If a woman had Leonardo DiCaprio's dating history, no one would be laughing

‘Titanic turns 25 this year, at which point I assume Leonardo DiCaprio will no longer want to be in it,’ a Twitter user joked, sharing the latest news of the actor’s break-up with a 25-year-old model.

I’ve also seen scores of tweets featuring laughing emojis, high-five gifs, flexed biceps and phrases calling DiCaprio an ‘icon’, ‘hero’ and ‘legend’.

I couldn’t help but think it wouldn’t be a laughing matter if we were talking about a woman.

Last week, social media was rife with the concept of ‘Leo’s Law’ after DiCaprio split up with his girlfriend of four years, Camila Morrone.

A now-deleted Reddit graph of DiCaprio’s dating history, apparently citing British newspapers as sources, appeared to show that, as he got older, his girlfriends stayed the same age. 

Since 1999, the 47-year-old actor has seemingly never dated anyone over the age of 25.

Now, I don’t doubt that consensual, loving age gap relationships work – they can, and do. 

But I do find it disturbing that half of DiCaprio’s past relationships since the millennium (mostly with petite, blonde, underwear or swimwear models) have reached a ‘cut off’ point when his then-girlfriend reaches her mid-twenties – with Morrone being the latest belle to be binned, and rumours that he’s now dating a 22-year-old Ukrainian model.

Morrone was his biggest age gap, too – clocking in at 23 years. When he reportedly started dating the 20-year-old in 2017 he was 43, more than twice her age – meanwhile, she wasn’t even old enough to legally drink in America.

To put it in perspective, Morrone – whom he apparently met when she was a teenager – was born in the same year that Titanic was released in the US.

Now, that’s enough to warrant a scoff from anyone (even if, like me, you’ve never watched Titanic) – but I don’t think it’s funny.

Though DiCaprio and Morrone’s relationship apparently came to ‘a natural conclusion,’ with ‘no bad feelings between them,’ it doesn’t help that DiCaprio has reportedly been pictured in nightclubs with literal teenagers alongside his alleged ‘Pussy Posse’ of older male actors (who apparently earned the title thanks to their reputation of louche antics and chasing women in the 90s). Or on yachts with young women in bikinis either, while he’s well into his forties. 

Or attending events separately from his partners, with rumours that he makes women that he’s dating sign non-disclosure agreements.

If anything, DiCaprio’s – quite frankly, philandering – dating history seem to show that, for him, women have a shelf life. That young women are desired and fetishised by men decades older than them who are celebrated for doing so – only for them to apparently be tossed aside when they reach a certain age.

While signs of women ageing are stigmatised and shunned, the ones who shun them are welcomed into their middle ages with open arms – alongside references of wine, and seasoning. With a young woman as the latest fashion accessory on their arm, of course.

I remember being 14 when I first started dating (if you could call swapping Bullet For My Valentine albums and fingerless gloves rather than kisses ‘dating’) my first ever boyfriend in high school. He was in the year below, and I was called a ‘cradle snatcher’ as a joke.

Even when I was 21 and started going out with my now-husband eight years ago, I was called a ‘cougar’ with a ‘toyboy’ – he’s nine months younger than me.

Madonna and Demi Moore often appear in headlines alongside the same words, as did Kim Kardashian when she was dating Pete Davidson, who’s 13 years younger than her.

Selena Gomez was called a ‘pedo’ and received death threats when she was 18 and dating Justin Bieber – Bieber is 19 months younger than her. Gomez was even interviewed about it on the red carpet at the MTV Movie Awards.

Taylor Swift was (and still is) publicly criticised for her relationships with Taylor Lautner (he was 17, she 20) and Harry Styles (he 18, she 23) – though no one batted an eyelid mere years earlier when she was 19 and dating 32-year-old John Mayer. Swift even references DiCaprio’s jaunts with young models in St Tropez in her Lover earworm The Man – lamenting about how women are seen as ‘a bitch not a baller’ when it comes to age gap relationships.

While men like DiCaprio are applauded online and by society in general for being players, pictured with women half their age, women are both scrutinised and demonised. The double standards absolutely reek.

And while men grow old doing so, with their girlfriends’ ages on an opposite trajectory – fixated on youthful innocence and purity – older women are alienated. Shunned, disposed of. We literally cannot win – as DiCaprio’s fresh-faced dating history goes to show.

It perpetuates the idea that only women without grey hair, sagging bodies, softness and wrinkles are worthy of love. Normalising that petite, youthful bodies – without the deemed imperfections of age – are the only ones worthy of sexualising.

It adds to the ever-growing stress of women feeling as if they need to look and act a certain way to remain worthy in society, and the object of affection – it’s so demeaning and ageist.

If a man as seemingly reputable and as respected as DiCaprio is normalised for only dating women that look a certain way, and of a certain age, what does that wrongly demonstrate to young women about their worth? And the roles of their sex? About what’s expected of them? About the perception of women only worthy of affection until a certain age? It’s so damaging.

Forget the Titanic, the concept of ‘Leo’s Law’ needs sinking fast for all our sakes – and everyone knows that a good captain always goes down with his ship.

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