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While mining the blogosphere today, I dug up a gem entitled “Celebrity Grandfathers…err, I mean Fathers” featured in Chicago Now online—it’s a must-read for over-40 moms (see link below).
The regular column—entitled Cheaper Than Therapy—is written by Kirby, a mother-of-five who says, despite being labeled “advanced maternal age” on her last pregnancy, she felt better and more “youthful” when Kelly Preston (http://www NULL.chicagonow NULL.com/blogs/cheaper-than-therapy/2010/05/kelly-preston-pregnant-at-47----older-celebrity-moms NULL.html) announced being pregnant at 47 last May.
Her blog features a slide-show of celebrity dads who, sometime after the age of 50, have managed to impregnate their partners. In fact, some of the ‘old boys’ are so far over the hill that they’re probably hiking through the Himalayas by now.
Whether intentionally or not, Kirby’s blog drives home the fact that few men are criticized for conceiving later in life, despite proven medical risks.
Only last May, I was defending Kelly Preston’s right to become a mother at 47, against a “lady-doth-protest-too-much-methinks” media psychologist who clearly—having had her own child in her 40s—applied a different moral measuring stick to her own life, ostensibly at least.
When an older woman gets pregnant, the media and public seem trot out the same old suspects: medical risks to the fetus and the probability of the mother dying while the child is still young.
In fact, the same applies to men—especially those who are in their 40’s and up. Older sperm means rising incidence of autism, schizophrenia, and lower IQ in their children; and fathers, in fact, have a shorter lifespan than mothers.
But no one says a word to Mick Jagger who—with a face (http://www NULL.chicagonow NULL.com/blogs/cheaper-than-therapy/assets_c/2010/06/SNN1113T_47045a-thumb-autox379-155934 NULL.jpg) that could launch a thousand cosmetic surgeons’ scalpels—became a dad again at 57.
Or what about Paul McCartney, who, in his youth, sang a quaint ditty (http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=eCss0kZXeyE) about being old and losing his hair at 64, only to sire a child instead, at 61?
It makes me question the application of the word “old” to men as it relates to fatherhood and fertility. It appears that, as far as popular opinion is concerned, only mothers get old.
And instead, fathers get awards—because if a man manages to impregnate a female while in his 50’s, 60’s or 70’s, it’s because there’s “still life in the auld bugger yet!”
“Old man” as it is applied to fathers has a long history of being an affectionate term—a far cry from the damning and derogatory “advanced maternal age” label commonly applied to pregnant women over the age of 35.
And, here, there will be no prizes given for pointing out the glaring double standard.
When I was growing up in the ‘60’s with my brothers and sisters, and my father happened not to be around, we’d address him in the vernacular: “the old man.”
In those days, he was probably only in his late 30s and early 40s—a Tarzan with dusky-eyed and tender-skinned Johnny Weismuller (http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=MwHWbsvgQUE) good looks. The days of wearing a “rug” and trimming his nose-hairs were still a long way off.
But to us, he was “the old man.”
It was a title of affectionate respect. We still use it today and, while it fits better, its origins had nothing to do with being old.
I never dreamed that, one day, there would be a flood of celebrity fathers strutting their way across the front page news—amidst back-slapping congratulations—for having sired offspring during the shriveling shrinkage of their encroaching old age.
But, of course, I forgot, didn’t I? When men manage to knock somebody up while sailing though their 50s and 60s, they’re considered to be virile and distinguished.
And by the way, that’s not a banana in their pockets! That’s a huge bank roll—usually valued somewhere well above $20 million—wrapped around a safety deposit box jam-packed with diamond necklaces and gem encrusted gold jewelry.
Because, as Mick Jagger—along with his geriatric baby-bottle toting celebrity father kin—knows, it’s proven more effective than a face-lift and a personality transplant when attracting bursting-with-fertility young women.
And, as all old men know, the secret to immortality and the fountain of youth, is proving your patriarchal prowess, over and over again.
Ergo—as Carmen Bousada de Lara would tell you—if a woman of advanced maternal age dies and leaves a young child (or children) behind, that child—by definition—becomes an orphan.
If a father, who sired a child while in the basking in the blazing glory of his geriatric sunset happens to die while the child is still young, he is credited with having successfully preserved his name and bloodline.
Ladies, not much has changed since the Dark Ages.
Notes for this blog:
Chicago Now: Celebrity Grandfathers…errr, I Mean Fathers: http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/cheaper-than-therapy/2010/06/celebrity-grandfatherserr-i-mean-fathers.html (http://www NULL.chicagonow NULL.com/blogs/cheaper-than-therapy/2010/06/celebrity-grandfatherserr-i-mean-fathers NULL.html)
Kirby’s Bio: http://www.chicagonow.com/profiles/kirby (http://www NULL.chicagonow NULL.com/profiles/kirby)
- (http://www NULL.ctvnews NULL.ca/health/health-headlines/women-increasingly-going-online-to-seek-free-sperm-donors-1 NULL.1590245)
Angel on CNN(http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=WySnP2nnwXU)
CNN Mother's Day: "Mature Moms" (http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=WySnP2nnwXU)(http://youtu NULL.be/atScMih4_d0) (http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=sGRro4rHGeA)
AARP's "Inside E-Sreet" on PBS TV (http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=sGRro4rHGeA)
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