm; all characteristics that have little to do with youth; in fact which require experience.

“In fact, there are few more powerful words to a young Frenchman than 'une femme expérimentée'. Literature abounds with stories of young men 'déniaisés” (literally: made less stupid) by women who know what they are about.”

On the U.S. side of the Atlantic, Roger Cohen refused to acknowledge any French ageism, sexism or mysogyny in his New York Times column, and saw nothing but grace in the French reaction to the Macrons' age difference:

”People come to France for its beauty, but what finally beguiles them is its civilization, at once formal and sensual, an art of living and loving. I have been thinking of this non-judgmental French gift as the newly elected president, Emmanuel Macron, and his wife, Brigitte, prepare to move into the Élysée Palace next week.

“They are an unusual couple. He is 39; she is 64. They met, as everyone knows by now, when he was a teenager and she was his drama teacher, a married woman with three children. Macron, through her, now has seven grandchildren whom he embraces as his own.

“To all of which the chief French response has been: Who cares?”

Well, maybe not quite but certainly as it ought to be.

Here in the U.S., it has always been acceptable for old men - often with a wink and a nod toward their masculinity - to take beautiful women young enough to be their daughters as their girlfriends and wives. (Some of those men have been known to turn in those wives for younger models when the first ones don't look quite as fresh and nubile as they once did.) But any woman who does the same is almost always viewed, in the words of Macron himself, a deviant or a beard.

I'm hoping that President and Madame Macron, who appear from outside to be as happy together as newlyweds, will help move women toward parity with men in romance because love isn't all that easy to find at any stage of life and no one should let age get in the way of it.

Comments

We can only imagine what DDT (Deranged -so many other words fit here - Donald T. )would list as desirable characteristics for women in this country, in his deviant mind.

Conversely, what would the women want?

Age easily falls by the wayside when weighing the presence of a love that brings fulfillment to living.

This French President is breaking political and cultural boundaries, which can offer further freedoms and tolerance. His political party has only been in existence for less than a year, eschewing the established ones.

For perhaps a brief time, France's light is shining across the Atlantic, and giving us thoughts of new possibilities while challenging set opinions, including ageism and preconceived assumptions of we older ones that are due for change.

Age truly IS, just a number! Hurray for the French President and his wife! It takes a lot of courage and love to go against the grain! They look great together, and hopefully are as happy as they look.
People also age so very differently! I've known some very old twenty somethings, and some very young eighty somethings! One of the best and most beautiful romances I've had was with a young man 15 years my junior! Circumstances didn't allow us to be permanently coupled, but it truly proved to be a blessing in my life!
I've never understood why it's OK for men to marry women young enough to be their daughters, yet it's ridiculed if women do the same! Time to END that kind of sexism! It's the spirit in people that counts, not the number of years of their existence on this earth! The French have proved to be truly a "shining light" as posted above!

For Goodness sake, people, In this world of such divergent religions, philosophies, sexual orientations, when Love happens it truly is a miracle. Vive la amour! Vive la difference!

Whenever I came across these remarks I thought, "this has to do with government, how?" and moved on. It simply is a non-issue.

BRAVO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I don't waste my time speculating about celebrity marriages, or any marriages for that matter. Nor would I want people speculating about mine.

If I were interested in getting married again he would have to be at least 20 years younger than I because I am unable to take care of an old man. ; - ) . Just kidding guys.

I dated a man 10 years younger than myself and we married. I found myself thinking "how nice maybe he won't leave me a widow" that we might be together longer. And he liked to do the same things I did. The marriage didn't last but it had nothing to do with our ages. It was good for a long time.

For those who think political leaders' personal behavior, such as the nature of their marriages, should be beneath our notice, please consider this:

Barack Obama, however you judge the political success or failure of his tenure, brought a renewed dignity to the office of president that was needed. Among other cultural achievements, he made civil rights for gays and lesbians a reality and with his wife Michelle, made the value of a strong, loving marriage or partnership apparent every day.

In fewer than 120 days following the inauguration, President Donald Trump has, through his gross language and behavior, prideful ignorance and dismissive behavior with his wife, made America more course by magnitudes.

Political leaders have a large effect on the character of the citizenry, on how people view themselves and their compatriots and the best of those leaders can nudge the population toward their better selves and therefore a better country.

President and Mme Macron just might make it safer for older women and younger men to love one another and to marry without ridicule. Personally, I think that's a big step forward in the daily lives of everyone citizen.

What a great post once again. And I love Darlene's comment!!! Made me really smile hugely!

I love the final sentence where you say "because love isn't all that easy to find at any stage of life and no one should let age get in the way of it."

That is so true!!! I don't care if she is 20 years younger or 20 years older. What's important is the love that surrounds the relationship between the two. In fact, I personally would prefer older. Someone who knows what they want and know that they don't need me to generate their happiness within. They do indeed make France shine!!!

We need to acknowledge that the issue cuts both ways. Many NY Times comments about articles on the Dacrons cited the LeTorneau (sp?) affair as well as incidents in which male teachers have entered into love affairs with students as young as 15, the age of Emmanuel Dacron when he first fell in love with his 39 year old drama teacher whom he later married. These adults have usually received punishment ranging from loss of jobs to imprisonment. For myself, I have to say that based on my memories of myself at that age, I feel strongly that young people are fully capable of knowing what they are doing at that age and they are not necessarily abused. Unless there is a true kidnapping, I see no crime.

Perhaps I was influenced in the womb by my mother who was 15 when she married my then 28-year-old father. Their marriage lasted 65 years, so I have always dissented from the idea that the older person in these relationships should be punished. But the general public usually sees it differently.

I second Nancy's emotion!

I cared for a husband 10-years-older than I was with Alzheimer's, and I've said ever since he died that if I ever marry again, it'll be to somebody 15 years younger than I am! Mostly a joke, but not entirely. Vive les Francais indeed.

I agree that the difference in ages should not be an issue for women if it's not for men. However, eyebrows would be raised and more if a 39 year old man in this country had seduced a 15 yo student. I don't know the details of the Macron relationship, so can't really comment further, but personally, I don't think this is an analog for the traditional "may/december relationship we are more accustomed to.

The Macrons are a cute couple! I love the way their heads tilt towards each other in the photo.

The Italians and the Greeks frown on marriages between an older man and a young woman.

I dated a teenager when I was 26. I dated a younger man when I was in my 30s. I really couldn't deal with the age difference. It made me feel old.

"President and Mme Macron just might make it safer for older women and younger men to love one another and to marry without ridicule. Personally, I think that's a big step forward in the daily lives of everyone citizen."

Hear, hear Ronni. I totally agree.

I've admired this brave, classy and forward-thinking couple ever since I first read about them some months ago.

For those who think Mme Macron did the seducing in this relationship, watch the video included in Ronni's post. I think it's pretty clear that this is both a love story and a meeting of intelligent minds. I wish them well.

I married a man when I was 50 who was 36. We'd worked together for many years and had first developed a strong friendship. I also hoped that he would live as long as I would and we would have a great life together. We did have that great life and a wonderful and caring marriage-he went from bachelor to grandpa and was dearly loved by the grandkids and my children, the oldest of whom was a few years younger than his step dad.
Sadly Russ died of a heart attack..proof that we really don't often get our dreams. I often dated younger men as I looked younger when I was in my 30s and 40s..good genes I guess.
I remain appalled at the mean spirited attitude I experienced personally as well as that I read of in today's blog.
Saying the double standard is unfair does no good. The French First Lady is a beautiful appearing woman and I wish her continued happiness. I only wish our own First Lady looked equally happy.

Elle

Happy to read your comments about our presidential couple ! but now serious matters begin, we french people are full of hopes for the future and a strongest european union.

About your mr T : We wait also for the "impeachment" procedure

Congratulations for your blog I follow with great interest
from Paris

I didn't mean we should ignore the personal lives and behavior of our leaders. Not at all. I just meant that what the public sees may not accurately represent what goes on in private. A disintegrating marriage, for example, may appear perfectly normal and happy until the day a divorce is announced.

First, congratulations to President Macron on his win. I was holding my breath. Second, the French show us the way in other areas: Good food, good wines, wearing elegant clothing (not expensive, though) and now living. Viva la France.

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