It was 25 years ago, I sat in a movie theater in Statesboro, Ga., during the winter of 1998 watching Titanic. Young girls swooned and gasped as Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jack Dawson was on screen, especially when he puts on the tuxedo. And during the death scene as he is freezing to death in the icy waters of the North Atlantic, these same teenage girls were crying.
Now, they’re probably sneering as it’s been rumored that DiCaprio, now 48, may or may not be dating 19-year-old model Eden Polani. Of course, DiCaprio, or just Leo as he is known, has had his private life spilled out in Page Six over the years since the days his posters graced the walls of Millennials, Gen Xers and even Boomers. Before there was an argument over Team Edward or Team Jacob divided lonley housewives, Leo’s Jack Dawson was what most women wanted.
But now, during the MeToo Movement era where people are double-thinking age gaps in relationships and “grooming” is on the lips of everyone, the question is why should we be mad at Leo for only doing what has been done for ages. It was often the norm for someone to marry off their teenage daughter to an older man. Whereas George Jetson has already been born in 2022 in The Jetsons universe, Jane hasn’t been born yet. And some people have noted that “daughter Judy” was born when Jane was 16.
While I’m not going to go into further the sexual lives of fictional cartoon characters from the 1960s, it was still common for a lot of women to expected to be married by 18. Loretta Lynn, may she rest in peace, was married at 15, to an older man. And if you watch the very awkward scene in Coal Miner’s Daughter, she was raped on her wedding night. But back then, it was considered consummation of marriage. I mean in Rosemary’s Baby, John Cassavettes’ Guy, says he still had sex with Rosemary even though she was raped by the Devil. But still, it’s disgusting for him to say he went ahead and had sex with her anyway.
Try putting that line of dialogue in a movie today and see how people react. I’m sure a lot of women cringed back in 1968. And the line is made even worse when you consider the movie’s director, Roman Polanski, was later convicted of drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl in 1977. He fled the country in the winter of 1978 and has never returned. And despite what some defenders have said, it was “rape rape,” Whoopi.
Going back to Leo, he seems to often date women in their young 20s. One of the jokes is that now Titanic is over 25 years old, Leo wouldn’t date it. In 1993, when Leo started to get well known in roles like This Boy’s Life and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, the biggest movie of the year was Jurassic Park in which Sam Neill, who shares the same birthday as I, was 45, playing Dr. Alan Grant, who was dating Dr. Ellie Statler, played by Laura Dern, who was only 25.
Yes, it was awkward then and it’s awkward now. It was so awkward that when Joe Johnston directed the third one, he made sure that they were no longer a couple because he said they didn’t seem like a couple. It also doesn’t fall under the Seven-Year Rule in which you’re still allowed to date someone half your age plus seven years, so he would be just fine with someone who was 30.
Steven Spielberg originally wanted Harrison Ford in the role and Ford is five years older than Neill, which would’ve made the relationship more awkward. Speaking of which, his affair with Carrie Fisher, who was 14 years younger, is still a little cringeworthy considering she was only 19 and he was 33. But some would say that since they were both consenting adults, it’s no one else’s business.
I mean, during Leo’s formative years, it was often expected for older men and younger women to get together. Look at Entrapment where Sean Connery, at 69, whose love interest Catherine Zeta-Jones, was almost 40 years younger. Yeah, I’m not so sure a lot of elderly men would be hooking up with women about to turn 30 in real-life in 1999 or whenver. In theory, Zeta-Jones was young enough to be Connery’s granddaughter. Yet, we were okay with it because it was Sean Connery. At least Roger Moore had the good decency to walk away from playing James Bond franchise when he realized at 57, he was older than the mother of Tanya Roberts who was his A View to a Kill co-star. Roberts was only 25 during filming.
It’s part of our society. A lot of men are wanting women they can control. It’s easier to control a woman when they’re younger and their brains aren’t as developed. And most men know this. I also think women prefer going for the older guys who they think are more mature.I began to notice as young as eighth grade that some of my fellow classmates were dating the sixth graders at middle school. It never did strike me as right. Someone who is 14 is too old for someone who is 12 or even 11.
Then, when we were in high school, there often was a two-grade difference. Juniors dated freshmen girls while seniors dated sophomore girls. Every now and again, a senior dated a junior or a sophomore dated a freshman, but it was a rarity. Some seniors tried to date freshmen girls but they just wanted sex. And there’s a big difference between an 18-year-old senior and a 14-year-old freshman. It’s just creepy. And even though the age of consent in Georgia was 17, it still was a little weird.
In college, it seemed not to matter. I had just turned 19 when fall classes started and there were thousands of co-eds all over campus. I had a hard time trying to find someone to be with. I began to exercise a lot my third and especially fourth and last year. There was this young woman who was a student worker at the recreational gym. She was older, like 26 or 27 while I was only 22. I mentioned to one of my friends who worked with her about it and he just reminded me of the age gap. It was five measley years.
Yet if I was a 27-year-old grad student dating a 22-year-old college student set to graduate at the end of the semester, would people say the same? Of course not. It was common for older men to be with younger women. I even knew a few people who were still in college dating high school students, which is wrong in so many ways. There was always a senior girl who was hanging out with her college boyfriend. One of my friends was dating his girlfriend when he was in his second year of college and she was still a high school senior.
I don’t like telling people who they should date and even though we have laws, you have to draw the line somewhere. I exercise at a gym at the nearby college. I’m 44. There’s young women there who weren’t born when I was in college. To me, they’re kids. Yes, they’re pretty and gorgeous and have great bodies. But they’re not there to be ogled and leered at by the creepy old 40-something guy.
There’s enough people their own age doing that. There’s a video online of a woman who went out on a blind date with a man who was laying the machismo down so thick you need cement boots to get through it. He orders for her and doesn’t even act the least bit like someone to go on a second date. Yet, in his mind, he thinks all women want someone to tell them what to do and anyone who doesn’t is either a feminist and/or lesbian.
I think it’s because our society put women in a situation in the 20th Century and many previous centuries where they had to have a man. It’s not even 50 years since women could get credit cards in their own name. When I was a kid, if a woman went to go try to buy a home or a car, I’m sure she was hit with this question, “And who’s the co-signer?” Women still don’t get paid as much as men, but they’re getting better jobs and banks and real estate offices are changing.
So, for the last few decades, men are realizing that women don’t need them. Women are standing up to them when they’re being jerks and they don’t understand why, because it always happened. No, women tolerated it because that was the way things were handled. Our socio-economic status at one time was that men would be the bread winners while women would take care of the home. I remember stories from my home town where they didn’t even expect the high school girls to get pass 10th grade. So, a lot of them got a certificate of attendance rather than a diploma.
So, women are changing but the men aren’t. They’re wanting women they can control so they go after the younger women because it’s easier to have a young 20-something than an experienced 30-something. I also think more women are looking for partners, while more men are looking for caretakers. That’s why “weaponized incompetence” is becoming more well known. Men are afraid to step up and take care of their kids and do more work around the house that doesn’t include riding a lawnmower for 35 minutes each Saturday.
And I know more men want control of younger women because I’ve seen it happen to women I know. These older men want control. They want to tell women where to go, what to eat, who they can and can’t talk to. But they don’t see it as abuse. They just see it as being assertive and they have to be assertive in relationships. And if they can get women who are younger, they won’t see it as abuse either.
I’m not saying Leo is doing this as a sign of abuse or assertiveness. Leo’s parents divorced when he was young so that could’ve had an effect on his feeling of committment. It’s hard for some people not wanting to turn out the way their parents did. I also think we need to quit blaming younger women for having “Daddy issues” when they do date older men. It’s not their fault. It’s their fathers’ and they need to own up to it.
That being said, we need to stop criticizing younger men who date older women. We called them MILFs, Cougars, cradle robbers, etc., but we gave no slang to men who pursue younger women. I was in a relationship with an older woman and the criticism I heard was that I wouldn’t be able to have a child with her. There’s more to being in a relationship than just having children. I think if more young women were taught they’re worth more than being a brood mare, they’d be more confident women. Even Jinger Dugger has seen the light and if a Dugger can see that then there’s hope.
Yet we see this more and more with the end of Roe v. Wade and how states are telling 10-year-old rape victims they need to have the baby, it’s obvious how some men view the other sex. There’s probably many other men out there worse than Leo, scoping out colleges, fitness centers and beaches, looking for young women they can just have sex with and control until they get tired of. Even in Biblical stories, we tell people that Joseph was some older bearded guy with a young teenage Mary. So, if they’re learning this in Sunday School, they grow up feeling that they have to have the younger women when they get older.
In reality, Joseph probably was just a kid himself along with Mary. That’s if you believe in the story of Joseph, Mary and the birth of Jesus.
What do you think? Please comment.