Katie Byrne: Mick Jagger’s new girlfriend is 52 years his junior, but still old enough to know better
Groucho Marx once opined that "a man's only as old as the woman he feels".
If Mick Jagger were to subscribe to the late comedian's theory - which he probably does - he'd be a septuagenarian in body but a twenty-something in spirit. The 74-year-old recently broke up with 31-year-old ballerina Melanie Hamrick, the mother of his eighth child.
Hamrick met Jagger when she was 28, which, to most well-adjusted people, is an age of vibrancy, potency and potential. To Jagger, however, she must have been bordering on decrepitude.
So when Hamrick reached the ripe old age of 31, the frontman did the honourable thing and put her out to pasture. A rolling stone gathers no moss, and all that. Of course, it didn't take long for Jagger to upgrade to a younger model. He has since been spotted enjoying several cosy dates with a 22-year-old film producer, Noor Alfallah. She is 52 years his junior... but old enough to know better.
Most would agree that the age gap between Jagger and Alfallah is about four decades too wide, yet there are some men of Jagger's age and ilk who will approve of the rocker's new relationship. They may even posit that if old rubber lips has still got it, then maybe they do too.
After all, men's age preferences tend to change as they get older. This is borne out by numerous studies which show that men are more likely to choose a considerably younger partner after a divorce or separation.
Jagger is a textbook example of the inverse variation phenomenon. He was two years older than his first wife, Bianca Pérez-Mora Macias and 13 years older than his second wife, Jerry Hall. When he entered his 50th decade, however, the women he paired off with become younger with each passing year.
It doesn't take a sociologist to point out that this trend affects the dating options of the women these men leave behind. When men start opting for younger models, the older model is rendered obsolete.
Hall, for her own part, recently married media mogul Rupert Murdoch. We could baulk at the 25-year age gap, but if all the men her age are pairing off with younger women, what chance has she of meeting a partner of her own age?
It can be tough for single women over the age of 55. As their former husbands get drunk on a second adolescence, these women have to contemplate the sobering prospect of premature senescence.
Newly-single 50-odd-year-old men - especially the ones with money - look at the dating landscape as a brave new world of Hollywood waxes and casual sexting.
Their female contemporaries, meanwhile, have to lower their standards, manage their expectations and worry about their new partner's defibrillator beeping during sex.
When men leave their first marriages and re-enter the dating world, they don't entirely write off the possibility of pushing a buggy again. When women of the same age get back on the dating scene - and survey the often much older men available to them - they may have to contemplate the possibility of pushing a wheelchair in the not-too-distant future.
Women could of course choose a younger partner, but that still comes with a stigma, and a label that makes them sound like predatory animals that hunt down guileless young men before gorging upon the natural order of things.
After all, evolutionary psychologists have long told us that women are attracted to older men because they have power and resources, while men prefer younger women because they are more fertile.
It all fits together like lock and slightly rusted key until you start to wonder if the age gap that is driven by the biological imperative has been further widened by cultural programming.
Would 50-old-year-old men walk into dating agencies and request to be matched with women 15 years their junior if they weren't labouring under the delusion that men get better with age? (In case you haven't noticed, men age at the same rate as women, only they lose more hair and joie de vivre.)
Likewise, if men didn't see so many ridiculous examples of May-December couples in film and television, would they be less inclined to chat up women who are the same age as their daughters?
Men get lots of messages that tell them it's okay to pursue considerably younger women, but none come across as loud and clear as the message they get from the women who don't reject their advances.
In a world where women at least purport to support other women, maybe it's time we started to ask if our dating choices are holding other women back.
Sexual harassment? There's an app for that
Tinder recently unveiled an anti-harassment feature that gives female users the option of throwing a virtual Martini at "douchebag" matches who behave disrespectfully.
Elsewhere, pop culture website The Mary Sue has invented a 'Rejection Hotline' that teaches "creeps" a lesson.
These features have been designed to empower women who feel vulnerable, yet there is a danger that they trivialise the issue with infantilising gimmickry and a tit-for-tat attitude.
Why not just give women the vocabulary to assertively, and emphatically, tell a man that no means no? It certainly beats a Martini emoji.