Leonardo DiCaprio, why don’t you date someone your own age? | Arwa Mahdawi

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The Guardian

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Is Leonardo DiCaprio turning into a creepy old man?

Twenty-five is a milestone year. It’s when the development and maturation of your prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for impulse control and decision-making, is finally complete. At 25 you have reached maturity and have a fully formed brain. You also have absolutely no chance of dating Leonardo DiCaprio. As has been frequently observed, the 47-year-old actor appears to be incapable of a relationship with anyone over the age of 25.

Obviously, it’s not exactly uncommon for rich men to date women half their age. But DiCaprio’s predilection for women without fully formed prefrontal cortexes has become a cultural talking point and earned a name (Leo’s Law) because of just how strictly he adheres to the age limit. A few years ago a Reddit user plugged all of DiCaprio’s relationships since 1999 into Excel and came out with a viral chart that shows DiCaprio steadily ageing and his many girlfriends remaining frozen in time, Forever Under 25. This week, a new data-point became available: DiCaprio broke up with his girlfriend of four years, Camila Morone, just a few months after her 25th birthday.

Breakups are rarely pleasant for anyone involved and it’s somewhat mean-spirited to poke fun at them. Of course, that doesn’t bother Twitter, which feeds on misery and pain. Leo’s latest breakup was the subject of much mirth online. (A sample joke: “titanic turns 25 this year at which point i assume leonardo dicaprio will no longer want to be in it.”) There were also some intriguing theories. “[E]veryone assumes that he is the one breaking up with all these 25-yr-olds,” writer and comedian Meredith Dietz tweeted. “[W]hat really happens is that once a woman’s brain finishes developing, she realizes she doesn’t wanna be with leonardo dicaprio.”

While Leo’s Law has sparked a lot of jokes it’s not actually that funny to watch a middle-aged man refuse to date anyone old enough to rent a car without paying an underage driver’s fee. It’s just a bit gross. To be clear: I’m not saying that large age gaps in relationships are automatically problematic or predatory. It’s perfectly possible for two consenting adults to have a healthy and equitable relationship despite a significant age gap. However, it feels like a major flag if a man consistently dates women half his age. One suspects that person isn’t actually looking for a partner, but an admirer.

A lot of men, of course, will say this is rubbish. I can guarantee you that the moment this article goes live a million misogynistic mansplainers are going to crawl into my Twitter mentions to inform me that there’s nothing creepy about DiCaprio, men are simply hardwired to be attracted to women at the peak of their fertility. DiCaprio, in other words, is just obeying his evolutionarily determined instincts. The thing is, that’s not actually true. We know that men on the whole do seek out younger partners, but scientists still aren’t sure whether that’s “natural” or whether it’s social. Some believe it’s down to evolutionary pressures, others believe it’s due to what legal scholar Catharine MacKinnon describes as the “eroticization of female subordination”.

Supporting the latter theory, data shows that the age gap between partners decreases in countries with greater gender equality. A paper on the subject notes: “As gender equality increased, women expressed less preference for older men, men expressed less preference for younger women, and consequently the sex difference in the preferred age of mates became smaller.”

Anyway, I’m not here to settle a debate that has been raging for decades. I’m simply here to urge Mr DiCaprio to consider moving on from his ex with someone more his own age. Leo’s Law is getting really old.

Avoiding marriage and kids has a bigger payoff for American women than men

Bloomberg reports that “single women without kids had an average of $65,000 in wealth in 2019, compared with $57,000 for single, child-free men … For single mothers, the figure was only $7,000.” It’s just the latest evidence that society penalizes women for having children (the “motherhood penalty”) – and people wonder why we’re experiencing a fertility crisis, eh?

Is overturning Roe backfiring on Republicans?

A Wall Street Journal poll has found that abortion is the biggest issue motivating people to vote.

“Republicans were cruising, and Democrats were having a hard time,” the researcher who conducted the poll said. “It’s almost like the abortion issue came along and was kind of like a defibrillator to Democrats.”

Will Italy’s first female prime minister be bad for women?

If the rightwinger Giorgia Melon becomes prime minister (as is widely expected), then history will be made. But it’s hardly going to be a win for feminism: many activists are worried her policies will set back women’s rights.

Nourah bint Saeed al-Qahtani has reportedly been sentenced to 45 years in prison after a Saudi court convicted her of “using the internet to tear [Saudi Arabia’s] social fabric”. This comes shortly after a Saudi PhD student was sentenced to 34 years in prison for using Twitter. Anyone who bought Saudi Arabia’s lies about reform and modernization is a complete fool.

The censorship machine erasing China’s feminist movement

A few months ago a viral video of a group of women being viciously attacked in a restaurant sparked outrage and a discussion about women’s rights in China. A couple of days after that video went viral, the social media platform Weibo announced a zero-tolerance policy toward users who spread “harmful speech”. Does that mean they cracked down on misogynists? Nope. As the New Yorker reports, they started censoring feminists.

Ariel Koren resigns from Google, claiming they tried to retaliate against her for her activism

While we’re on the subject of digital censorship: Ariel Koren has stepped down from Google after accusing them of systematically silencing “Palestinian, Jewish, Arab and Muslim voices concerned about Google’s complicity in violations of Palestinian human rights”. Google has said they did no such thing but Koren is far from the only Google employee to have accused the company of retaliation for their activism. In 2019 two female employees resigned, saying they faced retribution after organizing a walkout to Google’s sexual misconduct policies.

Global population skews male, but there will be parity between sexes by 2050

There were about 44 million more males than females in the world as of 2021. However, the UN projects that will even out by 2050 due to various demographic trends.

The week in pooptriarchy

The economy is in the toilet but some enterprising souls have found a recession-proof way to make money: sing songs about poop. You see toddlers love yelling “poop” into Alexa-enabled devices; if you’re a musician who doesn’t mind scatological themes and knows a thing or two about SEO optimization then you can end up making bank and pleasing the toddler crowd. According to BuzzFeed, for example, a song called Poopy Stupid Butt has been streamed about 10m times on Amazon Music and generated about $10,000 in income for the couple behind it, bringing a whole new meaning to “flush with cash”.

September 3, 2022 at 06:39PM Arwa Mahdawi

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