Saturday, September 22, 2007
The ‘Whose-your-daddy’ Girls
The heartache behind women looking for father figures
A lot of girls find older guys attractive. Yvonne Scott says so, but movie zeitgeist - of late at least - seems to support this view.
The Wackness and Meeting Venus are contemporary examples of this phenomenon. But while Ms Scott is advocating guys up to the age of 25 as ‘suitable’ dates for high school (teenage) girls, these movies go to the extreme.
The Wackness is about a dagga smoking therapist who becomes smitten with a teenage patient (played by Ben Kingsley and Kate Ohlson respectively). Although the kissing scene lasts a few seconds, no one knows yet why or how the teenager ends up kissing a man 3 times her age. But apparently they never see each other again (in the movie), and the kiss serves as a catalyst for the grandfather (I'll bet) propelling him towards some sort of happily ever after.
Girls From Venus
In Meeting Venus we see a similar theme: a very old man becoming obsessed, even falling in love with a young woman more than half a century younger.
For me Meeting Venus was an important lesson, even a reality check. After all, everyone will get old and lose their attractiveness, but is anyone ever too old to be attracted to youth and beauty? This to me is the central theme behind the whole parody of young girls hanging out with much older men. It’s not necessarily a theme unique to the male sex either.
Obsessions with youth are part of the archetypal story of how we go into the good night; how we face death. Some might argue that we don’t need to die before we breathe our last breath. Others will say: Accept the inevitable eina, and move on.
Moving away from ‘extreme age differences’, it’s interesting to look at this closer to home; from a more Southern African perspective. The Mswati Reed Dance in Swaziland is a useful example.
Virgins younger than 22 years of age dance topless, and while it originally wasn't ostensibly a ceremony for the king (the ceremony was conceived for the Queen Mother), the king attends and uses the venue to choose a wife. Sometimes he takes a few extra days to make up his mind (and who can blame him for that?)
In 1999 the then 33 year old king picked a 17 year old schoolgirl to be his eighth lawfully wedded wife. This year the 39 year old king – who makes Hugh Hefner look like a Georgian Monk by comparison – had around 100 000 young maidens dancing for his pleasure.
A British newspaper, the Telegraph, pointed out in its article ‘Swaziland King has eyes for 14th wife’ that “many of them [were] hoping to catch his eye.”
Yvonne Scott mentioned exactly what the attraction was in these circumstances.
"[Older men] are mature, over the trying-hard-to-impress-age; they have cars, and are allowed to grow their hair to a hot length."
“Of course another very appealing aspect of dating an older guy is the prestige that goes with it.”
What is more prestigious than being chosen by a king? It must be something like a beauty contest for all these girls, with the rewards being crowned princess, and the title becomes a lifelong commitment.
Drawing The Line
Of course Scott astutely placed a cap for herself and her peers on how old the older man ought to be. She said 25 years for high school girls; Mswati is 39. I wonder what the proportion of the 100 000 under-22 maidens have mixed feelings about Mswati’s age. A poll would be interesting.
While it is perfectly normal for teenage girls to prefer older boys, there is a dark side to the more extreme Sugar Daddy Syndrome. It has its roots in childhood, and is based on a desperate yearning of a young girl for a father figure.
Perhaps the father figure was entirely or partially absent, or perhaps the child was adored as the ‘apple of her father’s eye’. Then divorce or death caused a permanent separation, bringing the warm cocoon of safety and attention in the young girl's life to an abrupt end.
Girls seeking partners or husbands who are able to provide this ‘Daddy Safety’ do so without knowing it. Can absent fathers ever be replaced?
It is easy for men to wrongly assume that their partner’s strong desire for personal security is a normal one, or that the extreme and insatiable fantasy of being ‘Daddy’s Little Princess’ again is a conventional one.
Men who lavish their girlfriends with gifts, taking them out constantly to restaurants and on luxurious weekend trips may unwittingly find themselves eventually adding the role of father to being a husband or boyfriend. This is often more responsibility and pressure than a man can bear.
I’ve seen this scenario unfold, and it ends very unhappily ever after. A friend of mine who idolized his wife and lavished her with caring attention finally got divorced. His beautiful wife is now engaged to an almost 60-year old man (about twice her age). In retrospect my friend – who is my age – must realize that he had an impossible task in store for him when he got married. Did his wife even know she was looking for a husband who could heal and answer her painful need for a gentle and doting father-figure?
From the male perspective, there is always the incredible power and beauty of youth. With so much pedophilia doing the rounds, it is not appropriate or politically correct for older men to openly admit that they find teenage girls or twenty somethings attractive. But women at this stage are at their most attractive.
The power and beauty of youth has a bitter edge to it though. It is said that ‘youth’ is wasted on the young. At a certain age people may find themselves ‘over the hill’, and may wish they had enjoyed their lives more and hesitated less.
In Meeting Venus we see this heartbreaking reality poignantly represented when the old man waits desperately on the pier to meet his young friend. He waits even long after it is obvious that she is not going to arrive.
The beauty of youth abandons us all in the end. When we see beauty enfolding in others around us, we watch with awe and some sadness. Their time, and not ours, has come. Put the past away, and let them have their turn.