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Grandma will set the tone - The reasons why younger men marrying older women will become more common

Older Woman, Younger Man, Marriage, Singapore

Social attitudes, particularly in Asian societies are clear – a younger man must have a mother complex or be a good for nothing if he wants to marry an older woman while a younger woman who marries an older man is respected for finding a man with a good future.

The prevalence of these attitudes is strong but the forces in favour of changing these attitudes are graining strength.

Just look at basic demographics. The populations of emerging Asian nations like Japan and Singapore are aging. Even China's population is set to go 'grey.' Women also tend to live longer than men. As such, the proportion of older women when compared to the rest of the population is likely to grow. This gives older women tremendous power as a pressure group. Politicians will have to court them to win votes, as will marketers of consumer products and services, and just as older women develop the power to set trends in politics and economics, they will also have the power to set trends in social issues. Older women who choose to find happiness with younger men will become more common.

However, just because older women may find it more acceptable to find happiness with a younger man, will the number of younger men finding older women attractive grow? The answer seems to be no. One should look at the way society has been accepting of younger women who marry older men. The reason for this acceptance can be traced to social roles. Men are brought up to provide for the family while women are supposed to nurture. Older men are usually more advanced in their careers than younger men and thus better providers. A younger woman who marries an older man has thus become successful by finding a good provider. An older woman who marries a younger man has inadvertently found herself with an inferior provider.

One could argue that this general attitude will not change because its part of human nature and humans are not the only primates to have this social arrangement. One only needs to look at gorillas. The Senior Gorilla or Silver Back maintains the largest harem of younger females to mate with. Younger males don’t mate with their seniors and eventually leave the tribe to form their own based on a harem of females they can acquire. It seems that the same rules apply to humans, men are providers and their attraction lies in their ability to provide and seniority denotes superior ability to provide.
But how dominant will this factor be in the near future. Today’s men, particularly in Singapore have grown up with a generation of women who are educated and able to provide for themselves. The traditional family unit where a husband worked while the wife stayed at home has evolved into a unit that needs two incomes. Who makes the greater income has become a secondary concern. Growing up in a household where Mummy makes more than Daddy is becoming less uncommon. More young men are growing up in households where, while Daddy may be the nominal head of the household, it’s Mummy who is the main provider – Tony Blair’s children are an example of this. (As Prime Minister of the UK, Mr Blair’s salary is approximately 76,000 pounds per annum, Mrs Blair by contrast makes around a quarter of a million pounds a year as a lawyer)

As a society we may never get round to slapping an older woman on the back for finding herself a younger man in the same way we congratulate older men for finding a younger woman, but we should at least acknowledge the future and treat a relationships between older women and younger men as a non-event.
Published: 2007-03-31
Author: Li Tang

About the author or the publisher
I am a Singapore-based PR consultant and writer. Have been writing for the past 5-years in the Singapore media and in the Saudi Media for the past three. I write mainly on the advertising and marketing business as well as socio-political commentaries.

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