Taking Stock Of Both Genders

Katie Young
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Wednesday - August 03, 2005
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Talk about a moment when the fur is sure to fly — try telling your girlfriend who’s about to turn 29 this weekend that as men age they only get better and as women age we just get, well, old.

What was that you say, Sebastian? You have a death wish? Curious to see how fast I can throw my birthday cake across the room at your head?

Sebastian’s brash statement about how men get better with age was mumbled rather unconsciously one night while we were watching TV.

Some program was playing where a very dashing older man with salt-n-pepper hair was getting to have his pick of five or so lovely ladies who were obviously a good decade or more younger than he. Ahh, reality TV at its best.

“He’s handsome,” I said out loud, but still to myself.

“Of course,” Sebastian answered my non-question. “Men get better as they get older.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“As men get older their stock goes up, so to speak,” he continued. “But it’s different for women. A woman’s stock goes down as she gets older. That’s why I never have to worry because I’ll just get better with age.”

“Excuse me?!” I said, turning around to confront the obviously confused Sebastian. “Forget the fact that you just said you never have to worry about finding a woman because you’ll continue to be ‘prime real estate’ after all your hair turns gray, but let me just be clear about your other statement. Do you seriously mean to tell me that you think I’m just going to go downhill with age?”

I was infuriated to say the least. What woman wouldn’t be? Not only does this assumption conjure up feelings of insecurity and urgency, as in, “I’d better hurry up and find me a man before it’s too late,” but it also irritated me beyond belief that Sebastian actually thought he’d be viable long after all my sagging female body parts had rendered me useless.

Oh, you’d better believe Mr. Sebastian slept out on the couch that night. In fact, I gave him the silent treatment for three days. Yeah, right, he wishes I could stay quiet a whole three days. Actually, what happened was this: After a good deal of huffing and puffing on my part, and some high-pitched squealing (also me), I calmed down and realized the very sobering reality of what Sebastian had said.

I hate to admit it, but he was right. At least in some sense. It wasn’t quite the crass way he had put it, but the sentiment behind his words was equivalent to sentiment that has been with us since the Stone Age.

Evolutionary psychologists believe that our minds come pre-equipped with a wide range of mental programs and modules for both practical and emotional matters. Psychologists maintain that these modules are still embedded in our minds from the Stone Age hunter-gatherer mentality.

According to professor of psychology David Buss at the University of Texas, there are some things that are universally desired by men and women everywhere, in all cultures.

What was found was that “women more than men valued economic resources, financial stability and qualities that led to resource acquisition,” said Buss in a discussion about “Stone Age Minds in Modern Skulls.”

“So a man’s ambition, industriousness, his drive and social status, and also somewhat older age, these were that things that women valued more than men,” said Buss. “In contrast, men valued only two things more than women did. One was physical attractiveness, and also youth.

“What we found is that as men get older, they desire partners who are increasingly younger than they are. The rationale for this is the physical appearance of the woman provides a wealth of information about her fertility. The women want a good provider, someone who will be there through lean times.”

Oftentimes, social status and security come with older age for men. Hence, the males’ stock steadily rises even as their hair starts to gray. And for us women, well, there’s not a whole lot we can do about our natural aging process, with the exception of plastic surgery.

Dr. Mitzi Gold, director of Hawaii’s Mars & Venus Counseling Center, disagrees. She sees that women are increasingly finding ways to “up” their own stock, from staying in better shape to finding the best quality of life for themselves.

“I believe women’s stock is going up as they get older,” says Gold. “They discover they can have their own lives, be happy and healthy. It’s not just a man’s world out there as they get older. In life, there’s a natural, graceful development that goes on.”

According to Gold, where a woman’s stock starts to fail is when she loses herself along the way. She becomes so involved with her family and helping others that she forgets to stay balanced and focus on herself as well.

Gold also told me that I’m hitting an age where there’s a universal adjustment I’m going through where I will start to align more with my true self.

That’s right, Sebastian. I’m aligning, not declining. But just in case my boyfriend forgets to keep his mouth shut this weekend on my birthday, you might want to check the papers on Monday. Look for a headline that reads: “Man with Death Wish Mauled by Angry Girlfriend with Big Birthday Cake.”

Old-shmold, baby! Like a good investment, I plan on only getting better with age. So you’d better stock up!

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