Why Do Many Older Men Chase After Much Younger Women?

Articles and blog posts that attempt to answer this question appear on a regular basis. The explanation they provide for this phenomenon is usually an exercise in inanity of major proportions. Here is the most recent example:

The obvious question is why so few men are interested in dating women their own age. . . The reasons older men chase younger women have less to do with sex and everything to do with a profound desire to reassure ourselves that we’ve still got “it.” “It” isn’t just physical attractiveness; “it” is the whole masculine package of youth, vitality, and, above all else,possibility. It’s not that women our own age are less attractive, it’s that they lack the culturally-based power to reassure our fragile, aging egos that we are still hot and hip and filled with potential.  Inspiring desire in women young enough to be our daughters becomes the most potent of all anti-aging remedies, particularly when we can show off our much younger dates to our peers.

Leave it to somebody born and raised in a Puritanical society to get into a rush to reassure everybody that relationships between men and women cannot possibly be based on anything related to human sexuality.

So let us cut through this pseudo-psychological blabber about peers and egos and look for the real reasons behind this phenomenon that Hugo Schwyzer, the author of this article, chose to ignore.

The sad truth about sexual desire is that, in terms of age, it does not develop equally in men and women. Men normally experience the peak of their sexuality in their twenties, at the latest. In the meanwhile, their 20-year-old female peers are not all that interested in sex. For a variety of cultural and physiological reasons, female sexuality awakens and reaches its peak much later. Forty and fifty-year old women are significantly more interested in sex than 20-year-olds.

Male sexuality, however, begins to fade in men’s late forties and fifties. The reasons for that are also socially constructed to a great degree, and we can discuss that later if people are interested. So where does a man go when he realizes that he cannot satisfy the sexual demands of his female peers? Obviously, he often turns to 20-year-old women who don’t need or want a lot of sex. Relationships with much younger women are simply a way for many men to conceal from themselves and women of their age the waning sexual potency they often experience as they move into their 50s and 60s.

P.S. I hope it’s clear from the post that I’m not talking about situations when a man falls in love with a woman who happens to be younger. I’m talking specifically about cases where a man chases after women (plural) and a defining criterion of his search for a partner is that the partner should be younger.

Meeting Latin Americans

I love meeting Latin American people because whenever I do the following dialogue ensues (translation is mine):

Latin American person: So where are you from?

Me: Ukraine.

Latin American person: Uruguay, you mean?

Me: No, Ukraine.

Latin American person (looking perplexed): Then you probably lived in Latin America for a long time.

Me: No, unfortunately I never got the opportunity to live in any Spanish-speaking country.

Latin American person (looking extremely perplexed): But how is this possible?

I especially love it when such conversations take place with my students standing around us and making little “wow!” sounds in the background. I can practically feel myself grow 10 inches when that happens.

Learning Spanish as fast and as well as I did is an example of human will and perseverance triumphing over an inhospitable reality, adversity, and hardship. Yes, such situations also make me very pompous. I’ll try to get over it by tomorrow but I’m not promising anything.

Vargas Llosa to Speak at St. Louis University!

You probably think we have all just fallen off our pumpkin carts here, in St. Louis Metro area, right? Well, think again. Our cultural life is rich and vigorous. Next Monday, for example, Mario Vargas Llosa, the recipient of the 2010 Nobel Prize for Literature, the greatest Peruvian writer and my favorite living Latin American writer (and he’s just one person, too), will be speaking at St. Louis University:

Noted author Mario Vargas Llosa will receive the 2011 Saint Louis Literary Award from the Saint Louis University Library Associates at a special event from 5:30-6:45 p.m. Monday, Nov. 14, in the Anheuser-Busch Auditorium at SLU’s John Cook School of Business, 3674 Lindell Blvd. A book signing with the author begins at 4:30 p.m., followed by the presentation of the award and a conversation with Vargas Llosa led by Olga Arbeláez, Ph.D., professor of Spanish in the University’s department of modern and classical languages.

To say that I’m excited is an understatement of the month.

If you haven’t read anything by Vargas Llosa, please, please do. He is really amazing. Garcia Marquez doesn’t deserve to bring him his slippers (in my highly subjective opinion). The writer’s books are all translated into English.

You can start with his early work Cubs. It’s short and much easier to read than the writer’s longer novels. And, of course, Vargas Llosa’s great novel The War of the End of the World is highly recommended. People often disagree but I think this novel is his masterpiece. For the romantically minded, Vargas Llosa’s attempt at a non misogynist Latin American novel about love, The Bad Girl, might be of interest.

If you follow the links I provided, you will see that Vargas Llosa’s books can be acquired very cheaply.

My sincere gratitude goes to Nancy P, a long-time reader of this blog who informed me of this important event.

Through the Eyes of a Stranger: Inside an American High School

I’ve taught high school students in this country but I’d never actually been inside an American high school until yesterday. So I decided to share my impressions with my readers.

As you can see on the photo, the school is very beautiful. Many American schools look like penitentiary facilities on the outside, which is why I’m happy that our local school was designed by somebody who doesn’t associate education with incarceration.

Inside, the school is really beautiful and very clean. Classrooms are decorated with course-related materials, photos of students, and things students made themselves. Students look very happy, comfortable, and excited to be there. There are endless lockers for students to use. In my country, the concept of school lockers is non-existent and it is a horrible drag to lug around all of your stuff with you all day long.

Bathrooms are clean and they have doors. Soviet school toilets never had doors in the stalls, so you can imagine the daily joys of urinating, defecating, and changing your sanitary pad in full view of your classmates. This is why I was very excited to use a high school toilet that had a door.

Of course, we need to remember that this is considered to be one of the best schools in the area. We are a small town but our high school graduates thousands of students each year. People bring their kids from all over the region to our school.

One thing I found strange is the environment in the classroom. I don’t know whether it is always as relaxed and undisciplined as it was during the class I visited. Maybe it’s just the personal style of the teacher who taught that particular class. I’m used to a much higher level of discipline in the classroom, so I was quite taken aback by the amount of talking, shouting, walking around, and discussing things that had nothing to do with the class that was being taught. I’d say that about 15-20% of class time was wasted on this unruliness.

I loved being in this school. The moment I walked inside, all four generations of teachers in my family that came before me awoke and started screaming with joy. There is something very special about being in a school. It gave me such a positive charge of energy that I kept walking around with a goofy smile on my face until the end of the day.

How Can a Child Be in Debt?

I’ve been staring at this photo for two days but I honestly don’t get it. How can a child be in debt? Do banks lend money to small children? Can anybody explain?

I have to confess that I find the banking system in this country to be very mystifying.

I found the photo here but the accompanying post provides no explanation for it.

Should the October Revolution Be Celebrated?

Most of my readers probably didn’t notice that yesterday was the anniversary of the October Revolution. Around every November 7th, the Russian-speaking blogosphere explodes with discussions as to whether this date should be celebrated. My answer to this question is an unequivocal yes.

Regular readers of my blog know that I hate the Soviet Union with abandon. Unlike many of my compatriots, I fail to find a single redeeming feature to this horrible, repressive, monstrous country. The October Revolution, however, was a progressive, profoundly transformative event that initially* destroyed all of the remaining vestiges of the hopelessly outdated and degenerate Empire of the Romanovs.

Whenever I read late XIXth and early XXth century literature by American authors, I always feel stunned by how much freedom women in North America enjoyed compared to the women of the Russian Empire. The October Revolution bridged the gap in women’s rights between the countries of the Russian Empire and North America overnight and allowed women to move very far ahead on this issue, overtaking every other country in the world instantly.

The Revolution also liberated the Jews of the Empire from the pale of settlement and allowed them to become integrated into society easily and in any form they chose.

The decade of the 1920s saw an explosion of artistic production in Russia and Ukraine. The Russian Modernists of this decade created outstanding works of art and started the Silver Age of Russian literature.

Of course, later Soviet Union transformed into a repressive totalitarian state. The Russian Modernists were silenced. Their Ukrainian counterparts were exterminated. Soviet Jews rediscovered antisemitism in the late 1940s. Women were persecuted by puritanical ideologues for any suggestion that they can be sexual beings and not just productive workers and efficient baby machines.

Any good idea and any hopeful event can be perverted to the point where they turn into their exact opposite. This is what happened to the October Revolution. The society it ended up creating was structured very rigidly in terms of economic and social classes. Inequality was shocking. Artistic creation was stifled. Ethnic minorities were oppressed and subjected to genocide.

Still, even knowing what I do now about the results of the Revolution, if I happened to live in 1917, I would have fought for the Revolution. For a woman, a Ukrainian, a Jew, a peasant and a descendant of slaves, there was no other legitimate course of action.

* Stalin reestablished quite a few of the traditions of the Russian Empire in late 1930s.

Policing Kids

On the rare occasions I watch television, I’m always shocked at how unapologetic people often are about treating their children with utter disrespect for their privacy and personal space. Parents confess to doing things to their teenagers that they would never admit to doing to other adults. Going through the teenagers’ pockets and cell phone usage histories, controlling the music they listen to and the books they read, spying after them online, invading their Facebook pages, installing controls on their computers are just some of the measures taken against children and then gleefully discussed as examples of good parenting.

All of these efforts have no practical purpose except giving parents an illusion of control over their children. There is no actual possibility nowadays to control what anybody does online, talks about, reads or listens to. Every instance of spying on children and trying to prevent them from exploring the world the way they want to pushes teenagers further into despising their parents and destroys any form of legitimate human contact.

If you are a parent bent on controlling your teenager or if you know a parent like that, please read this great post on strategies a smart teenager used to fool her controlling parents. Read the post and ask yourself whether there is really any pressing need to force a kid to develop all these mechanisms to protect their privacy from you. If you are a teenager who is controlled “for your own good,” this post will show you how to escape from the unhealthy behavior of your controlling and disrespectful parents.

When I was raising my teenage sister, I knew that the most important thing was to preserve an honest human connection between us. She’d leave her diary and her backpack all over our apartment and she never deleted her ICQ (this was in the late 1990s) history because she knew that I would never stoop to policing her. She also knew that whatever happened and no matter how much she messed up (that’s what teenagers do, they mess up. It’s an important part of their growth), she could always share with me and expect to be treated with respect. This is why today, thirteen years later, we have a very profound, close relationship.