Age Rules

Shop Girl by Kitty Kaufman

There's a story in The New York Times about Rupert Murdoch. It has to do with his being back on the market, as in single. For me, the story is not that his third divorce is final. And it's not about his wealth. The story, and I'm breaking my number one rule, is his age. It is the story because it's not the story at all.

Age shows up once, about how you might think "elderly men" like Sumner Redstone, for example, can't get dates. You would be wrong. The writer, Brooks Barnes saw Redstone at a party not long ago wrapped in young women. I guess that's because 90 is really old.

Old, white, single, rich men who are single: that's a story. Women over 40, no story. Oh, Mary Barra, new CEO of GM, that was a story and not because she's an accomplished engineer, no. The story, all day, was "female" and "lady." CNBC had Bob Lutz, former GM vice chairman, on the phone. Listening to him was like being back in 1972 or perhaps 1952 with a tiny veiled hat and white gloves.

Murdoch's on the market. And since he's racked up three divorces, Barnes thinks maybe he needs dating advice. Barnes made calls to dating advisors who had ideas mostly about what not to do ("No jackets with your shirt hanging out and no tight jeans.") Everyone took it very seriously.

If you're a woman over 50 with five gray hairs who gets hit by a bus, conscious or unconscious lying in the gutter, living or dead, the media will describe you as elderly. How does age matter? Now, what color is the bus, where did it happen, who hit whom, was the victim fashionably attired, and how much blood was spilled, that's a story.

A lot of ink drips online and off as media spills more than anyone, even me, wants to know. Stories about women invariably start with how old we are and the female part. Then it's about our achievements. Will it ever be time for parity? There's a thought.

© December 23, 2013 for The Motley Fool
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