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10.2.08

The Boy Toy

What is a boy toy? And where can I get one. Shop.com says I can get one for $10.95. That seems reasonable. I might check ebay, though. Seriously, the Random House unabridged dictionary says a boy toy is:

1. Slang: Disparaging. A young man noted for his good looks and sexual prowess, esp. one who maintains relationships with older, more powerful persons.

2. a female sex object.

Disparaging? Really? Okay. Let’s get specific. A boy toy in romantic fiction and more and more in the general population has come to mean a younger boyfriend/husband with an older woman. In romantic fiction, the older woman, younger man scenario has grown in popularity over the last few year. I’ve always enjoyed it—three of the books on my keeper shelf are early Harlequin Temptations which covered that relationship and the neurotic reactions to it. Woman afraid they’d be shunned and looked down on… Do we still have those same fears? My husband is younger than I am, and believe me back when we dated and got married in the early 90’s, I downplayed that as much as possible. It takes a lot of strength to brave a plethora of Robbing the Cradle jokes.

There’s some sort of unspoken rule that has always said the man must be older. Why? Societally we've been told the guy should be a few years older. In early romances this gap was outrageous to today’s thinkers…the hero was usually close to his forties while the heroine was often eighteen. That gap closed in the late 80’s and early 90’s but you’ll usually still find the hero is a few years older. Psychologically speaking, this is because woman have instinctively sought a protector. It stems back to the whole hunt and gather thing. Men provided. Women bore the young. A younger woman was better equipped. Physically, the much older man/much younger woman set-up makes little sense. While female fertility drops in their thirties, male fertility drops then as well. Women tend to have about a seven year longer life expectancy too. Excuse me, but wouldn’t a man with good swimmers who can accompany you into your later years seem a good choice.

More women than ever are “robbing the cradle” now. In fact, about one third of women between 40-69 are dating younger men. Women are successful in their own right. They don’t need a protector. They don’t necessarily want kids any more either. We can provide for ourselves, thank you very much. Our choice in men isn’t limited as it once was.

If only we could convince our inner voices of this. We tell ourselves we should look a certain way, we should look for a certain kind of mate, we should act according to societies statutes. We’re afraid people will think of us as Mrs. Robinson…

Romances featuring older women and younger men give permission to pursue the kind of relationship we may want or fantasise about. These stories show how this sort of relationship can work. These are “grown-ups” in healthy relationships. Serious relationships, not flings.

As women, we are free to choose who we want as mates. More and more we’re exercising that right. Books about these relationships are helping change traditional mindsets. So is Hollywood. Do these couplings sound familiar? Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher, Madonna and Guy Ritchie…these are just a few.

I’m going to go out on a limb here…so shoot me. Women are looking better and better as they age today. We’re taking better care of ourselves and forty today doesn’t look the same as forty thirty years ago. We like options and we like to feel good. Many younger men appreciate our success and our intelligence. And a lot of women are looking to feel good, particularly after divorce from their traditionally older man. Relationships or flings with younger men might be the perfect remedy for injured self-esteem.

In the end though, hooking up for this reason is temporary. Women aren’t necessarily looking for boy toys… Perhaps that is more disparaging than it appears at first glance. We demand what we want and don’t necessarily sit back and let society tell us what should be. There are options we were never “allowed” to consider. Good options. Men who might just end up being the love of our lives. We’re looking for fun, interesting, exciting and yes, just a little taboo. A guy who feels…great. A partner. A mate. And when it comes down to that, well age doesn’t really matter. In real life or on the pages of a book.

Cheers! ~~Brynn

7 comments:

Bronwyn's Blog said...

This is a wonderful article, Brynn. Great insight...althouth I admit to more than a little curiosity about the ones for 10.95 at Shop.com.

lyntaylor said...

Fantastic blog Brynn! Oh, and would that 10.95 be in $US or £?? ;)

Catherine Chernow said...

Loved your article, Brynn. All through history, it seems that men were allowed to take younger wives and it was okay, so now it's our turn.

: )

Summer said...

Brynn, you made some excellent points. My husband is younger than I am, and my hero, Brit, in Breaking the Rules, is younger than Margo. It's a theme I like!

Ashley Ladd said...

Great blog! I used to be one of those women who craved an older man. I didn't think younger men were sexy - and then I went and married one. Well, he's only 5 months younger and we graduated the same year at school, and he says we're the same age, but it used to bother me. Right now, I'm 48 and he's still 47. Big deal, right? I remember it used to be that older men looked distinguished and the majority of older women just looked old. That's changed. Now, women are taking better care of ourselves and we look great - think Goldie Hawn and Renee Russo and Madonna. In fact, I don't see man good-looking older men anymore. Maybe it's because I'm now 48. Now, the younger men are looking much better to be. But boy toys aside, I keep telling myself that age shouldn't matter. When I started dating my hubby, I assumed he was older. When I found out he was younger, that didn't suddenly make him a different person or change our relationship. Several of my friends married men 7 years younger. Maybe that's a magic age difference. My mother's second husband was 5 years younger than her. When I watch romantic movies they usually don't tell their ages, which is the older and it could be that the women is older. I think Doris Day was 5 or 7 years older than Rock Hudson. Does that make Pillow Talk (one of my all-time favorite movies and I think the academy award winner for 1959 - my birth year) any less fun or romantic? No.

Anyway, it seems I wrote a whole second article on this subject.

Thanks Brynn!

Dakota Rebel said...

Mr. Rebel is younger than me too. He was the first younger man I ever dated, and he will be the last.

I think it helps that men are maturing faster than they used to as well.

Great post.

Hope your little one is doing better.

XoXoXo
Dakota

Brynn Paulin said...

Thanks everyone. This was a great article to write.

Bron and Lyn-I think this is USD. My mom told me I should check e-babe. LOL.

Catherine-exactly.

Summer-I love younger man plots. I'm writing one now in fact.

Ashley-Thanks! Awesome addition to what I said. I love the insights.

Dakota-Thanks, he's a bit better. Now the older one has it. Oy vey!