In age-gap relationships, it’s always women who are ridiculed

Gold digger vs toy boy

The reaction to Heard and Depp is the epitome of disproportionate judgment of women in age gap relationships.

In light of the public disclosure of details and alleged abuse in Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s relationship, online reaction has been heavily focused towards condemning Heard for marrying Depp and sympathising with him for being in a court battle over money. It is not our place to query the divorce settlement of two strangers, nor do we have the information to know what actually happened behind closed doors. So why are people so quick to condemn women like Heard in age gap relationships?

Women are ridiculed with negative words like gold digger and cougar while men are worshipped as toy-boys and sugar daddies. Amber Heard is not alone in the social media abuse of women in age gap relationships. Cathy Schmitz is a 26-year-old German model who married Austrian entrepreneur, Richard Lugner, in 2014 and their 57 year age gap has brought her online abuse and ridicule ever since.

After appearing on Channel 5’s Age Gap Love, public judgment of the couple is disproportionately thrown at Cathy, who is frequently accused of being a gold digger, one tweet reading: “shes not a Gold digger its LOVE… Ballix.” It has even gotten to the point where Cathy vets all of her photo comments for trolls.

After one bout of online abuse, she posted under a Facebook photo: “All the stupid comments will be blocked with idiots, because I don’t want to be associated!!!!!”

This doesn’t stop her online haters, who regularly tweet and comment their criticisms of the Lugner marriage. Although, the comments aren’t aimed at the pair of them. In stark contrast, Richard’s comments and mentions are filled with congratulations. If it is so unfathomable to people that they genuinely love each other, then why is Richard not judged accordingly?

It isn’t just younger women who face this judgment. In theory, if younger women are pegged as gold diggers, surely younger men in age gap relationships are tarnished with the same brush. But this is not the case. In age gap relationships where the woman is significantly older than the man, it is still the woman who is taunted and ridiculed. Hugh Jackman’s wife, Deborra-Lee Furness, is 13 years his senior and is often subject to mocking online over her age and appearance.

One tweeter commented on their relationship, typing: “Have you seen Hugh Jackman’s wife???! And they’ve been married 20 years?! This is a cruel joke.”

And it isn’t just in the media. This treatment of women in age relationships is commonplace. This online obsession with simultaneously tearing women down whilst congratulating men for the same thing is still a toxic part of social media, and honestly – we’re over it.