How power can make even Della Bosca seem hot
One of the best pieces of commentary on the Della affair I’ve seen this week was the cartoon in Wednesday’s Daily Telegraph. It depicted a line-up of possible candidates for John Della Bosca’s former lover. In the middle, a woman with a guide dog.
I laughed into my coffee, because it’s what we’re all thinking, right? I’m reluctant to put the boot into Della any further – he stood down this week with dignity and grace – but let’s be honest: he isn’t exactly in Brad Pitt’s league.
Yet ‘hot’ and ‘sexy’ is how he was described by his 26-year-old former lover. It’s understood that she is blonde and easy on the eye. Della, on the other hand, is a man whose age is nudging distinguished and whose physique suggests the last time he broke a sweat during exercise was when Bob Hawke wore his Australia jacket.
So what’s the appeal?
This question gets asked every time we see an attractive younger woman – hello Carla Bruni and Monica Lewinski – with a man who, to borrow an expression of my dad’s, has a face like a bulldog chewing a wasp.
Nicolas Sarkozy and Bill Clinton are both rich, as was Adolf Hitler who bagged himself a young model by the name of Eva Brown. And the perennially, er, excitable Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has a few zero’s in his bank balance too.
But dollars alone can’t buy a man sex appeal – just look at Bill Gates. The X-factor that makes otherwise plain men so ‘hot’ and ‘sexy’ has to be power.
I’ve never been power-washed by a man but a few of my friends have. One of them – young, blonde, attractive– fell head-over-heels for her boss: a short, tubby, middle-aged man. He ended up dumping her by email and she was mortified that she’d let someone so physically beneath her league walk all over her.
For the record, he was also arrogant and demanding – but she said that, in a twisted way, she found the idea of him taking charge in both life and love exciting. His perceived ‘status’ canceled out any physical shortcomings.
This is a successful woman with three university degrees. But perhaps it is because she has such strong feminist ideals that allowing herself to be a subordinate felt even naughtier.
Is this the line of thinking that led to Monica Lewinski destroying a perfectly good dress?
Evolution expert Dr Jack da Silva, from the University of Adelaide thinks it might be. He says that while men choose their mates on the basis of beauty, women pick their partners based on behaviour.
“And women often choose men based on behaviour that is successful,” he told the ABC in July.
Humans, unlike great apes, no longer live by the survival of the fittest maxim, which changes the landscape for the modern Alpha male dramatically. “In these men, their genetic endowment probably determines their success [and] women may choose a certain man because he’s a good provider,” says da Silva.
So move over Brad Pitt, the times are-a-changing. If power trumps physicality, Della – who until this week was tipped to be a contender for premier - could be part of the new breed of Silverback. And I, like the cartoon woman with the guide dog, am just having trouble seeing that.
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