No one in South Asian culture criticises a man for dating or marrying a younger woman. PHOTO: US WEEKLY

If you think Priyanka Chopra is a ‘cougar’ for dating Nick Jonas, congratulations, you’re sexist!

Ranbir is dating Alia and no one calls him her dad, but everyone is trolling Priyanka and calling her ‘Nick’s...

Dureen Anwer July 09, 2018
Dating isn’t easy if you are a woman. Not only do you need to ensure that the man you are getting enamoured with poses no real danger – i.e. he isn’t a rapist, a serial killer, a psychopath, or simply a creep – you also have to deal with society’s dissection of your character, once your private life becomes public knowledge. Unfortunately for celebrities, their private lives are always in the public eye and thus open to scrutiny, and if you are a female celebrity, the scrutiny is always worse.

Most of the time, the commentary is uncalled for and the media coverage unnecessary. However, with the boom (and bane) of social media, everyone can voice their opinion publicly. There is no editorial control, no filtering. The raw (and mostly harsh) comments on celebrities’ pictures will have you seething most of the time. A case in point is how model Nadia Hussain’s young kids weren’t spared from criticism on Instagram. More recently, it is how people have endlessly mocked Priyanka Chopra for dating Nick Jonas, a man 10 years her junior.

Internationally, there are a number of celebrity couples with a huge age difference. From George and Amal Clooney to Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds, people date and marry beyond their age bracket and appear happy. When a man marries or dates a younger woman, we find it cute. We idolise the man for winning over a much younger woman, who might even be ‘out of his league’. “She prefers mature men,” we argue. Which is completely understandable, because one’s personal preferences aren’t anyone else’s business.

Actor George Clooney and his wife Amal Clooney attend the 'Money Monster' premiere during the 69th annual Cannes Film Festival on May 12, 2016 in Cannes, France. Photo: Getty

However, bring this equation to a younger man and an older woman, and suddenly she is a cougar. Especially if you have anything to do with South Asian culture, each and every move you make is scrutinised. Everything you do in your life is open to jibes by strangers. No matter what you achieve in life, how successful you are, what you contribute to charities or how you inspire hundreds of thousands across your country, you are still a woman who needs to conform to societal norms, including dating a man who is older than you are – ideally not dating at all.

Sexism is deeply rooted in South Asian culture. While people will still criticise women who date a significantly older man, their wrath will be focused on the woman and not her partner. Ankita Konwar was mercilessly trolled online for dating and marrying Milind Soman. Women are also labelled ‘sugar babes’ or ‘gold diggers’ for being with someone significantly older than them.

On the other hand, no one in the South Asian culture criticises a man for dating or marrying a younger woman. For example, no one had any issues when Shahid Kapoor married Mira Rajput, or when Saif Ali Khan married Kareena Kapoor. If anything, people still blame Kareena for Saif’s separation with Amrita Singh, even though the ‘home wrecker’ in this case was not Kareena, but another woman altogether. Similarly, Ranbir Kapoor is dating Alia Bhatt and no one is calling him Alia’s dad, whereas everyone is busy trolling Priyanka and calling her ‘Nick’s mother’.

Firstly, the person you date, their age, their looks, their background or anything about your dating life in general should be your own business. Even if you are unfortunate enough to be a public figure, people need to respect and appreciate that you are still a human being with emotions and a heart. We also need to be careful about what we say and how we say it online. No one wants to hurt another human being – especially a stranger who doesn’t even know that you exist – with bitter comments.

Secondly, we need to do something about our gender biases. Instead of measuring love in numerals and passing judgement on women, people need to address our deep-rooted prejudices. There is a lot of societal pressure on women when it comes to relationships. From behaving a certain way to expecting women to be more compromising and patient, the onus of which way a relationship goes is always on a woman. Add the stigma of divorce, being an atypical beauty or being older than your partner to the mix, and you have a woman suffering silently, unable to enjoy her relationship.

Thirdly, and most importantly, mind your own business. Seriously, what is this obsession with what others are up to? In western countries alone, the paparazzi have driven several celebrities to suicide. If you are famous, you can avoid the paparazzi by disguising yourself, avoiding public places, as well as with the help of your security staff. However, when it comes to the World Wide Web, there is no shelter, no protection and no security. Online bullying is still bullying, and hating on Priyanka – a wildly successful, gorgeous woman – for dating an attractive, younger man achieves nothing other than making you a sexist and a bully.

Live and let live!
Dureen Anwer Dureen is a communications professional from Pakistan, now living in the UK. Having worked for a local government and now for the healthcare sector in England, she often wonders why Pakistan can't be developed like these Western countries. She tweets @ConfusciousDee (
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Rex Minor | 5 years ago | Reply The author is unduly making a fuss about the cougar dating a stud. Nick Jonas is not the first and will not be the last for bollywood actress. This is their private matter. Rex Minor
Parvez | 5 years ago | Reply You have a very valid point and yes it is non of our business .... but then they are public figures, at least Pryanka is, I would not have know Nick Jonas even existed if it had not been for all the fuss in the gossip section of the media. Let's be honest even the pictures on this site appear to be chosen so as to fuel the fires of this controversy.
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