Emile Ratelband feels he looks a lot younger than he is.
Though he is 69, he feels only 49, and his doctor agrees that he is really very youthful. And he would have far better luck on the job market and in dating if he was actually 49, and not nearly 70.
Emile Ratelband feels younger than he is.Credit:AP
So Emile has launched the world’s first legal action to have his age legally changed. Transgender people, he argues, can change their sex. He should totally be allowed to change his age.
Ah, Emile. I haven’t met you, but I have met so many of your kinsmen on dating sites.
You older men are all convinced that you look and feel so much younger than you are, and so tweak your age to attract a woman much younger.
Just this week on a dating app I saw a man who is magically four years younger than when I met him four years ago, another who is five years younger than when I met him last year, and a third who has Benjamin Buttoned an astonishing eight years.
These men will all argue that they feel, act and look so much younger than they are, that they should be recognised as such online. The fact that we women recognise immediately that they are lying doesn’t seem to be an issue.
They argue that age is just a number, and that you are only as old as you feel.
Well, age is not just a number, and it is certainly not an "expression" of self like gender identity or religion.
Age is a unit of measurement. It is an absolute fact, much like your height is an immutable fact.
Though these men feel their own age is 'just a number', they do not afford that same leeway to the women they date.
You might feel tall, you might even wear high heeled shoes, but when you get out that tape measure you’re still five foot four.
But these men know this to be true. And they are not taking years off their age because they feel so much younger.
They are taking years off their ages so they can date younger women.
Interestingly, men tend to look for women younger than themselves, but the older the man gets, the bigger the age gap he is willing to accept.
And so, though these men feel their own age is "just a number", they do not afford that same leeway to the women they date.
A woman’s age is immutable, and a deal breaker. Even if she "feels" and "looks" younger than her age, they will see that 54 or 48 and immediately swipe left.
My point is that men like Emile do not walk the talk; they see their own age as fluid, but women’s age as fixed.
“But women lie about their age too!” I hear you cry. And yes, some women do lie about their age, and they shouldn’t. I do not.
However, women lie about their age to have a chance at dating men their own age. They know that men prefer women who are younger than themselves, which takes men their own age out of their own dating pool.
And so, to avoid being stuck with men twenty years older (because age isn’t just a number, it’s a stage of life and energy levels) they take a few years off.
Women lie in an attempt to date men their own age. Men lie in an attempt to date women who are much younger. Ask Emile.
Ageism is clearly an issue in our society. Older people, particularly older women, are routinely undervalued.
But lying about our age (or, absurdly, legally changing our age) isn’t the answer, anymore than legally changing the measurement of a house will make it bigger.
The answer is for us to value older people, and, importantly, to value ourselves as we age.
There are some pretty damn awesome older women out there. If Emile and the other Benjamin Buttons just recognised them, they might have all found partners by now.
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