How Kate Beckinsale and Pete Davidson crushed the ‘cougar’ stereotype

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Here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson: you’re officially a vestige of a deeply misogynistic past.

The new older woman/younger guy romance looks less like the tortured Bancroft-Hoffman pairing and a lot more like Kate Beckinsale and Pete Davidson. The PDA-prone couple — who, at 45 and 25 have a 20-year age gap between them — appear to be going strong, despite Davidson coming with his “own bag of mischief,” as the actress told The Los Angeles Times on Wednesday. (I’m not fluent in Brit, but I believe “mischief” here translates to something like “tabloid-fueled mishegas.”)

But Davidson’s Grande dating history aside, there’s one thing that both him and Beckinsale are clear on: their big age difference doesn’t matter.

And why should it? Beckinsale is a stunning, independently successful woman who is clearly just as much of a catch as she was at 28.

THE GRADUATE, Anne Bancroft, Dustin Hoffman, 1967
Anne Bancroft and Dustin Hoffman in 1967’s “The Graduate.”Everett Collection/Avco Embassy

Here’s what she’s not: a bored, booze-guzzling housewife like Mrs. Robinson, seducing a potential suitor away from her doe-eyed daughter in “The Graduate.” She’s not a desperate divorcee either, hooking up with a younger guy and framing it like some “First Wives Club” faux empowerment.

She’s not even a so-called “cougar”: another sexist stereotype that carries the weight of a sad, aging party girl around with it.

Nope! Beckinsale is exactly none of these things. At 45, she’s an English rose of a mom who is all but done raising her kid — daughter Lily is 20! — and is free to flit around with her scumbro bae.

And she’s not the only one. Supermodel Heidi Klum is 45 and fiance Tom Kaulitz is 28. Nobody out there is thinking, “Why would this dude in his prime date a withering crone like Klum?” On the contrary, we’re all thinking: who the heck is Tom Kaulitz?! (Answer: he’s in a rock band called Tokio Hotel.)

Then there’s writer and social media star Kelly Oxford, a 42-year-old mother-of-three who, as of 2016, is no longer married to the father of her children. Now, she’s dating Adrian Galvin, a dashing, 28-year-old singer-songwriter who performs under the name Yoke Lore.

Oxford’s not apologizing either — in fact, she frequently makes jokes on Instagram about the stranger who once mistook Galvin for her son.

So, this begs the question: are these women doing something wrong?

Let me think about this for roughly 0.002 seconds: absolutely not.

First of all, if Pete and Kate love each other, then great. They can hash out all the dirty details among themselves. But more important, we’ve long accepted that older men are allowed — nay, encouraged — to woo younger women. If their ages were swapped, literally no one would be talking about it ever.

That’s the obvious point. The less obvious one is how our attitudes toward aging women are having unexpected consequences.

What do Beckinsale, Klum and Oxford have in common? They’re in the 40s, but they could easily still get carded. Women, especially famous ones, aren’t allowed to look older. They have to work at it, and they really, really do: recently, Beckinsale hopped off a flight and went straight to get herself a $650 anti-aging penis facial.

Let me repeat that: she paid the better part of $1,000 to take a face-bath in baby foreskins. This is what it takes to be a woman in Hollywood nowadays.

So if Beckinsale, who has the glowy face of teenager and the hair of a freaking mermaid, wants to enjoy her preternaturally youthful appearance and date a star in his 20s, why shouldn’t she?

Give me one good reason. In the meantime, Kate: cheers to you.



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