Follow Up Part 2 – Reactions by Other Writers to Sexist, Condescending 50 Something Men Who Think They Are Final Arbiters of If Women Are Attractive Past Age of 40 (Re: Esquire Editorial by Junod)
- (Link): Obnoxious, Condescending, Sexist, Pervy Esquire Editorial by 50-Something Year Old Man: “In Praise of 42 Year Old Women” – Condescendingly Reassures 40 Something Women He’d Sex Them Up
Follow Up 1:
- (Link): Follow Up – Reactions by Other Writers to Sexist, Condescending 50 Something Men Who Think They Are Final Arbiters of If Women Are Attractive Past Age of 40 (Re: Esquire Editorial by Junod)
Note: as to this link below, at the LA Times, the section on the page entitled “It misleads women into thinking they have time” was actually quite sexist. I have chosen to not paste that part of the page in.
That part was written by a Charlotte Allen who argues that all men will always favor 22 year old women over 42 year old women, mostly because most men want to have babies.
I don’t know what rock that woman writer is living under, but women in their 40s still get their periods every month and conceive ((Link): read this page for starters – that is one but several pages I have on this blog noting that lots and lots more women are getting pregnant, some for the first time, over age 40).
I personally never really cared if I had a baby or not, but I think it’s sexist to say that women over 40 are basically unvaluable (to men) because, in the writer’s opinion, they’re all barren (they are not, by the way. A lot of “oops” pregnancies happen to women over 40, because they go off birth control under the mistaken notion “I can no longer get pregnant, or not easily.”)
- By ALEXANDRA LE TELLIER
Women don’t need a writer dressed in feminist clothing to define her worth by his own narrow definitions
Tom Junod set the social web aflame with his article praising 42-year-old women. Never did one think that Esquire, a men’s magazine that’s stayed above the lad mag fray, could enrage so many people. But that it did, with people accusing Junod of sexism.
“Let’s face it: There used to be something tragic about even the most beautiful forty-two-year-old woman,” Junod begins. Now, he writes, “it may be said that the best thing that forty-two-year-old American men have going for them is forty-two-year-old American women.”
It might sound like a compliment, but women aren’t buying it.
… I asked some of our female writers for their thoughts, and here’s what they had to say.
Where has Junod been?
… And, men, you now have Esquire’s permission to objectify women in their 40s without being creepy to other men. (But, again, only if the women do Pilates and yoga.) This expands your potential ogling to hundreds, even thousands more women each year.
Kidding aside, I find the whole premise of the piece to be completely outdated, if it was ever true to begin with. It’s as though Esquire and Junod have been cryogenically frozen for the last 20 to 30 years and woke up to discover this new creature in mass media called the Modern Woman. She’s independent! She’s empowered! She’s still sexy at 40!
But my biggest complaint is that Junod and Esquire reinforce the sexualization of women in general — the idea that the value of a woman is how much she arouses a man.
–Kerry Cavanaugh, Times editorial writer
Don’t listen to a man in feminist clothing
What has happened to the 42-year-old woman — and the 30-year-old one, and the 60-year-old one and, I hope, the 16-year-old one — is that she does not need Esquire magazine or any stereotyping writer dressed in feminist clothing to define her worth or her allure by his own narrow definitions.
The 42-year-old woman who hones her mind, or her generosity toward others, or her force of character, instead of her body, will continue to be defined best by her values and the values of other deeper-thinking people who look at more than whether a woman is “desperate” or yoga-toned or scantily clad or “tough.”
Many people, men and women, are opening their eyes and minds to new definitions of attractiveness and the arc of aging.
Think of the young woman who is winning worldwide praise for the photo showing herself wearing a bikini and her colostomy bag. As forward-thinking as Tom Junod’s article purports to be, he reveals himself to be more a relic of mid-20th century values than as a smasher of them.
–Karin Klein, Times editorial writer
Where Junod is right, and where he’s wrong
After reading Tom Junod’s ode on the glories of 42-year old women, my first reaction was: Sophia Vergara is 42? She looks so much younger!
My second reaction: The fabled Mrs. Robinson of “The Graduate” was 42? She looked so much older!
As Esquire magazine points out, 42 is not what it used to be.
But I wouldn’t zero in on women in their 40s as the breakout generation for the physical and psychic revolution Esquire credits to them. Never before have women in their 40s and 50s and 60s and 70s aggressively taken such good care of their bodies and sloughed off old-school restraints on dressing their age, whatever that is. (I say this as a woman in her mid-50s who bought a halter dress yesterday.)
Hollywood still worships young female flesh (think of whatever obscure young actress Vanity Fair spotlights like a pin-up on an inside page each month), but Junod is right that the entertainment industrial complex has expanded its outlook somewhat to deem actresses in their 40s still beautiful — and bankable — not just fadingly beautiful.
What hasn’t changed, apparently, is the conceit of older men lusting after younger women: Junod is in his mid-50s. Let me know when he writes a paean to women in their 60s.
–Carla Hall, Times editorial writer
Note about next link: the page below has a photo of wrinkled, gnarled 50 something Junod, who is the guy sitting in judgment of whether 40 something women are attractive (the other guy, who is bald and appears 60-ish is even more unattractive than Junod):
- Meet Tom Junod, Esquire writer and his pal David Granger, Esquire’s editor-in-chief. They feel entitled to talk about the relative hotness of women of various ages. Most recently, 42-year-old women. We just thought you might want to see them. That is all.
- An homage in a men’s magazine to the ‘carnal appeal’ of 42-year-old women is no great feminist win.
- By JENI MARINUCCI
…. What Junod has been able to give us is a rising awareness that we matter now, because at 42 years old, we are still worthy of male attention of the boner-kind, and therefore, we are still valid. Let us raise a rally cry to women of our age everywhere!
… Call off the suicide pacts and put those sensible sandals with sturdy heels and smart buckles down! All is well because Tom Junod and Esquire think you’re still DOABLE!”
… So wait; is he implying we should just wear snow pants year-round? I guess he is, unless your body is smoking hot from all the workouts and stuff you do.
You know, those exercise routines we joke about but do anyway because we are terrified of tight-assed, perky breasted 20 year-old women, or worse – terrified of becoming or looking like our mothers.
I laugh sometimes; usually about my unrealistic quest to maintain the youthful glow of my early thirties, and I laugh hardest while I’m alone folding my family’s laundry, eating the Twinkies I keep hidden in a fabric softener box. How did Junod know? Is he peeking in my windows? Should I cover myself?
Junod goes on to prove his point about the allure of the “older” woman by naming several beautiful, funny, intelligent, and talented female celebrities who also happen to be 42 years-old. The list of women includes Cameron Diaz, Sofia Vergara, Leslie Mann, and Jennifer Garner.
These women — despite being halfway to the grave — have several other things in common, including bank account balances which at the very least help to alleviate superficial stress lines in the forehead region.
I wonder if Junod met me in person — or any other “average” 42-year-old woman — would he then feel the same way? It doesn’t matter, because what we as women think about ourselves has little consequence.
(Link): Dear Esquire, 42-Year-Old Women Were Always Damn Sexy by Ann Brenoff
- Really Tom? Tom, Mrs. Robinson was 42. And since I’m 64, that makes me old enough to be Mrs. Robinson’s mother. Actually, according to Wikipedia, it seems you are old enough to be Mrs. Robinson’s father.
So I’m a little perplexed about how you came to the conclusion that a woman at age 42 can still be alluring. And by “alluring,” we know you mean “sexy in a boinkable way.”
You see, Tom, the truth is we were always alluring for men whose brains weren’t located in their tightie whities.
Just to be sure, I checked with my husband and he confirmed it: We still have sex and we most certainly were having it 22 years ago when I was 42. In fact, he just called me a hottie.
Actually, what he said was “Are you making chicken again for dinner tonight?” But I knew what he meant. Old people have buzzwords too, you know. Wink. Wink.
So, I’d like to educate you about 42-year-old women — assuming I still have enough memory cells intact and don’t start hot-flashing — things I know you must be familiar with given your exhaustive study of “older” women.
For one, 42-year-old women don’t all look like Sofia Vergara. And for two, I can state unequivocally that they always have been having sex — even the 42-year-olds of decades ago. Dare I suggest that maybe they just weren’t having sex with you?
- by REBECCA ODES –
JULY 14, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT
Did Tom Junod have any idea of the shit storm he’d provoke when he wrote his love letter to the slightly older female? He delivered it like roses, like a knight rescuing the formerly middle-aged woman from ignominy.
He even gave a nod to feminism for empowering the object of his lust.
Somewhere, there is a 42-year-old woman who read those words and felt the embrace of acceptance fall over her sculpted shoulders like a fresh blowout.
Maybe it helped push her through her hundredth Pilates Hundred. Maybe there are thousands of these women clinking glasses of rosé in triumph. But I have not seen them sharing this article on Facebook with smiley emojis.
What I’ve seen has been the entire internet rolling its eyes in unison.
Men’s magazines are built on the premise of man as subject, and woman as object. We can (and should) rail against this all we like, but these are old brands with no vested interest in making radical change.
Women in Esquire are not supposed to be people, they’re supposed to be sexy.
This is wrong. But lots of magazines are built on selling people wrongness. It’s been established that Junod’s backhanded compliments were irksome and sexist and probably the last thing actual 42-year-old women need. What I’m more interested in than his flubby endorsement is what’s actually going on with women in their 40s.
Is there in fact a new relationship to women this age as sex objects?
It’s not just Tom saying so: Junod’s was one of two stories in Esquire exploring the new lust for grown-ups. The other was Stephen Marche’s take-down of the term MILF, with which I largely agree. Baby-making excepted, I believe in keeping the M and F concepts as far apart as possible.
If you buy the theory that the need to spread seed inspires male sex drive, we have the creep of fertility to thank. The hormonal swan song can manifest as (Link): [female] increased libido (which speaks to the “sexual prime” myth).
But there may be factors that are less sexual than situational. The fetish favors women who have crossed children off their list, whether or not they have any. So … no pressure! And less worry about getting a woman pregnant when she’s past her reproductive prime — which can come in handy in an age of uterine warfare.
Do not let old, reality-based ideas of aging lead your mind astray here. The women Junod taps with his magic wand of fuckability are not the gray haired, saggy titted women of Older Ladies.
They are the balyaged and discreetly injected Housewives of East Hampton. They are celebrities, or women who look like them. This is not a widening of the scope of the ideal.
It is a widening of the funnel that fits women into it. It is not about learning to love (or accept) the flaws of age, but about the ability of 42 year olds to mimic young women’s bodies through science, hard work and “sheer will.”
And don’t forget feminism. Even the right to continued objectification is considered a win compared to the crone’s life that lies beyond.
Is this progress? A woman is no longer considered pathetic simply because of the number of years she has lived. She is only considered pathetic if she fails to convincingly assume the shape of a woman who’s lived a decade less. With time, money, genes, and good taste, she can be rewarded with an extension of her one note symphony. She can still be desired.
When sexual value is paramount, it’s no wonder women are so desperate to hang onto it.
But a woman in her 40s is not defined by her desirability (if she is, she’s on a sad road, indeed).
Even if Esquire wasn’t willing to sanction their appeal before, reports of the previously tragic state of 42 year olds are (Link): greatly exaggerated.
Dustin Hoffman’s character wasn’t filled with self-loathing because he was having sex with a woman who happened to be old. He was filled with self-loathing because he was having sex with the mother of the woman he loved. (The fact that Junod has this confused makes me a little worried about his psychological well-being.)
But where Junod’s piece makes a questionable case for the 42 year old as a newly discovered jewel, Stephen Marche just states the obvious: despite cultural norms, women can be attractive at any age, and at any reproductive status. Special nomenclature is not required.
So yes, we can dispense with the MILF, please. Cougar too. The predatory association may seem powerful, but take it from Tom: What makes a woman attractive isn’t her strength, it’s her vulnerability. (Roar.) He’s wrong. What makes 42 year old women sexy is not their weaknesses, or the predictability of the yogic physiques under their sundresses. It is that they are women who know too much to give much of a shit what men like Tom Junod think of them.
- [snip Junod opening, quoted in this piece]
And so it begins. Tom Junod tries to understand how women have pushed back against the shallow constraints society has always imposed upon the ticking time-bomb that is their age and beauty. How have they conquered the stresses and stereotypes of age? By working out and staying beautiful of course! Spoiler alert; there’s nothing alluring about a 42-year-old woman unless she manages to look 30.
[snip Junod’s quote about the film The Graduate, about Mrs. Robinson]
In actuality, Mrs. Robinson wasn’t 42. Bancroft was 36 when she played the role that would become synonymous with “predatory old sex fiend” forever. She was just six years older than Hoffman in “real life.”
And while we’re on the subject, did we see the same movie? Because I’m pretty sure Hoffman’s character was disgusted by the fact he was sleeping with his fiancé’s mother – not because he was putting his penis in what Junod clearly thinks is a dried up old vagina.
What is the point of declaring that 42-year-old women are sexy now, and holding up images of movie stars who have all but defied aging completely? Junod doesn’t mean 42-year-old women are “sexy” – he means they are doing a great job looking younger and younger every year.
[snip Junod quote]
Oh, it’s feminism that makes us sexy! Thank God you threw that bit in because I was beginning to think you were a caveman with a teenage mail-order bride at home. Junod simply can’t see past the body – but in attempt to pretend that he can, he peppers his article with some clever catch words like “feminism,” “freedom,” and “smarts.”
It bears mentioning that the writer himself is 55 and just getting around to realizing that he finds women nearly fifteen years younger than him attractive. What’s the matter Tom, are 24-year-olds not impressed with literary awards these days?
Better hit the gym, dude.
Reader input from that link at Facebook:
comment by Vivian Ramirez
As if any woman needs Tom Junod’s validation. Please.
by Kathy Ledbetter
Viagra chugging men judging a women’s looks compared to her age….how about we compare their looks and age to any man out there at that age? Most of these men doing the judging would never have a women like this give them a second look to begin with.
by Pamela Beecher
Give this guy [Tom Junod] a club and a deer skin to cover his you know what, where he keeps his brain, obviously. I am 60, still feel sexy and enjoy my normal sized body. I do go to an exercise class as I find it improves my health and my libido. Wonder if I’d find this writer attractive? I’ll have to look him up. haha
6 · 23 hrs · Edited
by Pamela Beecher
Well, I’m back. I looked at his pics and he appears to have once been attractive, but for a man in his fifties he’s kind of let him self go. He could use some work at the gym. Otherwise a woman my age might want to go out with him, but probably not a woman in her forties! Just my opinion. I hope he doesn’t feel objectified.
by Dann Harper
I didn’t know Esquire still existed. Isn’t it for old men who drive corvettes?
by Ray Smith
[quoting by idiot Haki Crisden who, yes, completely misses the point:]
“He writes a column saying 42-year-old women have sex appeal, he is also attacked for it.”
Totally misunderstanding the point. He is being attacked for supporting objectification of women and pretending it’s feminism.
by Jennifer Waters
Well, it’s one thing to appreciate women, and Esquire certainly makes a point of that, primarily focused on their bodies.
It seems that the issue here is making the claim that as long as we’re young-looking and hot, it’s ok to get older. Wow. I’m 52 and certainly don’t want to be invisible, but it stings when a man reinforces the idea perpetuated by our culture that the purpose and value of a woman is being pleasing to men.
We’ve been working hard to move beyond that. Women also objectify men by seeing them as success objects, and that deserves criticism.
by Ellen D. Murphy
by Pam Munro
The thing he doesn’t get is, even [actress] Sofia Vergara doesn’t look like Sofia Vergara at home….she has a TEAM of people who work to make her look this good… hair, makeup, trainers, stylists, photogs etc. When you see pics of these celebs sans makeup they do NOT look like this. She looks good mind you even without make up, but not anything like this.
by Alex Bassi
This is nothing new. Some 42 years-old women were hot 10, 20, 30, 40, etc years ago. Look at Sofia Loren or Demi Moore for example.
by Jennille Smith
I don’t get it, he thinks 42 is old? Not an interesting topic unless we are talking about octogenarians or older. Is a woman’s value in her sexiness? Of course not. Gross magazine, perpetuates perverse stereotypes about what men supposedly want.
Related posts, this blog: