Esquire magazine (Motto: "The Inactive Ingredients of Erection Pills, in Magazine Form") has a very important message to all the 42-year-old women out there: Esquire writer at large Tom Junod might like to fuck you.
That's right, ladies of a certain age (42). Tom Junod has decided you may still be hot.
This was not always the case. Once upon a time, 42-year-old women were not really worth wanting to fuck, or if Tom Junod did want to fuck one, it made him sad.
Let's face it: There used to be something tragic about even the most beautiful forty-two-year-old woman. With half her life still ahead of her, she was deemed to be at the end of something—namely, everything society valued in her, other than her success as a mother. If she remained sexual, she was either predatory or desperate; if she remained beautiful, what gave her beauty force was the fact of its fading. And if she remained alone... well, then God help her.
Now, though? Now 42 is awesome. Tom Junod can name several famous women who are 42 who he would be willing to fuck. Right in their 42-year-old vaginas. Cameron Diaz. Sofia Vergara. Leslie Mann. Amy Poehler. He would fuck these women, despite their age, and even share a joke with them, because the 42-year-old woman, she is a person, or at least a person-like idea:
It is no accident that every woman mentioned here has comic as well as carnal appeal, and entices with the promise of lust with laughs.
But it's not all easy. Being sexually attractive to Tom Junod at the age of 42 is a real job:
Of course, they have to work for their advantage; they have armored themselves with yoga and Pilates even as they joke about the spectacle. Still, what has made them figures of fantasy is not that they have redefined the ideals of female strength but rather their own vulnerabilities. Go to a party: There is simply no one as unclothed as a forty-two-year-old woman in a summer dress. For all her toughness, and humor, and smarts, you know exactly what she looks like, without the advantage of knowing who she is.
Were you afraid you might go to a summer party, as a 42-year-old woman, and not have a magazine writer mentally appraise what you would look like without your clothing on? Fear not (as long as you've been doing yoga and Pilates)—Tom Junod is so thoroughly prepared to undress you with his mind, you're already naked.
What accounts for society's and Esquire's sudden tolerance of women of this age, 42? Tom Junod, according to Wikipedia, was born in the Eisenhower Administration, and is currently either 55 or 56 years old. Nevertheless, Tom Junod is gracious enough to admit he's capable of wanting to fuck women who are within 13 or 14 years of his own age.
I, myself, by coincidence, am 42 years old right now. But I am male. As such, I would like to follow Tom Junod's lead and reassure all the 28-year-old women of the world that I do not believe their advanced years should render them sexually unattractive to me.
Or maybe he's using a percentage, rather than a spread of years. Tom Junod is willing to entertain the thought of intimate relations with women all the way up to 75 percent of his own age. Tom Junod, age 21, cruises into the high school parking lot to tell the 15-year-olds they're still OK. (He shakes his head at Sweet Sixteen parties, though.) Tom Junod, age 30, is ready to consider dating a summer intern in his office, even if she has already finished college. Tom Junod, age 85, tells a 63-year-old woman not to worry, she's still got a little something going on, in his eyes.
It boils down to feminism, you see:
A few generations ago, a woman turning forty-two was expected to voluntarily accept the shackles of biology and convention; now it seems there is no one in our society quite so determined to be free. Conservatives still attack feminism with the absurd notion that it makes its adherents less attractive to men; in truth, it is feminism that has made forty-two-year-old women so desirable.
This is what it was all about, ladies.
But Tom Junod is, after all, only one man. You may be asking yourselves: Do other men also want to fuck 42-year-old women? Do they ever! There's a double feature playing at the Esquire Drive-In, and the second show is by Stephen Marche, who is not quite even 40 yet. Guess what?
Women who are 42 are grown-ups, they are in control of their own lives, or as in control of their own lives as they are going to be anyway, and it is altogether good that American men desire women in this state. Desirability and self-possession should go together.
Marche, though, is not sure this is so nice. He is writing to express the fact that he is uncomfortable about the use of the term "MILF," when applied to these 42-year-old targets of male desire.
Why? Possibly because it is a porn indexing term, inherently and exclusively used to objectify women? Well, yes, but no. The fact that "MILF" is a popular pornographic search term, to Marche, indicates not that it is a constructed concept, which is shaping men's sexual expectations, but the opposite—that it reflects some deeper or prior impulse.
The time is long overdue for this word to be retired. It was always gross — even the sound of it is gross — and now it's no longer funny, mainly because it's no longer remarkable. Why would it be remarkable to desire a woman who has had children?
What's wrong with "MILF" is that it's unnecessary, being effectively a synonym for "woman." Men search porn sites for "MILF" because men inherently L to F these M's:
Not only are "MILF" and "mom" among the top search terms in most American cities, but by far the most searched porn star by name is Lisa Ann, the performer probably most famous for imitating Sarah Palin. How old is Lisa Ann? Forty-two, of course.
Changes in sexual fashion are always mysterious. We assume that sex is a biological function, and therefore both beneath and above the mere flutterings of style. The men searching for Lisa Ann in private, online, are not doing so because they think they're more sophisticated than men 15 years ago. They're doing so because that's what they want. Perhaps the change that is arriving is so powerful exactly because it's coming from above and below. But there's another explanation for the rise of 42, one that's even more revelatory. Maybe it isn't fashion at all. Maybe it's what men wanted all along.
All along, men have wanted to fuck a Sarah Palin impersonator. This is the natural desire of man. Esquire has spoken.
[Image by Jim Cooke, with apologies to George Lois]